How To Generate Sales Leads Without Cold Calling in 2020

This article was originally posted on my company website which can be viewed here.

Cold calling is one of the oldest sales techniques around for salespeople. So much so, cold calling can be traced back to 1876 when salespeople started using the phone as a tool for cold prospecting. For context, 1876 was when the telephone was invented, and salespeople right away saw this as an opportunity to help them increase their sales.

We get it, cold calling is tough. For most salespeople the phone can appear to be 100 pounds when it’s time to start cold calling prospects. Here at AgencyFlare, we’re BIG on cold calling and being an effective communicator through the phone. But for the purpose of this article, we’re going to outline some of the most effective and proven ways to generate new leads without having to cold call.

Cold Prospecting Through Email Still Generates Leads

You will hear a lot of self-proclaimed “gurus” talking about how prospecting via email is a dead sales tool heading into 2020 and beyond. We couldn’t disagree with this opinion more.

We understand many sales and marketing people have given cold emailing a bad name. We understand how email can be deemed as a “private channel” for prospects and that email has been abused by many sales and marketing companies. We obviously don’t encourage any type of email spam, but we also have proven results and strategies on how you can better increase your prospecting and lead-generation through cold emails; especially when you’re reaching out to a targeted group of prospects that will actually find value in what you’re sending them.

Imagine if you were a property manager and you got an email like the one below?

Exact Text From The Cold Email Above

“Bob,

I understand I’m emailing you out of the blue, so I want to thank you in advance for taking 30 seconds out of your day to read this email. I’m (Redacted) with (Redacted) and I work with Property Managers like you everyday to make your job less stressful when a cleaning issue occurs at one of your Denver properties.

I see you work for (Redacted) Property Management and know first-hand how time consuming your job can be after a bad tenant moves out from one of your properties. We are your fully licensed and insured property remediation specialists. We offer sorting and cleanup of hoarded homes, including the recovery of important documents, valuables, and sentimental items.

The last thing I want to do is waste your time about “all we do” in a long email, but I know it would be valuable for us to be in contact when one of these issues occur. Does it make sense to setup a quick 15 minute phone call later this week, maybe Thursday or Friday afternoon? Or, I’ll be in the area next week and can drop by your office and shake your hand personally — whatever is most convenient for you.

I look forward to hearing from you -”

If you look at the above email there are a few things that stick out, that could get a prospects attention right away.

  1. You’re human and the email doesn’t sound automated.
  2. You call it out yourself out, right away. You tell Bob you are emailing him out of the blue, and that you respect his time. This will gain trust right away.
  3. You make the email personal. You call out his name, company and even his location by telling him you can assist with his “Denver properties”. Minor details like this go SO far when getting a prospects’ attention and gaining their trust right away.
  4. You give Bob a direct call-to-action to end the email. You ask for a phone call or an in-person meeting.

When you factor in all of the above information and how this cold email was formatted, this email has a decent chance at getting a response. The goal with cold emailing should always be to get a “response” of some sort. Even if it’s a “no thank you, we’re not interested”, this allows you to move on to the next prospect and not waste time.

We’re not shooting from the hip here when we talk about these campaigns. This direct copy from the example above was performed for one of our older AgencyFlare clients. This cold email drip campaign was sent to 400 local property managers and saw a 1% conversion rate, which means a total of four quality meetings were set from this email. Not bad when you factor in you didn’t have to generate this specific lead from picking up the phone and cold calling this prospect.

Lastly, it should be noted that when you’re cold emailing B2B prospects, you have to be very specific and purposeful when doing it. There’s a true science to seeing the best open and response rate via cold emails.

Be Authentic And Send Something Personal or Funny

Years ago, before AgencyFlare, I use to work at an IT VAR (value added re-seller) that sold various digital IT solutions. Selling digital solutions in a very competitive marketplace can be VERY tough to get any type of traction when it comes to cold lead-generation.

I remember speaking with the older, more experienced salesman about how they accumulated cold leads, and learned a wealth of great sales information. The best advice came when one of the veteran Account Executives said “all I do is send Lego” (to his prospects).

This veteran sales rep would literally buy $100 worth of Lego every single month and send them to his cold prospects. Inside the box of Lego he would hand write a personal letter that was brief but funny.

