When it comes to relationships, most are like coffee – the warmer, the better!
That’s definitely the case when you want to connect with a decision-maker by phone.
A call is infinitely more disruptive than an email, so it helps to lay the groundwork for whatever you’re trying to achieve with your conversation.
Warm calling is an approach to prospecting that puts relationship-building first by highlighting common interests.
When you come in cold, you are asking someone who has never heard of you before to sacrifice an uncertain amount of their time for a conversation they have no reason to look forward to. On the other hand, warm calling ensures a prospect has an enticing taste of the value you can offer.
3 Things to Look for Before the Call
Warm calling starts by selecting a prospect based on your business goals. The more carefully you’ve considered your buyer personas and segmented your list of prospective buyers, the better.
Once you’ve identified a prospect, it’s time to dive in his or her background as much as you can.
You’re on the hunt for some “kindling” you can use to spark a professional relationship.
That usually means one of three things:
1. A Trigger Event
A warm calling trigger event is a change in the prospect’s business situation that causes them to have new or unmet needs.
Trigger events can be positive or negative. Although it’s a lot easier to get people to talk about positive events, negative ones can be even more urgent.
Some of these include:
- The opening of a new office or retail location – locally, out of state, or internationally.
- The launch of a product (or other steps in product development, like test marketing.)
- A new industry award, honor, or major publication on a respected industry platform.
- Downloading content from your website that highlights their pain/challenges
Trigger events are usually related to the company as a whole. Your goal is to figure out how the individual prospect fits in: When you can talk about how their individual effort contributes to corporate goals, your conversation partner will know you invested real effort.
2. A Common Connection
In virtually any sales or marketing situation, the best advantage is to come recommended.
Sites like LinkedIn make it incredibly easy for you to find common connections. However, this does introduce another step that can take a few days. Many LinkedIn users add people they don’t know personally, so you should message the common contact first.
If you find your contact has strong first-hand insights about your prospect, it might even make sense to have them introduce you via email or LinkedIn. This way, you can segue into requesting a conversation with some momentum behind you. You’re much less likely to get rejected.
3. A Common Interest
If you can’t find anything big and strategic to talk about, it’s okay.
You can set up warm calling by introducing something you have in common. This is where you can deploy your knowledge of your prospects’ achievements, for example – if they gave a speech or they won an award, attribute that to them, not just the company at large.
Common interests can include anything from where you grew up to where you went to school. Some of the best warm calling experts routinely bond with their prospects over their shared love of basketball.
It’s not right for everyone, but it means you get people talking about a subject that interests them.
No matter what approach you take, this is the part of warm calling that makes it warm. You want to start discussing the prospect’s world, then get him or her to agree to a quick phone call.
4 Things to Do During the Call
The opening minutes of a warm call can make a tremendous difference in the outcome. Luckily, you’re much more likely to reach your goals this way than if you called up out of the blue!
Remember these pointers:
1. Remind the Person Who You Are
Decision-makers, especially in B2B, have a lot on their plate. They could have a dozen calls and meetings in a single day. It might seem obvious, but the first thing you should do is ensure they remember how you met. If you built rapport, the recollection starts you off on the right foot.
2. Ask Open-Ended Questions
On a warm call, asking lots of open-ended questions is especially important. You should think of this as a “discovery call,” since you might have limited information about the prospect’s needs. This helps you tailor your answers (and your solution) to the situation at hand.
3. Listen and Reflect
Active listening is vital on a warm call. When you set up the call, you give your prospects an invitation to talk about what matters to them: What they need done, fixed, or solved right now is usually near the top of that list. Repeat key phrases so they know you are absorbing everything.
4. Shift the Conversation Slowly
A cold call often turns adversarial as the caller tries to get a word in edgewise over the prospect. With a warm call, be prepared for the possibility that 75% of the conversation may be the prospects talking. Once they’ve got it all out of their system, shifting to solutions is easier.
Warm Calling: It’s Just Plain Better
When it comes to convenience for your prospect and better outcomes for both of you, warm calling blows cold calling out of the water. Plus, it sets the tone for a productive, long-lasting relationship – and that’s the inbound way of doing business.
Although a warm call has several steps and requires a lot more research than the average cold call, it’s likely to double or even triple your response rate. Your follow-up emails and calls are also more likely to inspire action on the part of qualified leads and current customers.
If it seems complicated or you hit a snag, remember the golden rules:
Take a genuine interest in others and ...
Always look for ways to add value!