Promoting a Service Business: The Value of Cold Calling in the Digital Age

Today, in the age of social media, email and instant messaging apps, being able to pick up the phone and speak to someone on the other end is a dying art.

Younger generations continue to be less inclined to have real time conversational communication as they move further into isolated connectivity online. As a result, we are witnessing a steady shift away from personal interaction and the art of conversation. Having the understanding and ability to have phone conversations with strangers when promoting a service business can be crucial to the success of any company. Although we are now constantly on our phones, we are losing the ability to effectively communicate with each other on them. Cold calling is a rapidly declining social skill also often overlooked by many companies who tend to focus on online marketing techniques when promoting a service business. Many of these types of businesses have lost the ability to connect with their customers on a personal level, as identified potential leads are perceived more as data rather than real people. Although online lead generation is still an incredibly effective way to find potential new clients, the value of cold calling shouldn’t be so quickly overlooked. Without any social cues such as body language and facial expressions, interrupting a stranger’s day to clumsily talk to them over the phone is a daunting experience for most people. Yet the decline in our ability to perform this skill should highlight its growing value for businesses to adopt.

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling relates to a traditional marketing practice of making unsolicited phone calls to potential business leads in the hopes of selling them a product or service. The call is referred to as ‘cold’ because it is the first contact between the caller and call recipient and it is a difficult skill to develop the ability to put a stranger at ease and get them ‘warming up’ during conversation. Cold calling experts will have developed a ‘thick skin’ for the constant rejections and hangups they experience. Cold calling should not be viewed as merely a numbers game. When cold calling is performed effectively, it is the art of approaching someone by phone in an open, honest and professional manner and presenting them with a reasonable proposition.

Why Do We Avoid Cold Calling?

not another telemarketer promoting a service business Cold calling has become infamous for the countless abrupt hangups and unapologetic ear beatings which can result if the caller is inexperienced or handles the call incorrectly. The rise of telemarketing invading our personal lives has only added to the perceived stigma of cold calling. Outsourced international call centers with non english native speakers greeting call recipients with an unauthentic “G’day mate” in a foreign accent is an all too common experience we have all shared. Being read to off a script and part of a call centers’ numbers game as they try to reach their 1% conversion goal is an obvious, horribly disrupting, rude and impersonal experience. This negative association with cold calling is at the forefront of most of our minds when considering the adoption of this practice for our promotion of a service business. As a result of our own bias being on the receiving end of many of these poorly demonstrated cold calls, we incorrectly assume that there are inherent flaws in the effectiveness of this practice and that it is not recommended when promoting a service business.

WhatsApp Instant Messenger Mobile App

Today We’re also conditioned to believe that ‘direct messaging’ a person is an instantaneous and effective way of reaching them. This view is consistently reestablished by the technologies which encompass our lifestyles such as social media and mobile smartphones. It’s also convenient for the message sender. We are able to edit and prepare our message and finely polish what we send out. Very little can go wrong if we take the time to do this. We can send the same message over and over as a template to many people.Once sent, a message is out of sight and out of mind as we wait for a response. This has, unfortunately, become the go to response for making contact or communication too frequently in the digital business space.

Maintaining Control

First and foremost, picking up the phone and calling someone allows you to maintain control of the situation from start to finish. If you send out an email, direct message or even text, once the message is sent you are passing control of the situation over to the person you are contacting. It is now up to them whether to let you know the even received your message or to respond. All too often, people don’t even bother to respond regardless of how spammy or personal your message may be. You will inevitably put yourself into the position of waiting for a response and continuing to bug an already uninterested person with further follow up messages. According to HubSpot, call back rates are estimated to be lower than 1% while lower than 24% of sales emails are even opened let alone responded to. To avoid this headache, initiate a phone call and end the call yourself and on your terms. Remember to keep conscious of handing over control at any point in the interaction and to avoid this. If someone is busy and unavailable to talk, ask them when you are able to call them back rather than getting them to return your call, where you would again be handing over control and hoping they follow through.

Great Data Resource

Cold calling is also a fantastic and efficient way for gathering data and information on a particular demographic. Cold calling works excellently in tandem with SEO once we are able to better understand our targeted demographic through the information we have gathered. Digital Marketers can use this information to kickstart a new email or social media marketing campaign. You may identify a useful statistic amongst people you call, for example that 80% of recipients are unsure of how to insert search engine optimised keywords into their blogs and other content marketing. The chances are if even just a few of the people you speak to are experiencing the same problem, then many more also are who you never make contact with. If you are promoting a service business, capitalise on this kind of valuable first hand info and create a downloadable piece of content or link to a content marketing post which addresses this issue and offers a to further attract this type of user to visit or stay on your webpage.

