One of the biggest challenges facing today’s print marketers is how to deliver the right customer experience at the right time – and determine exactly when that is throughout the buyer journey. On July 3rd, Dave Rosendahl, President and co-founder of MindFire, shared a post titled: Apple is Building an iPhone Feature That Could Destroy the Cold Calling Industry, and Nobody Even Noticed. I was intrigued by the title’s bold, industry-killing claim and read on. The exact feature – silence unknown callers – is a new setting that protects users from unknown and spam callers. When the setting is turned on, Siri intelligence only allows calls to ring your phone from numbers in your contacts, mail and messages. All other calls are automatically sent to voicemail.
I must confess (to the frustration of my family and friends) that I won’t answer my phone unless the call is scheduled. If I do happen to pick up the phone in a momentary lapse of judgment, I can promise you that no matter what time it is, that I don’t have a few minutes to spare right now. I definitely will not answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number and will intentionally send it to voicemail. If it’s important, they’ll leave a message, which I will read as a text and act upon accordingly. It’s my version of gatekeeping – and I’m not alone. The group of people who prefer a short text message in place of (or preceding) a phone call is growing, and that group includes Dave. Like me, he recognizes how powerful and important a role a phone call plays – placed at the right time and with the right message – before, during and after the sale.
With cold calling rooted into every sales department’s DNA, seasoned pros are struggling to have live conversations with today’s business buyers, while a new regime of digital-savvy “hunters” lacks the polish honed over years of face-to-face conversations. Could Siri’s new call-blocking technology be the final blow to a cold calling era? Dave and I continued the discussion offline. Here’s how we boiled it down:
Communication preferences and channels evolve as society adjusts to new technology. Salespeople need to adjust too – and more importantly, assume that what worked yesterday might not work in the future. When marketing and sales collaborate on a lead-qualification and follow-up strategy that align throughout the buyer lifecycle, it ensures a fluid customer experience – as your prospect/lead converts from being marketing qualified (MQL) to sales qualified (SQL), and your calls go from ‘cold’ to ‘warm’.
Savvy hunters are diversifying channel strategies and shifting from legacy cold-calling tactics to new ice-breaking engagements. Here are four strategies you can utilize now to help convert leads into sales:
- Know where your clients and prospects hang out on social media. Just because you’re not on Facebook doesn’t mean they’re not. While it takes work, providing meaningful and useful information to your audience often results in an inbound inquiry from your market and a warm call down the road.
- Join the customer journey. Before a lead becomes sales-ready, it’s been nurtured and primed by marketing, sometimes for months in advance. Savvy reps that engage with the process are best equipped to turn marketing-driven conversations into sales-driven ones.
- Send something in the mail. Whether it be a handwritten letter, box of cookies, book or even a pre-paid cellphone with your number on auto-dial (yes, that works!), you’ll have a good chance of cutting through the noise and clutter by standing out.
- Turn your call script into a campaign. When trying to get inside an organization where cold calling has failed, consider running a Facebook or LinkedIn campaign directly to that organization or person. If nothing else, you’ll get attention for your creativity – and attention when you call.
While the role of cold-calling may have shifted, the importance of building a relationship with your prospects and customers remains critical in the buyer journey where engagement doesn’t need to happen over the phone any more. Channel diversification and an appreciation for the customer journey are feeding the appetite of today’s sales hunters.
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