Cold calling is always a hot topic.
In reality, the truth lies somewhere in between.
While traditional cold calling strategies of the past are long gone (or should be), today’s SDRs still find a ton of value in cold outreach and phone conversations are still the most efficient way to connect with buyers.
Cold Calling’s Past
In the past, cold calling was a volume play.
If you make enough phone calls you’ll eventually get someone on the other end to pick up. If you get enough people to pick up you’ll eventually make a sale.
There was very little rhyme or reason as to who you called, as long as there was a dial tone on the other end.
At a time without the type or amount of data that we have now, this strategy made sense. The only way to gain real information on a prospect was to give them a call.
Obviously, times have changed. People believe cold calling is dead because the overused, traditional methods of cold calling are dead. In truth, cold calling has merely evolved.
Cold Calling’s Present
Modern cold calling is anything but cold.
The goal of an SDR today should be to “warm up” their cold call as much as possible before picking up the phone.
The best way to get to know someone is in-person. The 2nd best way to get to know someone is by looking at their LinkedIn, or at least that’s how you should feel as an SDR.
There are so many database resources online that you should never be calling anyone truly cold. Every little piece of information you can find, from their title to their degree to their hobbies, can help if you’re tactful.
When researching it can help to divide your efforts into two parts: Prospect & Account.
If you want to find info about an individual prospect, your best bet will almost always be to start on LinkedIn. Other social media, like Twitter or Instagram, can provide interesting information as well, depending on their activity.
If you’re having trouble finding anything on LinkedIn, Google can be a surprisingly helpful tool. You may have to wade through a few odd results but, if your prospect has their information on the internet, Google can find it.
If your research goes well you might have a new problem on your hands: Too much information. You’ll now need to pick and choose what info is most relevant to your situation and can help you win over the prospect.
At this point, you should be looking for two types of information: something you can relate to your product and commonalities you can use to make a personal connection.
If you are able to start off your call with a personal connection, like a mutual love of hockey, for instance, they won’t feel like just one of the hundred calls you’re making that day.
It will also differentiate you from the dozens of other cold calls they receive on a daily basis and create a genuine human-to-human connection. This will make them more receptive to hear about how your solutions can solve the specific problem they tweeted about yesterday.
Even if you can’t find info on an individual prospect, you can still use company-related information for the same purpose.
Instead of building rapport with a remark on the prospect’s alma mater, you can build it with a comment on their company’s recent acquisition for example. As long as you find some sort of common ground, building off of that foundation will be a relatively smooth process.
Google is actually even more useful with accounts because you can – and should – set Google Alerts to notify you of industry and/or company-specific trigger events.
For more static information, a site like Crunchbase or AngelList can give you a solid understanding of the company’s background or organizational structure which will help when looking for referrals.
The goal of any piece of information you gather should be to better connect with the prospect on a human level. If you have something in common with them, they’re more likely to listen.
If All Else Fails…
Personas exist so that salespeople have a rough estimate of a prospect in order to better connect with them when they have nothing else to go on.
For example, If you’re targeting director-level HR employees at small and medium-sized businesses, there are certain assumptions you can make that will increase your odds of success.
Now, not every person that fits this description will be who you think they are. But when you have no other way to warm up your cold call, it becomes a numbers game again, and sometimes assumptions have to be made in order to move forward.
Other Types of Sales Channels
One of the biggest differences between sales development now and in the past is the diversity of outreach channels at an SDR’s disposal.
We don’t have to rely solely on phone calls and emails anymore.
In general, communication has evolved to the point where our conversations often flow between different mediums, and this is happening in both our personal and professional lives.
It’s arguably more normal to connect with someone on LinkedIn before speaking and developing an actual connection with them.
SDRs need to align with this modern form of communication while still taking advantage of the instant back and forth type of conversation that only the phone can facilitate (live video calls also fall into this category).
All of these other channels should empower sales calls. You should be using LinkedIn messages to set up a phone conversation, even if it’s just a qualification call to gather information.
Once an opportunity is handed over to a closing rep the means of communication should already be established. The most efficient conversations to conduct are over the phone, so part of the handover process involves handing over a prospect that is easy to communicate with.
As an SDR, one of your responsibilities should be to convert a prospect into someone your rep can easily convert and contact. Why do you think your CRM refers to them as contacts?
In a modern selling environment, no one should ever be making a truly cold call.
Putting a “warm up” process in place to help organize your research is vital, especially for target accounts. By having this in place, your worst-case scenario becomes persona-based messaging.
If you’re having trouble with personas, take some time with your team to develop them and the specific messaging you’ll use. As long as you have that in place, your calls will no longer be cold and you’ll generate better results on the phone.