I don’t know about you, but I am so tired of the whining and excuse making.
- “Selling is SO hard these days.”
- “I can’t get anybody to take a meeting.”
- “They don’t even open my email.”
- “Nobody will answer their phone.”
- “I don’t think they even listen to voicemail.”
Way too many producers struggle with prospecting discipline and salespeople have always been reluctant to pick up the phone and make a cold call. And, now, with all of the “cold calling is dead” proclamations being made by so many, they feel like they have been given a free pass to stop dialing.
Of course it’s hard!
Selling has never been easy; it’s why successful salespeople are paid so well. And yes, it’s all harder than it used to be.
- It’s harder to sell
- It’s harder to get a meeting
- It’s harder to get someone to even acknowledge your existence
Get over it! Quit the damn whining and celebrate the fact that it is so difficult.
Let your competition believe the headlines and give up
We’ve all read the "cold calling is dead" proclamations; the pundits keep telling us how the ONLY successful prospecting is the result of networking and referral introduction. Sure, I kind of see where they’re coming from, but, mostly I think this message is promoted by salespeople looking for an excuse to not cold call or comes from sales leaders who don’t know how to train others to get beyond the challenge.
Cold calling can still work
I would NEVER argue that cold calling is the ideal approach (just ask any of the producers I coach how much emphasis we place on client referrals), but I see salespeople having “cold call” success every day. Hell, one of the producers I coach has his best success – get this – knocking on doors and introducing himself. How crazy is that?! ; )
- Is cold calling the ideal way to fill the pipeline? Hell no!
- Is it more difficult than ever before? HELL YES!!
Believe it or not, this post isn’t really about cold calling
And it isn’t really about the individual producer; it’s about the organization behind that producer.
The reason so many organizations are struggling with prospecting and sales is they fail to recognize, or appreciate, how drastically the sales process has changed. Because of access to online information, salespeople have been largely gutted of their value; some of their prospects understand their product better than they do.
The sales process is now less about sales and much more about the buyer's journey; a journey controlled and driven by the buyer.
Today, the buyer reigns supreme.
If you want to grow, you better become a part of that journey WAY before your salespeople are contacting those prospects.
Marketing is the new Orange
The marketing department of today's organizations is BY FAR a more significant contributor to growth than the sales team.
Your marketing team (or whoever is doing your marketing) must know and understand deeply:
- Your ideal client profile and the individual buyer personas within that ideal client
- The challenges to which those companies/personas are looking for answers
- The phases through which those personas travel to reach purchase decisions
- Where they go to research their challenges
- How to craft and promote content to address each of those concerns at each step of the process
THAT is an organization that is going grow!
Back to the cold calling is dead proclamation.
The type of organization with all the great content marketing I just described will most likely have prospects lining up at THEIR door. BUT, if a salesperson in that type of organization did make a cold call and could point back to this type of marketing support/educational information for validation, I promise you they will set appointments and write new business.
All of the bitching and whining about cold calling is distracting you from the real issue. The question of networking versus cold calling is an issue that is way too far down the funnel to be the relevant question. The real question is,
“How you are going to ensure you will be discovered as your prospects go looking for help?”
It is the value proposition, educational marketing, buyer awareness, and social engagement of the organization that will have the largest impact on whether the networking introduction or cold calling proves productive or not.
Pass the baton
Of course, once the connection is made (intro, cold call, or inbound), there needs to be a buyer-focused sales process (lacking WAY too often) through which the salesperson accepts the baton from marketing and continues down a path that leads to better buying decisions for the prospect.
Make no mistake, EVERYTHING you think about, write about, talk about, and do has to be focused on the needs of your buyer. If this is how you present yourself, prospects will WANT to meet with you, whether they are introduced to you by a friend or whether they happen to pick up the phone when you call.
So, put on your Big Boy (or Girl) pants. Stop the whining, stop hiding behind lame excuses, own up to the work you need to do, and go get it done.
Photo by Robyn Vines Smith
Want to knock it out of the park in 2017? Download our Producer Planning Guide today and start making it happen!