In the world of lead generation, you often have to tread carefully when making the first move with a prospect.
Your initial contact has to be delicate enough to not rub your potential customers up the wrong way, but also strong enough to ensure your proposition registers their interest.
This ultimately reverts back to the long-term battle between cold emailing and cold calling.
Word on LinkedIn is that cold calling is dead. But we don’t think that’s entirely true.
Sure, sending emails can gain trust by establishing that relationship first. It won’t interrupt their day as much as a call and it reinforces the idea that there’s less pressure to make a move. But calls are inherently more personal. They often garner an immediate response from the prospect which is what you need as a salesperson.
But every prospect is different. Different strokes for different folks and all that. So, how do you know which is the right tactic to use
Timing is everything
Your prospects buying intent is what matters here. If you know they’re in desperate need of your solution, pick up the phone.
With website visitor tracking tools like CANDDi, you’ll know exactly who’s keen to buy, and who’s not. We can give you a better insight into how your prospects are moving around your site by showing you who’s looking at what, how long for and what brought them there in the first place.
You can even set up alerts to be notified when a hot lead makes a return visit. You’ll always be pitching the right person at the right time.
But even if you’re not using a tool like ours, not all is lost! It’s statistically proven that people are more likely to answer their phone as the day progresses, and better yet, as the week progresses.
Obviously this isn’t true for everyone, we don’t all sit around our phones at 3pm waiting for a cold caller. So if a prospect doesn’t pick up their phone in these timeframes, simply leave a voicemail.
Response rates to voicemails also increase as the day goes on as checking phone messages and other admin tasks are something people complete before heading home.
Ask open-ended questions
What’s your objective for this first outreach? Is it a strong or a weak ask?
Strong asks are questions that require commitment from your prospect. This could be anything from arranging a call to pushing a free trial. Weak asks on the other hand seek straightforward information from the buyer.
Once you know what it is you’re setting out to achieve, it’s easy to make the decision between a call or an email.
Strong asks should always start with a phone call. They require more from the prospect, it’s much easier to persuade on a phone call and secure the deal. If there are any objections, they can also be ironed out in real-time.
It can be scary to pick up the phone and wade in with a strong proposition, but don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from connecting with a lead.
The only way you’ll get it wrong is if you’re calling when the ask is weak.
If you’re after a review or referral, you’re much more likely to get a response if you draft a personalised email.
Why? Because you don’t want to be wasting your prospect’s time and interrupting their day unnecessarily if you can get your point across in a few lines of text. This will undoubtedly result in a negative response.
Consider the entry level
Depending on who your prospect is in the company will depend on the level of gatekeeping required to keep your types of calls at bay.
If you end up finding an assistant or receptionist, it’s better to send an email. This can be diverted to the relevant person and if there’s no response, it gives you a valid reason to call back and try and have a live conversation.
Similarly, if you’re targeting a lower-level professional such as a sales rep or executive, they’re more likely to connect with you through an asynchronous channel such as email or LinkedIn.
They’re often away from their desks and their days are flat-out, so they won’t have time to take or return your call. Sending a strong email that they can read on the train home or between meetings is a much better shout.
However, if you’re lucky enough to get straight through to management levels and above, it’s worth giving them a call.
This is because they’re in a better position to make a buying decision as they’re the key decision makers in the business, so this will save a lot of people’s time. Also, higher-level prospects are generally more comfortable on the phone, and less intimidated by sales calls.
What have you got to lose?
Demographics are important
It might sound daft, or even a little prejudice, but some buyer personas simply prefer a certain type of communication style.
Preferences can depend on age, job title, and industry.
Whatever their style, there’s no good, bad or ugly, you just have to figure out what works for them. Being adaptable is what makes a good salesperson.
For example, you might find prospects that have customer-facing roles are more amenable to talking on the phone because that’s how they spend their working day. Those working solely in internal departments could find this abrasive, therefore being more comfortable sending emails.
Similarly, it’s known that millennials like communicating by email more than over the phone. If you’re reaching out to a younger buyer, take this into account.
This is typically because traditional industry is moving to a more social world. They’re no longer accustomed to door-to-door reps or cold calling.
Of course this isn’t a one size fits all solution. When it comes to personas, they’re all different.
Using this as a rough guide could give you a good indication of what they’d prefer and once you get the communication going, you’ll be able to see if this rings true or not.