Nobody wants to talk about the elephant in the salesroom: cold calling and emailing. It’s the factor that nobody wants to talk about because it’s what most often sets sales teams up for sales lead generation failure.
Unfortunately for sales teams, when lead gen collapses, the entire sales process collapses, because lead gen is the first phase of the entire process.
To help you improve your overall sales lead generation outcomes, I’m sharing methods for cold calling and emailing success. More specifically, I’m sharing:
- Why most sales teams struggle with cold outreach;
- Top cold outreach keys for success; and
- A straightforward 3-step cold outreach process.
Without the proper methods and knowledge, lead gen will collapse. And when lead gen collapses, sales growth is impossible. Start here to up your outbound lead generation game!
What Is Outbound Lead Generation?
Outbound lead generation is one of two primary lead generation strategies used to siphon prospects into your sales pipeline. It’s the lead gen strategy in which you reach out to potential leads yourself.
There are several methods to generate leads underneath the outbound strategy umbrella, including:
- Cold calls
- Cold emails
- Cold social media messaging
Most sales teams generate at least 90% of their leads through cold outbound outreach. Therefore, getting good at outbound methods is extremely important to overall sales success.
What Are B2B Lead Generation Strategies?
As I said above, outbound lead generation is one of the two primary lead gen strategies.
You can think of B2B lead generation strategies as a sales and marketing team’s overall plan of attack to generate new leads.
The other primary strategy is inbound marketing, in which B2B marketers create compelling marketing content to organically attract leads to their business.
Just like cold outreach, there are several methods to generate leads underneath the inbound strategy umbrella, including:
- Search engine optimization
- Social media content marketing
- Email campaigns
- Referrals from existing customers
- Landing page optimization
Unlike outbound outreach, inbound marketing typically doesn’t generate as many leads.
However, that isn’t to say that inbound methods aren’t beneficial to the lead gen process. Rather, they play a supplementary role in cold outreach by increasing brand awareness and adding value to a new customer’s buying experience.
Together, outbound outreach and inbound marketing help sales teams have the best lead generation campaign.
Who Cold Calling Is Hard For Many Sales Professionals
It’s no secret: Making cold calls is the most fear-inducing task of the entire selling process for the majority of sales professionals. And it’s not just the calls that induce fear, but the lead generation process altogether.
However, it’s not just a generalized fear that most sales pros experience. Rather, it’s the fear of judgment. More specifically, being judged by the prospect on the other end of the line.
I’m here to tell you that 99% of prospects on the other end of the line aren’t judging you, and the only reason you fear judgment is because you’re getting out of your comfort zone.
By putting yourself out there on the phone to a complete stranger, your mind interprets that situation as highly uncomfortable. Whenever it senses an uncomfortable situation, it signals fear to your brain so that you don’t get entangled in the discomforting circumstance.
Therefore, the reason why you fear judgment is because your brain is trying to protect you from discomfort. Even though the prospect literally isn’t judging you, your mind will still play this trick!
That said, getting over the fear of judgment starts with recognizing that your brain is just trying to protect you–it’s human instinct 101!
On top of that, the hard truth is that prospects are too overwhelmed with their own problems and lives to judge you. At the end of the day, they’re thinking about themselves, not you.
Cold calling is usually hard for salespeople not because of some bad sales tactics or techniques, but because of the fear of being judged.
Keys to Cold Outreach Lead Gen Success
When it comes to making cold calls, it’s easy to let fear overwhelm you, and when fear overwhelms you, you start to see the simple task of picking up the phone as complicated.
However, I’m here to remind you that making cold calls is simple, and that if you follow the right process (more on that below) while keeping these keys to success in mind, you’ll keep fear at bay and subsequently have more success.
Focus on Qualified Leads
First off, don’t waste any time, energy, or resources making cold calls to leads who don’t appear to be qualified whatsoever.
Too many sales teams consistently sabotage themselves by making dozens of calls to leads who are totally unqualified. This only ends up clogging their sales pipeline with shoddy leads.
They do this because they have a scarcity mindset; they think that there are only so many leads out there, so it’s best to target any and every possible one.
However, I’m here to tell you that approaching lead gen with this scarcity mindset won’t do you any good!
From now on, only cold call prospects who fit the initial requirements of your target customer outlines (more on that below). You can use a sales prospecting platform to find potential leads who fit the outlines.
By focusing solely on qualified leads, you have more time to focus on making quality phone calls to leads who are actually likely to buy from you.
Cold Call First
When it comes to cold outreach, always make cold calling your primary form of outreach and then supplement with emails and social media messages.
Cold calling is a more proactive form of cold outreach, and proactivity is critical to success! Unless you’re assertive in cold-calling, you can say goodbye to the prospect.
By assertive, I mean that:
- You’re confronting prospective customers in real-time;
- You can easily control the narrative over the phone; and
- Prospects have to hear your live voice rather than just read some words on a message.
Most importantly when you make calls, prospects are hearing you in real-time, and it’s hard for them to ignore you in real time!
