May 17, 2013

Cold calling has always been a pain point for sales people, due to the high rejection rate and the sheer amount of work involved in order to get just one viable lead. So, it is fair to say the practice faces some resistance. This is why salespeople who do cold-call dedicatedly can do so well — most salespeople are unwilling to do it long enough to get results, so cold callers have little competition.

However, cold calling has become more difficult due to things like Do Not Call lists, caller ID, call screening, and greater awareness among gatekeepers of the “tricks” used to sneakily bypass them. It makes this prospecting method less lucrative.

If you are facing a slowdown or a slump, and cold calling is not viable for you, here are some quick prospecting boosts which will get the needle to move towards a full pipeline of leads.

1. Find a networking event this week and go. By yourself.

The worst thing to do when going to a networking event is to attend with a co-worker who will spend vital prospecting time gabbing with you about sports, the weather, or office gossip. If you must attend with a co-worker, agree to split up upon arrival, or work together as a team. One way this can work is for one to roam and filter prospects to be introduced to the other for a deeper conversation.

How do you find an event? Check out LinkedIn, the local Chamber of Commerce website, the newspaper, Meetup, Plancast, Lanyrd, Eventbrite, NetParty, and more.

For more tips, see this article on Business2Community.

2. Call all of your current customers.

Make each a genuine service call, making sure they are satisfied with your offering. If any problems are brought up, handle them — quickly. This last point is very important, or you risk making an enemy out of a formerly satisfied customer. If you are not prepared to handle issues, don’t make these calls.

Making these calls will unearth upselling, cross-selling and referral opportunities, and customers are usually quite happy to hear from you, making this a pleasant activity.

3. Hold an online Q&A in the next 48 to 72 hours. Promote via Twitter and other social media.

Get creative with this, and offer something of value. One idea is to conduct an online Q&A similar to the popular “Ask Me Anything” format on Reddit. Make it immediate and extremely accessible, avoiding things like GoToMeeting which require software installation.

One popular method is to have people Tweet their questions, using specific hashtags so people can “tune in” and participate with the specific topic. Invite other experts in your field to participate, and make it lively. They will likely tweet about it themselves to their own followers.  For the social media beginner, here is an excellent primer on how to host a Twitter Q&A session.

Another solution is to host a free ChatWING session, as this requires no software installation or login from your participants.

Once the Q&A is done, issue a call to action, which is especially powerful if you can offer a discount for attendees or something for free, such as an e-book with more information.

Need more ideas? Here are some more prospecting tips from Dale Carnegie Training.