There are two words that can strike fear into the heart of any salesperson: "cold call."
But, challenging as it may be, the ability to pick up the phone and create a relationship is a critical skill for any successful salesperson.
While those first few phone calls may cause your heart to pound and your forehead to perspire, a calling campaign can be an incredibly lucrative endeavor for those who decide to brave it.
This task gets even easier when you know how to properly plan and execute a calling campaign for your business. It's not as difficult as you think. However, it does require some preparation and the tenacity to stick with it no matter how many "nos" you hear.
Here, let's explore what a calling campaign is, and how to execute your own. Plus, we'll explore the mistakes you'll want to avoid.
What is a calling campaign?
Before we dive into the "how," let's discuss what a calling campaign actually is.
Throughout the life of your business, you are collecting contact information and buyer data from your customers. For those "customers you haven't met yet", there are companies that will sell you lists of potential customers that fit your desired criteria.
A calling campaign is a structured plan of contacting these individuals for one-on-one conversations. It is one of the oldest forms of marketing and, when done properly, can have the best results. These campaigns can be executed for a number of reasons — including telemarketing, audience research, and customer support.
For a sales-focused calling campaign, a company may choose to have their salespeople make the calls or may enlist agents to create "warm leads" before passing them onto the sales team.
What are the benefits of a calling campaign?
A properly executed calling campaign can provide a number of benefits to your business. These include:
- Learning more about your customers. Having one-on-one conversations with your customers and prospects allows you to learn about their pain points, understand how they've tried to solve their problems in the past, and what they are looking for going forward. It also helps to build trust with your customers who now see you as problem-solvers instead of someone just trying to sell to you.
- Improving brand awareness in the marketplace. The more you get your company, your brand, and your products in front of people, the more likely you are to succeed. These calls provide an opportunity to stay top-of-mind with existing customers and individuals who already know about you but may not have done business with you yet, and introduce your brand to people who haven't heard of you.
- Keep your sales database up-to-date. In business, your sales database is essential to your growth. A sales calling campaign allows you to check in with your contacts and confirm that their contact information is still usable.
- Generate leads. While other types of marketing hope to attract business with blanket statements thrown out to the masses, a calling campaign builds relationships and rapport through tailored conversations. It may be more time-consuming, but the return on investment is much higher.
- Close sales. Once prospects have been identified and nurtured through the sales cycle, the ask is ready to be made and the sale completed.
The outcome of a calling campaign will differ slightly depending on your goals and tactics, but with the large variety of benefits offered, it remains a great investment for your business.
How to Execute a Productive Calling Campaign
Now that you understand what a calling campaign can do for you, it's time to create a plan. A lot of time goes into executing these campaigns, so the more you prepare ahead of time, the better the outcome.
1. Understand your goals.
Before you even think about picking up the phone, decide what you are looking to get out of this time. Are you reconnecting with lapsed customers? Announcing a new product to existing customers? Cold calling potential customers?
Your decisions here will dictate every future step.
2. Decide who you will contact.
Your sales database should be robust and provide all of the information you need to reach out to existing and lapsed customers.
If this is a cold calling campaign, make sure that the contact information you purchase includes people who may need your product and have the ability to buy it. The quality of your list will determine your success.
3. Decide how you will contact people.
Depending on the size of your campaign and how many agents you have working on it, you may utilize your typical phone system, opt for a VoIP system such as Zadarma, or use an app like RingCentral which has the ability to incorporate video.
4. Decide when you'll call.
This will be based on who is on your list. If your ideal customers are businesses, calling around dinner time will yield nothing but voicemails. If your customers are professional adults, calling their home or cell in the middle of the day may be a waste of time and money.
5. Arm your salespeople or agents properly.
Not only should you have the "pitch" prepared and easy to follow, but you'll also want to provide the people making the calls with answers to any questions they may be asked.
If the existing or potential customer asks for more information on the product or your company, that's a great sign. Make sure your agents are prepared to field questions and, if applicable, manage concerns.
6. Record data.
Any contact you have with existing or potential customers should be saved in a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. This information (even if it did not result in a sale) can help you better serve or sell in the future.
7. Evaluate your plan and switch gears if need be.
If you find that you are having absolutely no success with your calling campaign, it may be necessary to make changes. Your approach may need tweaking, your agents may need more training, or your lists may need to be re-evaluated.
Mistakes to Avoid
An unsuccessful calling campaign wastes time, energy, and money — all three of which are precious resources to any business. Thankfully, there are a few common mistakes you can easily avoid:
- Not identifying your goals and your benchmarks before you begin.
- Not having a strong sales database or purchasing a subpar list.
- Not factoring in follow-up calls or touches.
- Not understanding your audience or speaking to them using the right language.
- Not preparing agents to answer questions and have a back-and-forth conversation.
While a calling campaign may be considered "old school" in a world of social media marketing and online sales, nothing will ever beat having a conversation with your existing and potential customers. With good, productive phone conversations, trust is built, relationships are forged, and sales are closed.