Are you a loser or a winner? If you’re still wasting half of your day “smiling and dialing” to people who have no idea who you are, I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but you fall into the former category…
Cold calling remains a key sales technique for too many businesses. As consumers, many of us can testify to the annoyance and sense of intrusion we feel when yet another cold call comes through to us, whether we’re at home or at our place of work. In most cases, the agents are friendly and polite, yet their persistent attempts to sell you products or services you have no interest in (and absolutely did not request) are relentless.
Stats demonstrate that, in the majority of cases, businesses are wasting their time with cold calls: it is ineffective 98.9% of the time. Fewer than 2% of cold calls actually result in a meeting; and the cost of cold calling amounts to at least 60% more per lead than alternative selling techniques.
A business that uses cold calls to introduce themselves to potential customers runs a very real risk of not only throwing resources at a dead end, but also of pissing people off and ruining their credibility.
So what’s the alternative? Talk to people who already want to buy what you’re selling, duh. Simple as that. They’re called “warm leads” (stands to reason, “warm” is the opposite of “cold”). Here are a few sales tricks to get your campaign back on track.
Stop Cold Calls & Attract Warm Leads
So, what are warm leads? These are prospective customers who already have an interest in what you’re selling, are already familiar with you or have already inquired about buying what you’re selling. This eliminates the unsolicited intrusion of cold calls, and takes away the veil of anonymity. Not only is the close rate SO much higher on warm leads, but it makes your sales calls a lot less like a living hell.
Without further ado, if you’re ready to ditch cold calls forever, and start talking to people who are ready and willing to speak with you, try these three tips for generating warm leads.
1: Bait, Capture, Connect
Create a Landing Page
Your landing page is a first point of contact between you and the customer, so make sure it features a registration form that’s easy to fill out: if the user sees that your business might offer something they want or need, being able to pop their email address into a clearly-marked field could lead you to an effective warm call. Be sure your landing page is well-presented, welcoming, and clear to navigate.
Create a Free Download
Whatever line of business you’re in, visitors to your site love to get something for nothing. We all do, right? One great way to generate warm leads is to offer a free download (an e-book filled with valuable advice/information; a helpful white paper; a useful tool or video), and request that people submit their email address before being granted access.
This ensures the potential customer will know the nature of your business when they receive that initial email, and will already feel positive towards you because of the free gift. It also sets the precedent that you’re someone who’s willing to provide them with real value.
Cha-Ching: Capture Their Contact Information
Using your landing page and free download, you’re able to capture contact information for potential target customers. The best way to use this information is to reach out to them individually (if you have the capacity to do so) as well as add them to your e-mail newsletters, so you’ll be on the forefront of their mind when they’re ready to make a buying decision.
2: Make Referrals and Networking a Win-Win
Warm leads have a 29% better close rate than cold ones. Be willing to invest time and effort into a referral and networking plans and you’ll likely be on the receiving end of some of those warm leads.
But heed my disclaimer: don’t just offer a boring old referral program that every other person in your industry offers. That’s been done and you’ll never stand out. If you’re approaching a potential referral partner or asking someone to send you referrals, offer to let them try what you’re selling for free (if possible). For example, if you’re a makeup artist for weddings and you want wedding photographers to send you clients, plan a girls night party and invite 4 or 5 key photographers/referral partners, do their makeup for free, and then pitch them your referral program after they’ve had a chance to see how awesome you are. This gives you a chance to sell them on your services and on you as a person.
Same goes for networking events. Meetup.com is a fantastic resource for business, networking and industry events. I doubled my business in 2014 by networking like crazy, expanding my professional network and putting myself out there. Just make sure you’re not labeled as “that one guy” in the networking group who’s notorious for coming to each meeting and trying to sell stuff. Networking events should never be a venue for sales pitching or selling; it’s a venue for relationship building and collaboration. Sell people on you as a person and provide them with real value; the rest is in the bag.
3. Go Where Your Clients and Customers Go (and I’m not talking about stalking)
Where do your clients or potential clients hang out; both in the virtual world and real life? If you’re a B2B professional services provider (graphic design, web design, marketing), there’s a good chance dozens of potential clients are searching for people just like you on Elance, Odesk and other similar sites. What are you waiting for? Hop on and scroll through the potential job listings. Even if you’re not into freelancing, you can still pitch potential clients on why hiring your company is a better solution than hiring a freelancer.
Industry events and tradeshows are a similarly good place to pick up people in your target market in real life as well. (Just avoid actually picking them up; working with a client after five too many drinks and the morning walk of shame can be super awkward).
How you decide to find and nurture warm leads is ultimately up to you, but if you don’t already have an inbound marketing strategy now is the time to start so you can stop cold calls forever!