Inside salespersons and business development executives who lack the skills or perseverance needed for making cold calls and mask their shortcomings by claiming that “cold calling is dead” need not read further.
On the other hand, if you believe that cold calls are indispensable in B2B sales – just that they need to be done differently – you’ve come to the right place.
Years ago, you could get heard by cold calling someone and rattling off a boilerplate script about your company, products and services. As an increasing numbers of salespersons started doing this, prospects switched off and cold calling in its plain-vanilla form stopped working.
In the next stage of cold calling, you’d to change your tack and package your offerings in such a way that they resonated with the pain areas and hot topics of your target market. Depending upon the local business culture, size of market and seniority of target audience, going to market with Marketable Items, as we call them, is still quite effective in reaching out to your target audience and creating awareness for your company among potential buyers who have otherwise never heard of you (“strangers”).
In recent times, there’s another approach that’s helping start conversations with strangers at the top of the funnel: “Account Specific Point Offerings”. An ASPO creates a link between what you’re selling on the one side and a specific strategic initiative of your prospect on the other. A strategic initiative is a concerted action taken by a company’s top management in response to trigger events. Trigger events comprise of internal or external factors that impact a business such as new product launch, big contract win, loss of a major customer, hike in office rental and new regulation, to name a few.
Vendor X sells an advanced accounts receivable software product. One of its leading prospects (Prospect Y) recently announced a new government contract win. For reasons highlighted in this blog post, Prospect Y might find it challenging to execute this contract profitably.
A traditional cold call would’ve started with “I’m calling to tell you more about our advanced accounts receivable software product that helps you to manage your outstandings better”.
With our ASPO approach, the pitch would change to “Congratulations on bagging the large government contract. From our experience with other customers, you might face a delay in receiving your payments. I’m calling since I thought you may be looking for a way to tighten your collection process so that you can avoid these payment delays.”
The second message can result in many more conversations because (a) it resonates with the prospect’s strategic initiative to execute the contract profitably and (b) helps the person on the other side of the cold call to support the agenda of their C-Suite.
Besides, since it makes no mention of your product or service, you can cross your heart and answer “No” when secretaries and other gatekeepers screen your calls with “Is this a sales call?”.
In a future blog post, I’ll describe ASPOs in greater detail and outline a methodology for developing them. Watch this space.