In 2016, cold calling and cold emailing are still the two main methods for getting in touch with prospects. After doing a bit of legwork for this post, I noticed that writing about cold email strategy is usually a safe bet, while the topic of cold calling seems to go in and out of style with the seasons. A rather humorous example of this comes from the Salesforce blog, which in 2013, made a pretty convincing argument for Why Salespeople Should Stop Cold Calling, only to come back guns blazing in 2014 with Big Truth: Cold Calling is Not Dead.
Now, the purpose of this post is not to point out redundancies in the Salesforce blog (I’m sure there are plenty on this blog too), but rather to give you, the sales rep, some clear-cut advice on how to combine cold calling and cold emailing to generate the most opportunities for your company. For argument’s sake, let’s assume that you are just as good on the phone as you are over email and that your target market is not 10 hours ahead. Okay, let’s get to it!
Call Or Email, Which Should I Do First?
When first contacting a new account, I’ve always been a big fan of calling in first to test the waters. Dial the general line, and when someone picks up, do NOT ask to speak with the decision-maker, even if you know who that person is. Instead, start up a conversation with the receptionist or someone lower on the org chart who knows a little bit about who does what. Then, ask questions like:
- Which team is responsible for [area of concentration]?
- Do you know who heads up this team?
- What’s the best way to get in touch with the person that heads up that team?
Asking a few simple questions like the above will give you quick insight into how the company operates, while helping you avoid frustrating miscues like reaching out to the wrong person or sending an email to someone who no longer works at the company. We’ve all been there…
First Email Touch
Once you’ve called in and pinpointed the right contact, it’s time to draft up that initial email, but not before attempting to connect with your decision-maker on LinkedIn. Connecting with a prospect on LinkedIn before emailing helps humanize your message, especially if you’ve taken the time to optimize your LinkedIn profile for selling.
In your first outreach email, it’s important to reference the person you spoke with over the phone (and CC them if possible). This lets your prospect know that you’ve done your research and are emailing them (and only them) based on the instructions you received from their coworker.
Responding To Prospects — The Yes, The No And The Maybe
I’m not sure how common this approach is, but what the heck, it seemed to work pretty well for me. When you receive a reply from a prospect, it’s either going to be a yes, no, or maybe. When a prospect says yes to a meeting via email, I recommend continuing the conversation over email, unless you think it would be beneficial to conduct a quick discovery call and help out your senior sales rep. For the prospects who say no, I also recommend continuing the thread over email. Remember, SDR life is fraught with rejection and the best reps are experts at turning a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’.
That leaves us with the maybes. These are scenarios where your prospect has either asked for more information or given you a ‘soft no’ — something to the effect of bad timing, wrong person or not enough budget. In these situations I believe it’s always best to pick up the phone and call this person. By calling, you’re saving both you and your prospect a considerable amount of back and forth, while giving yourself the opportunity to get to the bottom of your prospect’s indecision and make a legitimate case for your product.
The key to following up with prospects is mixing up your mediums. I recommend sending two emails for every call you make, and making sure NOT to leave more than one voicemail per week.
In your follow up emails, it’s extremely important to have your original message included in the same thread. You (hopefully) put a lot of work into personalizing this first email, so make sure your prospect reads it by deleting all the other messages in between. When leaving a voicemail, keep it under 15 seconds and be sure to mention that you will be sending a short follow up email as well. Showing continuity between two outreach activities helps humanize your message and keeps you top of mind.
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