New Business Cold Calling Conundrum: Research More or Make More Calls?

The answer depends...
by Todd Knutson

conundrumThis is the last in our three-part Q&A from our reader in Finland, who posed an often-debated question: "Should I thoroughly research my prospects and make fewer calls, or research less and make more calls?"

The answer is that it depends, which I'll explain in a minute. Most importantly, if your job is to secure meetings via cold calls, recognize that it's a numbers game. If you don't make enough calls, you won't have enough good conversations with your prospective clients, and you won't secure enough qualified meetings.

And, whatever you decide is the right amount of research after reading this post, if you end up doing too much research because it's interesting and perhaps more enjoyable than making calls, you're unlikely to be a successful prospector. And, if you've been a prospector for very long, you know Murphy's Law - do a lot of research on a company or person, and you'll end up reaching their voicemail, and perhaps never even having a conversation with them!

I think the right amount of research comes down to three things:

  1. Self-Awareness & Balance
  2. Agency Positioning
  3. Industry Category

Self-Awareness and Balance: Know yourself and your tendencies. Do you like making cold calls, or avoiding them? Do you like researching companies and industries, or would you rather just pick up the phone and have a conversation? If you like making calls and hate research, you may need to do a bit more research. Alternatively, if you love research, you're going to need to practice serious time management, scheduling (and sticking to) a calling calendar. Keep in mind that it's very possible to do too much research. You have to balance what you need to know to ask smart questions, and the odds of actually talking to your prospect.

Agency Positioning: The amount of research you need to do will be impacted by the strength of your agency positioning. If you have a strong positioning statement you can be effective with a limited amount of research. To do this you need:

  • To really know why you're a good fit for the potential company or industry you're targeting.
  • A relevant message that differentiates you from your competition.
  • To properly target the appropriate person in the organization.

Industry Category: Who you're targeting will also impact the amount of research you need to do.

  • New industry: If you're targeting a category that's new to your agency, you're going to need to do a lot of research. You're going to need to learn to talk like them, know the acronyms, the industry-specific terminology, as well as the slang. You're going to need to determine where the industry-wide pain is, their specific company pain, and where the growth opportunities are. In this case, targeting and reaching out to a smaller list will be more effective that a large list.
  • Popular industry: If you're targeting a popular industry (like consumer packaged goods), where marketers receive dozens of calls a day, you're going to need to do less research and make many more calls. You'll also likely need to target a specific need or leverage your strongest capability so you can differentiate yourself from the competition. A category like this requires a larger list - cast a wider net.

I hope this helps, and appreciate the feedback, comments, and questions. Please keep them coming, whether via the blog or email.

 

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