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Growth Driven Marketing Blog

Is cold calling dead?

As long as there are phones, there will be a place for cold calling in the B2B sales process. While we acknowledge that advanced technologies like Caller ID and call blocking software have made it more challenging, the phone is still the preferred method to connect with B2B clients.

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We set a lot of sales meetings for our clients… in fact, our clients are consistently surprised at the number and the quality of those meetings. Obviously, as an inside sales and marketing firm that specializes in B2B appointment setting you would expect us to be good at this.

We love hear that we have set a meeting for one of our client’s dream prospects. They tell us stories of how long they have been calling and all the things they have done to try to penetrate the account. That is invariably when we get the magic question, “What is your secret?”

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What I am asked the most about by professional sales people is for cold calling strategies to get past gatekeepers. It is a tricky task that can frustrate even the most successful sales people. However, if growing your business is the goal, then you will have to find more new clients. That means you will have to pick up the phone and make cold calls, thus conversations with gatekeepers will be inevitable.

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I thought I would start today’s blog on ways to never get past the gatekeeper with a sports analogy.

If the process of selling was a basketball game, moving beyond the gatekeeper is akin to the inbound play. The offense can’t move the ball or score until they can effectively pass the ball into the field of play and maintain possession. Although I make the point below that the gatekeeper is NOT the enemy, they are, in effect, playing defense and your role is to find a way past the defense to engage the decision-maker.

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There is nothing that sales people hate to do more than make cold calls. Even the very best salespeople who make this activity a regular and scheduled part of their work week just tolerate it because they have learned over time it is the best way to fill the sales pipeline with new, quality prospects to work.

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One of the sales questions we hear most often is: “How many cold calls per hour should I make?” Like most sales process questions, there is no simple answer. Before you can find the solution that best suits your situation, you need to ask a few important questions:

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Over the years I have developed some concepts that have enabled me to be successful in the sales field as a sales person, sales leader and as an entrepreneur. One concept that I often write about is my personal principle, the “Rule of Thirds".

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Recently I had the pleasure of joining Deb Calvert, President of People First Productivity Solutions, on the CONNECT! Radio Show. Deb interviewed me on the important subject of cold calling. We discussed cold call strategies, as well as telemarketing and inside sales programs for B2B environments. I have included a recording of the interview below where I explore cold calling best practices and some of the lessons we have learned while delivering successful B2B telemarketing and inside sales programs for our clients at ProSales Connection, LLC.

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For most businesses, getting their expert salespeople in front of new business prospects is the secret to fast growth and long-term business success. The challenge is, most seasoned sales people are so busy supporting their existing clients that they don’t have the time to prospect for new business. So they end up trying to leverage their network to grow their account base. This will obviously work to a certain extent, but this approach usually leads to slower growth than what is desired by the business owner, general manager, or executive team.

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If you have ever gone through customer service training in a call center environment you have undoubtedly been trained to “smile with your voice.” The first time I heard this expression, I was the guy in the back of the training room that started laughing. (This has been me on several occasions).

Early in my career, I worked for a company that felt so strongly about “smiling with your voice” that management purchased desktop mirrors for everyone’s desk emblazoned in big red letters with the phrase, “Customers Can Hear You Smile!” I remember thinking it was juvenile and more than just a little silly, and to be honest it was a little silly.

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