11 Exciting Cold Calling Alternatives to Bring in New Business
It’s hard hearing “no” after “no” after “no,” day in and day out. Like, is anything more depressing than that? Other than death and taxes, we’re pretty sure the answer is … well, “no.”
That’s exactly why cold calling has a bad rep. It’s boring, it’s hard on the ego, and it makes your butt kinda sore. (Unless you’ve scored one of those treadmill desks, in which case it actually – wait, it still sucks.)
The good news? There are plenty of alternatives to cold calling you can do to generate leads, without having to endure another self-esteem-crushing “no.” In fact, these activities may even be downright fun!
Seriously. We mean it. If you’ve ever wondered, “What works better than cold calling?” or “Is there literally anything else I can do that’s not cold calling?” you’ve come to the right place. Today, we’re going to discuss several lead generation and marketing strategy alternatives to cold sales, so you can pocket your dread stat.
Sound good? Let’s dive in.
What is Cold Calling?
Cold calling is the process of reaching out to individuals with whom you have never spoken, in the hope of getting them to set up an appointment with you to learn more about your product.
You may get the phone numbers you use from a variety of places, including purchased lists (not recommended), contacts in your network, company switchboards, online resumes or websites, or sales prospecting tools. Once you introduce yourself, you explain a little bit about your offering and then ask your listener to take a certain action, typically meeting with you in person, over Zoom, or over the phone at a later date.
Warm Calling vs. Cold Calling
There’s a difference – a subtle one, but a difference nevertheless – between cold calling vs warm calling. In a nutshell, it boils down to whether potential customers have heard of you or your company. This has implications for the sales process.
Warm calling is one of the best alternatives to cold calling in your prospecting strategy, because it means your warm leads are prepared for you. This can happen in a variety of ways:
- They were referred to you or vice versa
- They’ve read copy on your website or taken an action, like downloading an ebook
- You sent them a cold email, and they responded
While cold calling is still a great way to drum up business, warm leads are way more likely to respond favorably to your information and offers.
Is Cold Calling Dead?
No, cold calling isn’t dead. As we said, it’s still an effective way to drum up business if you educate yourself and do it right. While effectiveness rates are lower than with other forms of outreach, and you definitely have to get your hustle on, it’s still a significant way to get leads through the door – especially if you’re just starting out.
Bottom line? It can be worth it. But the following 11 strategies might be even better.
11 Lead Generation Ideas That Don’t Require Cold Calling
All right, enough chitchat. If cold calling ain’t the thing, what is?
Hang tight as we discuss eleven lead generation strategies you may not have considered, offering helpful resources along the way, that allow each salesperson at your company to drive more profit without sitting on the phone.
1. Keep in Touch With Lost Prospects
Let’s tackle one of the biggest myths about lost prospects: that idea they’re actually lost.
See, these prodigal potential customers might have been lost at one time, but they may end up looking to switch products or services at some point, which puts them right back into your arms. You’ve already done so much work in selling them, it would be a shame to just give up on them now.
Instead, put a good follow-up system in place. Make sure to check back with lost leads every 6 months or so to see how they’re doing, via phone and email. You can even check in over text or social media, depending on their preferences and how you’ve communicated in the past. The more automated the outreach, the better (which is something we’ll discuss at the end of this post).
The best part is, since they were a prospect before, no form of outreach is cold now.
2. Ask Happy Customers for Referrals
Did you know that word-of-mouth marketing deeply impacts the success rate of sales professionals? It’s true: “Word-of-mouth marketing drives a whopping $6T of annual consumer spending and is estimated to account for 13% of consumer sales,” says LXA.
And remember, you don’t have to wait around for people to get your info from a friend and call you. Referrals go both ways, you see. A customer can provide your contact info to their colleague or peer, who may or may not reach out. But you can also ask your customer for the contact info of others who may be interested in your solution. Then you have their details in your CRM.
Referral sales are one of the best alternatives to cold calling because it means you get to contact people who’ve often already heard of you – making them automatically warm leads. Even if they haven’t, you get to drop a name they know and trust, increasing your chances of getting their attention.
3. Use Out-of-Home and Direct Mail Marketing
Out-of-home and direct mail marketing are more traditional marketing campaign methods, but they both fall under the set-it-and-forget-it style, which is nice. If your business makes sense for it, you can create billboards, mall posters, etc., and plaster them around town to generate awareness for your brand, product, or service.
Direct mail is easy and allows you to just buy a geo-targeted list, approve a design, pay for printing and postage, and get your name and number out in front of people to start propping up conversion rates. It’s true that you may see lesser quality leads than with other methods, a lower ROI and conversion rate, and significant cost. It’s a pretty low-touch lead-gen option, after all.
Then again, “The average response rate for direct mail is between 2.7% and 4.4%, compared to email’s 0.6% response rate,” according to some sources. Not bad at all.
4. Encourage Your Sales Team to Attend Networking Events
Another of our favorite cold calling alternatives is to have your sales reps attend in-person events, such as trade shows, conferences, and other networking functions.