Hook the Lead’s Attention
I bet that your prospects currently have dozens if not more cold emails sitting in their inbox. On top of that, I bet that they receive several cold calls from other salespeople on a regular basis.
With so many incoming calls and messages, how do prospects choose which phone calls are worth staying on and which messages to respond to?
Prospects are most likely to stay on the line when salespeople have a hook for them to bite. On the end of that hook is some enticing value that the prospect believes they can gain by staying on the call.
Like how a fish won't bite a line unless there is a baited hook on the end, your prospects won't stay on the phone talking to you unless you have a hook with bait.
Keep it Short, Sweet, and Get to the Point Right Away
When it comes to making cold calls, short, sweet, and to the point is the name of the game!
By short, I mean that your calls shouldn’t be more than a few minutes long. Instead of hanging out on the phone forever wasting the prospect’s time, keep it short.
By sweet and to the point, I mean that all you really need to accomplish during the call is hooking the prospect’s attention and enticing them into the next formal meeting.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to dive into a ton of details on this first call. Doing so will only confuse the prospect.
Furthermore, instead of psyching yourself out with the idea of super long and challenging calls, remember that the shorter and sweeter the call, the more effective it is!
Supplement Value With Inbound Marketing Strategies
Like I said before, there are two primary lead gen strategies, inbound and outbound, which both play different but important roles when it comes to generating new leads.
That said, while you’re probably going to generate the majority of your leads through outbound outreach, you should supplement those efforts with excellent inbound marketing campaigns.
Get with your marketing team to create marketing content that adds value to your potential customer’s cold outreach experience.
For example, imagine that a potential customer answers your phone call and then does a Google search of your company. Will they be impressed with what they see? Do your company website and social media reflect what you’re saying on the phone?
The key for B2B marketers is to create additional value for the prospect. Whether it be hosting and posting webinars or creating SEO-backed blog articles, the idea is to supplement value to the prospect.
Sell the Next Step (Don’t Overthink)
In addition to fearing judgment, another key reason why salespeople get so intimidated by cold calling is because they imagine having to get on the phone and sell the product then and there. They see it as a total do-or-die situation.
However, this isn’t what making cold calls is all about.
Whenever you make a cold call, the goal is to SELL THE NEXT STEP! The goal isn’t to close the deal then and there, rather, it’s about getting the prospect into an initial formal meeting.
From now on whenever you pick up the phone, set the intention in your mind to sell the next step. Overthinking it beyond selling the next step will only increase your anxiety and reduce the potency of your call.
How to Successfully Cold Call & Cold Email Prospects In 3 Steps
Accomplishing any important sales task is challenging when you don’t have a plan. However, when a task is not just important but also commonly fear-inducing, such as cold outreach, having a thorough yet straightforward plan is even more important.
Thankfully, I have a 3-step process to help you start generating leads through cold outreach. This process has everything you need and nothing of what you don’t need, so that you can get the job done without having to jump through hoops.
1. Define Your Ideal Customers & Prepare to Make Calls
Set yourself up for cold sales call and email success by PREPARING.
If you wouldn’t show up for a test without studying, you shouldn’t pick up the phone or open your email without preparing yourself.
That said, you need to prepare with:
- An outline of your ideal customers
- Some lead generation software
- A list with each prospect’s contact information
- Collecting referrals
- A short script
If you want to get running straight out of the gates, then prepare, prepare, prepare!
A. Recall Your Ideal Customer Profile
First off, pull out your sales strategy framework to review your ideal customer outlines, including the:
- Ideal prospect profile (IPP)
- Ideal buyer persona (IBP)
These two outlines will help you identify the high-quality leads who you will be making your cold calls to.
They are the B2B companies and their decision-makers who you believe are most likely to purchase your product or service.
These outlines should already be in your strategy framework, but make sure to review them so you know what kind of prospects to start targeting.
B. Use Lead Generation Tools to Collect Prospect Contact Information
Next up, use a prospecting platform to search for leads who fit your IPP and IBP. Most importantly, collect the contact information for the leads who pop up.
Make sure to get:
- Phone numbers
- Email addresses
- Social network accounts
Make sure that you’re collecting contact information for the decision-makers whom you outlined in your IBP! If you can’t find the targeted decision-maker’s contact info, then look for somebody else who is high up on the food chain at the target company.
Instead of assuming that every lead the software spits out fits your ideal customer outlines, take a minute or two to review each lead. While the lead might fit your initial criteria, perhaps there is some other factor about the company that makes them less than ideal.
This way, you avoid clogging your pipeline with crummy leads!
C. Input Contact Information Into Your CRM
With each lead’s contact information pulled up, input that information in your CRM.
The key here is to keep your information extremely organized!
Unfortunately, many sales reps sabotage themselves by making a mess out of their CRM. This creates problems later on in the pipeline.
That said, take the time now to get information organized. Your future self will thank you!
D. Collect Referrals
If you’re not asking your current customers for referrals for potential customers, then you’re currently sitting on a cold outreach gold mine.
Oftentimes, referrals from your current customers are some of the best because the leads tend to align with your existing customers in terms of values. Therefore, they’re easy leads to build relationships with throughout the sales process.
Don’t forget to ask for referrals before getting started with outreach!
E. Divide Prospects Into Hot, Warm, and Cold Groups
Now that you’ve got a list of leads from the sales prospecting software and referrals, divide the leads into hot, warm, and cold lead groups.
Hot leads are those you already know and have at least somewhat of a relationship with. For example, perhaps the hot lead is somebody who you met before at a sales conference, or the lead is a business acquaintance. Moreover, hot leads are the leads who you already have at least somewhat of a relationship with and therefore are the most likely to answer your cold call right away.
Warm leads are those leads who you perhaps have met before or have some connection to but don’t necessarily have a relationship with. For example, perhaps the lead is a friend of your friend who you know but haven’t necessarily spoken with before. Referrals often fall into this category.
Lastly, cold leads are leads whom you don’t have any relationship with at all, and they probably don’t know who you are. More likely than not, these are leads who you found on your prospecting software.
When it comes time to make calls, these groupings will come in handy!
F. Write a Short Script
Finally, write a short cold call script that you can use for each cold call.
Remember, all you need to accomplish during the initial cold call is hooking the lead’s attention and getting them set up for the next call–that’s it, and your script should reflect this.
As long as it accomplishes those two things while staying relatively short and sweet, it’ll be a good script.
2. Make Your Cold Calls
Now that you’ve thoroughly prepared yourself, you’re ready to make cold calls.
The key to nailing this step is not to overthink it!
Again, you don’t need to approach this step as if you must close the deal by the end of the call. Doing so will only put unnecessary pressure on your shoulders and you’ll resultantly freak out.
Instead, you just need to get the prospect to agree to the next step! If you can get them to agree to the next meeting, then you’ve succeeded.
A. Cold Call - Not Email - First!
You’re ready to make your cold calls. NO, not cold emails, cold CALLs.
Always start your cold outreach process with calls because, unlike emails or LinkedIn messages, phone calls allow you to have the prospect on the line in real-time. When the prospect is directly on the other end of the line, it’s hard for them to ignore you and they’ll see you as a more assertive sales professional.
On the flip side, it’s easy to ignore cold emails and messages because the prospect simply has to ignore your words written on the page. Therefore, it’s easier for them to not just ignore you but not take you seriously.
Just pick up the phone!
B. Immediately Set Up an Initial Meeting for ASAP
Before the call ends, you absolutely MUST set up a formal, follow-up sales meeting either over video or in person, and get it set up ASAP. If possible, set this call up for the next day. This is the meeting in which you will qualify the prospect.
Again, you want to get this formal meeting set up ASAP, because the less time there is between the initial call and the meeting, the more likely you are to stay in control of the deal.
On the other hand, if you schedule the call for several days later, the prospect will have tons of time to think of why they shouldn’t talk to you or have their calendar fill up.
If the prospect supposedly doesn’t have their calendar on them, pick a time yourself and then have them confirm later that day if it works.
Regardless of the circumstances, don’t hang up the phone without setting up this meeting.
3. Follow-Up With Cold Emails, Calls, and Social Media Messages
At this point, the hard work is done.
From here on out, the name of the game is consistency. Specifically, I mean consistently following up with your prospects if they didn’t respond to your initial call. If the prospect did answer your call, then follow-up is still necessary, although somewhat different.
At the end of the day, you can make the greatest initial cold call ever, but all that goodness will go to waste without consistency.
That said, secure yourself outbound lead gen success by being consistent!
A. Send a Follow-Up Message, Regardless of if the Lead Answered
If the prospect answered your cold call and set up an initial format meeting, then immediately send a follow-up email thanking them for their time and reminding them of the upcoming meeting. Be sure to leave any of the meeting details in the message.
If the prospect didn’t respond to your cold call, then leave them a voicemail and send an immediate follow-up email. In that email, let them know that you left a voicemail and drop your hook.
Then if the lead still doesn’t respond to either your initial call or follow-up email within 24 hours, make another call and send another email.
After that if the least still doesn’t respond, continue the call and email duo every 12 hours UNTIL YOU GET A RESPONSE!
To put it simply, keep reaching out until you get a response. If you’re bothering the lead, they’ll tell you, but until that happens, keep following up.
B. Send a LinkedIn Message, THEN Connect
After making your initial sales call, send the prospect a message on LinkedIn.
If the lead answered your call, you can send a message and connect.
On the other hand, if the lead didn’t answer your initial call, then only send a message–do not connect! If you connect with the lead and send a message simultaneously, they’ll feel as if they’re being sold to. Whenever a prospect feels like they’re being sold to, they’re probably not going to respond.
Final Thoughts on Sales Lead Generation Success w/ Outbound Outreach
Just because most salespeople struggle with cold calls and emails during the sales lead generation process doesn’t mean that you need to. In fact, all you need to do is stop doing what everybody else is doing, which is allowing overthinking and fear to determine the actions they take, which ultimately creates their tragic outcomes.
Rather than following that path, use this guide to help you achieve outbound sales lead generation success. It’s a straightforward path, but it’s up to you to walk it.
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