Effective Way to Generate Leads

Cold calling is still on of the most effective methods for generating leads. A 2007 report outlined by RainToday’s chief content officer Andrea Meachan Rosal, publisher Mike Schultz and Wellesley Hills Group principal John Doerr concluded that “Cold calling is second only to referrals as the number one lead generation tactic.” This points out the value of making direct contact with a new lead which can only be topped in terms of its success by actually having a mutual friend or acquaintance recommend you or your services to subvert past the cold opening of a call to a stranger who has never heard of you. In the digital marketing landscape, people are surrounded by incredibly efficient and convenient technology to solve all of their problems. Digital marketers unlike traditional salespeople, are far less inclined to use the phone over more familiar territory such as email programs and CRMs to manage their contacts and leads. However, learning to adjust your go-to response and method in terms of how to get in contact with people can significantly boost your sales and lead generation. If your website generates a new lead for your business, don’t be afraid to break the digital barrier by simply calling them straight up and initiating a conversation. By being direct, and immediately making a connection, you greatly increase your chances of converting that lead into a returning paying customer. According to research, if you follow up your website leads within five minutes, you are nine times more likely to convert them into customers. Naturally, the most effective way to ensure contact with a lead in this time period is to pick the phone and start dialing.

Human Interaction

Now more than ever, people are sick of the limited human interaction in their daily lives. We rarely take the time to stop and show interest in a stranger’s life anymore and when we receive such attention, it’s typically a refreshing experience. When someone actually takes the time to call you up and comes across as genuinely interested in what is being said it leaves us feeling appreciated. Humans are social creatures and our minds work more effectively when they can associate a message with a voice or face who they already have a relationship with. It’s a rare treat in our modern lifestyles to be able to attach some recognising and personalising factor to the endless messages we are confronted with each day. By taking the effort to talk with people directly when contacting them, you will significantly stand out and be remembered over many of your competitors who are unwilling to invest the time or effort towards the practice. This is critical for building more effective and long lasting relationships with potential clients and other people you interact with. If you are lucky and effective in your cold calling you might even get a new lead helping in promoting a service business themselves through advocating your services around to close friends and family.

More Accurate Targeting

Hand selecting who you plan to call will always be a better option than sending out bulk messages or group emails and newsletters. Being able to learn more during a phone call to a potential lead highlights a great deal about the target market we are trying to access as we are able to ask questions to gain a better understanding of the situation of the call recipient. When promoting a service business, asking questions of a lead, really listening to what they have to say and even simply confirming their details over the phone can be a great way of identifying specific needs that your clients may all share.

Instant Feedback

When we speak to people on the phone, we can ask them how successful our approach is and ways we might be able to improve. Through this we are able to better understand our customers’ experience and be more efficient in the promotion of a service business. This type of information is invaluable as we are able to immediately assess whether our approaches inside of the call and in regards to our business, in general, are effective. The ability to gauge feedback and listen to these opinions in a phone call is crucial as you will have a better understanding of areas requiring improvement from the perspective of your clients and customers.

Valuable Business Skill

Success in cold calling for promoting a service business revolves primarily around initiative and action. Actually pick the phone up and start dialling’ is the best advice for anyone wanting to learn how to cold call. This is why cold calling is such a valuable skill for entrepreneurs and business owners to invest in and spend time practicing as the skills needed to succeed in both cold calling and business, in general, have a large overlap.

How to Cold Call Successfully

Navigating a cold call is a scary and treacherous proposition for many salespeople and marketers. Typically lack of confidence plays a huge role in the failure of many cold calls so your best bet for success is to come well prepared and well-practiced. Below are some outlined steps to follow to ensure a successful cold call.

Step 1 – Breaking Through

When we go about promoting a service business through cold calling, this is the most crucial part of the call as you need to immediately break through any pre-established defenses and get the call recipient onside to listen to what you have to say. There is no point even dialling a call or beginning to explain yourself without first effectively disarming a person from saying something like “no thankyou i’m not interested” and hanging up before you have even properly explained yourself. Be sure to use the person’s first name at the opening of the call both to confirm who you are speaking to but to also begin establishing that this is not some dry impersonal call where one might typically be referred to as a Mr or Ms. cold calling promoting a service business

Step 2 – Introductions

The next step is to immediately let the person you are ringing know who you are and where you got their information from as this thought is now ringing in their minds. Let them know your name, and who you are but be brief. Don’t give away the reason of your call just yet. We are trying to generate intrigue by drawing this out for as long as possible. It’s also important to let them know that you have never met or spoken before and where you located their details from. It might be that you found their number off social media or got it from a friend. We are trying to find common ground with the person we are calling. Are you part of the same group on facebook or do you have a mutual friend who you got a referal off? Letting a person know one of their friends gave you their number is an effective way of disarming any defenses that might have arisen from a stranger calling them.time for a quick chat? cold calling promoting a service business

Step 3 – Time for a quick chat?

