Ring goes the phone – right when you’re bang in the middle of a job for a client that they wanted yesterday, or a report for your MD that has to get done for your 2pm meeting. It’s a cold call.
We’ve all been there. Time is precious, resources are limited, and with most of us now doing more in our job than we actually signed up for, the days are flying in – we’re really struggling to have time to take these cold calls. That said, if you don’t like being the one receiving the cold calls, do you actually want to be the one making them?
Step in all of the great marketing channels we now have available to us that are actually great alternatives to cold calling – and that’s what we’re going to look at in this blog post – four alternatives to cold calling. So here goes.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA
What we love about social media, is that you can have chats with companies quite freely – ones that you usually might not get in touch with. That’s the great thing about social media – it’s, well, social!
So, instead of cold calling, why not use social media to do the following:
- Tweet, or post on your target company’s wall, and direct them to for example a blog post or web page that outlines the key benefits of the product or service you’re trying to sell to them. Remember to make it easy for them to get in touch with you by making your contact details or contact form easily accessed from the page.
- Connect with them on LinkedIn, and when you request the connection, introduce yourself and what you do – LinkedIn has made it pretty acceptable for us to connect with people we don’t currently do work with. Then, when you’ve connected, make sure you post interesting, relevant content that might attract their attention. This means, that if you call them in future, it’s not so ‘cold’ as they’ve accepted your connection. You can also look at their profile to gain information on them which might help your conversation flow a bit better, as you can ask them questions, point out that you noticed things – it becomes less sales and more you helping or advising them that way.
- Tweet, or post on your target company’s wall and direct them to a targeted, measurable campaign page that has a tracked call to action, For example, a hotel who is trying to sell more conference and events package might have ‘top ten reasons to have your event with us’ section on the landing page, and then offer targets for example a voucher to redeem a free drinks and nibbles package worth £250 when they share their say name, company name and email address on the page. Ideally what you want to do, is set it up so that your sales/marketing team get a real-time email alert when they do this, so that you can call them while they are ‘hot’ and perhaps, again using the hotel example, you’d invite them along for a coffee to see the venue.
2. NETWORKING & EVENTS
Let’s never underestimate the value of meeting people face to face. Attend breakfast meeting clubs, or join your local chamber and attend networking events – there are lots of networking opportunities out there.
Here are some ideas for using networking instead of cold calling:
- Ask the events organiser for the delegates list in advance, that way you can do some research and when you meet your potential customers, you know more about them so that you can ask questions, or perhaps pay them a compliment in some way. Having a bit of background knowledge can really help. When you’re at the event, talk to them, ask them questions, find out what their needs are, and importantly – LISTEN. Then, at the end of the conversation, why not ask for their business card and perhaps suggest you connect on LinkedIn. Then, when you think it’s time to call them, you’ve taken the cold out of cold call!
- Why not hold your own event to promote your company? Use marketing and advertising to invite your prospects along. BUT, remember what you want to do is add value, give back to your prospects. So at the event, offer them help, advice or training that’s related to your products and services, then perhaps at the end give them an offer to redeem. Then, you can follow up with your potential clients who attended by giving them a call, seeing if they enjoyed your event, and asking if they’d be open to meeting up for a chat. It’s all about building relationships and warming up those leads!
3. EMAIL MARKETING
Email Marketing is another great alternative to cold calling. It allows you to send specific information to your prospects, and also they can read it in their own time – better than potentially calling at the wrong time.
Here are some tips for using email as an alternative to cold calling:
- Send an email that’s personalised. Personalising your email will ensure that your prospect feels, well, a bit more special. Do you like reading Dear Sir/Madam? Personalising with name and company name will help show that you want to speak to them specifically.
- Send an email that’s targeted. Ensure the content is targeted and will genuinely be of interest to your prospects. They probably don’t have a long time to read it, so ensure the content is snappy, relevant and interesting. Think quality, not quantity.
- Send an email that’s trackable and measurable. There’s not much point in sending an email that’s not measurable. Make sure you can track which recipient has done what. Have they opened it? What did they click on? This will help you gain key information and identify whether or not you have ‘warmed up’ your prospect to become a more hot lead for you to contact.
- Ensure you include a call to action in your email. If a prospect has actually taken action, that tells you that they are more of a hot lead. This means, when you call them and mention your company name, they’ll recognise it because they actually did something. So, include a call to action, such as ‘download our product brochure’ or ‘watch a video of our unique software’ and track and measure them doing that so you can target those who have. That way, you have a reason to call to follow up. The other thing you could consider is including an incentive such as free vouchers for a retailer when they book in to attend your webinar, again this is a good way of helping you to identify hot leads.
4. DIRECT MAIL
Last, but certainly not least on our list is direct mail. Postal addresses are openly available – so you’re sending out the message ‘here we are, can we help you’, rather than ‘I have a sales target and I’m calling you because I want to reach it’. Direct Mail can now be more targeted and measurable than it ever was thanks to things like QR codes, PURLs and personalised printing.
Here are our tips for how you can use direct mail instead of cold calling:
- Make your direct mail stand out. Design something that’s eye catching, but is still in line with your brand. Size wise, go as big as you can without increasing postage costs. We recommend you don’t use an envelope, it’ll probably get lost in the sea of envelopes businesses receive. Personalise it – remember you’re talking to a person and also make sure your call to action really stands out.
- Make it measurable. Use personalised URLs to take them to web pages, or QR codes taking them to mobile websites. To be able to identify hot leads, you need to know who is doing what so that you can follow up with a call and these tools can help you do this.
So, those are our four recommended alternatives to cold calling. We recognise that for some industries, and in some circumstances, cold calling is required and can in some cases work. However, think to yourself before you contact a customer with a cold call – if you were in their shoes, is that the way you’d want to be targeted by a company? Companies want suppliers and brands that will help them, support them and value them – perhaps cold calling isn’t the way to show that you’ll do that.
So before you lift that phone consider the other four options above. Also remember that, everyone takes in information from all sorts of marketing channels so that said, a multi-channel approach is always best!
What techniques do you use to identify hot leads? What do you think of cold-calling? Don’t be shy – leave your comments below.