TL;DR – Using cold calling and emailing could be a viable strategy for lead generation, however, there are many potential issues that need to be taken into advisement, and ultimately – might not be a winning strategy in some domains.
*Featured photo credit: Youtube
In lead generation, cold calling/emailing is a perfectly viable instrument, however, there are some things we must remember, as we institutionalize this as a primary tool for our B2B company. When cold calling/emailing is on the less robust side, I refer to it as pulling an “Inigo Montoya”. You’re dropping-in on somebody unannounced with a vengeance, while they have no idea what you want from them and who you are. Yes, I am aware that Inigo ended up killing Count Rugen, therefore accomplishing his mission… So the outcome is actually somewhat misaligned with my analogy (and between us those Hollywood folks are getting away with Inigo getting a dagger in the stomach and not caring so at the very least he was cutting it close…)
Anyway, here are some ideas about how to avoid turning your sales reps into intruders:
- The more senior our target is, the less likely they would be to pick up the phone or even take a second look at what you’re offering via email. That is because they get constantly bombarded with cold calls and emails.
- If you’re using an inside sales rep (i.e. you don’t have single-person end-to-end sales) and they’re doing outbound calls, make sure they know what the hell they’re talking about. There’s no greater turnoff than speaking to a human parrot.
- Local vs. Foreign – Even in today’s digital, global village, often you’d encounter potential discrimination against non-locals, specifically in some markets, even the U.S. (probably outside NY and CA) in many cases. It may suck, and it may be troubling, but it’s the truth. And, sadly enough, nobody can force those potential clients to take your call or even read your email to make up for your “funny “accent and/or name. Not to mention some people’s inadequate language skills, which are even worse than “just an accent”.
- Don’t flood with information. Lead with a reason to read/answer, explain your reason for calling quickly and understandably, and provide necessary follow-up docs if possible. It really takes no more than 1-2 sentences to pique someone’s interest, so they can willingly read more.
- Trust as a key factor – some industries are much more relationship-based and reputation-based than others. Mostly in situations where trust is a major component of the transaction, due to higher stakes involved in using this product/service.
- A larger check size (anything north of $10K is a good rule of thumb for thinking about “bigger checks”, and anything over a few hundreds of $ for a pure inbound online transaction). This is applicable to financial services, security/cyber, and even marketing tools.
- A ‘bottom-up’ approach – Since it’s mostly very difficult to get decision makers to respond, more often than not, our Inigo would reach out to lower ranks, and so much like any other typical system, would be treated accordingly, as those likely do not drive agendas and P&L’s. Sometimes it’s a good thing: you may get a shot at skipping procurement & co for pilot deals, and you could go grassroots on them. It is, however, a longer, sometimes less rewarding process, especially in cases where your competitor had the ability to go top-down.
- Elegance! above all, make sure whoever your cold caller is, they represent you and your company in a way that makes you feel like you would have listened to that person. The outreach needs to be well crafted (don’t be cheesy!), and in many cases there are also “additional interactions”, in which that person needs to be eloquent, well spoken, and informative.
*Most/all the above might not apply if you have an insanely (and objectively) kick-ass offering with minimal barriers to “learn more”, in which case all rules of thumb are probably irrelevant, because you may go viral as well.
Personally, I cannot discard this technique, as I have found it to be useful in the past, but – as companies grow and scale up, and even before they do, they need to make sure they put a lot of emphasis on making their best effort in preventing a complete “Inigo Montoya” situation. Meaning, if someone representing my company dropped-in on you and mentioned he was calling on behalf of the company so-and-so, it’s my obligation as a business leader to make sure that person has at least heard something (positive) about so-and-so. So if he is a potential client, he’s better prepared to buy 🙂