A topic of discussion in many an interview I've had with senior sales professionals is 'lead generation' and 'cold calling' and their willingness to pick up the phone to generate a new business opportunity. Many well established career sales people I've met feel as though they have moved past cold calling and no longer should have to do it, or they are not willing to do it. “I’m past the stage of working in a role that requires cold calling. I’m looking for a more ‘senior’ sales position”. This begs the following questions:
My thoughts? The highest paid and most successful sales people I’ve ever met are more than willing to pick up the phone to a prospect they or their company has never spoken to before. They are targeted in who they approach and have good reason for their approach. Where their own referral network or marketing efforts do not give them access to the customers they wish to do business with, they will source the key decision maker or a key influencer’s name, pick up the phone, introduce themselves and ask for a meeting. I believe cold calling should never be your exclusive or your major business development strategy. As we all know, qualified referrals and inbound marketing leads have much higher conversion rates. But to exclude it as part of an overall strategy is limiting to almost any business’s growth in my opinion. There will almost always be key target prospects that can only be accessed in this way. You may choose to send them a letter or an email, or invite them to an event first. If this is ignored, you still have a cold call to make if you want to have any chance of securing the client. Coming back to my original statement about established sales people who are not prepared to cold call and feel they have moved past it; I believe this to be a career limiting outlook and one that will also limit your earnings and success capacity in almost any new business focused sales position. Social media and inbound marketing leads are hot topics at the moment. Our aim is that these campaigns will lead us to getting on the phone and in turn, face to face with the customer without having to cold call them. But when these campaigns and all other avenues fail to get a particular key prospect engaged in a discussion with your company, you don’t understand their needs and you’re likely to miss out on many key profitable clients; Clients that your competition is engaging with as a result of having picked up the phone to have a real conversation. Long live the phone I say. I’m not saying cold calling is the single most effective way to generate leads, as it’s often not efficient use of a sales person’s time. But there will always be situations that call for you to pick up the phone, or miss out. Especially in niche markets where there are a small few selected and named prospective clients. I do however believe the phone will always remain the most effective piece of technology to engage and communicate with your prospective customers. When it comes to having meaningful business conversations with prospective clients, perhaps not even the i-phone 12, with hologram capability will challenge the all mighty phone.
Originally posted on the HG Sales Leadership Blog