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Is the telephone already a Dinosaur?

More so than ever before, we’re bombarded with companies trying to sell us an array of clever marketing tools. There are B2B lead generation software solutions, there are website capture tools to see who’s viewing your site, there are social media apps to enhance your activity, and the list goes on. There are countless ways to try and attract and discover new prospects.

One of the oldest ways to communicate with potential new clients and one that is often overlooked, is the good old fashioned way of talking over the telephone! It always amazes me how many businesses no longer embrace this way of interacting with prospects. I met with a very well-known marketing agency late last year (who will remain nameless). The CEO nearly fell off his chair when I suggested that he should be talking with his prospects more. He actually said “Do you really think that will work?” My reply was, “No I don’t think it will work, I know it works!”

The phone isn’t just for your clients to contact you when they need something, it can be used to win new clients and there is no reason to be scared of it. Many years ago I remember a sales trainer who told me to think of the phone like a pot of gold fixed to the desk, and every call I made loosened it slightly. Very cheesy – but you get the point. There are nuggets of gold out there in terms of new business and we just have to find them, I believe the phone is the perfect tool to do this.

In our age of communicating via email, social media and SMS, we often forget that picking up the telephone is one of the easiest ways to communicate and be properly understood. How many emails do you get which you misunderstand? Worse still, a client misinterprets an email you send them.

Without a doubt, using the telephone to speak with people to form relationships has succeeded for years where others have failed, making it an absolute must for any company wanting to grow their business. When done correctly, telephone lead generation is incredibly fruitful and even supports other marketing channels you might be using. However, doing this successfully isn’t easy, especially if you don't have the knowhow, which is why so many give up after just a short time when they see little result.

We’ve all had terrible sales calls that are unskilfully delivered and start with the line, “Hi, how are you today”. These calls are rarely successful, but that’s not always the fault of the sales person on the other end of the line, that’s just poor training and sales people often get a rough ride. I was coaching one of our sales people last week who made the point that someone will decide in the first 5-10 seconds if they are going to listen to you. True, and it takes real skill to engage someone.

To successfully connect with your prospects you need considered, strategic, thought provoking messages that are conveyed subtly to gain their interest. These messages then need to be followed up with well-crafted open questions to qualify and further engage your prospect, whilst all being delivered in a professional and friendly manner. It’s fair to say that using the phone is a fine art and when executed with proper technique and skill, it’s incredibly effective and can achieve an instant audience with someone who has a need for your product or service.

In my opinion, communicating with people and building rapport is key to successful business development and as I mentioned, we have many tools at our disposal to help with this, but for me the telephone is by far still the most rewarding and effective.

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