Is cold calling too old school or is it still appropriate in today's marketplace?
I've been in the insurance business for 27 years and it keeps changing. I do direct mailings for outreach on behalf of my company but, I am also open to new ideas. What are your thoughts?
Cold calling, is still necessary, at any time you don't have a warm call to make, or an appointment.
Business is either growing and active, or fading.
If you aren't busy doing a presentation or writing a contract, or doing important file organizing, you must be prospecting.
The most effective prospecting is warm marketing. Learn to ask each customer for 1-3 referrals. Especially when they have just made a purchase and are still excited. Or when you have just done them a good service. Take people to lunch and ask for referrals. One of the best lines you'll ever learn is " Who do you know, that I should meet?" Use it often.
When you run out of warm prospects to call for an appointment, cold call, or get out and meet new prospects.
Learn to enjoy every encounter. Identify your prospects by type. Put them in a category, hot, warm , cold, dead. Finding dead prospects is not failure, it's success, it's one more out of the way, so you can see the good ones.
Nope, nothing over business is old ! I would say each and every technique are good as new what they required is a little more polishing. I have been in an IT industry for more than 10+yr and what I have learnt is over Cold Calling you need to understand the trick how you give the other party a sight of relief over their busy schedule. If you'd try jumping over them, them things are surely going to mess up ! What Cold Calling requires is a lot of patience and you need to understand sometimes you would also get people on the other side who will fire on you, you need to learn the trick to calm them down as trust me on this they can be exploited in an easy manner. Try to find the loop hole over their mentality and lastly but not the least always be gentle while you are over the Cold Calling and and keep working with the things like direct emailing too. Try experimenting new things by mixing direct mailing with cold calling. I can't talk much more over here because tell you what its something which can't be explained rather than it can only be show !
I don't think cold calling will ever die, however, it has gotten much harder to get past the gatekeepers & get responses from business owners. Unless you're lucky enough to catch them off-guard and then they're not in the right "mood" for a salesy chat. What's worked best for many businesses is to create unique sales initiatives that provide an answer to a common customer/industry pain.
Create personalized direct mails to build familiarity & bridge the gap - not with a phone call, but through social media connections, cold emailing, and especially 3D mailers. I remember one sales initiative we developed from my days managing marketing at Matthews International where we literally purchased the customer product & marked it with our laser marking system to show the difference in ID marks. (Matthews manufactures industrial printers for tracking coding of just about any product - food, automotive parts, pharmaceutical, you name it.) We mailed these in small boxes with a letter that listed a few key benefits in a quick read format. This was a huge success for our business and we gained many new clients from the effort. Today, I use LinkedIn to develop my working list of target prospects. I start with a cold email & work my way to a personalized mailing and eventual phone call.
While I would rather be waterboarded, cold calling is still an option -- but you can use the Internet to learn about your target client before calling and that makes it a bit easier. You can also use LinkedIn to find out whether or not you and your target client share some interests or experiences. Useful stuff and makes the calls a bit less cold.
In my opinion, Dawn Dalyce easily has the best answer: start by cold calling referrals. If you concentrate on building long-term relationships with your clients, you'll never run out of a source of help in this area. I use a slight variation of Dawn's line after a major job victory:
"I'm currently looking to add a new client...who do you know that might be as happy as you are right now when I fix their computer mess?" I have a smile on my face & almost treat it as a joke. I'm not immediately looking for a name; just priming the pump for when that person hears a computer complaint in the future.
If you have to make pure cold calls:
1) Do core research on the prospective client. Concentrate on quality, rather than quantity of calls
2) Get to the proper decision maker quickly
3) Have a short, fun, well-scripted introduction, and then concentrate on asking them questions before you begin to talk about your services & how you can help them
First of all congrats on 27 years in the business! Yes, different industries and business in general is constantly changing. But like in sports, the fundamentals never change. Here are 3 fundamentals that will keep your business thriving in any market.
1. Actively engage your database - Send out personal cards via mail, call them and meet for coffee, etc, and email value to them monthly (discounts, videos, market updates, etc) Ask for referrals and follow up. Your database is gold!
2. Advertise - Online advertising, bulk mailing, trade magazines of your target market etc. Make sure that you are measuring your results so that you know what advertising works for you and is getting you the return you are looking for.
3. And yes, cold calling - Cold calling is the best way to take control of your destiny in business. Block time to do it, do it consistently, practice your skills and you will get new clients. Guaranteed. The trick is to attach good feelings, confidence and fun in doing it.
For more information, watch my videos on marketing, sales and customer service at: Coach David Brownlee on YouTube or visit my website, davidbrownlee dot com.
You can also schedule a COMPLEMENTARY 30 minute business breakthrough coaching session with myself or one of my coaches. Hope this helps!
It's a question I often ask myself!
Depending upon your marketing plan, your target market, your budget, there are four options to get in front of prospects that are available to you:
1. Networking, which can either be physical (actually meeting contacts) or social (LinkedIn etc)
2. Referrals, which is asking for referrals from existing clients. I'm often surprised how few people do this. I find that my clients want to share their experience but feel they need permission to do so. So instead of being a stressful situation, my experience is that asking for referrals brings some relief to my clients.
