Cold calling can be a demoralizing task. After dialing through hundreds of prospect phone numbers and having only a tiny percentage pick up, you’re left wondering if it’s worth your time.
If you want to reduce the time you spend attempting cold calls but still want a direct and personalized way to connect with prospects, this article is for you.
I’ll show you three actionable alternatives to cold calling that you can use to generate leads for your business.
Let’s dive in.
Cold calling does still work. In fact, 41% of sales reps say that the phone is their most valuable tool.
However, there are some downsides to it.
Research has found that 88% of buyers don’t want to receive cold calls.
As well as that, the global shift to remote and hybrid work means that fewer people have a dedicated phone line on their desks at all times, so it’s even harder to get in touch with your prospects over the phone than it used to be.
I’m not saying it’s impossible to generate leads using traditional cold calling, but it can be hard to justify from a time vs. ROI perspective.
There is a near-unlimited number of sales and marketing channels you can use to generate leads for your business.
But, the cold-calling alternatives we’re going to look at all have several things in common:
They’re proactive: You’ll reach out to qualified prospects rather than wait for them to come to you.
You can personalize your messaging: Like cold calling, these channels let you show people that you’ve researched them before reaching out through adding personalization.
You choose your prospects: These channels let you choose who you reach out to, just like you would with a cold-calling campaign.
The channels we’ll look at can help you generate leads in the same way but without picking up the phone.
What is Cold Email?
Cold email involves sending personalized emails to potential prospects with the goal of starting a conversation.
If your email is relevant to your prospect’s interests or needs, there’s a strong chance they’ll reply.
Why Cold Email Works
Decision-makers like founders, CEOs, CMOs, or CFOs are checking their inboxes throughout the day. Even if they’re not at their desk the moment your email arrives, they’ll see it when they come back and check their inbox.
Compared to cold calling, where you need to rely on getting your timing right and having your prospect pick up the phone at the exact time you’re calling, this is already an advantage.
It also gives you complete control over your messaging and allows you to personalize your outreach in a similar way to how you can on a cold call.
For example, you could add unique personalization to your email in the form of a custom email opening line, where you mention something unique about them or their company. As soon as they open your email, it’ll be clear that you’re reaching out personally.
How to Send Cold Email
There are several steps involved in sending a good cold email:
Prospect research and list building
Write your cold email templates
Scheduling follow-up emails to send if someone doesn’t reply
Tracking your responses
We have other guides on B2B prospecting, so we won’t go into the full process here. I’ll assume that you have a list of prospects who are:
Highly qualified for your product/service/offer
Decision-makers at their company
As well as that, you’ll need to have verified their email address using an email verification tool.
Once you have your list of prospects, you’re ready to start the process of sending a cold email.
First, I’d recommend using a cold email platform like QuickMail.
This is going to make the process easier to manage by allowing you to personalize emails at scale, automatically follow up, and manage outreach in multiple organized campaigns.
First, you’ll need to connect your inbox to QuickMail. This takes 30 seconds.
Once that’s ready, you can import your prospects. During the import process, make sure to match the attributes to the columns in your prospect list that you’ve already prepared. You can then use the information in your prospect list to personalize your emails.
Once your prospects have been imported, it’s time to build your campaign.
You’ll start with an email step. This is where you’ll write the first template of your cold email campaign.
As you’re writing your email, you can add personalization by using attributes.
When you send your email, these will automatically fill in the information on each recipient from your prospect list. Here’s an example of what a finished email template might look like:
It’s a powerful way to improve personalization and get more replies.
You can then add a delay after your first email. For example, you can schedule your campaign to wait three days before sending the next email.
Then, add another email step. If someone doesn’t reply, your second email will be sent and you’ll get another opportunity to start the conversation.
Our data shows that 55% of replies to email campaigns come from a follow-up step, so it’s vital to include at least one to three follow-ups.
You can even add cold call steps to QuickMail campaigns via the native integration with Aircall if you still want to continue with cold calling but not as your main outreach channel. This is an excellent way to turn cold calling into warm calling, as your prospects will already recognize your name.
Once your campaign is running, your personalized cold emails will be sent on autopilot.
QuickMail is also ideal if you’re running outreach at scale – either to get clients for your own business or to generate leads for your clients at an outreach agency. You can also add as many team members to your QuickMail account as you want and only pay for inboxes you’re sending from.
Once you build a system for cold email, you can run the process over and over again, learning from your results.
It’s an excellent alternative to cold calling if you want to maintain a high level of personalization in your sales messaging, but don’t want to manually reach out to each person like you would need to on the phone.
What is LinkedIn Message Outreach
LinkedIn outreach is a similar process to cold email outreach.
You’ll create a list of prospects, create personalized message templates, and send them.
Why LinkedIn Message Outreach Works
LinkedIn outreach works well because of several factors:
LinkedIn shows your profile, work experience, and mutual connections, which means you always have social proof when reaching out to someone.
