For most people working in sales and marketing, having to hit a cold contact list from time to time is just something you have to do. It’s not always fun and you may groan at the thought of it, but it is likely to come with the territory.
For salespeople new in their roles, it may even be part of their initiation – as the communication involved is an art form in itself and takes great skill if it’s to be successful.
Making cold calls or sending out cold emails (i.e. approaching people who you will have no prior connection to, or who are unlikely to know or remember you) is in many ways like buying a lottery ticket – there is always a chance that the big win will happen. And everyone around you is likely to have heard a story or two about the day that big win came in (usually just as the salesperson was about to give up).
However, statistically speaking the odds of success from a stone cold lead remain extremely low, especially when it’s a B2B pipeline we’re talking about. One stat quoted widely from Leap Job puts it at only 2%. This means it could take a lot of your time and a relentless commitment before you reap any reward.
So what, if anything, can you do to improve your odds?
1) Warm up the leads you have
Referrals are king – have you exhausted all potential avenues that could lead to getting an introduction?
Make social connections – have you made use of social media to get in front of the prospects? For example by researching where they are going, what they are doing and getting involved in discussions they are having in relevant industry groups?
Failing that, making an email approach before you make any calls could help break down your list and reveal those who may be slightly more receptive. You will then have a starting point to go at with those who respond to, or at least open, your message
2) Take the time and put in the effort to get your cold email right
The last thing you want is to be sending out spam. Any email you send needs to be of interest to the reader. Put yourself into their shoes and figure out what they might need and what would be helpful to them. Make sure you also understand the laws around privacy and communication. Here are some other issues to consider…
Set one clear and simple goal for your email.
Personalise every email – not just by using their name but by doing proper research. Understand their business and show you do. A scattergun approach of sending out a generic email to multiple bcc email addresses is never going to work.
Make the subject short and aim to peak their interest.
Be concise, to the point and avoid gushy or jargon language. It’s better to send them a piece of valuable content that they will appreciate.
Consider how an email may be viewed – on a PC, laptop, mobile, tablet. An email that is as long as a novel will not be read. The preview screen alone will put them off even opening it. And a subject line needs to be strong at the start, as only 5/6 words may fit on the inbox subject list on smaller screens.
Links and attachments are a major trust issue nowadays, don’t rely on them.
Be genuine – your aim is to start a relationship, not pressure a deal from the off. If you try and do too much, you’ll get nowhere.
Read, spellcheck, reread and check again before you press send. Spending more time here is far better than getting an instant knock back because you spelt someone’s name wrong or job title wrong! Or even from a silly but costly mistake like putting your own contact number in wrong! (it can happen)
3)React appropriately to responses
If they respond negatively to your initial contact and want to unsubscribe or similar then shrug it off and remove them from the list.
If they have opened your mail but didn’t react (i.e. click or tell you to remove them) then keep them on a very lukewarm list and very carefully continue to send valuable information that helps them solve their problems (this is still not the time for a sales call).
If they haven’t opened or done anything else with your email, then perhaps send them another one after a few days, using a different headline and rewritten text to see if they will perhaps open that one.
4) Have systems and processes in place that work to capture every single warm lead, so you don’t need to rely on frosty prospects in the future!
How are you generating and capturing leads currently? Is every potential lead covered or are there any gaps?
Become your own warm lead generator with modern methods of inbound and content marketing. Pull in the leads who actually do want to hear from you, understand who they are via software like Lead Forensics and build a relationship with them – and stop bothering people who don’t even know who you are!
5) Don’t let any warm leads go cold
Letting warm leads go cold is to be avoided at all costs. It just wastes all your efforts. Think what steps you can put in place to make sure that doesn’t happen – what system could you use to help take notes and set reminders? Or how could you enhance your current system or training?
If you can’t reach someone don’t give up. In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts. (Telenet and Ovation Sales Group)
And never forget why it needs urgency. The figures speak for themselves – if you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes, you’re 9 times more likely to convert them (insidesales.com) – and at the end of the day, that’s what you’re there for.
Turbo-charge your lead generation by uncovering warm leads you never knew you had. Lead Forensics is the B2B lead generation software that will instantly identify your anonymous website visitors.