Cold calling: the mechanism to forever stop would-be-salespeople in their tracks. Something no one really wants to do, and that many feel they don’t get a response to. It’s not just salespeople who don’t like it either; for the person on the receiving end, cold calling is often seen as a nuisance. They just want you off the line as quickly as possible. That’s why so many say that “cold calling is dead.”
This post will show you a better way, a way that proves that the phone is still one of the greatest lead generation and sales development tools around. We just need to tweak the approach a little. Let’s call it “warm calling”.
Warm calling works whether you are:
- Setting an appointment
- Qualifying an opportunity
- Generating a lead
- Closing a sale
- Building attendance to an event
- And more…
This post will address:
- how we use “warm calling”
- who we call
- who on our team does the calling
- as well as when we call and what we say
Let’s get started…
An Effective Tool As Part of a Multichannel Strategy
Before we dive into the specifics of scripts and cadences, it will be helpful for you to see how calling prospects fits into our overall lead generation and sales development strategies.
At LinkedSelling we subscribe to a multichannel outbound approach where we diversify our efforts in an attempt to create multiple touchpoints on various channels in order to:
- Create familiarity with our name (and build branding)
- Build trust
- Stay top of mind
- Reach out to prospects when and where they are most responsive.
The phone is one effective tool we use as part of this process. We see the best results when combined with strategic email, social media messaging and advertising, and more. Having said that, the phone is a great tool that your prospect always has on them and when they answer, shows that they indeed do “have the time” to talk.
It’s another way to connect and offer something that can actually be refreshing in today’s digital world – speaking to another human being instead of just messaging or emailing. Just remember that it’s only one option available to you, one we at LinkedSelling highly recommend.
“Warm Calling” Is Your Secret Weapon
Ok, let’s take a look at what we mean by “warm calling.” If cold calling is pulling a number from a list where the prospect has never interacted with you at all (maybe they haven’t even heard of you yet), warm calling is calling up a prospect who has interacted with you or your content in some way and already has some familiarity with you or your company – or at least your content.
This gives you an advantage because you’re not introducing the company for the first time and you know that at some level, there is definitely some interest in your subject of expertise.
It’s a question of intent; these prospects have the intent to learn more.
For example, internally, we’ve added an “SDR” component to our lead generation and sales development in order to drive sales. One way we’re done this is by having our SDR’s (our Sales Development Reps) call people who’ve opted-in to our content and ask if they’d be interested in booking an appointment with our team to answer questions and learn more about options available to them. This appointment is where the prospect discusses options and strategy – and where our sales team has an opportunity to close the prospect and gain a client.
Who Calls: Why Sales Development Rep’s (SDR’s) Are An Important Part of Your Sales Team
Let’s take just a minute to talk about sales development and Sales Development Reps. First, let’s examine sales development, as opposed to lead generation or sales,
“Sales development is the art and activity of nurturing the leads you’ve generated t
o be able to move through your sales pipeline.”
— Ben Kniffen, LinkedSelling President
Unfortunately, this is a part of the sales process that a lot of businesses miss entirely because it’s not always so obvious how or where sales development is needed. Many of the businesses we’ve spoken to think in terms of “Marketing” and “Sales”.
To oversimplify it, it’s often: marketing brings in the leads at scale and sales takes it over from there. Looking at the sales process that way leves a giant gap!
The key to remember here is that yes, you’ve generated leads, which is great, but not all of them will buy right away. Studies show that only 3% are ready to buy at any one time as seen in Chet Holmes’ “Demand Generation Pyramid”:
If sales is really about having a conversation with the right people, how do you know which leads are ready (and able) to become buyers?
You need someone who will vet them, move them through the sales cycle, and continually give them an opportunity to speak to your team who can potentially close them and turn the prospect into a client.
This is what is called sales development.
The process of turning those leads into sales appointments…
Getting your prospects to the point of being ready to have real business conversations.
Sales development representatives (SDR’s) are the people on our team who facilitate this process by adding a nurturing and lead qualification component to our sales outreach.
Let’s slow down for a second though…
Can’t your sales guys do this? Do you really need a separate team of “Sales Development Reps?”
Our answer is YES your sales team could potentially do this outreach work, but why would you have them do that, when they’re highest skill is closing? Supporting your sales team with SDR’s who can call prospects to vet, qualify, and set appointments keeps your pipeline full and your best sales rep focused on what they’re good at: CLOSING.
