Cold prospecting has always been an important part of sales. Before the internet, it was one of the only ways sales teams could find new opportunities, other than networking events.
And now, technology like email, social media, and intelligent CRM have made it easier to find, qualify, and reach decision-makers. It’s helping a new breed of salesperson to build better relationships with customers, and get better results.
Cold prospecting has evolved. Not only that, it's evolved in ways that reduce travel and wasted efforts. Much of it can be done remotely.
“Technology empowers people,” says Sansan global sales consultant Shawn Wong He Tai. “Today, salespeople use all sorts of technologies to do research on a prospect before going for the call.”
But technology can’t do the work by itself. Salespeople still need to use those tools in the right way. In this post, we’ll share ways technology can make your cold prospecting more successful.
Cold prospecting is alive and well
Some people say cold prospecting is no longer important—because inbound marketing will provide all the best leads.
It’s true that the way people buy has changed. They do more research online before speaking to a salesperson. But the person doing the researching may not be the decision-maker. And if you wait for leads to come to you, you'll never reach those people who don't know about you and what you have to make their lives better.
Cold prospecting is where you go looking for those opportunities.
Go find the customer—where they are
Modern cloud-based and online tech makes people easier to find. Networking is still a big part of prospecting, and Google can help you find lists of trade shows, conferences, and events aimed at your ideal buyer.
Online networking events, like those listed on EventBrite, are also increasing. You can also ook for relevant groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and themed hashtag hours on Twitter. In other sectors, you might find forums or discussions on Reddit. Anywhere your prospects meet to talk shop is somewhere you should be.
At first, sign up and listen. Try to identify the best prospects in the conversation, and what their challenges are.
Earn the right to sell
In online groups, don’t launch straight into your sales pitch. Instead, be helpful and friendly; ask questions and offer answers.
This will help you build a relationship, and earn trust. It will also give you a clear view of your prospect’s needs. When the time is right, it won’t feel like a cold contact.
Likewise, don’t just send emails that ask for business. Instead, try sending helpful articles and blogs posts addressing your prospect’s real challenges. It shows you understand.
Technology makes this easy. Set up Google alerts for your prospects’ challenges and interests, and you’ll get ideas straight to your inbox.
Use web behavior to find the best prospects
If you need more information about people’s challenges, look at their behavior on your website.
There are useful web tracking tools on the market like Lead Forensics and HubSpot, which can tell you who visited your site, and what they read.
That means you can find out what a prospect might be interested in, before you call.
You can even find buying signals that will help you find the best prospects. For example, you could look for patterns in the pages a customer looked at before they bought—then find others doing the same.
The more information you have, the better your sales call will be.
Really understand who you’re targeting
Chasing several leads at once can be a challenge. It’s hard to research everyone you talk to. But it’s worth it, because it can focus your time in the most productive way.
Again, technology makes it easy. Thanks to platforms like LinkedIn, you can discover plenty of insight in no time.
Your research could even just be a five-minute Google search. You’ll still find a greater understanding of your prospect.
Warm up your prospects with a “real-life” contact platform
For some lucky salespeople, cold calls are an enjoyable challenge. But for most, they’re far from pleasant. Research even found that 9 in 10 B2B top decision-makers don’t respond to cold calling. So it can be a thankless task.
What’s more, rules like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean it’s getting more difficult to contact people you don’t know.
Wong says: “Organizations are facing increasing pressures from strict data regulation policies. Some cannot even cold call.”
Increasingly, you need to prove an existing relationship, or a strong reason for your email or call. The good news is, it’s also more effective. According to LinkedIn, you’re almost five times more likely to schedule a first meeting with a prospect if you share a personal connection.
So if someone in your organization can introduce you to the contact you want to reach, that’s a big advantage.
Sansan lets you find colleagues who know the person you want to talk to, or someone else where they work.
For example, say you sell industrial cleaning services (a real-life Sansan customer story) and there’s a new office building going up nearby. Normally you’d have to cold contact the management. With Sansan, you can check if anyone in your company already has a contact there. Then you can ask them for an introduction.
Now you have a reason to contact that person, and a context for your call. And because the platform is based on business cards, you have access to vital contact information beyond just a name.
Warm up cold prospects: find, understand, approach
Technology has helped cold prospecting to evolve, in three key areas. You can use it to help you:
Find good prospects, by seeking out networking opportunities and helpful conversations, online and offline.
Build understanding and relationships, by researching your prospects and their needs before you sell.
Turn cold calls into warm contacts, by asking mutual contacts to introduce you.
A small improvement at each stage of your cold prospecting will make a big difference to your pipeline. And as a bonus, it can make calling more fun.
Still feeling a bit chilly about cold prospecting?
Learn more about how Sansan’s cloud-based contact management system can help you to make better use of your organization’s connections and hidden networks, create warmer leads, find more opportunities, and close more deals!