You now have established who you are, and how you got their details. The next thing you must do is ask them if they currently have time for a chat. Keep the timeframe of your conversation short and as convenient as possible for recipients. More often than not, they will be busy and offer to call you back at a later time. Remember to be unwilling to give power away from you as the caller and instead offer to ring them back when it is more suitable for them. Ask them specifically for a better time to make the call and if you say you will call again at a certain time make sure to follow up on it.

Step 4 – Explain yourself and your value

Once you have time to talk and you aren’t keeping your recipient from any pressing matters, it’s time to finally explain the reason of your call. Remember to keep things clear and easy to follow. Be sure to remember you are trying to highlight some sort of value for the person you are calling. ‘What’s in it for them?’ is a great phrase to keep in mind throughout the call.

Step 5 – Yes, Yes, Yes

A great trick while chatting during a cold call is to get the recipient to begin saying ‘yes’ as much as possible. This subconsciously further subverts any lingering defenses which they may have put up. Get them answering simple questions to which you already know the answer ie. “I understand you have a website for promoting a service business, is that correct?” This is also a fantastic method of moving from a call introduction into some surveying to better understand our target markets.cold calling promoting a service business

Step 6 – Who, What When Where Why How?

Don’t be afraid to ask direct questions. This is part of the reason you are calling and if you have already gotten a recipient onside, they will be happy to answer for you. Find out as much as you can about the person and the target market you are contacting to make future calls more effective and informed. This is a critical component of promoting a service business as the specific needs of your target market are your primary concern.

Step 7 – Referrals

Once the call is coming to an end, be sure to directly ask for some friends cold calling promoting a service businessmore referrals to call further people. This is undoubtedly the most effective way of breaking through cold call barriers yet it is too often overlooked when people are promoting a service business. According to Hubspot research, 91% of customers say they would be happy to give a referral but only 11% of sales people actually bother to ask for them. The knowledge that you have already been in contact with a friend or acquaintance and that they gave you the ‘all clear’ by passing on their friends details to you immediately puts a usually defensive call recipient at ease immediately when chatting to you. When we are asking for referrals be sure to structure your request in a way that avoids closed answers. Consider asking “Do you have any friends that could benefit?” will inevitably result in a response of “Yes I think I do, I will send you their details.” Here, we are again handing away control of the situation to our call recipient. Instead, phrase your request in a more direct way. Ie; “Who do you know that could benefit and can I please have their number?”

Step 8 – Conclusions and follow ups

Thank the person greatly for their time and be sure to follow up your call with either a text message or email later in the day. This reestablishes communication and highlights the connection on a personal level. People like to be remembered and feel like they weren’t just another number in a call list. By following up with additional contact you have a greater chance of developing a successful and long lasting relationship with that particular person and them going on to become an advocate for your business to others. Some Extra tips Using a Script Writing up and working off a script can be a great way at being confident in your message and making sure you cover what you wanted to say with an effective methodology however it can also trip you up. Having a verbatim script you are working off can often lead to an overconcentration on your own message and failure to really listen to what is being said on the other end. Making your script too detailed will also cause you to become easily confused and mixed up as soon as the conversation begins to go off script. It is best to work off a very general and basic guideline of what you need to cover and say and to work through it naturally.

Listen Listen Listen

It’s also crucial that you really listen to what your call recipient is actually saying and adjust your message or it’s order accordingly. It can be very obvious and frustrating when someone isn’t properly listening to us especially when they were the ones who called us in the first place. Be sure to ask follow up questions and make comment on a person’s answers before immediately moving on to the next point or question you need to cover.

Practice and Record

cold calling promoting a service businessEvery time you make a cold call, record yourself and review the footage. Be aware of areas which you identify as needing improvement and practise as much as possible with friends and family.Recording the phone call will also make it far easier to extract any useful data through transcribing later. A great thing to do is let a friend know you will be calling them at some point in the day and get them to pretend like they don’t know you and to be defensive when they answer. Before you know it you will be well on your way to understanding how to succeed when promoting a service business using this fundamental skill in generating many more opportunities, leads and new customers for your business.

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