For business development professionals, few topics are as sure to garner intense emotional reactions as cold calling. Some say cold calling is dead, while others say that it’s as relevant as ever—even if it looks a bit different today than it did in the past.
Despite the controversy and semantic battles over the specific definitions of today’s cold calling, the fundamental practice of reaching out to others to kindle a new relationship is basically the foundation of business development. It’s just that tools are available today to help “warm up” cold calls so that a little research means business development leaders aren’t starting from scratch, even if they are starting a new conversation.
Use the Right Medium
Different audiences will prefer different methods of initial contact. And while it may be named cold calling, the telephone is hardly the only method to get the conversation going. Research shows, for instance, that millennials are increasingly averse to phone calls of any type. In fact, nearly a quarter of adults in the United Kingdom report never using their smartphone to make phone calls at all. Instead, they prefer contact through digital and social media messaging. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, prefer voice-to-voice conversations, or at least a balance between in person, by phone and electronic communication. Stuck in the middle, Generation X prefers email above all other forms of communication.
Reach the Right Person
Every organization is divided into individual roles where each person has specific responsibilities. With their responsibilities they may be considered a decision maker, influencer, observer, gatekeeper or something in between. Business development relies on reaching those as close to the decision-making responsibility as possible to meet development goals. Cold calling should be targeted to reach those people.
This doesn’t mean scouring the web for any email or phone number you can find associated with a specific organization. It also usually means avoiding an urge to jump directly to the top of the corporate ladder to email a large organization’s chief executive or managing director. Instead, spend time to review company profiles to identify key employees that will set your efforts up for success. This allows business development professionals to be strategic in who is targeted in cold calling or prospecting efforts.
Find the Right Fit
Some matches just aren’t meant to be. There are myriad factors that go into play when determining whether a business partnership has the prerequisites for success. Considerations such as geography, company size, corporate culture, personalities, skill sets and product portfolios can all solidify a deal or make it nearly impossible to close.
With so many variables, business development leaders can’t guarantee the right fit with any level of research, but the right kind of research can certainly uncover factors that would exclude potential partnerships. Identifying possible partnership red flags is a vital step to take at the beginning of the lead qualification process.
Know the Right Background
You wouldn’t go into a job interview knowing nothing about where you’re applying. Similarly, you shouldn’t make a cold call without doing enough research to be sufficiently knowledgeable about who you’re contacting.
The right research can provide intelligence that can help narrow in on what products or services to highlight in the business development process. It can also help fuel conversations that start to build a rapport that will serve as the foundation of a new relationship. Spend time perusing historical headlines to uncover company milestones, have a general idea of who company leaders are and what unique attributes they bring. In addition to knowing the organization, it’s also important to have a level of understanding of a potential client’s industry as a whole.
Respecting these “rights” of cold calling promotes a mutually beneficial process where research opens the gateway to new business.
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Learn more about researching your prospects: Prospecting or Stalking? Three Tips to Use Digital Research Effectively and Professionally.