Just about everyone has had to make a cold call at some point or another. Salespeople can spend hours on the phone, swimming in the ocean of rejection that we perceive the cold call process to be. Which is why, every few months, corporate blogs ask some version of: Is Cold Calling Dead?
While the answer depends on the mood at the time, we say that it’s training ground for the most important conversations of your business life.
For startups, and even established companies looking to roll out new products or services, cold calling is an excellent opportunity to nail your pitch. You can try out several different approaches, test just how much tailoring each customer segment requires and handle overcoming objections. By going through this practice run several times a day, you’re practicing your delivery so that you have a sense of how to pitch—and what questions to anticipate—when you’re facing decision-makers at your target companies.
And you can land real, valuable revenue from cold calls. According to 2011 data from the Wellesley Hills Group in Framingham, Mass., 13% of deals enter the pipeline via a cold call. How does that compare to more “savory” ways of generating leads? The report found that 16 percent of business comes through general referrals while 22 percent is referred by clients and partners.
Which makes cold calling not only an essential skill to hone, but also an opportunity not to be missed.
Watch Video: Warm Up to Cold Calling
Since we live in an ever-social world, many calls don’t have to truly be cold. Leverage your network—whether it’s mining your LinkedIn connections, those of your co-workers, or family members—ask satisfied customers to spread the word and react immediately to referrals when they come in.
Find ways to warm up even the coldest of reaches by doing a little research online before you pick up the phone or dash off a few lines by email. Learn whether you truly are a fit for the company, what milestone they recently achieved, and what the person on the other end of the line likes to do when not at the office. Establishing a connection that’s not about your product will lead to a genuine conversation that is more likely to build trust and a long-lasting relationship. Practicing these skills is essential—and if you didn’t have to mire through the cringe-inducing discomfort of breaking the ice during a cold call, how can you master them?