December 2

Cold Calling with Content: The Most Successful Sales Prospecting Technique You’re Not Using

Does your company suffer from this problem?

The marketing team is generating tons of leads for your sales teams. They’re hitting all of their lead generation KPIs in terms of total leads, marketing qualified leads, etc.

BUT - your sales team isn’t happy. They don’t feel like the leads are good and complain that they’re spending too much time trying to turn those marketing qualified leads into sales qualified leads that they can actually sell something to in order to make their numbers this quarter.

It’s sort of the classic Sales vs Marketing issue that has created a historical riff between the two departments for as long as there have been lead generation campaigns.

BIG BUT—what if I told you that it doesn’t have to be like that? What if I told you that by adding ONE additional marketing step to your lead qualification process, you could eliminate this painful reality forever?

AND—by adding this one, simple, marketing step to the lead qualification process, you can save your sales teams hundreds of hours of painful prospecting calls, wasted time and effort, and soul numbing rejections.

AND (I promise, this is the last ‘and’)—by adding this one, simple, marketing step to the lead generation process, your marketing team will create the kinds of leads that your sales teams will feel they can’t live without and will actually crave!

Would you trade me 3 minutes of your time to discover this magical solution? If so, keep reading… I promise you won’t be disappointed. 

Making Every Sales Call Count

What far too many marketing teams miss is that sales teams aren’t W2 type folks. By that, I mean that the majority of a marketing team members’ pay is guaranteed and shows up every two weeks on a paycheck. Sure, there are performance bonuses and such, but for the most part, that variable portion of a marketing person’s compensation is a fraction of the total compensation picture.

But for the sales teams, the model is usually inverted. They receive a base payment every two weeks, but the lion’s share of their compensation is performance based. They eat what they kill, so to speak. And if they don’t close…well, they and their families don’t eat.

And that is why, in a salesperson’s world, every call has to count. But the good news is that Marketing is actually better equipped to create these kinds of leads if Sales will just let them.

Here’s why. 

Problem: Cold Calling is Expensive & Inefficient

Let’s use a current project we’re working on: I’m not going to share the client name or category for obvious reasons, but the numbers are real and based on recent, publicly available research as well as the client supplied data.

According to research by Baylor University, it takes the average salesperson 7.5 hours of cold calling and cold outreach effort to set a single appointment. They went on to state that on average, it takes 209 calls to set a single appointment. Obviously, that’s not 209 calls to the same person, but 209 efforts to get that single appointment.

If you think that sounds like a lot, you’d be mistaken. We find similar numbers when we look at other research. For instance, Velocify found on average it takes SIX calls to connect with a prospect. And that connection call, the one where the salesperson actually gets to make their pitch, will last from 3 minutes to about 6 minutes in length.

Various other studies support the Baylor and Velocify results, reporting that on average the number of calls required to gain an appointment falls between 6 and 10.

So let’s do the math.

  • We’ll assume that it takes a salesperson 45 seconds to dial a prospect, wait for their voicemail to finish (assuming they don’t answer) and leave a message with the prospect.
  • We’ll assume that upon getting the prospect on the phone, the call will last 5 minutes, well within the 3-6 minute range from the Velocify research. 
  • For this project, the client has an unqualified database of 1,600 leads.
  • Based on bullets 1 & 2 - each lead will cost the salesperson 8 minutes and 45 seconds of effort.

1,600 Leads @ 8 minutes, 45 seconds per Lead Contacted = 233 HOURS of effort. 

And if that salesperson is working 7.5 hours a day (assuming we’ll let them eat) then we’re looking at 31 days of effort—ONE FULL MONTH—to sales qualify the entire database before we’ve sold a single thing to anyone. And if you use the Baylor research (209 calls to get one appointment) that effort would yield approximately 45 qualified sales calls. 

Ouch. It’s no wonder Sales thinks Marketing isn’t doing their job. 

BUT—what if we moved all of that sales prospect qualification work to Marketing’s side of the equation? 

Solution: Cold Calling With Content

Instead of requiring the Sales to reach out and touch someone, Marketing can do this for them using a strategically planned email marketing program combined with a funnel optimized content marketing strategy on the company’s website, or on a specially designed campaign microsite.

