Cold Call Alternatives

Lead generation and sales prospecting techniques. Tips and ideas for finding sales leads through referrals, introductions, and business networking.

Every so often even the best salespeople need to brush up their sales prospecting techniques.

Perhaps you have experienced a lead famine. Your pipeline drains away fast and it doesn't take long to fall from grace. Salespeople are only as good as their last sale.

Perhaps for you, things haven’t gone pear shaped before and you are reading along just for the ride. I hope you never find yourself with no other option but cold calling for lead generation.

No matter how thick skinned sellers may be, buyers somehow sense an edge of desparation. Then things go from bad to worse.

Maybe there is a better way or at least, a more palatable alternative to cold telephone calls.

Three Types of Introduction

1. Research indicates that decision makers are much more likely to agree meetings with salespeople when they are introduced by a colleague, team member, peer, or manager. 

2. The same research suggests that the next best way in is to get an introduction from consultants, business partners, customers, or suppliers. 

You don't necessarily need to know the person making the introduction. See 'Get Introductions from People you Don't Know' for more.

3. The third way of having buyers grant you a hearing, is meeting them at offsite event such as exhibitions, conferences, seminars, and social events. 

If you want to make better use of time at events, these tips make a difference:

When meeting prospects informally, do not sell. Do not use your elevator pitch. Do not be tempted to speak of what you do except to the minimum degree necessary to satisfy polite enquiry.

Some of those you meet might lure you into a work discussion. It is good to let them talk. Encourage it, even if their discourse is boring. Be interested, be very interested. Dale Carnegie wrote, “if you want to be interesting, be interested”. No matter how one sided the conversation, resist the urge to present your wares.

Be polite and very brief about your stuff. Listening is something we can all improve. I can think of several occasions when my listening patience wasn't good enough. The lessons were almost always expensive.

If you are drawn into speaking about your products or services in any detail while at a social event, you lessen your chances of an audience later. Maintain some mystery at all costs. If someone is insistent, make an appointment there and then for a formal business meeting.

The great thing about meeting executives informally is that, on average, they will be eleven times more likely to take your call afterwards. Ask the senior executives you know for an opinion on this claim. 

Improve sales prospecting techniques and maximise results by investing in forethought, planning, and preparation.

Forthought

Consider the events that you will attend or how to get an invitation to events that your prospects are likely to attend.

Set aside some time to think about who you want to meet at the event and what questions you can ask that will be interesting to them

It is in your interests to do most of the listening. Consider how you will put people at their ease and encourage them to speak freely. 

Planning

Dicide who you will try to meet at the event and how you will approach them. Make a written plan to structure your time at the event.

Note which professional associations, institutes, networking clubs, or user groups each person favours. Google and LinkedIn make this easy..

Note the reasons you will give for wanting to meet them. Connect with somthing to do with their work, something they have written, or a genuinely shared passion.

Preparation

Memorise the names of the people who you hope to meet at the event.

Rehearse questions that explore the insights you have about the opportunities and challenges of the people whom you want to meet.

Prepare questions that seek opinions about relevent news, events, and trends. 

Get Introduced

You may not have the good fortune of knowing someone who knows the person you want to meet. Just ask anyone who does. It is usually quite easy to make new contacts at informal business gatherings. Pick someone on the periphery a group and introduce yourself. Build rapport while making small talk and then ask for the introduction you are seeking. You know how to make the right kind of plea; you've seen it in the movies.

Introduce Yourself

All you need is a minute of conversation. Recognise the person by saying, "aren't you . . ." then briefly explain how you know of them and ask an interesting question. For non celebrities, this is very flattering and is certain to cause them remember the encounter. 

If the people you want to meet don't attend the ents that you can, invite them to your event..

Alternatively, obtain an invitation to events that those you want to meet are expected to attend.

Many businesses invest in event sponsorship and corporate entertainment to provide their staff with opportunities to build relationships. The return on the investment can be meagre if sales staff don't maximise the opportunity to connect with those who attend.

As Plato is credited with saying, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.”

Maybe cold calling isn't so bad after all! At least it is immediately accessible and you might get away with less forethought, planning, and preparation.

Related items:

Article by Clive Miller

If you are looking for sales prospecting techniques, business networking tips, or ways to increase sales lead generation, we can help. Telephone +44 (0)1392 851500 for more information. We will be pleased to learn about your needs or talk through some options. Send email to custserv@salessense.co.uk for a prompt reply or use the contact form here.