3. Direct marketing in all its forms, which includes cold calls, newsletters, blogging on social media, and emails.
4. Broadcast marketing, which is advertising in all its forms. Being a scatter gun approach this method can be very inefficient, however, the more you segment your market the more efficient it becomes.
Which one is best? In my experience, there isn't a "best" approach. Each has its use as part of a planned marketing campaign.
Given your experience, you would agree that the key is to be focusing on the prospect and their needs and their purchasing process.
Happy to discuss.
In my experience, cold calling still works, particularly if you are focused on a service mentality instead of a sales mentality, i.e., going in with the intention of helping another person, rather than selling something to them. People warm up faster if they realize you understand their needs and have a product to meet those needs. Since you've been in the business 27 years, you must be doing a lot right! Secondly, a well constructed facebook ad could be highly effective. Choose a compelling photo and verbiage. FB ads are not expensive like direct mail can be, and more effective, too (in my experience). Good luck!
Cold calling has, to date, not be superseded by any other sales technique, it is as relevant (and often essential) in today’s marketplace as it has ever been!
Your Marketing strategy will presumably identify what sales promotion techniques are your priority and how you can best support your cold calling iniquities.
Business will continue to change (Thank God, or we would all be bored to death), technology, and tactical preferences will vary. However, the aspirations and concerns of our clients and prospect remain fairly consistent. If you continue to have an effective pitch that targets one or both, go ahead and make that call, they will appreciate your attention!
Your marketing plan should include a combination of offline and online activities for maximum effectiveness. I don't think cold calling ever goes out of style. The key to a good marketing plan is a good strategy. You want to be consistent in your messaging and frequent in your touches so that you cut through the clutter. The one-on-one conversation is a good place to start because ultimately, you want to really understand what it is your prospect needs so your conversation positions you as the best solution to his or her challenge. To your SWEET success!
The effectiveness of cold calling rise or falls not with the technique but rather with the list, the persistence and the message. Yes, it still works however the message needs to capture the person you are calling in the first few seconds. In short, there are lots of folks still generating big numbers by cold calling. They have a good pitch and the discipline to make the required number of calls. Everything still works it just relates to how it is implemented.
This question comes at an interesting juncture for me. Just to give you a very modest bit of background before I briefly explain why...My undergraduate degree is in Liberal Arts (not general studies--a bona fide liberal arts program, ensuring a well-rounded education but concentrating in business and public affairs); my MBA is from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (fortunately being re-branded as "Michigan Ross," thus it is sort of my job as an alumnus to mention it in public comments), and during this I focused my coursework on marketing, strategy and entrepreneurship/business innovation. Lastly, and presently, I am working on a second graduate degree--a Master of Computer Science in Software Engineering from the University of Illinois. I plan to focus on new product development--specifically consumer-facing and enterprise cloud based and SaaS programming and development.
The reason the timing of the question is interesting is because I just formally terminated my application with State Farm. I was contacted by a recruiter about four months ago; there was an agent in my area with a substantial book of business that was retiring (and as you likely know with State Farm agents are captive and accounts go back to Corporate when they retire in exchange for a comfortable pension), and the recruiter had pegged me as the ideal candidate for this opportunity. This was the only one of literally dozens of other financial services offers I had come in through various channels since earning my MBA from Ross.
I want to disclaim that my experience was unique and I do not believe it is representative of State Farm at large. In the end, I feel strongly that it came down to a human resources liaison with whom I had to extensively work to secure the agency transfer. It was one of those situations where someone seemed to "have it out" for me from the beginning...and this is odd for me. I generally get along with almost everyone. Even people I don't particularly enjoy never know because I am always affable, curious, and open.
It got to the point where this individual seemed to be saying everything that they thought I did not want to hear or that might discourage me. One of the thing she mentioned was that I would have to do a huge amount of cold calling in the first couple years of my agency. I found out post-facto from other agents and individuals with inside knowledge of the insurance industry and State Farm that this (in addition to many other things I was told) was not the case at all.
I feel that as a professional, intelligent woman in an industry where you have a monolithic and impressive amount of experience, cold calling for you likely represents a very poor ROI in terms of invested time and money.
This coming from the perspective of a student of marketing strategy, but a person with your experience, as mentioned in other replies, has the ability (I am certain) to leverage other active and passive methods for new client acquisition that would, long term, yield far, far better conversion rates than cold calling. And 27 years into the business, do you really want to be having a starting contest with your phone every day at your desk, dreading the thought of those cold calls?
I think all if not most of these have been mentioned, but take a look into these topics. I am happy to advise further if you have any questions about specific ones (the first few being the most relevant, IMHO):
--"Real world" networking
--SEO (stands for Search Engine Optimization)
--Demographic studies, and a plan for outreach based on the published preferred communication media for the niche you choose to focus on
--"Blue Ocean" Strategy (this is also a book by the exact same name by Kim and Mauborgne)
Do yourself a favor and check out "Blue Ocean Strategy." I think it is relevant for any entrepreneur or business strategist, It is an excellent piece of business literature, easy to read without a graduate level education, and 100% applicable to your industry. I think, in terms of ROI, buying and reading that book might be the best thing you could do for yourself if you are in a position where you are trying to figure out how to generate new business (and no, I am not a publisher, marketer, or author in disguise) :-).
