Cold calling for client prospecting

A report by Rain Group suggests that 82% of buyers will accept a meeting with sellers who proactively reach out to them through cold calling. However, it is research, preparation, and adaptation that will differentiate and ultimately lead to the success of such calls.

Research, preparation, and adaptation.

These are the three basic elements to keep in mind when preparing a cold call to a potential foreign client. Undoubtedly, this is one of the most traditional and least costly strategies, and despite being a more impersonal communication, it remains effective.
A report by Rain Group states that 82% of buyers will accept a meeting with sellers who proactively contact them cold. However, and returning to the beginning of the point, it is research, preparation, and adaptation that will differentiate this call and make it a success:


Pre-investigating prospects through social networks like LinkedIn and other directories or databases can provide us with great context to prepare for the call. One aspect we can investigate is, for example, if they have recently attended an event or trade fair, and thus refer to this as an introduction when contacting them.
Understanding the needs and situation of the company we are addressing is vital for greater acceptance of the speech.
Another method is to inquire through a market intelligence tool. By observing the suppliers of potential importers we want to work with, the products they purchase and their volumes, and the contacts in their purchasing department, we will know who to talk to and be able to customize the message more successfully.


Once we have completed our prospect research, the next highly recommended step is to develop a pitch or sales speech that is brief and concise, in which you identify a problem and a need to address.
Some sellers choose to reduce their exposure and focus on asking questions to get to know the prospect before the sale, while others use success stories with which the potential client can identify.


Possibly, this is one of the most important phases, considering that we are trying to attract international clients.
Adapting and customizing the message depending on factors such as protocol, values, culture, and customs of buyers in each market is crucial for establishing a greater connection with them.
For example, while importers from the United States and Germany prefer a more direct approach, Japanese and South Korean protocol requires a more indirect approach, sometimes even requiring several calls until the sale is closed. The humor appreciated by the English, the professionalism of Nordic countries, or the informality of Latin American buyers are other clear examples.

In such a practical and complex sales method as the cold call, we are fortunate to have the arguments and experiences of David Navas, founding partner of Outbounders, a consulting and training company in prospecting and B2B sales.

xNova: Do you conduct research on companies before contacting them? How do you do it and why?

David: Absolutely. Within modern prospecting, which is what we practice, meaning 21st-century B2B prospecting, we always prepare a list of companies that are in line with our ideal client profile, and we've previously decided on their profiles.

Before calling a company, we delve into their LinkedIn profile, their website, research the company, see if there's any notable milestone to take notes on... And we not only research the company but also look at the individuals and roles we want to contact: their LinkedIn profile, if they've given any interviews.

xNova: Do you have a sales pitch? How do you incorporate the value proposition into it?

David: We absolutely do, and we prepare it very thoroughly. We call this sales pitch a sales playbook, and what we do is, through each of the contact attempts we're going to make through the different channels available to us, such as LinkedIn, email, video calls, or phone calls; we always have a script prepared that tries to encapsulate not only that value proposition but, above all, to generate conversation.

The value proposition in prospecting is not so much about talking about you or your company but mainly about making an impact and curiosity by asking questions directed at those points we think that company needs to resolve and that we can solve.

xNova: Could you tell us about any practical cases of cultural or social variables that you take into account depending on the country you're addressing in the call? How do you personalize the message?

David: I can't help much here because 90% of our clients are Spanish companies, and the clients we've gotten from abroad have been through contacts from Spain with their headquarters here.

Nevertheless, it's something to keep in mind. When contacting, you have to consider a series of cultural variables, for example, how receptive countries are to cold calls? In Anglo-Saxon countries, they tend to be quite common, while in others, they're not used to receiving calls from strangers.

xNova: Could you tell us how you approach follow-ups or monitoring after that first call to not lose contact with the prospect?

David: The objectives within prospecting are usually two: to validate if it may be of mutual interest to hold a meeting to develop the relationship; or to disqualify, if we see that it's not worth continuing with a company, we don't waste time.

The goal with leads of interest is to maintain a more relaxed conversation so that a discovery meeting can take place, where both us and the potential client answer the question of "is it worth continuing to talk?" Sometimes this can be known during the prospecting call, other times we try to schedule a meeting.

If they say they can't do it now and to contact them later, we attach the contact to the CRM and follow up to try to schedule that meeting and not consider it lost.

xNova: There are sales approaches that focus on a presentation, others on asking questions to get to know the prospect, and others adding success stories, how do you differentiate yourselves taking advantage of those few, albeit valuable minutes talking to a potential client?

David: Sometimes that conversation isn't short. Depending on the interest, they can last for minutes up to an hour. The way to get through this is by doing the discovery phase, which always has to start through having built a set of what we call "powerful questions" or "power questions", which are aimed at generating constructive tension and raising doubts about possible problems that we think that person has and doesn't know how to solve.

This way, we expose how we can solve those problems, and this is well done from a voice other than our own, by talking about how other companies have solved it using success stories.

Therefore, presenting your value proposition is closely linked to the discovery phase. Sometimes two separate events can be held: first, I gather information about the context and whether or not there's a potential pain point that I can solve; and subsequently, even separated in time a few days later, the presentation of how we would solve this problem is made. Other times, these two phases occur in the same meeting, so we have to always intersperse presentation with questions so that the talking-listening ratio is always balanced. The salesperson has to generate conversation, not a monologue.


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