Frustrated with rejections on a daily basis, salespersons have been seeking out alternatives for years to cold calling for generating leads. In former times, the search used to be from field sales people who were given a territory from which they had to generate leads and close orders. In more recent times (say, after 2005 or so), most Information Technology companies have established a separate Inside Sales team often located offshore that is responsible for lead generation, so telemarketers and telesales professionals have now joined this quest.
Is cold calling required or not?
There’s a simple way to look at this: Twenty years ago, there was the PC/XT. Today, there’s no PC/XT. Twenty years ago, hard disks used to max out at 40MB. Today, even the tiniest of pen drives boasts of 256MB. Twenty years ago, there was MSDOS. Today, there’s no MSDOS.
However, cold calling was there twenty years ago and, judging by frequent questions about how to improve its efficiency, it’s evident that cold calling exists today.
In an industry where 20 years is more than a lifetime, cold calling is one of the few things that has survived. If that alone is not enough to establish its value, read on.
If your company invented the most powerful search engine (e.g. Google) or launched the first online auction (e.g. eBay) or set up an online store when Internet Explorer wasn’t even around (e.g. Amazon), it’s all fine to sit back, relax, lay out the benefits of doing business with you and wait to be found by customers – although I’m not sure if Google, eBay and Amazon didn’t pitch their respective outfits to their respective networks, at least during their formative years. Besides, if every individual is your potential customer – like in the case of Google, eBay and Amazon, how do you do cold calling without busting the bank?
However, if you are in the B2B technology business with relatively large ticket sizes (>$100K per deal) and narrowly defined target markets (enterprises and small businesses only, no individuals), a more aggressive outreach into your target market is vital. In fact, some of the global technology leaders we’ve worked with practice outbound marketing even though more than 75% of their revenues come from existing customers. After all, there’s the other 25%. Unless they make the effort to spread awareness about what they’re selling via high-touch one-on-one interactions with companies in their target markets, how’d their prospects know about their offerings and appreciate that they’re superior to those of literally hundreds of their competitors’? In a crowded market, how does an offshore IT services company expect its prospects to see the benefit of outsourcing their IT to their company when scores of their competitors have eliminated cost arbitrage as a differentiator?
Maybe you agree that cold calling is indispensable.
While it may come as a surprise to most of you, most star IT salespersons devote a portion of their day – every day – to do cold calling. As we’ll point out later, cold calling calls for some special skills which very few people have and rewards those elite group of people with learning that can’t be acquired in any other job – not to mention insulating them from day-to-day tensions and anxieties endemic in many other functions of an organization.
The irony is, the very reasons why your company needs cold calling are also the ones that makes it highly frustrating for a cold caller as a person. That brings us to the real issue of what you’re cold calling for, and how you’re going about doing it.
In Part-2 of this post due on December 1, we’ll discuss ways to do cold calling better and achieve manifold increase in opportunity pipelines.