This allows you to get your name out, be seen in the right and most relevant crowds, meet other leaders in your industry, and even drum up new leads right there in person. You can also take a few notes, pick up on new insights, and then use those tidbits in your work to prove your own expertise.
Wherever possible, focus on potential leads at the event. If you can gather enough names from people in related industries who might need your services, you can leverage one networking event into several days of not having to be on the phone with your cold call scripts.
5. Start Writing Blog Posts (or Guest Posts!)
Inbound leads are some of the best you’ll find because they’re already interested in your product. By using relevant content marketing with your target audience, enriched with good SEO, you can drastically reduce the amount of time you need to go to people. They’ll start coming to you instead.
That’s why B2B sales blogging is so important—whether on your own site’s blog or as a guest post on a complementary business website. It allows you to build credibility, increase your website authority, possibly appear in Google search results, and promote your CTAs throughout your article – such as free downloads that require an email or phone number to access the content. And as soon as you have that, you have a new lead!
6. Host Webinars to Provide Tips and Answer Questions
Another thing you can do is offer a webinar where you can provide your own tips and expertise, and answer questions that your prospects might have. It builds your credibility and gives you plenty of pre- and post-webinar content to share.
It can also be a great way to collect phone numbers and email addresses on the webinar sign-up page. This is awesome because you now have some seriously meaty information to put into your CRM. You can use those later for email campaigns and phone calls. Good news, too: those are warm leads you’re calling, not cold!
7. Provide Short Consultations for Free
Free consultations are a thing for a reason. They’re similar to a webinar, but potentially a better option for more confidential situations or opportunities that are a bigger deal. People love a freebie, and it’s a great way to get new leads.
So, how do to it? Offer 15- to 30-minute free consultations to showcase your product or service, answer their detailed questions and address their pain points, and most importantly, find out what they’re looking for and keep reaching out with info about your solution.
After the consultation, you can follow up with an email or a phone call every so often – as often as you like unless they tell you to stop.
8. Get Involved in LinkedIn Conversations
Staying active on LinkedIn is still a top sales strategy and one of the best ways to resource B2B lead information. And if you want to reach decision-makers, there’s no better place to look, because their titles are right there for the taking.
Here’s how to start:
- Check out what people are posting as it pertains to your industry
- Get involved in timely conversations and share your input
- Create your own posts about certain topics, using hashtags as appropriate to get them seen
- Be sure to always respond to comments on your post, so you can be seen as not just a company or a typical sales guy, but a real human who initiates and engages in conversation
It will take time to build a trustworthy, reliable LinkedIn presence that helps you cultivate new leads, but that’s okay. Time takes time, as they say, so start now.
9. Use Social Media for Social Selling
Social media is a fantastic way to promote all the items we’ve already discussed – blog posts and other inbound content marketing, webinars, free consultation sign-up links, tips and tricks, forum conversations, links to download your white papers, and so forth.
All of those things can be shared out on social media platforms, and online in general, to build a reputation in your industry and bring in leads from your target audience. That includes information that comes from free trials, free downloads, webinars, and everything else that requires at least a name and email.
There’s a reason social selling is so productive, so don’t get left behind.
10. Implement Email Drip Campaigns
All the emails you collect from white papers, case studies, and other techniques should make their way into your CRM quickly. Don’t wait to put leads on email campaigns to inform them of your services and keep your brand top of mind when they’re ready to buy.
Email isn’t the highest-conversion form of outreach, but email marketing is nevertheless a very powerful way to connect with your prospects. According to OptinMonster, “42.3% of Americans subscribe to email lists to receive savings and discounts, and roughly 1 in 3 US retail email list subscribers have purchased something from the brand whose emails they receive.” Those are some pretty powerful stats, no?
So, ya know. It’s a very good idea. Plus, when you pair personalized templates and email automation, it almost feels too easy!
11. Be Mindful of Users’ Website Activity
Website activity is absolutely worth tracking and acting upon, and don’t let anyone try to tell you differently. Once you set up a few goals or actions, you can send a website user automated emails and notifications directly related to their website activity (or lack thereof). For instance:
- Email someone a quick sales pitch or coupon when they abandon their shopping cart
- Send additional content about a certain topic once they spend more than 1.5 minutes on a given page
- Add them to a drip campaign when they download something for free
This can help bring hot leads back to your website to complete an action and seriously move the needle on your profits.
Generating New Leads Doesn’t Have to Suck
No one needs to tell you that cold calling is less than exciting, and after a slow day full of big ol’ “nos,” it can leave one feeling like they’ve accomplished nothing more than wasting time. Well, no longer!
Our hope is that coming away from this article, you have 11 shiny new ways to avoid picking up the dreaded phone and calling a complete stranger. These will allow you to bring in new leads, in turn allowing your sales reps to mingle with industry leaders, involve themselves in social media conversations, and otherwise build their own reputations in the field. What’s not to like?
Want to learn more about growing your lead generation efforts – and in turn, your customer base? Now you can, with a free resource from Close: From 0 to 1,000 Customers & Beyond: The 4 Steps to Scaling Your B2B Customer Acquisition.
Download it and we promise, you’ll never again sit on the phone for hours on end. So unless you like Phone Purgatory, download this resource and prepare for positive change!