The New Approach to Cold Calls

If you are struggling in sales, then traditional tips will tell you that you need more time pounding the phone. But today, traditional cold calling does not work. You need to find a new way.

Today more than ever, people simply do not answer the phone. Oftentimes, when you try to reach out to someone’s mobile, they will ignore it and let it go to voicemail. They won’t even check their voicemails. When you try to dial someone at their desk, most often than not, they’re busy with back-to-back meetings all day. When you try to reach out to consumers at home, most of them don’t have telephones. Millennials don’t even like to use the telephone to contact people. We all know this.

Recent statistics show that 61% of salespeople say that it’s harder to sell today than it was five years ago! Zipwhip put out a study looking at 520 consumers, and it was crazy—87% of the people in the study reject or ignore phone calls from unknown numbers.

If you’re struggling in sales, of course, the answer that feels right is to do more hours and more calls. And if you’re talking to old-school salespeople, they’re going to tell you that it’s all a numbers game, right? Of course, doing that, you get more yeses. Of course, you love it when people don’t pick up the phone because then it gives you more time to move on to the next number. However, all this, over the years, has led to diminishing returns. We are doing more work, but we’re getting fewer results—that’s depressing. You need to find a new way to get in front of people. You still have to sell. You still have to connect with new people. You have to open up the conversation. You have to do your work. Getting in front of people hasn’t changed, but the way to get in front of people requires a new way of thinking.

This new way of thinking is based on taking old techniques and bringing them into the technology, the platforms, and the resources we have today. Ask yourself, “How important is your list?” It’s everything. Your list is key for you because you need to be able to have access to the phone numbers, the names. You need to have an understanding of who they are. You have to start working that list, and you have to start filling in your notes. You have to build up the profile of who these people are. Where you get your list and how you work your list—that is everything, and that has changed.

Where are you getting your lists from? Are they coming from leads from your website? Are you getting them handed to you from a third party? List building is less effective if you just go out and buy lists. It is more effective if you can curate your own list. You can run simple Facebook ads. If you’re into B2B, you can run LinkedIn campaigns that drive traffic to a gated page so that when people take action, they’re on top of that. If people take action when they land on a certain page, remarket to that group with a new call to action. Then if those people take action again, continue remarketing to that group. You can start with a broad audience. Create a list, remarket to those people who take action, create a cleaner list, and remarket to that group. As those people continue to take action, you can create lookalike audiences or whatever you want.

The point is, marketing today is essentially just list building and then hitting those people with new messages each time that you can get a contact (e.g., a phone number or an email address). If you email them and then it is indicated in your customer relationship management (CRM) that they have taken further action, enter them into an email sequence. Alternatively, you can enter them into a marketing campaign where you’re making lists, remarketing lists, and cleaning lists. Your CRM will tell you if you need to follow up with them based on the lead score.

Where I’m going with this is, it’s not about simply having a list and pounding the phone. It’s about having a system based on integrating a marketing campaign or an inbound calling campaign or a referral campaign. Enter into your CRM. Reach out to people by email, phone, and newsletters. Remarket to these people. Then create a lead score based on the actions that they’re taking. Spend your time calling people who have a high likelihood of picking up the phone, talking to you, and entering into a relationship with you.

Now it sounds really, really complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s the same thing that we’ve been doing for decades, but today, the center of it is your CRM. It’s being able to set it up, in even the simplest terms in a way that you can bring the list in. Email these people to have them take action again and again. It’s about constantly communicating with people and having those people take a certain action. Enter them into a new pool and clean it as you go. Spend more of your time on people who are much more likely to enter into conversation with you. Don’t consume all your time just simply calling, calling, calling.

Of course, if you’re just a sales rep, you say, “How can I? There is this system built. I’m not given much.” It’s always about the mindset first. At your disposal, you still have the ability to email people. Set up your own things in the emails that you’re sending out to people. Test different headlines. Maybe lead each one with a question. Maybe drive people to a certain page. If you have the ability to know, just based on a simple CRM, if the person clicked on that link, then that gives you the type of information you need. You know that a person is taking an action, even if it’s just simply opening your email or clicking on a link.

Simple CRM’s can tell you who opened your email, the date and time they opened it, and the number of times the email was opened. That information is enough to help you at least start cleaning your list. This strategy is better than just hitting people by phone and being redirected to voicemail all the time. The principle of old-school cold calling where you need to reach out to people 10 times before they take an action is still true in this. We just remove the part where you are redirected to voicemail because they’re ignoring your calls. We’re moving into them reading an email, checking out your website, and then turning it into a sequence. You reach out by phone in the seventh or eighth time they take action. Leverage every single tool within your disposal, and this includes direct messaging through Instagram or LinkedIn. It includes any way that you can possibly get in front of your targeted people.

So what kills you isn’t just pounding the phone—it’s thinking that the phone is the answer. Of course, it’s not! The last tip is that, once people have shown (through lead scoring or some other kind of metric) that they’re slightly engaged, then you start to hit them. Hit them through the phone. Hit them through text, through LinkedIn, through direct messaging, through email—whatever form it is that they’re looking to communicate. That is what you want to do. You want to stay on them. You want to reach out. You want to drive value. You want to be friendly.

Don’t just focus on the phone. A phone is a valuable tool. Sometimes calling out of hours, calling on Friday afternoons, or calling super early is great, but the biggest thing here is that if you are just going to try and hit your hundred dials per day or your hundred contacts per day, you can see diminishing returns. Leverage every single piece of technology every single way to get someone to take action, and then clean your lists as you go. You will see far better results.