There are many methods for generating leads, but one of the oldest and most effective is cold calling.
According to a report by RAIN Group, 49% of potential buyers prefer to be contacted through a cold call, and that once you have qualified those leads, up to 20% will convert into a sale. Cold calling is an essential part of lead generation, especially for those just starting out with their online career and looking to spread awareness of their services.
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Defining Lead Generation Through Cold Calling
Cold calling is a way for businesses to reach out to potential customers who have never interacted with the salesperson before. It typically involves phone conversations, but can also include emails or in-person visits.
Generating leads involves creating interest in your product or service among people who were previously unaware of it. This turns your target audience into leads and is the first step in finding clients.
Leads are people or organizations who have shown some interest in your services but are not yet qualified. They are the first step in gaining clients and are positioned at the very top of the sales funnel.
Therefore, lead generation through cold calling involves reaching out to individuals in your target audience who are not yet aware of your services. This is often done over the phone, but can also include email or social media messaging.
If done well, cold calling can result in highly qualified leads, a full project pipeline, and more business.
To learn more about what leads are and how they differ from prospects and opportunities, refer to this article.
Preparing for Cold Calling
Once you have identified your potential leads, it’s time to prepare for the cold call. The more preparation that you put into your outreach, the easier and more successful it will be. While it may take some time and effort to prepare for a cold call, the investment is well worth it. The more prepared you are, the more confident and professional you will sound during the call. This can help to set you apart from the competition and make a lasting impression on your target.
By setting SMART goals, you can focus your efforts and measure your progress, which can help you to refine your approach and achieve better results. For more information on SMART goal setting, consider reading this article.
Gathering Contact Information
Finding the contact details of your target audience can prove to be tricky, but there are some shortcuts that you can take. If you’re contacting a company, you can simply Google the business name and the contact information will be on display. However, it is rare that this will get you in touch with any decision-makers unless those people are listed on the company website.
In order to find the contact information of a decision maker (CEO, manager, etc), take a look at their LinkedIn profiles for links to personal websites or online resumes. Contacting them via LinkedIn is also a viable option, as the social media platform is primarily aimed at business-related interactions. Usually, their email and phone number is available on those platforms. If not, there are certain tools, like Rocketreach or Peoplefinders, that collect peoples’ phone numbers for this exact reason.
If all else fails, there is still value in cold calling as a means of gathering information. Even if you only manage to speak with a gatekeeper, they may be able to provide you with valuable information about the decision-making process or who is responsible for what. This information can help you to refine your approach and make future calls more effective. It’s also worth remembering that even a gatekeeper might be able to pass your message along to the right person, so it’s important to be polite and professional with everyone you speak to.
Finding Common Ground
The impersonal nature of cold calling is a major reason why it can fail to produce the desired results. A good way to combat this is by finding common ground with your target, such as being on the same LinkedIn group, attending the same conference, or having a mutual friend in the industry.
Mentioning this during the call, i.e. “Hi, I see we both attended the XYZ conference last year”, can go a long way (or at the very least prevent them from hanging up immediately). This can help to establish a warmer call as there is a sense of commonality and can make them more receptive to hearing what you have to say. In addition, this strategy can make the call feel more natural and less like a scripted pitch, which can help to make it more engaging and successful.
It’s important to note that finding common ground is not just about making small talk or filling time. Rather, it’s about building a relationship and establishing trust with your target.
Preparing a Script
It is important to know more-or-less what you want to say before contacting anyone. Preparing a basic script beforehand can be useful so that you’re never unsure of what to say, and so that you sound concise and confident when speaking.
However, it is rare that a cold call will go exactly the way you plan it. Write your script so that it’s easy to adjust while speaking, and have answers ready to any questions you think they might ask you. As you make more cold calls, you will gain experience and become more comfortable with the process. You will also likely develop a better sense of what works and what doesn’t. Take note of what questions you are asked, what objections you hear, and what types of responses are most effective. Use this information to refine your script and improve your approach over time.
