Is It the End of the Cold Call?

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The landline rings unexpectedly, or an unknown number flashes on your lock screen and—before you know it—you’re listening to somebody’s sales pitch for a product you don’t need. We’ve all been there, rolling our eyes at an unwanted cold call. In fact, only 2 percent are said to be successful. So is cold calling a dated sales tactic? 

For recipients of cold calls, receiving a call you weren’t expecting is a nuisance at best. For the agent on the other end of the call, making cold calls can be an equally gut-wrenching assignment. Nobody wants to face rejection after rejection. However, these calls don’t have to go this way. Our impatience towards these so-called ‘cold calls’ is predominately down to the way they’re conducted.

A Chilly Reception

But what exactly is cold calling? In most cases, the term describes an attempt to solicit business from a potential customer, typically via a phone call, who may or may not know about the company that’s calling.

Cold calling’s effectiveness is often debated. According to marketer Charlie Cook, 98 percent of cold calls do not result in a successful sale. However, Sales Insights Lab reports that 41.2 percent of sales professionals consider their telephone as one of the most important sales tools at their disposal.

There are other factors affecting cold calling’s viability. As much of the world has worked from home, many have reported a rise in the number of unwanted calls they receive. In fact, users worldwide are reported to have received 31.3 billion spam calls between January and October 2020, up from 26 billion during the same period the previous year, and 17.7 billion the year prior, according to Stockholm-headquartered firm Truecaller.

There are, as one would imagine, some regulations in place to prevent cold calls. According to the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission, cold callers may only call Americans at home between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., but these time restrictions do not apply if a person is already a customer of the firm or if they’ve given their permission to receive calls out of hours. Cold callers must state who is calling and why, revealing their name and their company’s name, address, and telephone number.

In addition, cold callers must place recipients on a “do not call” list if they’re asked, and must avoid calling if the person is already signed up to the Federal Trade Commission’s “do not call” registry. These, however, aren’t really cold calls. They’re more nuisance calls that are often grouped with those trying to extend their reach and execute a genuine sales tactic. But, more often than not, all unsolicited calls get a bad reputation.

Turn Up the Heat

It’s easy to see why cold calling receives a bad reputation, and why some businesses may consider scrapping the sales technique altogether. However, it’s fairer to say that cold calling as it’s most commonly thought of is dead—but calling isn’t.

Before picking up the phone, call centers need to make sure they have the right prospect list. It sounds obvious, but most bad experiences stem from being offered something that’s irrelevant. Calling the wrong people can actively damage a business, so the quality of your prospect list is crucial.

Revisiting past customers can improve call success rates. It’s easy to let good contacts slide over time, but it’s important to remember that old can often be gold. Think back to previous successes—what did they buy from you, can you anticipate any additional needs they might not have considered you could supply? They might not even be aware of your full offering, so you could take the opportunity to highlight your adjacent services in a way that’s helpful and relevant to their needs.  

Ditch the Telephone

Once a call center has its list of prospects in place, it’s time to do something controversial: ditch the telephone. That’s because the old method of cold calling is dead and companies need to streamline the way they make calls and manage their outcomes.

The arrival of the cloud-based call center means that today’s business leaders can unlock a scalable, flexible environment for customer experience and support. At the same time, by conducting calls hosted in the cloud, companies have more freedom to manage and control all activities in a central environment.

But what does taking call center activity to the cloud really mean? Cloud-based call center software allows sales teams to make calls more efficiently than with a simple business phone solution. First, using cloud software allows call center managers to store infinite data on customer interactions in a safe and compliant manner, so it’s easy to access in-depth insights into call patterns and outcomes. It’s also possible to combine the software with CRM systems, for a better overview of the customer journey.

Taking call center software to the cloud helps make businesses more scalable. Unlike the added complexities of using fixed lines, call center managers can easily add or reduce access to the software when necessary. For example, during periods where customer support or sales opportunities are greater, like at Christmas time, businesses hiring seasonal staff can quickly scale up the business.

And, fundamentally, using cloud-based software improves the customer experience. In addition to understanding consumer behaviors with better data analytics, cloud software can help call center operators feel closer to their customers. When calling a prospect for the first time, using a regional number close to theirs always achieves better results. Using a cloud call system means that call centers can make use of international numbers, wherever their operators are located.

While most don’t welcome an unwarranted sales pitch from a shady phone number, cold calling isn’t dead. The traditional method of telemarketing is no longer; now businesses can use enhanced data analytics and optimized call center software to bring some much-needed heat to their cold calling tactics.

Renaud Charvet is the CEO and cofounder of Ringover. Currently based in Atlanta, Charvet helped found the company in 2005 with the goal of reimagining the way businesses make calls. Today, Ringover has offices across the globe to support businesses with a cloud-based telephony solution.

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