The Opinion of 11 Experts on Cold Calling in B2B Sales
11 leading sales experts answer the question about the efficiency of cold calling in B2B sales.
Most B2B companies use cold mailing as their main technique to generate leads, and they try to make the most of it. What is more, the efficiency of cold mailing services is winning over that of the cold-calling technique. So does it mean that cold calling is dead?

Let's see what sales professionals say about this.
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Grant Cardone
American entrepreneur (listed as one of the top 10 most powerful CEOs in the world, according to Richtopia), CEO of four CJSCs, and founder of the first online university for sales managers (Grant Cardone Sales University).

I'm 100% certain that you need to use all the possible ways to sell a product to take over the niche. The golden rule is to not rely on only one communication channel.

You need to implement all possible variants: warm or cold calling, emails, video follow-ups, texts, audio messages, and social networks.

Mike Scher
Founder and CEO of the sales-boosting service FRONTLINE Selling.

Cold calling should be included in every sales strategy. The creation of demand is absolutely crucial, and calling is the most effective way to connect with potential clients.

Social networks and other channels of active selling are far more popular these days, but cold calling still shouldn't be left to the wayside.

Bad cold calling results identify unprofessional managers, not inefficiency of the channel.

Cold calling should be done responsibly. That's the core reason as to why you need to have a structure for all your selling processes. When I say everything, I mean that you have to take care of all of the processes, from information search and mailing or calling the subject, to the frequency and intervals between the contact points.

Properly written instructions of cold sales will allow managers to solve problems, correct mistakes, and easily create "appropriate" habits.

More personalized sales processes will be created if the marketing and sales flood increases in the email. The managers who mastered cold calling will be 10 steps ahead of their competitors.

Heidi Fortes
CEO and founder of the startup service Sales Accelerator.

Cold calls are still alive and well, but more options have appeared. When there's a balance between mail, cold calling, and other sales means, miracles happen.

Obviously, email will never replace a face-to-face conversation, but cold calling should NOT be the only means for selling.

Once the seller knows the preferences and needs of their target audience, success is achieved.

When that's crystal clear, the issue of cold-calling inefficiency is no longer relevant. At this point, the optimization process of combining calls, emails, and advertising into one marketing strategy begins.

Joel Goldstein
President of distribution company Mr. Checkout Distributors and retail expert on Fox News.

I communicate with 30 to 40 entrepreneurs a week. Those who can talk to an unknown person on the phone as if they were best friends are the most successful.

The most important skill for any good sales manager is the ability to establish contact from the very first seconds. One more important skill is the ability to listen and understand how the product may alleviate the client's "pain".

Don't start by telling your potential client all about the product you offer, statistics, or facts. Let the client speak. Learn to listen, otherwise successful deals will be a stroke of luck and not a usual thing.

Include suggestive questions in your sales script. While answering them, the client should realize that your product is exactly what they need.

Lian Holland-Smith
Sales coach and consultant. Writer for the Post-Tribune.

Cold calling does work if it includes:

● A clear understanding of the cold-calling aim;

● A description of customer personas with all the vital demographic and psychographic characteristics;

● Preliminary client research;

● A newsbreak for the cold call;

● The intention to obtain a long-term relationship with the client.

According to Robert Middleton's cold-calling strategy, a seller should write one letter a week to a potential client during the month.
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At the fifth week, the client will receive a letter with detailed information about the seller, together with the time and date of a cold call.

On the day of the cold call, the client will be ready for the conversation, so the chances of a successful conversation increase.

Managers using the strategy agree on having a meeting with a client in 25 to 80% of cases.

Greetings or congratulations on a particular event may precede the cold call. The reason for congratulations may be found using LinkedIn or Google.

I usually get feedback on 50% of such cases.

It's important to have a clear sequence of all stages and processes in the marketing strategy. It's no use improvising in such cases, unless you're a fan of nurturing pointless dreams.

Michael Pedone
CEO of an educational company for sales managers, SalesBuzz.com.

A basic definition is:

"A cold call is a contact with a potential client who doesn't yet realize that he needs your services or products. The correct question is: 'Should IT sales be the first to initiate the contact with potential clients?'"

There are two answers to this question:

● to include only warm incoming leads in the marketing strategy

● to include the search for new cold leads on a daily to-do list.

It's also possible to divide the selling process into several stages by using SDR (Sales Development Representative), BDR (Business Development Representative), and AE (Account Executive) models. Hire new managers who will actively look for new clients. The account executive will be responsible for finishing the sales process.

SDR and BDR models include the search for new clients, meetings, and presentations. Deal closure is not included in SDR and BDR; the primary aim of the sales managers in this model is to search for new clients and redirect warm leads to colleagues from AE. Deal closure is the responsibility of the account executive.

The biggest problem with cold calling is the specialists who speculate about the topic but don't understand how cold calling works. They usually claim that cold calling is dead and the best selling channel is LinkedIn.

This strategy may work, but cold calling is still a viable strategy.

Lots of managers start with sales in social networks and make the same mistakes as with cold calling. That is the main reason for bad sales.

Lucas Hamon
CEO of the company offering business solutions Orange Pegs Media.

The answer is yes and no.

The cold calls that everyone is sick and tired of should no longer be in business anymore. Especially now, at such a time of rapid technological progress. Your potential clients expect something more creative than just a phone call.

The purchase of a client base, which your managers will work on, has nothing to do with creativity and technological progress.

I've been doing cold calls for 10 years and can honestly say that it didn't lead me to success. Nevertheless, it did help me come to understand that there are more efficient ways of selling.

At that time, the most effective cold-selling instrument was social networks, especially LinkedIn. But today, the tendency has changed as sales managers made the most out of this channel.

