05 October 2020

What is a cold call? Pros, cons, and should you use it?

It’s a popular claim that cold calls are dead. But are they? In this article, we discuss what they are, their advantages, disadvantages, and how you can use this strategy to your advantage.

 

You are reading the Business Development, Services and Marketing (BDSM) Blog. Named to reflect the punishing amount of discipline required to master the core tenets of the industries we service, we blog about current affairs, industry tips, tech developments and more.

  Written by

  Fatima Bajwa

  Content Marketer

Ah, the cold call. One of the oldest sales tactics in the game that many of us have developed a sense of skepticism toward.

But consider these. 69% of buyers accept a cold call from a business. And 82% of buyers would accept a meeting with a rep after speaking with them through a cold call.

 

69% of prospects have accepted cold calls from businesses

In reality, there are more outbound call statistics out there that show that the cold call is far from being ‘dead’.

Yet, the fact that cold calling is often misunderstood and confused with spam calls shows how little people truly know about cold calls.

So, what really is cold calling, you ask? Is it as bad as people make it out to be? Should you use it?

Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re going to answer everything you’ve been wondering about cold calls in this article. Let’s delve right into it.

 

What is cold calling?

Many people probably confuse cold calls with spam calls. To clear the air, cold calling is not simply about picking up the phone and dialing a random number to deliver an ineffective sales pitch. No, that would be bad calling. That is spammy, unsuccessful, and, yes, dead. On the other hand, cold calling is one of the most effective ways to improve your sales if you do it right. After all, according to a study, businesses that don’t cold call experience 42% less growth than those who do. So, what is a cold call? A cold call is a call you make to prospects that you’ve shortlisted based on prior research. But you’ve had no prior contact with them and they have yet to show prior intent. This means that the prospect:
  • Hasn’t filled up your web form.
  • Didn’t express interest in the product.
  • Wasn’t a contact purchased from a lead provider.
  • Didn’t call you.
Simply put, the prospect isn’t interested in you. Yet. The call is considered ‘cold’ because you have yet to establish a ‘warm’ relationship with the prospects yet. The goal of this call is to generate intent. Sales reps may want to avoid focussing on selling the product or service on the first call as it can come off as inauthentic. You don’t want to come off as a business that doesn’t truly care about your prospects’ business problems.

Industries that use cold-calling

A cold call may be an old strategy, but it has yet to outlive its usefulness. It is actually still used extensively by many sectors. Both B2C and B2B companies use them as an integral part of their sales strategies. That’s because cold calling, when done right, can generate a lot of high-quality leads. Let’s take a look at some of the industries using cold calls.

Insurance

Insurance companies greatly benefit from utilizing cold call strategies. They use it to assist with their sales. Insurance call centers leverage their highly experienced and licensed agents to sell policies such as life insurance, health insurance, automotive insurance, and more!

Banking

Selling bank products and services typically requires you to be proactive when it comes to generating sales leads. This is where cold calls come in. Along with other strategies, cold calls aid the representatives in creating and maintaining, a connection and relationship with your potential clients.

Travel and hospitality

Travel and hospitality companies make use of cold calling strategies to quickly and inexpensively connect with customers, hotels, local tourism companies, etc., spread across the globe. They often target travelers during peak travel periods and offer them discounts and promotions. Moreover, through cold calls, they try to connect with companies complimenting their services and build a better relationship with them. Additionally, using an outbound call software helps them stay connected with reduced international calling bills. The interesting thing about cold calls is that they’re usually done by companies with good outbound call software. Basically, an outbound call software links all your systems (phone, mobile, online platforms) and collects and manages data from all of them. In short, successful businesses tend to have outbound call software. Companies with the software tend to use it for cold calls. But it can be used for a lot more than that: this kind of software boosts the effectiveness of all customer-facing teams, from salespeople to customer support people. If you want to see how it works, you can check some of the top-ranked outbound call software out there.  

Advantages and disadvantages of cold calling

Advantages

1. Learn more about the prospect directly

Once on the phone, you can learn more about your prospect’s business needs.

There is only so much you can find out through your preliminary research. However brief the conversation, you can gain more information about what’s important to the prospect.

You can use this information to tailor a sales pitch at a later point that acknowledges the particular pain points. You can offer a value proposition that may be difficult to resist.

By showing genuine interest in the prospects and their businesses right from the outset of the call, you allow business conversations to flow naturally without pressuring them to commit to buying your product.

2. Higher likelihood of receiving a response from prospects

Other methods of cold communication such as emails tend to be less effective. In a mini poll by Hubspot, over 37% of respondents have anywhere between over 11 to over 50 unread emails.

 

A mini poll by Hubspot revealed that over 37% of the respondents have anywhere between over 11 to over 50 unread emails.

People have a lot more unread emails in their inbox than you think. Source: Hubspot.

 

This means that your outreach emails are a lot less likely to be noticed by your prospects than your phone calls. I mean, how can one not notice a vibrating or ringing phone?

This, in turn, increases the likelihood of your prospect engaging in a conversation with you.

3. Receive instant feedback

Cold calling is a great way to receive feedback from your prospects.

Because you are more likely to engage in a conversation with your prospects as compared to other cold communication methods, you are also more likely to collect more qualitative information from your prospects.

When you try to establish rapport with your prospects and build intent, you can ask them more about what they feel about your product or service.

Do they think that there’s a great product/service fit? Do they think that the price range is acceptable? Do they prefer free trials or will live demos suffice?

The feedback you collect from these conversations can then be used to tailor your product or service to better match the needs and wants of your target group.

4. Conduct sales remotely from anywhere in the world

Cold calls can be made from anywhere in the world. You can easily make local, and international calls at an affordable price.

With cold calling software, you can even automate the entire process!

