Many businesses are weary of cold calling for B2B lead generation. We get it. It can sound intimidating, scary, and invasive. It also may not align with the buyer personas of your target market, increasing the risk of being turned away and facing objections.
While we know how impactful cold calling is for business growth and getting in front of potential buyers, we also understand the hesitations companies have with it. Luckily, there are some alternatives to cold calling—both outbound and inbound—that sales and marketing teams can implement to generate a consistent sales pipeline full of prospects and leads.
In this blog, we’ll cover the following topics:
What Is Cold Calling?
Cold calling is an outbound lead generation method that involves reaching out to potential buyers who have had no prior interaction with your business. Cold calling is a proactive approach to B2B lead generation because sales development representatives (SDRs) initiate conversations with business decision-makers, aiming to identify and qualify prospects, ultimately converting them into paying customers.
Cold Calling vs. Warm Calling: What’s the Difference?
Cold calling and warm calling are two different approaches to B2B lead generation. Both strategies have their own unique characteristics and advantages to business growth.
Cold calling involves reaching out to potential customers or businesses who have had no prior interaction with your company. It typically starts with a business development representative (BDR) initiating unsolicited phone calls or emails to introduce products or services. The prospects in cold calling are often unfamiliar with your brand, which means the BDR (or SDR) must build rapport and trust from scratch. Cold calls rely heavily on persuasion and a well-crafted pitch to generate interest and convert leads into customers.
On the other hand, warm calling refers to contacting marketing leads who have shown some level of interest or engagement with your company, often as a result of inbound lead generation efforts. This interest could stem from various inbound marketing methods, such as previous company interactions at events, submitting contact form fills on websites, downloading gated content, attending webinars, etc.
Warm calls often benefit more than cold calls because the prospect already recognizes your brand to some extent. This familiarity can lead to a more receptive audience and higher conversion rates. It is often seen as a more targeted and efficient strategy, as it focuses on nurturing leads that have demonstrated some inclination to engage with your offerings.
What’s the difference between warm, cold, and qualified leads? Learn the difference by reading our blog here.
Is Cold Calling Dead?
Cold calling is not dead—it is evolving and there are better ways to approach it now than it had been in years past.
Cold calling remains a relevant outbound lead generation method because it provides direct access to potential customers and offers real-time interaction. While digital marketing and inbound strategies have gained prominence, cold calling offers a personal touch and immediate engagement.
Skilled BDRs and SDRs have the ability to adapt their approach, address pain points, and provide tailored solutions, creating opportunities that other methods might miss. It also allows for quick feedback and adjustments to pitches.
When combined with modern tools and data-driven insights, cold calling remains a valuable method for reaching prospects, building relationships, and converting leads into customers, making it far from obsolete in the world of outbound lead generation.
Discover how to build, implement, and sustain an effective cold calling strategy here.
Best Alternatives to Cold Calling Lead Generation
While cold calling is still an incredibly powerful outbound and B2B appointment setting strategy, many businesses are hesitant to implement it into their growth efforts. If you don’t want to add cold calling to your sales development strategy, there are alternative lead gen methods.
Here are some of the best alternatives to cold calling:
B2B Email Marketing
If you want to practice outbound lead generation and appointment setting without picking up the phone, implementing a B2B email marketing strategy would be your next best approach to engaging with prospects and pitching your company’s product or service.
Similar to cold calling, there must also be a process in place when it comes to list building and email sequence distribution. After gathering your list of prospects, divide them into different sequences based on their industry, region served, buyer persona, etc. Not every prospect in your sales pipeline is the same, so you should segment each prospect to make sure they get the best sales emails for their potential wants, needs, and interests.
While you may want to jump right into the email sales pitch and highlight all the great features of your company’s product or service, put the prospect at the forefront of the conversation first. Rather than diving into the pitch immediately, start your email sequence with common prospect pain points and encourage them to think about their current situation.
Struggling to write cold emails that convert? Read our blog here to learn how BDRs and SDRs can craft sales emails that get responses.
Contact Prospects on LinkedIn
One big way growing businesses can prospect without cold calling is by taking advantage of professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a great outlet for connecting with prospects and sending them personal sales and marketing materials that align with what they may be looking for in a product or service provider.
LinkedIn prides itself on being a social media platform that encourages conversations between like-minded professionals, making it an excellent approach to lead generation. Depending on the industry you serve and the different buyer personas of decision-makers in your target market, this outbound sales development method can be incredibly impactful. It gives you an additional channel to introduce your business and nurture relationships with potential sales opportunities.