Yes, cold calls do work and will continue to work to a certain extent. But successful cold calling is becoming harder and harder to achieve.

That's why I recommend paying attention to inbound marketing. That will turn your site into an instrument for generating leads.

Also, keep track of companies that produce a similar product. You can be sure that they will want to cooperate and that they will be able to find the right direction for communication.

Such cold contact may become the beginning of a marvelous deal.

Adam Honig
Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies (a CRM system for businesses).

You should have all possible marketing instruments available to you.

I have clients who use formal letters and get excellent returns.

Any sales instrument should be tested and measured. Furthermore, you should define the efficiency of each instrument.

Cold calling without preceding contacts won't be better than other selling techniques.

You should certainly invest in high-quality cold emails, sales in social networks, and other marketing instruments. These methods prove their efficiency by having a high level of feedback.

Valery Krasovsky
СЕО of Sigma Software (on the list of the 2016 Global Outsourcing 100 according to IAOP).

We're not into cold calling at my company. Although, in a certain context, it can be useful.

It's possible to use cold calls in outsourcing, but it's necessary to understand how you define the notion of outsourcing. Today, it's not just the selling of the developers' team. I would prefer the word consulting when we lead the client from the beginning to the end, not just provide him with a team of specialists.

For example, we have recently developed a solution to automate the accounting of fuel bills for SAS, the largest airline in Scandinavia. We started this project from scratch. It is impossible to get such contracts through cold calls.

Big companies choose specialists for their projects, relying on a number of factors. If it's done through tenders, then they often invite those who they already know. In order to work with large, high-budget projects, it is first necessary to have made a name for yourself and be in good standing in the market.

With the use of cold calls, it is possible to sell ready-made solutions or services that the client will buy and can immediately start using in their work, without additional development or insignificant adaptation.

We have a certain target audience of clients that we search for with the help of "cold" calls. They are mostly small companies, as cold calls do not help when working with large companies and start-ups.

Anastasia Novikova
Managing Partner of outsourcing broker NexGenDesign, coach in IT sales and marketing school Conformato, 9 years of experience in IT sales and marketing.

The need to use cold calling depends on the client. You should ask yourself: "What we are trying to get through the call?" "What do we want to achieve?" If we're talking about service outsourcing sales, companies often call and try to sell the outsourcing itself. Usually, such attempts lead to nothing. Outsourcing is impossible to sell in the first call.

If we offer a next action through a call (for example, we invite the client to a webinar or event, or ask about a specific problem) then progress can be achieved. The call will help to make the action faster and move to a next step with the client.

I can share examples from our own practice. We tested cold calls on different audiences. We called big companies in the US where, for many years, cold calls seem to have outlived their usefulness. But, as you know, all new is well overlooked old.

We called large and medium-sized companies throughout Europe. It's often difficult to get through to large companies as they have automatic telephone stations installed and it is not always easy to reach the right person.

In small and medium-sized companies, there's no such automation, but there are also problems with getting through to the right person. Some companies do not use phones at all, especially in the IT sector.

Many companies have now resumed the practice of cold calling. Therefore, it is necessary to return to calls sometimes, no matter what country they are directed to.
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Cold calls should be considered one of the tools to use when working with clients. NOT the only one, but one of them!

However, options for embedding calls in the sales system can be different. You can use a call after sending an email to get feedback if the email is not answered. You can first call to find out the interest and needs of the client, and then write a letter. It all depends on how you plan the sequence of events in working with leads. You can and should test different sequences. There is no single correct option.

Andrew Stetenko
СЕО of Relocateme.eu.

Classic cold calling doesn't work. You are kindly asked to not disturb the potential customer anymore, as you will not achieve the desired result. We call the client after 1–2 letters as one of the follow-up options, if we see that the person has already opened our letters.

You can add a client on LinkedIn so that they more or less remember your face. Then you can call to remind them about yourself.

While talking on the phone, the client often tells you: "Sorry, I'm busy now. I can't speak," but they answer your previous letters that same evening.

Another problem is that Ukrainian sales managers are uncomfortable with cold calling foreign customers.

My advice: whenever possible, call from the client's country (for example, when traveling on a business trip). In this situation, several barriers are erased. Be sure that you buy a local SIM card. If the client sees a local number, they will treat you with a greater level of trust. After one such trip you will overcome the fear of cold calls abroad.

If it is not possible to go to the client's country, just imagine that you're already there. When calling from your country, use a foreign number; for example, buy a SipNet. Start a friendly conversation and ask: "Hey, what's up? Let's meet up for coffee. Why haven't I heard from you?"

Remember that people in America and Europe have quite an active lifestyle and often use voicemail. Use messengers in your smartphone, as almost everybody uses them. Remind the client about your previous emails with a brief message. Again, write to them from a non-foreign number.

Such cold — yet still a bit warm — calling works.

If you see that the client didn't even open your letters, then you should not call, because it will be that classic cold call I spoke of at the beginning.

Make sure that there is no huge gap between letters and calls. If you sent 300 emails and only made three calls, don't be surprised when you find out that you have few contracts. This statistic shows that you need to upgrade your calling skills. This will help to improve your closing performance.

Sum Up

Clearly, expert opinions almost always differ. Some advise grabbing the phone and calling any potential customer. Others say that this ancient method isn't necessary and only wastes time. Some even suggest trying everything at once.

Obviously, the main thing is to understand here is the end goal of any particular method and to know your TA and its needs and preferences.

Of course, the calls like those from the movies "Boiler Room" or "The Wolf of Wall Street" don't work in IT sales, so you'll need to be more creative. Test different methods, collect statistics, and note what works more effectively in your particular case. We recommend not being afraid to learn and try out new sales channels.
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