How to Do Less Cold Calling

cold calling
Don't like cold calling?.

Most salespeople really, really don't like cold calling. While many aspects of sales can lead to rejection, cold calling takes the prize with regards to both the amount and intensity of rejection you'll run into. Even the thickest-skinned salesperson doesn't exactly enjoy being hung up on, cursed at, and generally treated with disdain. But as one practical sales guru pointed out, whether you think cold calling is effective or not, few salespeople can get enough prospects from other sources to totally quit cold calling.

However, it is possible to minimize the amount of cold calling that you need to do.

The first step is to look at other options. You make cold calls because you need to find prospects. So if you can find prospects using other methods, you won't need to cold call as much. Simple, right? And fortunately, the world of sales today offers several alternatives to cold calling.

Social media takes the prize as the hot new prospecting tool. There's no question that social media can be an incredibly effective prospecting method; unfortunately, it can also be a total disaster for the poor salesperson who doesn't have a plan or the necessary skills. The biggest mistake many salespeople make with social media is that they try to make it productive immediately. So a salesperson just starting out with social media may spend hours every day setting up and tweaking accounts, posting items, and requesting connections.

Meanwhile, since she's spending all her time on the web, she's not doing her normal sales activities and so she is running out of sales fast. Using social media for prospecting does not produce fast results. It's more like tossing a snowball down a mountainside: it starts out small, but by the time it gets some momentum going, it's enormous.

Instead of burying yourself in social media activities, ration yourself to no more than 20 minutes per day of social media. That way your other sales activities won't suffer, but you can start that snowball rolling and look forward to the day when you'll reap impressive results.

In contrast to social media, referrals are a time honored and established method of finding new prospects. A skilled salesperson can build a truly impressive referral network that will constantly yield more prospects to feed into the pipeline. However, building a referral network solid enough to replace a large percentage of your cold calling will take a lot of work on your part. If you've already got a good business network, then you've got the foundation in place for a solid referral network. All you need to do is teach your network contacts how to be effective referrers, and motivate them to do it – whether it's by sending them leads of their own, or by some other compensation. Don't expect your referral partners to just send you prospects out of the goodness of their hearts, however. You've got to give to receive.

Email can help with your prospecting, but it's more useful at deepening your connections with existing prospects than finding you new ones.

Sending an email to a brand-new prospect is probably the least effective way to get an appointment, because it's easy for prospects to ignore an email. However, when used in combination with social media, referral networks, and yes, cold calling, it can be an excellent prospecting tool. Email is a particularly useful medium for making additional sales with existing customers, as someone who's already a customer is less likely to ignore emails from you.

Finally, the most basic way to cut back your need to cold call is to cut back your need for new prospects. If you sharpen your sales skills so that you're closing a larger percentage of your leads, then you won't need as many leads to produce the same number of sales.

By tracking your sales metrics, you'll probably have a good idea where you tend to lose prospects in the sales process. If you get better at that particular aspect of sales, your reward will be doing less cold calling. That's a reward that most salespeople will be happy to receive.

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