Not sure where to start with building a LinkedIn page for your business? Check out our blog here for a step-by-step tutorial.
Write, Post, and Share Blogs
Creating and sharing industry-relevant blog posts is a great alternative to cold calling. Crafting insightful content empowers your business to address pain points and provides solutions, establishing authority and trust with your business.
When optimized for SEO, your company website’s blog posts can improve your company’s search engine rankings, attracting organic traffic from prospects seeking relevant information. Additionally, these blog entries can serve as lead magnets, enticing visitors to exchange their contact information for exclusive, valuable resources.
While writing and posting blogs and articles is great for lead generation, so is sharing them on your company’s social media profiles, especially professional networking platforms like LinkedIn. Sharing posts on LinkedIn and within social media industry groups broadens content reach, attracting a wider audience. This content marketing approach nurtures leads, guides them through the marketing and lead generation funnel, and fosters lasting customer relationships, making it a valuable asset for business growth.
Read our blog here to learn how you can optimize blog content for SEO value.
Monitor User Behavior on Your Website
If outbound lead generation and appointment setting haven’t worked for your business in the past, don’t worry—you still have options. Sales and marketing teams can follow various inbound lead generation and digital marketing approaches to build sales pipelines.
One of the main ways sales development and marketing teams can engage prospects and generate inbound leads is by monitoring user behavior on your company website. Company websites are vital for driving users to your business. They’re informative, help build brand awareness, and they’re also great lead generators!
If you want to see how your website is performing and how users are engaging with your digital content, take advantage of all the marketing tools you have available, like Google Analytics. With Google Analytics, you can see where most users enter your website and where they might fall off to navigate elsewhere. Using tools like Google Analytics empowers your marketing team to explore what can be added or taken off different pages to increase the time spent on your website or boost conversion rates.
Let’s say you have a web page or blog post with high traffic, significant keyword rankings, and long session periods … but that’s where users stop, and no conversions are made. Marketing specialists can look at the page to see where content and direction are lacking. This is often because call to actions (CTAs) are unclear or nonexistent for the user. Therefore, the marketing team can go into the site, adjust CTAs, and see how that impacts conversions on that high-performing page.
While having CTAs throughout your web pages is important, it’s also vital to consider how many you insert and what the overall goal is of the page. For example, if you have a wide range of different CTAs, there can be a variety of journeys users take that could extend the amount of time they spend navigating your website. However, if you implement a single-minded CTA based on the intent and buyer persona of the user, you have the ability to increase conversions.
Abstrakt provides growing B2B companies with proven-effective ongoing SEO content and website design services. Explore how we approach digital marketing for lead generation here.
Use Social Media to Engage With Decision-Makers
While LinkedIn is an excellent platform for outbound lead generation and prospecting, other social media platforms can also be used to build top-of-mind awareness, generate inbound leads, and retain positive relationships with current customers.
Think of some of the ways you use social media for your personal life. If you’re like many of us, you probably use it to keep in touch with people you don’t connect with on an ongoing basis. Additionally, it may be a great way to discover new information to help you maximize and get the most out of your everyday life.
This alternative method to cold calling can help you do both—but through the perspective of B2B relationships. Most business partnerships don’t engage with one another consistently, making social media a valuable tool for building and maintaining positive relationships with loyal customers. Through social media, you can engage with current clients by sharing their successes and commenting and interacting with their posts. If a prospective business sees your company comment or engage with a customer’s post, they could click on your profile and explore what your company has to offer them. If they see value in what you have to provide, they can submit their information, making your current client become a referral for your business.
Additionally, if a current customer has a comment, question, or concern with the products or services they get from your business, your marketing or customer service team can respond to their inquiry to continue cultivating that relationship.
When decision-makers look for a solution to their current problem, who are they likely to go to for answers? More often than not, they’ll reach out to someone in a similar position or within their network for their insight. If your company has been able to retain positive relationships with customers, they’ll more than likely refer to your business as a trusted partner. From here, they’ll direct their network to your social media profiles or company website, so the potential buyer can learn more about your business, your brand, and what you have to offer companies and decision-makers like them.
To learn how SDRs and marketing teams can utilize social media for lead generation, read our blog here.
Respond to Potential Buyers on Reddit and Quora
Like social media, engaging on online forums with decision-makers is a great way to interact with potential customers and provide them with valuable insight into different ways to resolve their pain points.
Online forums like Reddit and Quora are great places for growing businesses to answer questions decision-makers may have about a product, service, industry, or concept. While Reddit has rules specifically against posting selling services in many cases, it still gives your business a chance to respond to inquiries and give potential buyers insight into different solutions to their problems.
