The best way to generate sales leads without cold calling is to get shot of the need to call cold in the first place. Such as developing more ways to attract prospects to you, rather than you having to go searching for them. This should include creating content that attracts visitors to your website, then converting them into leads by answering their most common questions in a helpful, engaging way.
Once you’ve identified who they are, you can continue building trust by delivering automated lead-nurturing emails or e-newsletters that deliver additional value. In other words, warm them up until they’re ready to contact you. This approach, called Inbound Marketing, is a powerful way to generate a pipeline full of inbound leads who know, like and trust you. Here are 6 alternatives to the dreaded cold calling approach:
1. Seek Networking events
Speaking at a networking event (or a public speaking occasion) is one of the best ways to get in front of potential customers. When you speak, you’re standing in front of room full of potential buyers intently listening to your offer. It’s important to understand that you may not leave with new opportunities straight away. But you’ll have established expertise and credibility – priceless and memorable commodities. When the need doesarise, they’ll reach out to you.
Here are some best practice ideas such as adding a call-to-action for audience members. Ask them to visit your website, where they can download an offer that’s exclusive to them. You’ll end up with a large number of participant’s email addresses, and a chance to nurture them after the event. Ensure your Twitter handle and LinkedIn URL are on your presentation slides. Ask people to connect with you and feedback what they like most about the presentation. If you ask them to connect early on, they can comment and ask questions throughout your talk. You can set aside some time to reply to them.
2. Social selling
Similar to how you build and enrich your social relationships, you need to foster good relationships in business too. It means that you need to be active online. Social selling allows you to nurture leads until they are ready to buy from you. Cold calling is ineffective because it’s cold, intrusive and contrary to most forms of natural human communication. Human communication is grounded in cooperative and shared intentions – which is what social selling is all about. It adds a human touch to the sales process, allowing you to demonstrate your value to customers, while they make up their mind to purchase.
So start writing blogs. Comment on interesting articles. Find out what your customers interests are and what social platforms do they prefer. Create content or comment on content that others are producing.
3. Foster Online Relationships
If you’ve met someone at a trade-show, connect with them on LinkedIn. If someone’s chatted on your website, follow them on Twitter. It goes without saying that you should be careful not to appear creepy or too pushy. Avoid jumping into an immediate pitch. Read the content your prospects share. Add to the conversation. Comment on their posts, re-tweet them, and share their blog posts with your own network. The key here is that you’re building a relationship and you should aim to develop a close understanding of their needs. Hopefully, they’ll reward you with their trust. Recently, some of our best leads have come through casual conversations on LinkedIn. As long as you’re being helpful and consistent and most importantly acting with integrity, you’ll find success over time.
4. Incentives For Referrals?
Wouldn’t it be perfect if existing customers referred business to us all the time? Yes, it would! But it doesn’t happen because they don’t think like that all the time. They’re busy coping with their own issues. However, a little incentive may bring the idea of referrals closer to the surface. Even subconsciously, people consider the “what’s in it for me” factor when undertaking any task. With a little thought you may be able to make peer recommendation worth their while.
Think of ways you can encourage your customers. Is it a discount? Referral commission? Free tickets to an upcoming event? Special recognition as a case study on your website? Plus there’s co-operative game theory that calls upon you to give something yourself, to get something in return. Think about how you can give them referrals then wait for reciprocity to kick in.
5. Re-Engage Old Clients or Lost Opportunities
Remember that opportunity that stalled a year ago? Maybe they couldn’t secure the budget, or they’d taken on a different project before they could move forward? It’s far too easy to forget about these opportunities as you search for new leads, but in reality they could be your easiest source.
Even if someone went with a competitor, buyers are smart and they may be open to switching. Isn’t it worth finding out?
When an opportunity is lost or stalled, set yourself a reminder to follow-up every 6 or so months. If you’re feeling brave, you may consider addressing the specific reason the pitch fell through.
6. Embrace The Warm Call
People get annoyed with cold calls, but it’s not the call itself that annoys them. It’s the fact that the call is “cold” – there’s no existing relationship between the caller and potential lead. The call isn’t aligned to the prospects needs, interests or actions.
Hidden in your inbox are a stack of warm leads that didn’t amount to anything – so have fallen dormant. However, at some point in the past they have reached out to you. It’s time you said hello to them again. New technology like HubSpot Saleslet’s you see when your prospects are engaging with your website, emails and online content. I signed up to the free service yesterday and it analyses your best leads and presents them in a series of reports. Any intelligence you gain, can form the basis of conversations with new customers. I’ll let you know how I get on.