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Winning customers with cold calling: This is how you should proceed

The art of cold calling: catching customers cold

It is vital for any company to regularly win new customers for its own products or services. Because even regular customers can jump off. Business can only be kept going or expanded with consistent new customer acquisition.

This is especially true for start-ups who still have few customers. With the so-called cold calling you can win new customers and thus expand your customer base.

Cold calling is generally understood to be the initial approach to a potential customer with whom no business relationship has previously existed. If there is already a contact in the form of a cooperation or if the potential customer has already made use of a product or service from your company a long time ago, this is called warm acquisition. Typically, cold calling is a direct approach by the seller, while the initial approach via mass media is more likely to be classified in the field of advertising.

Cold calling is seen as the highest art in sales: It is significantly more difficult than warm calling, as potential customers may never have come into contact with the company and need to be thoroughly convinced of a product and its added value. But it is often not possible without cold calling, especially in B2B marketing. Products there usually require explanation, which makes direct contact with potential customers unavoidable.

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Not just telephone acquisition: the forms of cold calling

Cold calling is often equated with telephone calling. Even if telephone acquisition is the supreme discipline of cold calling, there are many other forms:

  • Barkers
    You probably know it from one or the other weekly market: a seller not only stands behind his sales stand, but speaks to some customers directly, usually in a loud voice, and offers his goods cheaply.
  • Public addressing
    Addressing strangers in public goes one step further. This type of cold calling is quite unusual and is perceived by most people in Germany as inappropriate.
  • Doorstep visit
    Who does not know the example of the vacuum cleaner salesman who rings your doorbell and wants to sell you the latest technology. Like telephone acquisition, door-to-door calls are a major challenge in cold calling.
  • Fair
    In the B2B sector, visiting trade fairs and addressing potential customers directly there as part of cold calling is very popular, as a large number of potential customers can be reached in a very short time and at the same time wastage is kept low.
  • Fax, email and mailings
    Cold calling by fax, e-mail or mailing, i.e. classic letter advertising, is popular in the B2C area, but is subject to legal restrictions in Germany, which are listed below.
  • Search engine marketing with Google Ads
    Cold calling via search engines is becoming more and more important, in the case of Google via its advertising program Google Ads. Scatter losses can be largely prevented through detailed targeting options.

Other marketing measures, such as TV advertising, print ads or radio advertising, can also be used to address first-time customers, but are not typical forms of cold calling. This indirect advertising via mass media is more likely to precede cold calling and is used to create brand awareness and trust, which in the second step makes cold calling easier with a direct, personal approach.

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The 4 steps of cold calling

With cold calling, it is important to proceed in a structured manner. We recommend that you work through the following four steps one after the other:

  1. Target group analysis: Who could be interested in my product?
    At the beginning you need to research who your customers could be and which of them is suitable for cold calling. Then find suitable companies or end customers whose needs you can meet with your product.
  2. Obtain information about potential customers and their industry
    Before starting cold calling, for example by phone or at a trade fair, find out enough about the company. This is the only way to choose suitable sales arguments and turn potential customers into buyers.
  3. Find the right contact person and get in touch
    When it comes to cold calling in the B2B area, it is very important to find the right contact person who will actually make the decision to buy your product. The secretary to the marketing director usually does not do this.
  4. Prove perseverance
    Once you have made contact with the decision-maker, you now have to show perseverance. Depending on the complexity and price range of the product, count on at least two to three conversations and far more contact attempts per customer until you have won them at best as a new customer or at least made an appointment on site.

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B2C and B2B: When is cold calling prohibited?

Cold calling - usually in the form of telephone calls or mailings - has a bad reputation with many people because it is often perceived as annoying. In addition, there are legal regulations that severely restrict cold calling in Germany, especially in B2C marketing. The most important facts about legal provisions for cold calling are briefly outlined below:

  • In the B2C area, cold calling in the form of telephone calling is prohibited by the law against unfair competition, unless express permission has been obtained from the private individual.
  • The same applies to the sending of unapproved e-mails, faxes or SMS messages to private customers.
  • Sending letters to private individuals is permitted as part of cold calling if the mail items have a personal address.
  • In the B2B area, these rules are relaxed somewhat: If there is a presumed consent to the establishment of contact, cold calling is permitted.
  • Presumed consent can be assumed, for example, if a cement manufacturer makes contact with a building contractor by cold calling.

Failure to comply with these legal requirements can result in large fines.

Find out more about customer acquisition and use modern marketing tools such as Google Ads or email marketing.

The telephone acquisition in detail

We have put together numerous tips and a discussion guide for you in a separate chapter for telephone acquisition, which is probably the most prominent form of cold calling: now for telephone acquisition.

Author: Für-Gründer.de editors

As editor-in-chief, René Klein has been responsible for the content of the portal and all publications by Für-Gründer.de for over 10 years. He is a regular interlocutor in other media and writes numerous external specialist articles on start-up topics. Before his time as editor-in-chief and co-founder of Für-Gründer.de, he advised listed companies in the field of financial market communication.