This lets you expand your business across borders more easily as well.

5. Cost-effective method of conducting sales

Even though it is pretty much mandatory to use cold calling software these days, the price is a lot more affordable than you think.

The price range for the basic plans of many outbound call software ranges from $14 to $50 per agent per month.

Disadvantages of cold calling

1. May be annoying to some people

Some people don’t enjoy receiving unexpected phone calls.

They may not want to take time out of their busy schedules to hear a sales rep give them an unsolicited pitch.

Plus, even if the potential customer picks up the phone, you might catch them at a bad time, or get sent to their voicemail.

Due to this, you could alienate these potential customers. This is the risk you take when cold calling; people often immediately decide that they’re not interested in hearing your pitch and don’t want to be bothered.

So make sure you know what the stats say about a good time for a cold call!

2. The process can be long

The chances of getting a potential customer can be low at times (depending on the industry and the nature of the business).

And just like any other lead generation method, you will run into people who are not interested in your product or service.

A sales rep can expect to receive a lot of rejections and occasionally, even abusive language.

Then again, whoever said lead generation was an easy thing to do?

3. Results can be inconsistent

As with other sales strategies out there, success isn’t guaranteed even if you’ve had some success.

Cold calling does work really well at times. But you may hit a rough patch very quickly and won’t have as much luck.

Typically, it can be difficult to predict how many sales you’ll generate from cold calling.

Due to this, the inconsistency could put your business in financial jeopardy.

The trick is to blend cold calls together with other strategies to make it work! There is never one cookie-cutter sales method that you can apply to every situation.

 

Summary of advantages and disadvantages

Let’s take a look at this infographic which sums up all the advantages and disadvantages of using cold calls.

Graphic showing the advantages and disadvnatages of cold call.

 

Why do many people fail at cold calling?

Cold calling is tough. You get a lot of negative feedback and more than a few knocks. Few people actually enjoy rejection. But it’s part of life for a cold caller. Before you dive into that life, let’s look at the most common mistakes. After all, prevention is better than cure.

1. Prospects are unaware of the sales reps’ domain expertise

Sales reps should make every effort to let their prospects know who they are well before they make a call. For example, how much they know about customer pain points, the industries they’ve served before, and even their professional experience. So when they do call the prospect will be more inclined to listen to them. A large number of scammers out there give sales reps everywhere a bad name. This makes people feel skeptical about sales calls they receive. Sales reps can build credibility by participating in online discussions about a particular pain point. For instance, they can reply to prospects’ questions on online forums to showcase their knowledge on a particular topic. This helps to build the trust the prospects will have in sales reps.

2. They sound like a flat commercial

Many (if not all) sales reps have received calls at least a few times. Ask yourself this. How did you feel when you hear the sales reps say these to you:
  • “For a limited time only”
  • “Special offer just for you”
  • “It costs ONLY …”
If you said that you felt something along the lines of ‘inauthentic’, ‘mechanical’ and/or ‘monotonous’, you’re not the only one. Yet for some reason, it is very common to hear sales reps uttering these lines. Prospects want real talk from real people. More thought needs to be put into scripting sales pitches to humanize the sales conversation more.

3. They are not making enough calls

If you make between 6 and 10 calls a day, you aren’t really prospecting. That isn’t enough calls to give yourself a fair chance at success. According to a study, sales reps make an average of 45 calls per day, and the number of daily quality conversations is 5.1 calls.   To make cold calling work you need an already researched target list and 60 to 80 prospects.

4. Their timing was terrible

No one wants to receive a call at 8 AM on Monday morning as they sit down to start their workweek. For this reason, the likelihood of you reaching someone willing to answer the phone at 8 am on Monday is very low. The best time to call someone depends highly on who you are trying to reach and even more importantly on their personal behavior.  An oft-cited study says that cold calls are 70% more successful on Wednesdays. The best time of the day is considered to be between 4PM to 5PM. To be successful you need to know in general what are the best times of day to make cold calls as well as having an understanding of your audience’s typical workday so you can connect with them.  

How to make cold calling more effective?

If you feel overwhelmed by cold calls, you’re not alone. No two calls are the same, which makes the experience exciting. Albeit frightening at times. Though cold calling has its own shortcomings, it can still achieve great results when done properly. Let’s take a look at some ways on how sales reps can improve on their cold calling tactics.

1. Research about your potential customer

You have to know who you are going after. And with the tools available to you today, there’s no excuse for going into a cold call blind. Make sure that you do your homework before using the technique. Doing in-depth research and collecting more information about prospects helps you narrow down your contact list to a group of people who are most likely to express interest in your business. This will help to increase your chances of building intent and eventually converting them into your customers.

2. Record Your Calls to See Where You Went Wrong (or Right)

You know how athletes will watch replays of their games or matches to see how they did? You should begin doing the same. Record all your sales calls and then, at the end of the day or the week, go back and listen to the most noteworthy sales conversations. You want to study both good and bad calls. The good calls will let you review which of your tactics work. You can then continue using those tactics or tweak them for further success. The calls where you didn’t do so good? These hold even greater value. By figuring out what didn’t quite work, you can improve on your process and begin making more sales through your cold calls. In fact, many outbound call software come with this feature!  

So, should you use cold calls?

We hope that this gave you a clearer understanding of what a cold call is and how it can help you with your sales activities. After discussing the importance and benefits of cold calls even in today’s time, you might want to consider giving it a try! But with a variety of software out there with the same basic features complimenting the cold calls, it’s hard to make a decision. Fortunately, we’ve prepared a list of the top 20 outbound call software to warm up your cold calls. We discuss the basic features of each product and provide ratings from several tech review sites. We hope that this can help you make a more informed purchase decision.  

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