“Hello, my name is Sami-” Click!
That’s a familiar scene for many business owners and salespeople. Cold-calling prospective clients and partners can be a downright terrifying experience for many professionals looking to drum up new business.
Outreach via email, phone or social with the intent of securing business can feel icky and uncomfortable. Although cold outreach may elicit some of your worst emotional responses, it’s too important to ignore as it secures new business/referral partners and can generate more consistent pipeline.
After all, the pain you feel when making that first introduction over the phone to a cold prospect is NOTHING compared to the pain you feel when you can’t pay your business bills.
Now, where should you start?
Unfortunately, cold calling is an on-the-job experience that’s not taught in school.
Veteran sales professionals take years to perfect their cold outreach messaging and style, but with the right templates and strategies deployed on the right communication channels where your audience exists, you can take some shortcuts to achieve early wins.
1. Leveraging LinkedIn For Your Business
LinkedIn messaging is an effective channel to “warm up leads” by introducing yourself in a casual fashion and has a far higher engagement rate than cold calling.
Don’t have too narrow of a focus in your search for prospects. It’s natural to seek out other professionals in your industry or those you believe are complementary but we suggest connecting with other stakeholder groups, too.
It’s helpful to keep in mind that many of your potential clients and partners will reach out to their own personal networks before contacting you or your business, so it’s helpful to network with a wide array of folks. You’ll be surprised to learn how some of your biggest clients may end up finding you!
2. Escalating LinkedIn Conversations
As you start connecting with your potential partners on LinkedIn, you’ll likely need to escalate those conversations to continue building a fruitful relationship. Time constraints can limit your availability, especially when starting a new business, so you should consider outsourcing outbound calling while you’re focused on other priorities and client deliverables.
However, there are two pitfalls to cold calling potential referral partners: It can be a heavy lift without any past communication, and they might not even answer the call if they don’t recognize your number.
When you’re cold calling any of your potential referrers, you’ll need to provide tangible value and a reason for them to invest time in building a relationship with you.
Potential partner opportunities you can immediately offer include:
- Co-hosting webinars on overlapping practice areas or services to generate new leads;
- Lunch and learns to educate potential partners while you treat them to lunch;
- Updating them on a new rule or regulation that might be relevant to their business; and
- Inviting them to attend in-person events and meet-ups if you’re both located near the same city.
Your cold outreach has a greater chance of success if you’re already treating them as an existing partner from the start. Consider treating them like you would any friend or family member.
3. Developing An Outreach Plan
To first call or to email, that is the question. If Shakespeare was starting a business, I’m sure he’d be deeply pondering this dilemma. To be honest, it really depends on the individual as they should tailor their outreach plan around their personal strengths and targeted audience.
Regardless of your preferred outreach strategy, persistence is the key to both.
There is no minimum or maximum number of outreach attempts that you should follow as there is no one-size-fits-all approach to this, but there are some useful strategies.
A successful method is mixing and matching your sales follow-up techniques and spacing them out over time as it gives your prospect an opportunity to respond on their preferred communication channel and on their own time.
One emerging trend is using ringless voicemails to interact with your potential clients and partners, as spammers traditionally don’t leave voicemails when their calls go unanswered. The benefit of leaving voicemails is people are more likely to listen to them after receiving a notification. It may lead to a potential callback, so you should keep organized notes on who you’ve reached out to in anticipation.
It’s important to understand how to best reach and engage with your clients and partners. As you start incorporating some of these tips into your cold outreach arsenal, you’ll have a deeper understanding of your audience so you can refine your strategy over time. Remember, people are more likely to be open and receptive when they’re viewed as a long-term partner and not as an ATM machine.
Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. Smith.ai’s 24/7 virtual receptionists and live chat agents capture and convert leads by phone, website chat, texts and Facebook. You can follow Smith.ai on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube.