In the field of Sales, cold calling is considered the first and one of the most important stages in the selling process. It is usually a telephone call or a personal visit to someone that you don't know or you only know a little bit with the intention of selling something to that person. The face-to-face encounter could be in the person's home or a public place. It is also known as telephone canvassing, telephone prospecting, or door knocking.
This technique is generally thought of as the most challenging part of the selling process, to the extent that some salespeople don't do cold calling anymore. It has become increasingly hard, and some even think that it doesn't work anymore, and is a total waste of time. Why? For the reason that neither the caller nor the receiver likes to make and receive calls anymore. Furthermore, the prospective customer's time has become precious, so Salespeople who do cold calling are rejected. They are getting to be difficult to reach because they don't know the person and they are not expecting the call.
Don't get me wrong, cold calling as a way of generating leads still works but it has become a difficult way of filling up your sales pipeline. Some creative Salespeople have learned to stop cold calling and developed other prospecting methods where they can still reach out to their prospective customers, and generate sales, but without the hassle of talking on the phone for a long time. Replacing this method would still depend on the product or service that you are offering and your prospect base.
There are several alternatives to cold calling, and here are the top 5 techniques and strategies in lieu of those phone calls:
Referrals from Existing Customers
A good source of prospects is your exiting customers. They definitely know more people than you do. Every time you work with them, ask them in a subtle manner if they would like to help spread the word about your products or services. Make sure that you thank or reward them for their effort especially if it was a successful referral.
This technique is a way to reach a large number of prospects at one time. Just make sure that during your presentation, you will provide useful and beneficial information to them and not just sell from the platform. You are there to teach and not to do a grand sales pitch. This will also position you as an expert in your field. The presentation could be between 15 minutes to an hour.
Leave your comfort zone and go where your prospective clients are. Attend events where you will be able to interact with them as well as other referral sources. Know where your customers hang out and the organizations they belong to. Networking is a good way to build quality leads from your contacts.
Websites and Social Networking Sites
Some prospective customers may visit your company's website or social networking pages, like on Facebook. These leads clearly have the interest and the willingness to buy if they ask for a Sales representative to contact them. These people are called warm leads due to the fact that they come to you already with the intention of buying.
Email and Direct Mail
Sending emails and direct mails can also be good alternatives to cold calling. With emails, you can write one message and send it to a large number of prospects. Be careful though that your email may not end up being flagged as spam. Although direct mail may be quite costly, you may still end up with high returns if you have a good lead list.
There are still a number of ways to reach out to your prospective customers without cold calling. It all boils down to getting creative and resourceful. The goal is to make that first contact in a way that is not intrusive and will not be considered an annoyance.