For some reason, and seemingly out of the blue, I'm starting to see debates on internet forums on the topic of Cold Calling vs. Google AdWords for generating sales leads.
I was intrigued at first, because I've been using AdWords for nearly nine years and even own a separate company managing others' accounts. However, after giving it a few seconds of thought, this is just the old "sales vs. marketing" debate but in another form.
And marketing & sales are two different disciplines. One should never replace the other; to the contrary, a smart organization has them complementing each other.
Here's the difference:
Cold calling is not effective marketing. It is an antiquated form of interruption selling. It not only interrupts and bothers people, but consists of callling people at random (or going door-to-door at random), hoping to make a sale on the very slim chance that the person you're contacting might happen to be in a buying cycle for your particular product or service.
Which is rarely ever the case. And if it is, you show up late to the game, and usually with less credibility than your competitors who were found via marketing.
And on to marketing... marketing is intelligently positioning yourself so that potential, qualified buyers will see you and will recognize that you have something that they need or want.
Google AdWords is a form of marketing, and a very good one at that. Cold calling is not marketing - it is the last resort of the rookie salesperson who simply doesn't know better and is merely obeying orders to cold call from the boss, it's the choice of salespeople who are too lazy or too indifferent to learn more effective methods of sales prospecting, and finally, it's the choce - the "last stand" - for many old timers who are too stubborn to admit that what worked for them twenty years ago just doesn't work anymore.
So, if cold calling is out, and marketing is in, how can marketing and selling complement each other?
What smart - and successful - organizations are doing is employing marketing to generate leads, and then forwarding those leads to sales reps to close them.
In some cases there is a call center - a "middle man" if you will - that will screen and pre-qualify the leads and even go so far as to set a firm day and time for an appointment for the salesperson!
This, my friends, is smart selling. When you front-end your sales efforts with solid marketing, employ low-cost telemarketers to qualify the incoming leads, and then have them set appointments for your most talented salespeople to show up for, you've unlocked the selling game.
And here's what happens next:
1. Your sales turnover goes down. WAY down. Did you know that the requirement to cold call, along with the dismal results and high stress that it generates, is the number one cause for sales turnover? And that sales organizations waste $25,000, on average, for each sales rep who leaves due to the cold calling nightmare? Not to mention the more successful reps who take their book of business and repeat customers with them. (Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but non-compete clauses are being shot down all over the place and will soon be totally invalid everywhere.)
2. Your sales numbers go up. WAY up. This is an extremely efficient system. Not only is there a far higher volume of leads coming in, but on top of that, the leads close at a much higher rate because:
- They've already shown interest by responding to your marketing
- They've (hopefully) been pre-screened and qualified by your phone room before a rep goes out
I learned the dirty little cold calling secret back in 1996, when I had the pleasure of working for my first - and to this day, only - sales manager with a brain. After I'd returned from new-hire sales training he saw me start dialing the phone, pulled me aside, and chewed me out about how he didn't spend a small fortune to recruit, hire, and train me just to do the job of a minimum-wage telemarketer.
So why do you do it with your talented sales staff?
Employ smart marketing, whether it's AdWords or not. Have someone qualify the leads, and have that same person set the appointment for your reps.
When word gets out that your organization not only provides leads and doesn't require cold calling, but on top of all that, hands a list of scheduled appointments for your reps to attend every day, you'll not only explode your profitability but will have the very best of the best elite salespeople in your city lined up wanting to work for you.