The entire process is called Behavioral Segmentation and it’s premised on the idea that within any set of leads, there are a handful of diamonds—those leads that are truly ready to consider or actually purchase. There is a second tranche of leads that are interested, but may or may not really be in the purchase phase of their pre-purchase research. And finally, a third tranche of folks that very likely are either window shopping or very early in the purchase research process.

By cold calling with content, tracking behavioral responses to that content, and strategically planning follow-up content based on displayed behaviors, Marketing can accurately filter an unknown database down to those leads that Sales won’t be able to live without.

Best of all, Behavioral Segmentation does all of this faster, easier, cheaper and produces results (sales qualified leads) at about the same rate as cold calling. In fact, for this particular client, we’re predicting 40 sales qualified (hot-to-trot, ready to buy) leads off the 1,600 person database. That’s just 5 less than the Baylor study suggests cold calling the same database would produce. 

Why Cold Calling With Content Is a Better Sales Prospecting Solution 

Setting aside the obvious benefit of giving your salespeople MORE TIME to do what they do best (sell) vs forcing them to spend days, weeks, or months on low value activities that they hate, here are three key reasons to choose to cold call with content vs phone: 

  • Scale: Cold calling costs scale linearly because a phone call is a dedicated 1:1 activity. But cold calling with content scales non-linearly because the lion’s share of the cost is upfront costs—content creation. The cost to segment a 16,000 person database isn’t 10X of the 1,600 person database cost. In fact, to truly exploit the cost benefits of this approach, you should pass as many leads through the process as possible.
  • Investment vs Expense: Every cold call is an expense because it can never be repeated. But Behavioral Segmentation programs can be reused over and over and over ad nauseum. In fact, the only additional costs usually incurred is making them better by learning from the results of each effort and constantly improving the content of the emails and the funnel optimized website to produce higher qualification rates.
    For instance, if your company leverages trade shows to find new prospects, you could develop a Behavioral Segmentation program and every time your sales team finishes a trade show, they hand the leads to Marketing. Marketing passes these leads through your Behavioral Segmentation program so Marketing can find those lovely diamonds to deliver back to Sales. 
  • Better Intel: While we humans instinctively know we’re being tracked online, it doesn’t change our activity. We still click on, consume, and share the content that interests us or helps us to solve a problem.
    But when a salesperson is trying to probe us for insights to help the salesperson define our problem and figure out what they can sell us to solve our problem, we’re never truly open and honest with them unless there is an established trust based relationship.
  • Your salespeople will never call a stranger: Think about that. Normally when your sales teams are trying to qualify new sales prospects or leads, they really don’t know anything about those folks. In all respects, the sales prospect is a total stranger. But, with a program like Behavioral Segmentation, that’s never the case.
    Sales receives not just a lead-scored sales prospect list, rank ordered from most likely to least likely to buy, but for each and every lead on that list, sales receives a detailed dossier showing every piece of information sent, engaged with, consumed, or ignored by that lead. 

And if you add in a little social reconnaissance to the mix, well, now Sales has a detailed profile of the sales prospect, a list of their social profiles and key Conversation Catalysts to use during that initial call to build rapport and set the stage for relationship building and ultimately a sale. 

Results: Does Behavioral Segmentation Really Work?

See for yourself… below are REAL WORLD results from a similar-sized campaign run for a different client in the same industry.

And finally…

The #1 sales-qualified lead returned the salesperson’s voicemail within 24-hours and wanted to discuss the very product the Behavioral Segmentation campaign identified as “most likely purchase.”


See for yourself. Tom presented these findings at ContentTech a few years back and we’ve republished the presentation in its entirety. Warning: it’s about 45 minutes long, but in that time, he’ll walk you through the entire case study and then you decide - coincidence or result. 

Want To Start Cold Calling With Content Tomorrow?

Why not give us a call today and let us help you create your behavioral segmentation program. Just click here to schedule a call with us and start the process.

This post was originally published on Converse Digital’s Insight & Information Blog.

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