Here’s what it looks like in practice:
SDR’s take a list of targeted inbound leads generated by marketing, or other components of the sales team, and reach out to them either by email, social media, or phone calling to qualify them and get them ready to speak to a closer.
Qualifying prospects is one of the SDR’s primary responsibilities and one of the quickest ways to do that is to have a genuine conversation with decision makers about their current solution and needs.
If you can get the right person on the phone and ask the right questions, you’ll quickly be able to hand them off to your closers or part ways if they’re not a fit.
If you haven’t incorporated an SDR component to your sales team, now is a great time to start, or if you have, now is a good time to evaluate your process and make sure it’s bringing in results.
Now that we know the importance of a sales development team, let’s get a little more tactical…
What to Say on Warm Calls: Utilize A Call Script
Scripts are an important tool to help your SDR’s be prepared for speaking to your prospects. Scripts help identify repetitive scenarios, anticipate common responses (and objections), brainstorm all possible word choices, and select the words most likely to achieve the objective, which in this case, is to get a prospect to book a sales appointment with a closer on your team.
Here’s an template of a short call script our team uses to make warm calls:
- Hi, this is [Bob] with [your company name]. I know you weren’t expecting my call today so I’ll make this quick. [Sales Closer] asked me to follow up with you regarding her messages on LinkedIn. She wanted to chat about any current challenges you may have with [industry – example: marketing and communications] that might be blocking business growth [or relevant pain point].
Prospect not interested in an appointment:
Ok, well thank you so much for your time and please let us know if there is ever anything we can help you with.
Great! I’d be happy to book an appointment for you, if I could just verify your information. [Ask qualifying questions]. Thank you so much! Ok, which is better, this Tuesday at 10 or Wednesday at 2?
How Often to Call?
The answer is simple, and one that we like to repeat a lot here at LinkedSelling,
“Until they give an answer.”
It takes many touchpoints, or interactions in order for the prospect to see you as a potential new vendor. How many touchpoints does it take before you give up? Popular business wisdom says an average of 5-7 touchpoints, minimum. Some sources say 7-14, others say 20-30 before your prospect will really start to pay attention – that’s especially if you include social media interactions as touchpoints.
Hubspot however, suggests that especially for cold leads, after eight touchpoints the law of diminishing returns comes into play…
“The law of diminishing returns states that if one production factor (e.g., calls or emails) is increased while other factors are held constant, the output (e.g., open and response rates) will eventually decrease. In other words, a tenth touchpoint is not much more effective than an eighth. With this in mind, eight touches is a good benchmark number of touchpoints.”
We go way beyond that though. In fact one of our sales outreach sequences includes 42 touchpoints over a 90 day period. This includes social media messaging, email, and of course, phone calling.
What will work for you? You need to test it. Remember that it really depends on the competition, the industry, how well you are positioned (how much “market pull” or authority your company has), and simply, it depends on each individual prospect.
The point is, one call isn’t going to cut it. You must follow-up on your follow-ups.
Remember that each and every touchpoint is a new opportunity to help gain the trust of your prospects and leads them to the point of decision-making. The more valuable they find each experience, the more likely they are to view you as someone they can trust with their best interests in mind.
Finally, remember to reframe any “No’s” or objections you hear. If the prospect says “No thanks” that’s actually an opportunity to find out more about your prospect, their pain points and their objections. Objections are not a “No”, objections are opportunities for you to learn more.
How to Get Started: Consider an In-House vs. Outsourced SDR Team
Now that you know who is best to make these calls, what to say and how often to say, the next step is to take a look at your own sales team.
To add this human touch to your outreach and offer another touchpoint for your prospects, while qualifying and getting your leads to book appointments with your closers, you have two options:
- Build an inhouse SDR team
- Or outsource to an already existing and experienced SDR team who will make these warm calls and outreach tasks on your behalf.
At the end of the day, you want a sales team that’s talking to as many qualified prospects as possible. To keep the pipeline flowing, use a Sales Development Team that incorporates a multichannel outbound approach, including “warm calling” in order to qualify and set appointments.
If you’d like to learn more about how LinkedSelling’s SDR team can partner with your sales team to qualify and book more appointments, schedule an appointment below with our Director of Client Strategy to learn more about your options and the strategies behind our lead generation and sales development approach to see if they’re a fit for your company.
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