It’s a common talking point to say that cold calling is a dead outbound sales tactic.
But is it?
In this post, we’re going to examine today’s alternatives to cold calling, what’s wrong with some tactics of cold calling, and ways to improve your current cold calling.
Alternatives to Cold Calling in B2B
There are a few ways that B2B sales teams are prospecting for outbound sales that aren’t cold calling.
The first alternative to cold calling in B2B is email outbound. Today, sales reps send a series of emails – aka email sequences – to prospects that land in their inboxes on a certain day. Sometimes these email sequences are automated, so the sales rep doesn’t have to send them manually.
Automated email sequences have proven to be an effective tactic for generating more meetings and sales opportunities. Many internal and outsourced sales teams use automated email sequences as their primary way of booking meetings to land customers.
Email sequences are effective because they make it easier for sales reps to stay top-of-mind with their prospects without being too aggressive or annoying. In addition, email sequences let sales reps appear on a prospect’s push notifications and the inbox without asking for their time on a call.
Another alternative to cold calling is social selling. Social selling involves using social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to prospect new B2B clients. You can also connect with influencers on these platforms who share content related to your product or service.
One more alternative to cold calling is blogging for SEO, whether from a sales rep or an SEO copywriting service. High-quality, original content allows sales reps to look like experts in their space while ranking their site high on search engines.
These three alternative methods to cold calling suggest that it’s possible to land a demo potentially or an informational sales call without talking to the prospect on the phone.
Why Are Cold Calling Alternatives Attractive?
One reason cold calling alternatives can be more attractive than cold calling itself is that they can be more time-efficient. For example, sending an automated email sequence to 60 people daily takes less time than cold calling. By taking less time, automated email sequencing and messaging can potentially be cheaper for the prospecting firm.
Another reason cold calling alternatives for B2B sales teams have become more attractive is that they are less disruptive. The person being called on may be more receptive to an email or text message that requires less time than a cold call that can require more attention. In addition, B2B sales teams using outbound calling have found that people are more likely to answer the phone during certain hours than others, which makes calling difficult.
A study from 2020 found that prospects are much more likely to answer on Wednesday and Thursday than on other days, and another study found that the best time to call prospects is between 10 and 11 am their local time.
Only selling to a prospect during a narrow time frame can be more limiting than selling via an automated sequence of written content.
One more reason cold calling alternatives can be more attractive is that they can allow sales reps to spend more time with existing customers. That’s because automated methods that aren’t cold calling give the sales rep more time to engage with current customers to serve their needs.
Is Cold Calling an Outdated Tactic?
An important thing to consider before answering the question above is whether or not cold calling is effective, to begin with.
The answer? It depends.
Like with anything, cold calling can be effective when it’s done right. Likewise, email sequences and messages to social media users, the two alternatives to cold calling discussed, can be ineffective if they aren’t done right.
For example, an email sequence that touches the prospect’s inbox several times but doesn’t provide a call-to-action (CTA) will probably not get you a meeting with them. So how is the prospect supposed to know what to do if you don’t ask or tell them to?
Another example of an email sequence gone wrong is sending too many touches. This may annoy the prospect rather than want them to book a meeting with you, even if you provide several CTAs.
The same dilemma applies to cold calling. Having a CTA regardless of the outbound tactic is always a good idea.
You should not do one thing during a cold call to ask the prospect if they have time to talk right now. If you get a flat-out no, it’s unlikely that they’ll be open to discussing your product or service at all. You’re allowing the prospect to reject immediately.
Another thing you should not do is start your cold call with a long-winded introduction about yourself and what your company does. This will only keep the prospect on the phone with you longer, which is exactly what you don’t want.
One ineffective tactic that doesn’t work while cold calling is making it an objective right off the bat. By making it an objective right away, you’re signaling to the prospect that they matter less than your goal of booking a meeting with them. While booking a meeting with the prospect is essential, you won’t get anywhere if that’s the only thing you’re thinking about on the phone. Prospects are busy and don’t have much time on their hands, so make your time with them worth it.
Another ineffective tactic in cold calling for B2B sales is being too aggressive. The reason being is that you might not get a positive reaction from the prospect, regardless if they do need your product or service. If you’re going to be over-the-top with your aggressiveness, it’s going to be difficult for you to come across as genuine. That said, it’s essential not to be too mellow or quiet either. Again, prospects are busy and don’t have most of the time in the world to chat with you on your sales call.
If your cold call is part of a process to set up a meeting or demo, then you can mention that you have time for a quick chat now. However, if there’s no immediate need for a discussion, be patient and reschedule another time when both parties are available.
Again, ineffective tactics plague any method in any industry. It’s not that cold calling is outdated; it’s that many are doing it wrong.
Yes, alternatives to cold calling can work for your outbound sales organization. But it’s not true that cold calling doesn’t work because it does.
The data suggest that cold calling isn’t out of the question for booking meetings with prospects.
Cold calling isn’t a remnant of the past. But how you do it might be.