The phone is a powerful tool, but by the looks of many blog posts circulating the internet, it’s likely not being used as successfully as it could be in a sales/prospecting situation.
I’m not here to debate the effectiveness of cold calling in today’s business world. Many organizations are successful running a sales team solely around prospecting through a cold calling strategy, but there are ways to “warm up” these calls through digital marketing tactics.
Digital marketing can create more awareness around your brand as you reach out to your list of prospects, giving you the ability to spend the majority of the business day on calls with prospects familiar with your brand who are further along in their buying cycle.
Let’s take a look at your buyer’s journey:
Top of the funnel:
This is where your organization tries to generate enough leads to meet your monthly/quarterly quota. In this stage, you might be cold calling a list of prospects to let them know about your product or service. There’s a lot of pressure on this first call – identifying business challenges, describing your product/service, building rapport, and so on. Although, getting through to your prospect is more difficult than ever. It's so daunting, that, according to Sirius Decisions, the average sales person only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect.
What if there was a better use of your time?
Sales teams are findings themselves more and more successful pairing up a number of prospecting strategies to “fill the top of the funnel”.
We call these others strategies inbound marketing: SEO, Paid Search, Social Media, Re-marketing. These tactics give your organization the ability to target your audience in a more time-efficient way across a number of platforms. Utilizing these tactics bring the right prospects to you. In fact, according to Search Engine Journal, SEO leads have a 14.6% close rate as opposed to outbound marketing (think direct mail, print advertising, etc.).
This doesn’t mean cold calling is dead, but implementing other tactics gives your organization options to supplement – even improve – the cold calling process, creating more awareness around your brand, and more credibility to your prospecting cold call.
Middle of the funnel:
Let’s move down the funnel a little bit further… At this stage of the buying cycle, your prospect knows who you are and is researching a solution right for them. How is your sales team educating prospects, but also moving the conversation closer to a decision?
This can be done through a series of follow-up calls and emails, leveraging marketing materials to support your conversations, but again, is this the best use of time?
Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. Marketing automation software can replace manual touch points, nurturing prospects further through their buying cycle with automated emails containing content matching exactly what the prospect is interested in. These highly customized emails push prospects through the buying cycle based on engagement (opens, clicks, etc.), until they hit a conversion point, making them a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL). This conversion notifies a sales representative to get involved. (FYI: these notifications are a sales rep’s second favorite email; the first favorite email being a signed contract.)
Bottom of the funnel:
This stage is where your sales team should be spending the majority of their time. As I mentioned previously, through marketing automation, your sales team can fill most of their day following up with prospects who are closer to making a decision, rather than reaching out to 50+ prospects who might not even pick up their phone. According to RingLead, sales reps spend 15% of their time simply leaving voicemails. To add to that, 90% of first time voicemails are never returned. Again, not saying cold calling is dead, but prospecting cold calls should be on the bottom of your sales team’s to-do list each day.
Engagement in the bottom of the funnel include demos, webinars, or in-person meetings. At this point in the buying cycle, the prospect is ready to buy. It’s your sales team’s job to determine if they are a Sales Qualified Leads, and to close the deal.
There’s no cookie-cutter approach to sales and marketing, but there are more strategies than ever to be tested and optimized in order to create business efficiencies and bottom-line results. The beauty of adding digital marketing tactics to your sales and marketing strategy is the transparency of which tactic works the best, allowing you to shift resources and prioritize work accordingly.