4 out of 5 people on LinkedIn say they use the platform to help drive business decisions
People tend to receive fewer LinkedIn messages than emails, so you’ll stand out
It’s an excellent cold outreach strategy for B2B companies.
Here’s how you can start leveraging the platform to get leads:
How to Send LinkedIn Messages
The first step in your LinkedIn outreach strategy is building a list of prospects.
To do this, you could use sales prospecting tools like ZoomInfo, or, use LinkedIn’s own tool – Sales Navigator.
You’ll get access to a vast new range of search filters that you can use to identify people on the platform that are an ideal fit for your offer.
Once you identify someone who is a good fit for your outreach, you can save them into a custom prospect list inside LinkedIn.
This saves you from needing to export, import, or manually manage a spreadsheet of prospects.
Once you have your list of prospects ready, it’s time to start reaching out.
Unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t let you create multi-step campaigns or automate the messaging process. This is to ensure people use the platform organically.
However, there are LinkedIn outreach automation tools that can help you with this.
You create your campaign, including each touchpoint you want to include, and then they will run your campaigns for you.
However, there is a downside to these tools. LinkedIn doesn’t allow third-party applications used for automation purposes like these. If you’re using Alfred or a similar tool, there will be a risk to your LinkedIn account, even if you’re paying for Sales Navigator.
LinkedIn outreach can be a great cold-calling alternative and it’s a great way to generate leads. But, it’s key that you take care when running campaigns to ensure you keep your message volume low enough that it doesn’t cause problems for your account.
What is Community Networking?
Community networking isn’t specifically an outreach channel like cold calling. It’s the process of joining communities, helping people with problems that you can solve, and social selling.
Unlike channels like cold calling, cold email, or LinkedIn, if you approach communities with a single focus on selling, you won’t get results.
When you join communities, you need to be focused on adding value. If you get sales as a result, that’s just an extra benefit.
Most communities you’ll find will be based on platforms like Slack, LinkedIn, Facebook, or they could be on their own separate website. The main thing to look for is that the community is based around one type of customer and interest – for example, “agency founders” or “SaaS marketing”.
Why Community Networking Works
Joining communities is an excellent way to:
Build your personal brand
Get to know your customers’ pain points
Have conversations with people who are ready to buy
On top of that, 92% of B2B buyers are happy to engage with salespeople who are known to be industry experts.
If you put in time and effort to become known as the go-to expert on your industry in communities, you’ll start seeing a steady stream of new leads coming to you.
How to Run a Community Networking Strategy
There’s no standard playbook for generating leads through communities because it depends on the community you’re in.
However, here’s a process you can follow that will apply to most communities you join.
The first step is to find communities where your ideal customers spend time in. This can usually be done via a Google search.
You’ll then need to vet each community. Ideally, you’ll only want to focus on one or two at a time to ensure you have time to provide value there.
Once you’re in a community, you need to spend time:
Answering questions that you know the answers to and helping people in an organic way
Creating and sharing resources that will be useful to your target audience
Providing feedback on other people’s content
The end goal here is to show that you’re a trustworthy member of the community with expertise in a particular area.
For example, if you sell lead generation services through an agency, you could participate in conversations around sales, getting new customers, and closing deals.
You could also create and share content to help people in the group with their own lead-generation campaigns.
There’s a high chance that people will come to you and ask for help, and that’s where you can let them know about your paid services.
Cold calling can be hugely time-consuming. But, there are tools to help you speed up the process.
Prospect research tools: Tools like ZoomInfo let you run searches for your ideal prospects and then show you their contact details: including a phone number. You can download your list into a CSV and will instantly have a list of people you can cold call. This saves hours of manual prospecting and is essential in any cold-calling strategy today.
Power dialer: Power dialers inside tools like Aircall let you call phone numbers with one click, versus dialing a number manually. Over the course of a week, you’ll save hours. You can also make direct dials directly from QuickMail if you’ve connected it with your Aircall account.
Cold call scripts: Having a cold calling script ensures every call you make follows a process that you know will work. Remember, even if you’re following a script, make sure to personalize each call to your prospect to show you’ve done your research and have a relevant pitch for their unique business.
Voicemail drop: If someone doesn’t pick up, leaving a voicemail will take up 30-60 seconds of your time. Voicemail drop is a feature included in cold calling software, and it enables you to automatically leave a pre-recorded voicemail.
If you’re looking for alternatives to cold calling because of how much time you’re spending on it, these tools will help.
Cold calling is a powerful sales channel if you can commit the required time to it. You can have real conversations with decision-makers and quickly build rapport
However, there are some downsides. Your prospects won’t always pick up the phone. It’s hard to scale as you need to call everyone one by one. It’s time-consuming.
There are a range of powerful cold-calling alternatives you can use to engage with prospective customers in your target market. If you’re looking to grow your sales pipeline, it’s worth testing these other channels. From sending personalized cold outreach to leveraging LinkedIn, there are lots of ways to get in touch with your potential customers.
If you’re ready to start testing cold email outreach in your business, you can start today with a free 14-day trial of QuickMail.