I thought only office supply companies were still using old and worn cold calling tactics but turns out I was wrong. Recently, a friend who is a Regional VP of Sales of an enterprise software company complained that her boss had mandated a weekly “cold calling day” for all sales people. Growing the pipeline is their most pressing sales challenge but cold calling is no longer a productive way to do that.
This type of reaction and the exponential waste it creates makes me cringe. Sure, there is a small percentage of sales professionals with silver tongues who manage to have some cold calling success, but for the vast majority cold calling is ineffective and inefficient.
Old habits die hard and this must be the case for cold calling as a tactic. Most sales leaders today learned a sales methodology in which cold calling was a given. It’s time to replace “cold calling” with “permission marketing.” Permission marketing is not new. Seth Godin, the father of permission marketing, made the concept famous. His classic line, “How do we get people to raise their hand?”, is the question that progressive sales leaders should ask today.
Before you say, “that’s marketing’s job, that’s not my area of responsibility”, let me say, “think again.” To borrow from fellow blogger, Kristin Zhivago, “the traditional division between marketing and selling no longer matches the customer’s buying process.”
Why is this so, you ask? The neatly organized idea that marketing captures inquiries, nurtures them into viable leads, and then, when qualified, passes them to sales, just doesn’t jive with the buyer’s reality. With Google power, a prospective buyer can go from acknowledging they have a problem through the various stages of the buyer’s journey in an afternoon. Buyers’ questions that BG (Before Google) required a conversation with a salesperson are now answered through online searches that pull from blogs, websites, discussion forums and other social network communities. In short, the line separating marketing and sales functions is blurred.
This is good news for sales organizations who choose to adapt. By looking at the sales challenge differently and by using Modern Marketing, you can create a relationship with prospects in which they warmly welcome a call from your sales team because they’re ready to talk to a salesperson. Obviously, this kind of call is much more productive for both the customer and the salesperson.
Old habits and outmoded techniques die hard but the world has changed. Sales teams that adapt to the evolution of the customer’s buying behavior will find the click they hear is a prospect clicking to buy rather than a prospect hanging up on an unwanted cold call.