If you’ve been in sales for a long time, you’ll have read a lot of books and articles on selling. And if you keep track of such things, you’ll notice that the majority of the time, the content focuses on cold calling: How to do it, and how to make it work.
Conversely, there’s less press given to warm calling.
Personally, I think cold calling doesn’t deserve its bad reputation. Like online restaurant reviews, I think it speaks more to people’s attitudes towards it than any objective truth. Cold calling can actually be fun once you hit your stride, but the fact is that warm calls are the favorite of most salespeople.
In case some of you aren’t clear of what I mean by warm calls, let’s review. Everyone knows that cold calls are where you roll up on a prospective customer who has no idea who you are. Conversely, warm calls are pre-qualified to some degree, which means that the prospective client might actually want to meet you.
Warm calls fall into three categories — ones where the prospect has found you and reached out, ones that come through referrals and ones where you’ve taken the initiative to take what would be a cold call and heat it up yourself.
Everyone loves it when prospective business comes calling, when someone who needs what you do finds you themselves and gives you a call. Those are always nice.
For most of us warm calls usually come by way of our referral networks. That’s why I’ve always tried to impress upon salespeople just how important growing their professional network is. Referrals are crucial, and when conducting training I’ve always pointed out that referral business bought my house.
If you’ve been around for a while and you do good work, many referrals are spontaneous. But organic referrals can be intermittent. It’s unlikely that you’ll get a wave of them that you can surf through your sales funnel indefinitely, although that would be great.
Since it’s not enough to only handle business that comes your way on its own you need to motivate it to happen.
Two ways to do that are to actively solicit referrals from your network, and to focus your online presence to attract new prospects.
It’s not only OK to ask your existing customers and professional contacts for referrals, in some fields like insurance, financial planning or real estate, it’s standard.
Think of it this way: You aren’t afraid to ask for the sale, so don’t be afraid to ask your contacts to refer their contacts your way.
Lastly, properly tuning up your social media reach through active pages for your brand and paid-for sponsored posts can be surprisingly effective.
When you’re only focusing on a local market, the total costs for targeted ads on social media are surprisingly low, and if your business is in big-ticket goods or installations, closing on a small number of new customers every year can yield a return on your ad spending that is worthwhile.
That’s something that I think I’ve promised in the past to write more on, and may actually one day deliver. Maybe after I finish all the other unfinished drafts I have in my rAVe folder.