Best of luck to you,
If you are not cold calling at all you are missing a very large boat. The simple fact is you may know 10 people well and if you get the average of 3 referrals from them, your still only 30 people deep.
As I have been cold calling a large portion of my career in what I have been doing, It isn't if it is old school or new school but how you approach it. I would agree with the fact that your market plan and strategy has a lot to do with it. However I also feel that Dawn Dalyce did an excellent job in answering it.
This much like social media, e-mail, and dropping mail is a tactic and to date when done effectively will be the superior of all of them. Working for a business model that was at 4.5 million in generating revenues to eclipsing that with the introduction of cold calling reps shows the value. You WILL get better results than you will with Social Media.
"You can't socialize with someone you don't know yet." The key from this point is once you know them, referrals and tapping their network is what will bring the great rewards.
Having just wrapped up mid-term elections, cold calling does still exist! While there are a lot of new technologies on today's campaigns than there were in the days of say, President Kennedy, volunteers stilled manned the phones.
I worked in the primary season as a campaign manager for a State Senate candidate. He had NO money, as he was a first-time candidate, so funding came solely from his pocket. He relied on door to door and social media, but for those who didn't answer, or for anyone who gave a volunteer a hard time- they were put on the cold calling list. There's nothing like getting to hear someone's perspective and not watered down by a general multiple choice survey.
I am currently helping with funding for a new foundation, and that's all I do, aside from your new age social media outreach- cold calling. Because this way, I hear the persons voice, or they hear me and the relationship is different, much better. And they can't avoid an e-mail.
But there is a much larger audience with using today's technologies that is helpful, so don't rule that out. If you're in the insurance business and you want to be notice, make sure you have a Twitter. You don't even have to Tweet! The marketing trick there is to follow as many people in your area as you can because they may not follow back, but they'll notice you followed them! And put stuff out there on Facebook and LinkedIn. Use what is new because it does still help.
But there is nothing wrong with cold calling, as long as you don't sound like a regular sales person. And if its someone you really need and you still can't get in touch with them, that's what field trips are for!
I hope that helped!
I think cold calling is a little old school, just because some offices don't even have office lines, but everyone has a cell phone. And no one likes sales calls on a cell phone!
I would say that the "new school" way to make cold calls, is to cold email - try reaching out to those on your list via email.
Also, don't call saying what you can offer - call and ask how you can help. That should make them instantly more receptive to hearing from you. Good luck!
Well I am going to express a somewhat dissenting opinion. I think true cold calling, door to door, is dead. Your ROI for that type of marketing is low. However I do agree that everyone is connected so asking someone not only for a referral but asking them to introduce you to their referral is great. Why can't you just ask for the referral? Because it is the power of the relationship that gets someone to listen to you. If you are the third party in the relationship you need to get one of the other two parties to introduce you into the relationship. Don't just ask also get them to act on your behalf.
I don't think any form of sales/prospecting can be considered "old" unless it fails to deliver results. Do anything that continues to grow, expand and command results you desire. If that means knocking on doors or direct mailings, then so be it. Do you have a system of checks and balances in place? I would have a system in place to track and measure results. This will visually allow you to see where you receive the most value for your time. Is it cold calling or email, etc?
Hope that helps and encourages,
Resultant Staffing Solutions
It is one of those questions that keep popping up - I would say blatant cold calling is far less effective for something like insurance, which is a topic people don't really like, even though they usually need it - people are even less tolerant of being interrupted to be sold to these days, they don't have to put up with it. The vast majority of people purchase insurance online these days (along with most other things) but insurance companies are little slow off the mark sometimes. Having a solid online marketing campaign, with a multi-pronged approach would be far more effective - use all of the social media platforms, optimize the website to capture interested visitors (no brochure types with dry details) pay per click ads on Facebook which allow for fine targeting to demographics - cold calling is dead.
In a business like yours cold calling still works. In other businesses it is almost considered rude. Especially in high tech companies it is almost never appreciated, there contact is made by social media and e-mail through the company web site. Calls are then usually initiated or invited by the target contact.
Generally, it depends very much on who you are trying to prospect. The bigger the company the lesser the chance to bypass the gatekeeper to reach the decision maker. Cold calling very often leads to leaving a message in someone's Voice Mail Box, usually without any response. In my experience, direct e-mail works better and yields a better return.
Three ways to get new prospects: marketing, networking and cold calling.
Now, to increase your odds, send a series of direct mail or email messages and follow up with a call,
However, no matter what you do and how you do it, your first priority should be your message. It has to appeal to your target market, should identify a problem that your prospect has, show how you can solve the problem and then identify the result the prospect will get from working with you.