The letter he wrote went like this: “Hey Bob, I know this is totally random but I’ve tried to call you a few times and haven’t got through to you. I’d like to help you build your next digital solution, so I thought we could start with this set of Lego. I hope this shows you I’m serious. If you’re not, just let me know, no big deal and enjoy the Lego set. I’ll call you next Tuesday and hope this time I’ll get the chance to speak with you.”

This is absolutely great! How in the hell would you NOT respond to a message like this? Again, when engaging with a cold prospect, the intent isn’t to sell what you’re selling, it’s to sell the meeting. Which you will see that we’re big on here at AgencyFlare.

You should know your prospects well, even if they don’t know you. Find them on LinkedIn, look at their Instagram/Facebook page. See what they are into. If your prospect likes to fish, maybe send him a personalized note about fishing, etc. You get the point here. Keep your cold outreach personalized, and a little humor goes a LONG WAY.

Lastly, as you can see from the above statement from this veteran salesperson, sending Lego wasn’t his only touch-point. He had previously tried to call and reach out to these prospects. This was another touch-point to try and grab this prospects attention, it wasn’t his FIRST touch. He also ended all of his notes with “I’ll call you next (day)” — He knew this touch-point also wouldn’t be his last. The main point here is to understand that even if you get creative and very personalized with your lead-gen outreach, this doesn’t eliminate the fact that you will have to follow up with your prospects in other ways.

Show Up In-Person and Introduce Yourself

Most salespeople hate cold calling, but what can be harder than that is actually showing up in-person out of the blue. Dropping by a potential prospect’s office can make a big statement and will allow you to stand out, which is important, but it’s also a major risk for the salesperson as well. This strategy should always be purposeful with the understanding this could make or break a deal. Let’s discuss a few pros and cons to this when you’re trying to generate a cold lead into quality prospects.

The Pros of Showing Up Randomly At A Prospect’s Office:

  1. It will allow you to literally get “feet on the ground” at your prospect’s office. You will most likely have the chance to introduce yourself to a gatekeeper, and if you’re lucky, might have a chance to meet your prospect. The goal of this isn’t to get a meeting, since you’re disrupting their day, it should be to get a handshake.
  2. Showing up in-person allows you to not only introduce yourself to someone at the company, it also allows you to get a feel for the company, even if it’s in the slightest way. You’re literally seeing inside their business during working hours, there’s an intangible asset there you can’t put a metric on.
  3. Showing up allows you to drop off physical material and have a conversation, probably with a gatekeeper, on why this material will be valuable for xyz person you’re trying to reach. The odds of getting YOUR material on their desk increases, compared to just a general mailer.

The Cons of Showing Up Randomly At A Prospects Office:

  1. The first con is pretty simple, and not uncommon, unfortunately. You could get shut down immediately and waste your time. It’s not uncommon when “door knocking,” to get rejected and turned down fast. Most gatekeepers are trained to deflect any sales “walk-ins.”
  2. Showing up to a prospect’s office is very time consuming. Think about the time it takes to plan this out, get in your car, drive across town, just to HOPE you don’t get shut down right away. This strategy is very high-risk with not all too much reward. If you do this, make sure to visit multiple prospects in the area on the same day.

Here’s The Cold Hard Truth

The truth is this, if you don’t like cold calling, and you’re struggling with picking up the phone for lead-generation, then knocking on doors probably won’t be the best for you.

It should also be clear that out of all the strategies above, each of these strategies are just ONE sales technique typically within a bigger cold prospecting plan. It takes multiple touch-points and follow ups to engage a prospect, and the truth is, there’s no “one size fits all” type of prospecting strategy that always works.

When you’re trying to generate quality sales leads without picking up the phone and cold calling, it can be tough. It’s not impossible, but it poses more of a challenge because it’s giving you one less prospecting tool to work with. Are there other platforms and prospecting techniques you could use? Of course, but what we went over in this article are lead-gen techniques that are authentic and we’ve seen work first-hand.

A few notable mentions that we won’t totally unpack but other avenues you should consider when prospecting are:

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James Harper

Entrepreneurship and sales saved my life!~ I believe in good people, community and providing value. Following me for actionable business advice and execution.