B2B Cold Calling in a Digital Sales World: (Does it still work?)

by Angeline Plesek, Online Marketing Contributor

They said radio would die when television came on the scene.

Nearly 70 years later, radio has stood the test of time side by side with television through the decades.

can-chat-chatting-500Just like the age old debate between these two mediums, now there is a similar contest going on in the B2B sales environment —the question is whether or not old-time cold calling is still applicable in an ever increasingly digital world.

According to a survey conducted by Software Advice in 2012 titled, B2B Demand Generation Benchmark Surveywhen marketers were asked which channels yielded the best results for producing quality leads, in-house email marketing came in at the top followed by search engine optimization. Even though these digital channels came in first and second in popularity, cold calling still came in a close third.

So, to dismiss cold calling would be foolish, right?

Proponents of cold calls still swear by them because apparently they are still proving to be a way to generate good sales leads in some industries.

When it comes to cold calling, Steve Spencer, Director of Recruitment for Managed Information Technology and Print Services at the Morisey-Dart Group, says, “I cold call everyday in my business for one reason—it works!  My prospects are senior managers and C-level individuals.  It has been apparent to me that they still use the phone even though the social media channel and others have been well developed. They are very busy and don’t have time for social media any more than they take time to surf the Internet. Productivity is all important to this group and effectiveness is all important to me. The clients I call on in the MPS space still prefer the phone. Some of them do use LinkedIn and a few use Twitter; however, the phone is still King.”

On the other side of this argument, there are those that are less enamored with cold calling like Mike Volpe, CMO of Hubspot. He was recently part of a panel discussion on a Google+ Hangout session where panelists were asked whether cold calling still works in B2B lead generation.

Volpe commented, “I’m not going to say that no one gets a ROI out of it anymore, but it’s not at all the first thing that you should be investing in. I think there are other things that have a much lower cost to acquire new customers and also annoy people a lot less.”

He goes on to say that for about every 200 people you contact, you may actually get only one person as a customer, but in the meantime you have annoyed the other 199. His feeling is that the phone should be used primarily to contact people that have already expressed an interest first through other digital channels.

Isn’t it possible to strike a balance?

Maybe it’s a generational thing, maybe it depends on the demographics within the target market you call on, or maybe it’s just the culture of the industry you deal with day to day. In any case, couldn’t there still be room for cold calling, email marketing, social media, search engine optimization, and various other digital channels when it comes to B2B lead generation?

Using a newer medium such as social media can help to warm up for cold calls, using each to fuel the other to get to the end result of boosting your ROI in the end.

People still listen to the radio today even nearly 70 years since television was introduced and has managed to reinvent itself throughout the decades even to the point of Internet radio—in spite of its visual counterpart.

Maybe the cold call still has its place in B2B sales and marketing, and can survive alongside the digital media channels as long as there are prospects that are still open to it—at least for the time being.

Test Results Revealed: How Listing a Phone Number Increased Web Page Visits by Over 18%


Photo by Fancycrave.com from Pexels

I write a lot about tweaking and testing your business web pages to see what elements perform the best. This week’s article is about how not only listing a phone number on a checkout web page performed better, BUT how the right phone number on a checkout page increased visits by over 18% according to a blog post published by Creative Direct Marketing Group.

A flower shop business decided to test two different phone numbers on their checkout page…a local number and a toll-free phone number. THE WINNER: the local number.

You might say, “Why would this be?—I mean wouldn’t people outside of the immediate area rather have a toll-free number listed for their convenience?”

While this is probably true, it may be that a “local” phone number gives the perception that the business is more accessible…(true or not, noticed I said perception).  A toll-free number may have given the appearance of a business far off in the distance somewhere.

Result: The local phone number may have lessened some of the mental hesitancy and anxiety a prospect may feel when buying online.

In any case, I think contact information (and a phone number especially) can make a prospect feel a lot more comfortable about handing over his hard-earned money when making a purchase online.

As the article said, “Clearly, Flowers Across Melbourne’s prospects were more comfortable with a local number than a toll-free number.”

I’d take it a step further and say a phone number (local or not) gives more credibility than just an email—it just depends on your target market.

I recently made a sizable purchase online for some software. I have to admit that I was very nervous because there was no phone number listed anywhere on the business website—not even on the support page. The only contact info listed were the standard email addresses… info@, support@, etc.

There is something comforting to a prospect to know that should there be a problem, he can pick up the phone, hear a voice, and deal with a real person.

I went against my better judgment and bought anyway because the owner of the website is pretty well-known in his market and has credibility…so I bought…and so far so good.

I’ll close by saying that many people are not like me and would not have taken the chance and purchased—this would have resulted in a lost sale.

You really need to take the time to get to know your prospects, tweak and test, and find out what works best for your business.

Simple Website Tweaks to Improve Your Online Conversions and Business Profits

Image courtesy of [stockimages] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of [stockimages] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to a recent article posted on MarketingProfs.com called, “Five Rookie Website Mistakes You Can Fix Today”, regarding business websites and their online performance, “…common mistakes have big consequences, but they’re also fixable.”

I would add that to ignore them is to leave money on the table.

I think all marketers are guilty at one time or another of rushing to put out the next promotion—then sit back and wait.

The article written by Andy Crestodina addresses some really important elements on your business web pages that when tweaked, can really make a difference on your website’s conversions.

My favorite is Mistake # 1 Homepage Headline Hints…I teach on this all of the time. Why?

In my opinion, the headline is the first opportunity to “grab and keep” your prospect’s attention—and it really is one of the elements to fix quickly and easily to improve conversion rates once you know how.

Andy states, “Your homepage headline is clever but unclear.”
This is very common. Many people try so hard to write such a clever headline, that the prospect ends up scratching his head and walking away confused.

I encourage you to read his article if you are interested in learning more about simple website tweaks that can boost your online profits.