Alternatives to Cold Call Prospecting

Businesswoman o the phone at design agency
Klaus Vedfelt/Taxi/Getty Images

Some salespeople rarely make cold calls. They've developed other prospecting activities that can produce the sales they need without having to spend long hours on the phone. If that sounds good to you, you'll need to put in the time developing said alternative prospecting channels so that you're getting enough leads from those sources that cold calling becomes unnecessary.

Warm Leads

The most effective way to cut down your need for cold calling is to build multiple sources of warm leads.

A warm lead is a prospect who comes to you already interested in buying. Building a strong network will, among other things, help you to achieve a stream of warm leads from contacts. However, keep in mind that a business network requires time and effort on your part to maintain. Network contacts expect you to help them out with leads and other assistance or they won't be inclined to help you.

Another good source of warm leads is referrals from existing prospects and customers. The final stage of the sales cycle, after closing the sale, is asking for referrals to friends and colleagues of your new customer. Because these referred leads know your customer and he can (hopefully) confirm how happy he is with his new product, it's much easier to close a referred lead than a cold lead.

Finally, warm leads can come to you from a website or social networking site. These leads are people who visit the company site or read its Facebook profile and decide they want to learn more, so they ask for a salesperson to contact them.

These leads tend to be eager to buy since they're clearly interested enough to want to know about your products, but they are also likely to have solicited information from your competitors, so be prepared for some heavy negotiating.

If your warm leads aren't enough to keep your sales high, you can consider other methods of contacting cold leads.

An email is an excellent option. You can craft one message and send it to a large number of potential prospects with one click. The biggest concern regarding emails to large groups is accidentally crossing the line into spamming. Sending spam can create a lot of trouble. Not only are there laws in place that make spamming illegal, but it's also unprofessional and can result in fines, losing customers, getting a bad reputation, and even having your email account shut down by your hosting provider.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is a traditional way to reach out to prospects, but it is also the most expensive. A simple letter will only cost you for supplies and postage, but if you decide to put together a professional direct mail package with a brochure, you can end up spending a great deal of money on design and printing costs. On the other hand, if you have a good lead list you can end up with very high returns on direct mail solicitations.

Door to Door

The classic door-to-door approach can also be effective. If you're selling to consumers, you can pick out a good neighborhood and start knocking. B2B salespeople can target large office buildings and stop by every suite. In-person visits are time-consuming but can also lead to quick closes, if you can talk to the right person at the right time.

Most salespeople will find that these methods can supplement but not replace cold calling. A salesperson who is a keen networker with strong social media skills and a willingness to put in a lot of time can cut cold calling down to a tiny fraction compared to a salesperson with no network or Internet marketing. Still, there's no reason you can't shoot for the gold ring and try to get to the point where you never need to make another cold call!