The term lead generation is quite synonymous with the term cold-calling. For years the two terms have gone hand in hand, conjuring images of banks of telesales agents furiously calling down their list in the hope that someone they speak to will buy and their targets will be made for another day...shudder.
But, in today's world of multi-channel marketing and sales and the huge shift online, does cold calling approach still work for lead generation?
Cold calling and the Dodo
There's a lot of talk at the moment about cold calling being dead and a lot of counter-talk on social media about the exact opposite; sales people standing up, shaking their fists and demanding the notion that cold calling has been laid to rest be stricken from the record.
But, in this world of sales and marketing growing ever closer, just what is the state of cold sales calls and their ability to effectively generate leads for your company?
An agency owner's experience of sales
As one of the founders of CreatedRed Media, our inbound marketing agency, one of the reasons I bought into HubSpot and Inbound Marketing was the idea that I could capitalise on modern buyers' habits of researching information and making decisions before they spoke to sales folk. The idea of leaving the phone on the desk and speaking to people through content was bliss.
I hate cold calls, both making them and receiving them. Let's face it, no one wakes up and thinks 'hmm, I'd love to receive an interruptive call that both breaks my workflow and is probably only remotely related to anything I'm interested in'.
I know how they make me feel on the receiving end, so the thought of having to regularly pick up that phone and start calling people wasn't top of my already full list of things to do!
But a business has to have sales or it'll go softly into the night very quickly. So, what's an agency owner to do?
HubSpot's Pipeline Generation Bootcamp: turning up the heat on cold calls
I'm glad to say that my path to sales success came in two forms:
- Changing the way I looked at sales and the whole cold calling process
- The HubSpot Pipeline Generation Bootcamp pioneered by Dan Tyre
I'm still not pounding out 100's of calls a day, but this is largely due to having to wear many hats and look after paying customers as a smaller agency, not because of fear of the phone!
1 - Changing your sales mindset - Inbound Sales
Whether you like it or not, sales has changed. Cold calling might not be dead, far from it, but it's certainly not as effective as it was. People are busier, less fond of being interrupted and, unfortunately, these sorts of calls have a stigma of being attached to scams or other hard sell tactics due to the rise of those exact sorts of calls.
This is where Inbound Sales comes in!
Inbound Sales, much like its marketing brother, addresses the shift in how buyers prefer to enter and follow the sales process and how your sales team must adapt to these changes to maximise their sales efforts.
Inbound Sales helps transform sales teams by guiding their sales strategy in two ways:
- Inbound sales teams base their entire sales strategy on the buyer rather than the seller.
- Inbound salespeople personalise the entire sales experience to the buyer’s context.
The power in the buying and selling process has shifted from the seller to the buyer
Buyers are definitely in charge right now because of their unfettered access to information through social media, websites, forums, reviews and just about any place they care to stick their digital head.
If the salesperson can not add value beyond the information the buyer can find on their own, the buyer has no reason to engage with the salesperson.
This change in mindset, for me, came when I started to realise that our customers are out there, looking for help, and we can give them this help. And not just 'helping' - disguising the word 'sale' as 'help' - but genuinely helping them fix their problems, hit their goals, overcome their challenges of marketing their business.
By realising that people who have already engaged with our company are very likely active in a buying process and want access to all the help they can get, it makes it a lot less daunting to pick up that phone and connect with those prospects.
2 - The Pipeline Generation Bootcamp
Dan Tyre is a miracle worker. Seriously. His infectious energy for sales and helping business to hit their goals is hard to resist. Over the course of eight weeks with Dan and my fellow sales lions, we fought our way through several key lessons on how to start that initial sales conversation with prospects and how to start helping instead of selling.
As a non-natural sales person, I found it immensely helpful to get specialised sales training that both pulled up my skills in areas such as handling objections (a common area that causes flustering) as well as seeing how other agency owners handle this traditionally daunting aspect of running a business.
Here's to warm calls, helping and Inbound Sales
I'm much more confident in our business' approach to sales calls because we live by the mantra 'always be helping' and know that not everyone will be a fit, or even want our help, but we offer it anyway because we care.