Cold calling and water bottle flipping are like Rodney Dangerfield. They get no respect. But should they?
Most parents are very familiar with bottle flipping, but for the lucky few who haven’t been exposed to the Water Bottle Flipping game, let me elaborate. (And tell you how lucky you are to have bypassed this current fad.) The concept is simple: flip a partially-full water bottle and try to land it upright, as many times in a row as you can. It’s shocking how clearly the incessant thud echoes through a house—and how continued flipping can erode the nerves of even the most patient parent.
I think bottle flipping gets a bad rap. To some, it appears to be a maddening activity with no purpose, but there is more to it than meets the eye. In fact, cold calling bears a striking resemblance to this phenomenon. It gets no respect. Cold calling:
- Can be easily seen as a waste of time (it’s not)
- Is not going to be successful every time (nor will any other business development approach)
- Can be mastered (contrary to popular belief)
Bottle flipping has been banned from many schools (and homes), but here’s 3 reasons why cold calling shouldn’t be banned from your company.
1). Successful Cold Calling Isn’t a Numbers Game
To parents, landing flips is simply a matter of odds. And unfortunately, that’s how many sales managers view cold calls.
“Just keep calling and eventually you’ll land one.”
But what keeps kids keep flipping for hours is knowing they can and will master the skill. Newbies land it rarely, while experienced flippers can land it on a ledge or a shelf with ease. The difference is in their commitment to practice.
Cold calling can be mastered the exact same way—through repetition. It’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright hard. That’s why so many reps are doing it badly and getting such poor results. Practice and training is critical to success, but most of sales training is focused on the close. However, no one gets to that stage if business development efforts fail. Your reps need cold call training and most often, companies train reps once and send them on their way. On-going training is critical. Simulation-based learning tools are a great way to train your team, as they allow reps to practice on their own, any time, to build and refresh their skills.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t state the obvious as it relates to numbers—making more calls is always better than making less. But never underestimate the importance of the quality of the calls. Successful cold calling (and cold emailing) includes precise delivery of a well-constructed value proposition, a consistent cadence and a respect for the prospect’s time. (i.e. Not rushing through a sales pitch in 30 seconds in hopes of piquing their interest or starting an email with the overused gimmick of ‘can you point me in the right direction’?)
Asking for a scheduled time to discuss your solution in more detail is beneficial to both parties. It allows your sales rep ample time for discovery and to explain how your solution solves the business challenge, and the prospect is open to learning more when they’ve dedicated time to do so.
2) Proper cold calling yields consistent results
Sales directors and executives must forecast sales based off history and current data and if there is no consistency in business development results, it’s impossible to accurately predict revenue. When forecasting is a guessing game, resources are misaligned and results in the inability to plan for hiring, territory alignment, marketing, product development, inventory management and more. In other words, it can be the downfall of the organization.
To achieve consistent results, reps must do the same things (the right things), every time. They need a plan, so they know exactly what to say, how to say it and how to handle objections. Only then can they execute calls flawlessly, every time. The devil is in the details, and while some say that cold calling and cold emailing is simply ‘throwing a dart at the board’, a precise outreach plan can drive surprisingly predictable outcomes.
3.) Cold calling results in more profitable deals
I know what you’re thinking—there is no way I can make that claim. But CEB can. CEB studies show that when companies target emerging demand opportunities rather than established ones, the deals are more profitable. Emerging demand opportunities are those folks not actively searching for your solution, where established demand opportunities are the ‘hand-raisers’ who are comparing your solution to competitors before purchasing. These deals typically come down to price. Cold calling is the easiest way to uncover emerging demand opportunities, as it allows you to reach prospects before they are researching or even aware that such a product exists. Then reps can uniquely position their products/services as the only solution.
To clarify, consistent results ending in more profitable deals is only possible with well-executed cold calling (and/or email). Bad cold calling won’t help you reach the right people, and may actually hurt your brand (which your marketing team has spent a significant portion of their budget establishing!)
Every call must be executed with a clear goal of securing high-quality sales appointments with the right person—not just any one who will agree to a conversation. Low quality appointments waste the inside sales rep’s time and directly impacts revenue generation. If your team’s cold calling efforts are yielding appointments but no QSO’s or sales, they are calling too ‘low’ in the organization and accepting the wrong calls.
Bottle flipping is a skill developed from hundreds of flips—and the same principle applies to cold calling. A rep’s first call is unlikely to be successful (unless it’s just blind luck, like landing your first flip). But with training, practice and a commitment to securing appointments with the right people, cold calling can drive your business goals and help you exceed your lofty revenue targets. Give it some respect!