A well rounded and successful marketing and sales strategy makes full use of all relevant tactics in order for a business to reach their customers. This is known in the industry as multi-channel marketing, and it incorporates a range of channels that can be broadly grouped into two general approaches: inbound and outbound.
The core concept of an inbound channel is to get your content (which can be anything from a product, service, or even idea or blog post) in front of the right audience when they’re actively seeking that content, or at least, without directly interrupting them. With the rise of the internet, modern inbound tactics such as search engine optimisation and social media have made this indirect form of marketing a cost-effective and highly measurable solution for reaching masses of potentially interested customers.
On the other hand, outbound channels take your content and put it right in front of potential customers – demanding their instant attention. An example would be print, television and radio adverts. Whilst the effectiveness and importance of this particular example has waned since its 1960’s heyday (AMC’s Mad Men is a great portrayal of this period), modern outbound tactics provide the opportunity to focus in and directly targeted small niches of customers that are more likely to be extremely interested in your service or product.
Whilst both approaches have their respective pros and cons, they tend to dovetail nicely by picking up where the other lags behind. As such, the majority of successful companies will create marketing strategies that take the best of both.
In recent years, there has been much confusion about where one particular outbound channel fits into modern marketing – cold calling. The problem is that many still think that cold calling is the same as it was in the 1990’s – arguably a period which could be described as the wild west when it came to telemarketing – and many companies continue to perform cold calling the same as they did over 20 years ago.
This is wrong. Modern cold calling has evolved, and now represents a fantastic outbound channel that integrates perfectly with inbound marketing tactics. The aim now is not to keep pushing a product or service down the phone until the person on the other end says yes, it’s to arouse their interest enough to organise a follow up meeting or generate a lead.
And given the tools and resources available to marketers and sales staff now, this process should be much simpler. Whilst traditional cold calling was almost a scattergun approach of trying to speak to as many people as possible and hoping that someone would be interested, we can now research and segment the people we want to contact, and personalise our approach based on our findings. This is outbound marketing at its finest – targeting and speaking to people that we know will be interested. With the help of inbound marketing, we can even wait for potential customers to come to us first.
As such, modern cold callers may only need to speak to 10% of the people that traditional cold callers spoke to, but they’ll achieve the same or better results.
Furthermore, whilst cold calling or telemarketing may be one step in your overall sales cycle, it should be feeding into other steps. For example, common questions that cold callers are answering as part of their conversations should be fed back into marketing team as they’re likely to make great topics or areas of discussion for the business’ content marketing strategy (an inbound channel).
Alternatively, cold calling may not be used for sales or lead generation at all, but yet still have a considerable and vital impact on the growth of a business. A great example of this, which we have discussed previously, is that of Uber; who, in their early days, used cold calling techniques to recruit new drivers for their business. Without drivers, Uber had a great idea but no physical way of turning that idea into something more. With drivers recruited through cold calling, Uber has completely and irreversibly changed the global taxi industry.
The above points are just select examples of how and where cold calling fits into the modern marketing and sales strategy. There are numerous other uses, so marketers must think creatively about how cold calling can work best for their business, rather than immediately dismissing it for what cold calling was previously.