Does the thought of cold calling make the hackles on the back of your neck stand up? You’re not alone. When it comes to B2B lead generation even veteran sales struggle – with 63% saying they hate the activity.
No wonder organisations would rather stick to email or pitch to their prospects via direct messages on LinkedIn. But if your B2B generation isn’t working or has stagnated, shouldn’t you give cold calling a try?
Read on to discover:
- The common objections stopping B2B organisations from picking up the phone
- Tried and tested strategies that convert cold calls into successful pitches
Get more from your B2B lead generation in this short guide to cold calling.
Five reasons organisations exclude cold calling from their B2B lead generation strategies
Cold calling is difficult even if you’re good at it. But that’s not the only reason organisations avoid this approach like the plague. Here are a few that might resonate with you.
#1 People don’t want to hear from me
In all fairness, 80% of business owners prefer to be contacted by email. But only if the message is personalised. Mass-marketed emails are promptly deleted and the sender blocked.
The same applies to cold calling. Buyers don’t want to waste time speaking to salespeople who reel off a cut-and-paste script. So try a more personalised approach when speaking to your prospect.
- Research your buyer’s business first
- Build your findings into a short pitch
The person you’re speaking to will appreciate the extra effort you’ve gone to – making time to listen rather than hanging up the phone.
#2 I can’t get past the gatekeeper
The hardest part of B2B lead generation is getting past the proverbial gatekeeper. This individual could take the form of a personal assistant, receptionist, or call centre operative – each of whom will have been instructed to screen sales calls before transferring them to the decision maker.
Here are some of the techniques gatekeepers use to deter salespeople:
- Put your request in writing and we’ll contact you if there’s a need
- Sorry they’re in a meeting – I’ll get them to call you back later
- We don’t have a need right now but we’ll keep your details on file
Here are two workarounds you can use:
- Demonstrate you understand your buyer’s needs and show how you can solve their problem in the first 30-seconds of the call. This approach isn’t 100% foolproof but will help you stand out from also-ran canvassers who try to bypass the gatekeeper without explanation.
- Make the gatekeeper your friend by building a rapport with them if the buyer is off limits. Ask for their email and follow up at a later date – listening and responding to their questions or objections. You never know, they might introduce you to the decision maker – in which case your chances of success will skyrocket.
#3 No one picks up the phone anymore
This isn’t strictly true. Businesses worldwide are investing billions into hosted Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) telephone systems that empower their key decision makers to make and receive calls on their business number anywhere in the world.
So, when it comes to B2B lead generation remember the prospect wants to be contacted. Yes, they’ve put in place certain firewalls to protect themselves from nuisance cold callers – but by deploying the right techniques (more on that later) you’ll be able to get through to them and make your pitch.
#4 I’m not pushy enough to sell things
B2B lead generation – and, indeed, sales in general – isn’t about wearing your buyer down through sheer persistence and aggression. These traits are the hallmarks of telesales people who ring from withheld numbers to hawk a product or service you’ve never heard of – most often at an unfold hour.
Cold calling, if done correctly, is about fact-finding. You’re trying to determine if your offering is a good match for your buyer – using a mixture of open and closed questions to persuade them to buy. Push too hard and they’ll withdraw. So instead focus on asking questions and spend as much time listening as you do talking.
How to cold call prospects: tips and tricks to help you get started
Before picking up the phone follow the below steps to increase your chance of success.
#1 Follow them on social media
B2B lead generation works best when you know your prospect well. So follow them on their social channels to learn about their business and get a deeper insight into the challenges they face.
#2 Send a gentle introductory DM
Instead of launching in with a telephone pitch send a short note via direct message. Note: the aim is to break the ice here, not sell. So explain who you are, what you do, and keep the tone light and friendly.
#3 Comments on their posts often
Once you’re connected it’s important to comment on your buyer’s posts because (1) you’ll be able to share your knowledge and insights without hard-pitching; (2) the prospect will remember your name – increasing the chances of getting the past gatekeeper when you call: ‘Can I speak to John Smith please – it’s about a conversation we’ve been having on LinkedIn.
#4 Research their business first
Tailoring your pitch will increase the chances of converting the prospect.
With that in mind:
- Read customer comments in threads to gain further insight
- Visit their website to learn more about their business
- Learn who their competitors are and how they compare
The more you know the higher the chance of wowing your prospect and having a conversation with them. So make research a cornerstone of your B2B lead generation strategy.
#5 Avoid using closed questions
All that research and time spent building rapport with a prospect can be undone with a poorly-chosen open question.
Consider the following two questions:
- Caller: ‘Do you have a need for technical support at this present time?’
- Prospect: ‘No, sorry – we don’t at this moment in time.
- Caller: ‘How is your technical support handled at the moment?’
- Prospect: ‘At the moment we handle it in-house.’
The first attempt leaves the caller no wriggle room. Their buyer has responded no – making it impossible to open up the question by asking for more information. The likelihood of the call ending at this stage is therefore highly likely.
As you probably noticed, the second example is stronger – because the prospect is encouraged to provide further information. Perhaps the in-house support is expensive to run or too time-consuming. These are answers the caller can divine through further questioning.
A good B2B lead generation strategy should incorporate elements of cold calling. But it should also be balanced with thorough research of the prospects’ target markets and challenges – enabling the caller to establish authority in the first few seconds.
Email marketing, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), and Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising also play an essential part in B2B lead generation strategy – an area we have extensive experience in.
Contact us to discuss your current approach. With proven experience of success in the B2B sector, we’re perfectly positioned to help you.