Lead Generation: Have You Evolved Past Cold Calling?

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Posted: April 27, 2011 | Sales

Remember the days when cold calling was one of the primary ways sales reps managed lead generation? With the new changes in B2B sales, namely Sales 2.0 practices, traditional cold calling has for the most part become a thing of the past and sales teams couldn’t be happier.

In former years (call it the days of Sales 1.0), cold calling would put reps and the people they were calling into an unproductive setting as the person on the receiving end neither knew the sales person or expected their call.

Thanks to Sales 2.0 (defined by Wikipedia as: “Customer relationship management… a broadly recognized, widely-implemented strategy for managing and nurturing a company’s interactions with clients and sales prospects”), cold calling — and lead generation have evolved in four important ways:

1. Marketing Qualifies, Sales Closes

With a new focus on sales and marketing alignment, companies are ensuring the two teams work together to focus on what they do best.

Marketing generates and nurtures leads until they are sales-ready. At that point, the sales team takes over and either moves the prospect through the revenue cycle or passes them back to marketing at the point where they become stagnant.

Doing so allows sales teams to spend time with hotter prospects, working toward a sale – rather than trying to qualify and convince those who aren’t ready.

2. Traditional Cold Calling Disappears

Using 2.0 sales techniques, reps don’t have to contact people who aren’t expecting their calls or wind their way around gatekeepers.

By creating targeted emails asking for referrals first, reps are more likely to find the right person who will welcome the call. This replaces the old method of sending out a blanket message (“is your company dealing with these challenges? We can help!”) to all execs, hoping to find someone interested in your product.

In addition, marketing automation software can help you understand who is visiting your website and when. The recipient may not be expecting a call per se, but they certainly have shown topical interest by visiting the site.

3. Results Rather Than Actions Grab The Focus

Instead of tracking calls or dials per day, metrics can follow qualified calls per week, qualified opportunities by month or revenue closed.

This positive spin on results keeps reps engaged and enthusiastic. It’s a bit like running a marathon. When you are at mile 20, thinking about the finish line (not the number of steps you have to take) gets you to mile 26.

4. Systematic Becomes The Name Of The Game

All efforts, from hiring, training, management practices and prospecting benefit from a systematic process-driven approach.

Consistency and repeatability in each area allow new sales development reps to join the process seamlessly. Even pipelines and revenue ramps become predictable, lending cohesive sustainability to the whole team.

The best Sales 2.0 software also adds capabilities such as sharing of a common database, reporting and dashboards. Applications that clarify data by erasing duplication and cleansing lists, and tools that let you know when the prospects you’ve been nurturing are visiting your website are all invaluable in freeing reps to engage prospects more proactively.

Prospecting can be targeted on ideal customers – giving understanding into which companies are the most similar to the top 10% of your proven clients who purchase at the highest revenue rates.

Take a second look at how you are allocating your sales resources. Have you left the days of cold-call territory? Use cutting edge technology to revamp your operation and everyone on your sales team will see dramatic results.   Need help?  We have documented a lot of our own success in this webinar about how we manage our sales process and in this white paper about our sales qualification team.

To learn more about lead generation in 2011 and how it impacts your revenue cycle, subscribe to the Modern B2B marketing Blog RSS feed or follow Marketo on Twitter.

Maria specializes in Inbound Marketing for Marketo, leading efforts in adoption of social media channels for brand awareness and demand generation. She has worked in marketing for over ten years, and specifically in online marketing including social media, search marketing, and lead generation and nurturing for the past six.

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Lead Generation: Have You Evolved Past Cold Calling?

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