When responding to questions, the person responding to the forum must give the reader some insight into what makes them a reliable source for information because this can help provide value to the business and show that they’re experts in the subject matter.
Let’s say that a company’s facility manager wants to know how much other small to medium-sized businesses spend on their HVAC maintenance. If you’re an HVAC company responding to this inquiry, you must include a value proposition about your company that shows that you know what you’re talking about. This could involve sharing easy-to-read reports of how much your HVAC clients spend a year on average on routine maintenance versus a break-fix approach. Sharing these materials shows your research and expertise towards similar businesses and how your company’s HVAC services help other businesses save money from repairing faulty equipment.
Ask for Client Referrals
No matter how many alternatives you have to cold calling, word-of-mouth remains the superior way to generate new sales leads. However, many account executives are hesitant to ask for client referrals because they’re afraid of being told no to be a referral.
Asking for client referrals should be a big part of the client retention and sales process because it’s a significant way for sales teams to generate leads without cold calling. If clients are happy with your company’s products and services, they’re more likely to become positive referrals for your business. To increase their chances of saying yes to being a referral, it’s important that your company offers them an incentive. This could include reducing the price of your offering or implementing an add-on to their program for low to no cost.
It’s important to remember that client referrals are more than asking clients to spread the good news about your business. This can also include being a testimonial or case study to share on your company website, social media profiles, or through a sales pitch. If a business in a similar industry or market sees the positive impact you’ve made for similar companies, they’re more than likely to trust what you have to offer them rather than coming in cold turkey.
Another way that B2B businesses can indirectly ask for client referrals is through being a part of the local chamber of commerce branch. Being a part of this organization is beneficial because it involves a group of small to medium-sized local businesses collaborating to spread awareness of their businesses and they can connect the right decision-makers with the right businesses through word-of-mouth.
And last but not least, the final common way you can generate sales leads without cold calling is by attending local networking events. While this approach to lead generation may be time-consuming and take a lot of prep work, it’s a great way to get face-to-face with potential buyers and explore what they may be looking for in a B2B product or service provider.
As your sales and marketing teams attend networking events, it’s crucial that they use this time to learn about their target market rather than securing a sale or meeting. During this time, your sales and marketing experts can ask open-ended questions regarding what a potential buyer may be looking for when it comes to a potential B2B partnership.
If a decision-maker sees the value in what your company has to provide, they can put their contact information on an email list to gain additional sales and marketing materials, implement them into the sales funnel, and guide them to the end of the sales cycle.
Whether you choose cold calling or a cold calling alternative to grow your business, it’s a lot to take on—especially if you want to integrate a variety of these business growth methods. When companies don’t have the resources or bandwidth to take on sales and marketing internally, they look for help from an outsourced sales and marketing provider to take the load off their plate.
Outsourcing sales and marketing efforts provides significant benefits to growing businesses, including:
- Cost efficiency: Outsourcing can be cost-effective as it eliminates the need to hire and train in-house sales and marketing teams. Companies can often find specialized agencies or professionals with the expertise required at a lower cost, saving on salaries, benefits, and infrastructure expenses.
- Expertise and experience: B2B sales and marketing firms bring extensive industry knowledge and experience to the table. They are well-versed in the latest trends, strategies, and tools, ensuring that companies benefit from best practices and stay competitive.
- Focus on core competencies: Outsourcing allows companies to concentrate on their core business functions while experts handle sales and marketing. This enhances overall efficiency and productivity, leading to better results.
- Scalability: Outsourced teams can scale up or down quickly to accommodate business needs. This flexibility is particularly valuable when dealing with fluctuating sales cycles or launching new products or services.
- Access to technology: B2B sales and marketing agencies often have access to advanced tools and technologies that might be cost-prohibitive for individual companies. This tech advantage can improve campaign effectiveness and analytics.
- Reduced risk: Sharing responsibilities with experienced outsourced teams can reduce the risks associated with in-house hiring, such as turnover and training costs.
Want to see how Abstrakt empowers B2B companies to grow their book of business? Learn how our outsourced B2B lead generation services can help you hit your sales goals here.
While cold calling is still an incredibly effective approach to lead generation, but it’s not for every business in every industry. Luckily, there are many alternatives cold calling that you can use to consistently engage your audience and generate more consistent revenue for your business.
At Abstrakt Marketing Group, we help B2B companies across the nation implement a variety of lead generation strategies that help them build their sales pipelines and generate more sales opportunities. When you’re ready to hire an outsourced sales and marketing firm to serve as an extension of your sales and marketing team, contact the business growth experts at Abstrakt!