Those who remember when cold calls were in their prime will rejoice their slow but imminent death. Like most industries, the landscape of telecommunication sales techniques has turned on its head in the past few years.
Why are we seeing the death of cold calls?
Because in the modern marketplace, consumers value the relationship more than anything. Because frustrated customers can opt for a “do not call” list to avoid getting spam calls from offshore call centers. But mostly because businesses have now found other better alternatives to reach out to consumers than the telephonic equivalent of showing-up-on-their-door-uninvited in the real world.
Take for example, inbound marketing which has taken over cold calls because it encourages consumers to be in control. If customers don’t like something, they chuck it out. The essence of inbound marketing is that it revolves around creating a delightful experience for customers and cold calls don’t fall under that category anymore. Not by a long shot.
If you want proof, just look at the millennials. Nothing gets ordered online without them reading reviews, researching a company, or comparing prices with other brands. It would be challenging for this breed of consumers to buy something from strangers without first getting to know them a little bit.
Therefore, internet marketing has become much more discreet and the consumers always want to feel like they are in control. The moment a prospect senses a forceful sales approach rushing them to a checkout, they become suspicious. A product should be able to stand out for itself. And so, the relatively aggressive form of sales that is cold calling is fading into history.
What’s important now that sales communication has shifted?
I’m going to give you a concept that if you can ingrain into your company, you will be likely to thrive; customers don’t want to be treated like customers anymore.
To understand this, we’re going to trace back to the beginning of phone marketing. Cold calling worked because people were keen to show off their wealth in the 50s. There was a massive growth in the middle classes and people needed to have the next new prized possession that everyone simply must have. It was a different era, where encyclopedias could be sold at the door for extortionate rates so households could appear well-to-do and intellectual. Lead generation didn’t exist. This is not the market that exists out there today.
What has changed is the consciousness around buying. There isn’t the same drive to prove you can afford goods, rather it is seen as an ostentatious practice. But people are still purchasing, and if you can market your product through internet marketing, seem like the best decision for them personally, then you will have a higher chance of converting their interest into sales.The essence of inbound marketing is that it revolves around creating a delightful experience for customers and cold calls doesn’t fall under that category anymore. Click To Tweet
So where has the sales communication shifted? Broadly speaking, to three of the following areas.
1. Human-centric sales approach
Businesses need human-centric lead nurturing. You want your sales tools to help your product achieve this. It might feel like automation can chip away at the human-centric relationship-building and the process can drown in the human communication in algorithms. But in reality, automation enables your ethos to speak more clearly to your target audience.
“We’re all on the lookout for ways to be relevant to the consumer – creating relevant content, relevant experiences, relevant products. Nothing is more relevant than delivering the right kind of help exactly when it’s needed.”
– Nichole Elizabeth DeMere, SaaS Marketer and Consultant
2. Establish trust rather than demand it
Most of what I have discussed in the article revolves around the fulcrum of “warm leads,” i.e. building relationship with customers before selling them your products or services. It’s what sales teams have turned to as customer expectations shift. A warm lead is already curious about your company when you initiate contact. And although this may sound easier than making cold calls, lead nurturing requires a lot of determination and persistence to build a customer network.What has changed is the consciousness around buying. People purchase things if it seems like the best decision for them personally. Click To Tweet
For a B2B company, this may be done through a LinkedIn blog. Maybe someone likes your article, and you decide to send them a real-time message. On the other side, B2C leads more often come from social media, be it ads or affiliate marketing.
Email campaigns are still the most effective marketing method today, but you have a fine line to tread. You need to create a personal tone and contact at optimum intervals.
Let me explain why.
You’ve got to hit the sweet spot between engaging your lead without irritating them with content overload. It’s all too easy for a customer to feel as if you are spamming their inbox with daily content.
3. Change in customer metrics
Customer analytics is so underestimated across the board and is frequently placed near the bottom on a priority list within sales and marketing. A Forbes finding concludes that only 29% of executives find the use of customer analytics to be ‘extremely important’. Letting stats to drive your marketing decisions helps you detach your business from ineffective campaigns. Instead, you can see what might work to entice your customers and apply the right tools and techniques to make your offering more appealing to them.
Let’s bring in a scenario to help make better sense of this. Imagine your customer is a male in his mid-twenties. Let’s call him Tim. Tim is a trendy millennial who recently bought a car insurance policy from your website. Here’s a picture of Tim showering love to his newly purchased car:
Your analytics inform you that Tim initially found you through Facebook and that he took 15 minutes to ensure his car. There are a few blindingly obvious points here from which you can design an effective, personalized campaign.
An ideal sales approach should start by throwing a chat popup at him suggesting to buy a roadside assistance for $7/month. You should also have noticed that he followed through with the order fairly quickly, which suggests that he might be an impulse buyer. Based on this data, you can create a sense of urgency and give him a discount of 15% off on his insurance plan if he opts for annual auto renewal.
With real-time analytics at your disposal, you can communicate with customers contextually and maximize your sales.
So, where do we go now?
The quick answer to this is internet marketing. However, we are going to focus on how channels such as customer messaging and chatbots enhance communications between the buyer and seller.
Live chat and real-time messaging
In one of his blogs, Neil Patel exemplifies how he managed to increase one of his client’s conversion rates by 45% using live chat. When used correctly, live chat on a website is a powerful tool to help answer customers’ concerns so they can breeze through a purchase. Chat might never replace email, but it provides an instantaneous interaction that sparks better in terms of customer engagement.
Here is a graph that stamps out the reasons why live chat is such a popular choice for customers.
Depending on your company’s tone, adopting a modern messaging app for your business can be a smart investment for lead generation. While live chat helps you become instantaneous and accessible, real-time messaging enables you to capture your lead’s attention (and their data) in a more conversational, friendly way.
A customer messaging app can help you build measurable revenue opportunities. CRM software and other customer engagement tools keep all team members focused and aware of the larger picture and their impact on a company’s success. It’s an entirely different approach to that of a cold caller huddling in a small cubicle without any real idea on how they are changing the company’s dynamic.
There is a lot happening when you are engaging with consumers via messaging. It is a much more positive experience for both the seller and the customer. Sellers are empowered to listen to what their customers are really saying. It works in a feedback loop and sellers can use this to adjust their sales techniques to cater to their customers’ desires. They are no longer punching in random numbers without much knowledge of the person about to pick up on the other end.
In a short span of time, not only the techniques but also the cost of sales have changed drastically. So ignore real-time messaging at your own peril. Don’t believe me?
IVRs are boring, chatbots are here to stay
Chatbots can answer basic queries and route customer queries to human representatives when needed. Chatbots can accelerate lead generation by allowing potential customers to make quicker decisions. Without cold calls and similar time-consuming marketing ploys, your team can focus on lead nurturing and increase sales.
Empower your business to succeed
The ecosystem of digital sales channels is so much more powerful than the cold calls scripts of yore. Its challenges come from so many angles that sales departments don’t ever get to take their eyes off of emerging technologies. It is a source of resource-leech for your company that takes up a massive chunk of your company’s resources.
Live chat in its modern avatar of real-time messaging, backed up by interactive chatbots and automation, are resources that could be used to innovate and create an experience tailored to your customers. It frees up your time while enabling you to reach out to more customers on a personal level. With automation-powered messaging, you can create a sales funnel that’s more engaging and cost-effective than it was ever before.
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(Cover illustration and images by Karthikeyan Ganesh)