The inbound marketing versus outbound marketing controversy rages on. The mantra from Inbound Marketing fanatics is “cold calling is dead.” I could not agree more. How many salespeople do you know who actually enjoy and excel at calling unqualified prospects? And do you really want your highly paid salespeople spending half their day prospecting companies they do not know and may have no need for your solution? Talk about a high cost per lead.
A really important distinction needs to be made: cold calling is not prospect development. I define B2B prospect development as the combination of lead generation, lead qualification, lead nurturing and lead hand-off to sales. Inbound marketing is only one method of prospect development. But it can be much slower and less effective when compared to an outbound prospect development program that features best practices. I do not believe that inbound marketing can ever be a standalone prospect development program.
|“Inbound marketing takes months to show real returns–I love inbound marketing but it takes time to generate significant results. When I walk into a company, I bang my fist on the table: “Inbound marketing or else!” When they agree, I then say: “Okay, now let’s figure out how to get leads for the next 9 months.”
Craig Rosenberg is the Funnelholic and a co-founder of TOPO, Inc.
Does it make sense to compare a comprehensive outsourced inbound marketing program with cold calling “dialing for dollars” efforts using untrained salespeople? I don’t think so. A better comparison is to look at a Best Practices Outbound Prospect Development program. An outbound prospect development program must include a multi-touch, multi-media, and multi-cycle process.
|“Those who figure out how to tightly target an audience, craft persona-based process and messaging, and then execute & iterate—these will be the companies who win. Mark my words; it is the cold that is dead-not the calling!”
Trish Bertuzz is president and chief strategist of The Bridge Group, Inc.
PointClear employs a multi-touch, multi-media, multi-cycle process to multiply results for our clients. Why multi-touch? Because frequency does matter. Our analysis of touchpoint frequency for hundreds of clients reveals prospects need an average of 12 touches before they engage in a meaningful conversation with a salesperson. We also find senior executives are 2.5 times more responsive to quality multi-touch campaigns than junior executives.
Our touch cycle involves dialing prospects at different times of the day, but only leaving one voicemail if we do not reach the prospect. An important point is that we carefully develop a series of sequential voicemails and emails that are educational and have a cumulative impact on the prospect. They are not “salesy”. We find each touch cycle reaches a point of diminishing return and after four to six touch cycles the company or contact is exhausted.
A multi-media approach is an important component of a successful prospect development program. It is not enough to only use outbound telephone calls to engage senior level prospects. Multi-media to us means; outbound calls, voicemail messaging, personalized email messages, e-marketing programs, landing pages and traditional direct marketing. Our experience with hundreds of clients in many different industries is the right multi-media approach varies from client to client and needs to be customized to fit the specific sales message.
Multi-cycle: PointClear develops prospects across more than one sales cycle. A high-value prospect may be interested in your solution, but the timing may not be right or currently there is no budget. Or perhaps the budget exists, but interest is low. A multi-cycle program will carefully nurture and patiently develop these targets into leads; leads into prospects; and prospects into sales-ready opportunities.
As you can see, this approach to prospect development is complex, multi-layered and driven by results. It does not depend on one single tactic, like inbound marketing, to nurture prospects through a buying cycle. Our experienced inside sales professionals are engaging our clients’ prospects on a daily basis through multiple channels to actively develop and nurture prospects. They proactively present solutions to address a prospect’s pain points vs waiting reactively for the prospect to download a whitepaper.
Most outside salespeople do not possess the needed skillset to implement a best practice prospect development program. Their strengths are closing qualified prospects, not nurturing hundreds of prospects over a long sales cycle. The PointClear sales team members are typically senior level salespeople who are comfortable and experienced working with C-Suite decision-makers. Their in-depth knowledge of our client’s products and ability to skillfully engage prospects throughout the sales cycle, creates a powerful extension of our clients’ sales efforts.
Cold calling may be dead—but Gold Calling or prospect development is alive and flourishing.