Maybe it's because I run an inbound marketing firm, or maybe I'm just like everyone else in business today. We're all so busy serving clients, learning about new technologies, making sure our people are properly trained and appreciated, evaluating new vendor possibilities, vetting potential collaboration partners, networking and prospecting, etc., ad infinitum, that the last thing any of us want is a cold call from someone who:
Doesn't understand our business
Doesn't know what kind of customers we serve
Doesn't know how we're doing as a business
Doesn't have a clue what our most pressing issues are
But wants to know if we can give 15 minutes so she/he can tell us about something you didn't ask about!
If any of this sounds familiar, you're probably someone getting these calls. Or, even worse, you're someone making these calls, not because you want to be annoying but because you've got numbers to hit and you may believe that's the best way to make them.
Readers of this blog may recall a post I wrote last year about cold calling (In An Inbound Marketing World, Should Cold Calling Still Have a Role?) in which I offered 5 reasons that seemed at the time like good pragmatic arguments for very limited use of cold calling. So even though my primary message was anti-cold calling (that post was motivated by a spammy email about cold calling training!), I tried to be introspective about it and allow that, even in today's world, sometimes it makes sense, if only for limited spans and in very specific circumstances.
Today I'm ready to retract that diplomatic straddle and take a hard line. Because as an inbound marketing advisor and coach to our clients, publicly saying that cold calling is okay in any circumstances is kind of like your doctor telling you smoking is okay if you've had a bad day. Because with all the tools inbound marketing puts at our disposal, and with the way people use online to control the buying process, there's really no reason you or anyone in your organization should feel compelled to try to sell to someone via a cold call.
So how do you go cold turkey on cold calling? Start by understanding that a warm lead is simply a target who's attractive to you, who knows what you do, generally understands how they might benefit, and has enough familiarity with your business to see you as credible. Warm leads are people who have the building blocks for a professional relationship with you and/or your company.
That being said, here are 10 of my favorite simple inbound marketing ways to start transforming cold leads to warm:
Connect on LinkedIn
Attract them to your blog with persona-targeted editorial
Interact in a LinkedIn Group discussion
Comment on their blog
Follow on Twitter and direct message them
Find on LinkedIn and In-mail them directly with personal, relevant message
Invite them to a targeted webinar with attendance by invitation only
Follow their LinkedIn Company Page, "Like" and comment on status updates
Segment your LinkedIn connections to create custom lists, share targeted relevant content
Use marketing automation product (HubSpot, Marketo, Eloqua) to track website visitors, visits, and content interests, use in segmentation and communication planning
Anything I've missed from the low-hanging fruit activities? Because if one thing's for sure in sales and marketing today, technology and rapidly evolving human behavior and expectations mean we've never had more creative opportunities to connect and begin building professional relationships than we have today. So do yourself and your prospects a huge favor: stop thinking about selling as a numbers game driven by how many cold calls you make, and shift your thinking to treat selling as relationship building. Instead of thinking about the Glengarry Glen Ross ABC's (Always Be Closing) of selling, inbound marketing allows you to build relationships by Always Be Helping. So you never have to worry about getting or giving an annoying cold call again.
Posted by Greg Linnemanstons With 18+ years in senior management roles at Fortune 500® and medium-sized companies, Greg has deep marketing and sales experience with CPGs and manufacturing. He leads strategic initiatives with clients and is involved in developing client inbound marketing plans. Greg holds an M.B.A. from Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management and a B.A. in Economics from Lawrence University.