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Lucas Hamon Jun 19, 2017 9:14:25 PM 7 min read

Marketing Leaders: End Your Company's Dependency on Cold Calling

Your company's sales people are dying - and they need your help.

I've spent more years than I can count bewildered by the materials provided to my sales colleagues by our corporate marketing teams. First, most of the companies I worked for didn't understand the value of the sales/marketing relationship whatsoever, and I even remember be laughed out of a sales meeting when I was asked how I felt they should interact.

Unfortunately, for them, I was basing my answer on real-life scenarios where the right marketing materials (which I had to create myself) were the difference between closing a deal or even opening up the dialogue.

Too bad nobody was listening, because when I was forced to ditch my self-made inbound marketing materials and focus 100% on cold-calling (the playbook they insisted we follow), my numbers took a dive... 100% of the time.

If ONLY our marketing team had heard of inbound...


1st things first: Why kick cold calling of all things?

Have you ever received a cold call that led to a sale for the person calling you? If so, how did it make you feel?

Just the other day, I was convinced by a guy standing in front of a grocery store to donate to a charity called SOS Village. The cause was paralyzing, and when he pitched me (which I never let people do these days, because I have been conned one too many times to pay for a magazine subscription that never came), I COULDN'T say no. I literally did not have the ability to.

The foundation does one thing: they create villages centered around mothers for raising orphaned children in war and poverty-stricken areas. They are all over the world and even have three locations here in the United States.

I was holding my 2 year old son that evening as I was walking into the store, and all I could think about was what would happen to him if we suffered the same fate. When the guy asked me why I decided to commit to the program, I couldn't even speak, I was so shaken.

This was the perfect cold call.

That said, it didn't stop me from racing home to research the company, to make sure I didn't just get conned. It also had another interesting side-affect. I didn't tell anybody about it for quite some time, because deep down I still felt like somebody conned me. And when I finally did open up to somebody about it, I remember being asked where I learned about them, and I was actually ashamed to say. Then I would instantly second-guess myself again.

Sound familiar?

Why is that though? How about these reasons?

  • ... It's disruptive, and disruptions usually come at the worst times - that's why they're not called "welcome-tions"
  • ... It's unfocused - 99 times out of 100 the prospect has ZERO interest or connection to what the cold caller is pitching,  because the cold caller doesn't have enough hours in the day to actually read up on their targets before hurling shit against the wall
  • ... It's practiced by criminals - A lot of crooks run schemes in the open like that, because it's harder to validate or disprove their statements - you're not going to Google all of your hesitations in the middle of a face-to-face conversation, after all

Because of these things, it really is a numbers game for your sales teams. The more calls that are made, the more deals that are closed, and the more of all of the other metrics in between (appointments, etc) that they hit.

Management probably even has hard-line quotas that their cold callers need to hit every single day or week when it comes to the number of calls and connections that need to be made.

Obviously, sales is the number one standard they are held to, but management has put a lot of other policies in place that help them identify the losers early, so they can cut their losses while there's still time to recover. Historically, people who don't hit the call volumes don't set up enough appointments, and close enough deals.

2nd of all... it neglects tomorrow's today

"Working closest to the dollar" means neglecting the future pipeline when things start heating up, which is, unfortunately, the right thing to do. After all, why on earth would somebody with 10 hot deals on the table that need attention let them slip away for birds in the bush that are showing no signs of interest yet?

They wouldn't. They won't. The best salespeople will still carve out a small window of time every day to get their new calls in, but there are only so many hours in the day, and at some point, something has to give. They only eat when the commissions roll in, and the commissions only roll in when deals close, so tomorrow's today is never as important as today's today.

For months, it's a desperate combing of the earth for every and any likely prospect. Then, busy season hits, and all of that work starts to pay off. Deals start closing, the sun comes out, and sales leaders make it RAIN hundred dollar bills on their teams.

I'm not kidding. It's Disneyland when things are going well, and a labor camp when they aren't.

While everybody is patting themselves on the back on a job well done, the top performers are usually already stressing about how empty their pipelines are. They probably have a vacation planned for the following two weeks, because they know that the second that phone is their hands again, it's ground zero, and they will be measured against their recent success for the next 12 months - the desperate cycle to hold onto their jobs and place in the pack begins almost immediately.

This is also the time of year when your star sales people start shopping for a better paying gig.

History is suddenly irrelevant - Don't get me wrong - history is very important, because if we don't take time to learn from the past, we are doomed to repeat the same mistakes. That said, many of these sales quotas are grounded in concepts that no longer reflect the needs and demands of today's more sophisticated consumers.

The internet has changed the way people look for answers to their questions, and subsequently, it has changed the way people buy.

3rd - Why is this cold-calling's fault?

Well, it's not TOTALLY the fault of the cold-calling methodology, but it's a major enabler, because relying on cold-calling puts the onus of the sale almost COMPLETELY on the shoulders of your sales teams. It doesn't help that nobody is listening to sales about the real-life problems they face (learn how sales enablement can change that), but instead just cracking the whip over irrelevant goals.

By the way - I say "almost," because your company's reputation still matters. If you're all over the news for unscrupulous behaviors or your Google reviews make you look bad, or perhaps you're trying to get into a new service-line, and prospective customers want to talk to previous customers that don't exist, your salespeople are going to have major challenges, some of which, will be insurmountable.

4th - How can Marketing help?

That, right there, is the million dollar question.

If you're looking at your marketing budget for the next 12 months, and trying to figure out how to better spend that Adwords money that doesn't seem to be amounting to anything, I suggest taking a hard look at an inbound marketing agency that can put together a lead generation engine for you.

With inbound, you can turn your website into a portal that attracts visitors, converts qualified prospects into leads, and nurtures prospects until they are ready to speak to your sales teams.

With proper sales and marketing alignment, you can share your discoveries, and accelerate learning curves, so better content is published and better, more engaged leads are generated and qualified over time.

By leveraging an agency, versus doing it yourself or hiring each deliverable separately, you'll have access to a wide array of skills without having to reformulate your entire marketing department and budget. For example, one of our turn-key full-scope programs would include:

You also get the agency "hive," where inbound discoveries are freely shared and encouraged among each other.

Interested in learning more about the inbound philosophy? Check out this guide to getting started that we wrote just for you!

Download this free guide to getting started with inbound marketing for your business!

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Lucas Hamon

Over 10 years of B2B sales experience in staffing, software, consulting, & tax advisory. Today, as CEO, Lucas obsesses over inbound, helping businesses grow! Husband. Father. Beachgoer. Wearer of plunging v-necks.

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