Cold calling is a journey, not a destination

Oct. 7, 2014

Dealers should remember to use cold calling to help generate new leads.

Many water dealerships use cold calling on a daily basis to generate new leads for their dealerships.

Some dealers are highly successful at this, having perfected their scripts, the training of their staffs and the supervision of the program over years of diligent work. Other dealerships are not as successful.

We all know that every dealership needs a myriad of outbound lead generation strategies to keep the leads flowing in. Cold calling is one of the strategies every water quality dealer needs to keep front and forward in their marketing toolbox.

But let’s not kid ourselves; cold calling can be a miserable experience. If it’s quiet in the Dataman Group office, I tell our salespeople to get on the phone and start cold calling — and they groan something fierce. The truth of the matter is that if it’s not done the right way, cold calling is just prone to failure.

But cold calling, when done correctly, is an efficient way to bring new leads into the pipeline. It is predictable; it is profitable and it works.

Just like any skill, cold calling requires some practice; and, after that, it’s a numbers game.

So, before you let your staff off the hook when they whine and say that cold calling doesn’t work, remember that a cold calling campaign requires testing and tweaking — the same way that we test and tweak any direct marketing program until we get it right.

Because if we can up the response rate just one percent, wow!

Here’s a real-life B2B case study from Beep DVM:

"We had a client that purchased lists from a data broker based on location, size, industry and title — the perfect prospects. They called with an offer to share how their service saved time and money through a multi-touch cold calling campaign. They had a 0.5 percent meeting rate and they declared the campaign (not the calling) a failure.

Revisiting what they could test, they changed two items:

  • Added an additional filter/trigger: Use of a specific technology they noticed other clients used
  • Changed the value proposition of the call: Offered a best practices discussion vs. a services overview.

These two changes resulted in a jump from 0.5 percent meetings set to four percent (and growing) — an eightfold increase!"

One caveat: Make sure you are testing a large enough sample to make this meaningful.

In a recent article, I wrote about direct mail response and how it’s important to learn from our results. The same holds true with cold calling.

If you get response like: "I don’t know what you’re talking about," or "Our company doesn’t do that," this tells you to revisit your list criteria and make some changes in the SICs or contact titles.

However, if you get responses like: "We just bought from a competitor," or "I’m too busy right now, try me in a few weeks," don’t be discouraged.

While these responses also seem negative (not to mention they didn’t buy anything), at least we know we’re getting close to the right target; maybe our timing is wrong; maybe we need to tweak our script a bit more; but we are learning something that will help us improve our campaign for the future.

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