In summary, preparing a script is an important part of making a cold call, but it should be flexible enough to adjust to the specific circumstances of each call. By anticipating potential questions and objections and having answers ready, you can sound more confident and prepared, and increase your chances of success. It’s also important to listen carefully and be responsive to the person on the other end of the line and be willing to adjust your approach as needed.
Cold Calling Tips & Best Practices
In order to get the best results from your cold calling strategy, it is important to be mindful of best practices. In addition to following cold calling etiquette, here are 7 tips to make your outreach as successful as possible.
Know your prospect
Research and understand your prospect and their industry before making the call. This will help you tailor your message to their needs and pain points.
Keep a positive attitude
Cold calling can be challenging, but maintaining a positive attitude will help you overcome objections and build rapport with the prospect.
Get to the point
Your prospects are generally busy, so make sure you introduce yourself and your reason for calling within the first few seconds.
Ask open-ended questions
Ask questions that allow the prospect to talk and provide information. This will help you understand their needs and tailor your pitch.
Pay attention to what your prospect is saying and respond accordingly. Active listening will help you build a relationship with your prospect.
Follow up promptly
If the prospect is interested, follow up with them promptly to provide additional information and move the conversation forward.
Don’t give up easily
Remember that conversions rarely happen on the first call; it may take a few calls (or emails) before the prospect is won over.
Cold Calling Tools and Resources
There are a number of tools and resources available to use to make cold calling more effective. Here are some examples:
|CRM software:||Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software like HubSpot’s CRM can help you to keep track of your leads and prospects, as well as schedule follow-up tasks and calls.|
|Lead generation tools:||There are many tools available that can help you generate lists of leads to call, such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator and ZoomInfo.|
|Call recording and analysis tools:||Recording calls and analyzing them afterward can help you to identify areas for improvement and refine your approach. Tools like Gong.io can help with call recording and analysis. (beware of privacy laws like GDPR)|
|Networking groups:||Joining freelancing or professional networking groups can provide access to potential clients and peers who can offer support and advice on cold-calling techniques. Examples include LinkedIn groups, online forums, and local business associations.|
|VoIP services:||Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services can be used to make calls over the internet, which can be more cost-effective than traditional phone lines.|
Common Challenges & How To Overcome Them
Cold calling can be a difficult process, and there are a few common challenges that you may face. Thankfully, there are solutions to these challenges. Let’s explore them below:
Challenge #1: Not making enough calls
The percentage of prospects that convert is very low, and it’s important to know that before you begin.
The solution: The only way to bump that number up is by making more calls. You may feel disheartened after a few rejections, but you never know which call will be the one that converts.
Challenge #2: Responding badly to rejections
It’s natural to take a rejection personally, but realistically, it has nothing to do with you or your offer, just a lack of need.
The solution: Instead, approach cold calling with a positive attitude and expect rejections. It’s essential to learn how to cross a failed prospect off the list and move on to the next one.
Challenge #3: Gatekeepers
Perhaps the most common challenge that you may face is getting past gatekeepers, such as receptionists, personal assistants, or secretaries, who often act as a barrier to decision-makers.
The solution: Build rapport with gatekeepers by being friendly, courteous, and respectful. This can help you to get past the gatekeepers by making a good impression.
Challenge #4: Bad time management
Cold calling can be time-consuming, especially since you never know how long each call will take you.
The solution: Plan your cold calls around the rest of your responsibilities, and make use of time management techniques where applicable.
Cold calling is an effective method for generating leads for freelancers or contractors, especially those who are just starting out. By following the steps outlined in this article, such as gathering contact information, finding common ground, and preparing a script, you can greatly improve your chances of success.
It’s important to be mindful of best practices, such as knowing your prospect, keeping a positive attitude, and following up promptly. While there may be challenges associated with cold calling, there are simple and effective solutions to these obstacles.
With persistence and the right approach, cold calling can be a valuable tool for generating leads and building a successful online career.