What is Warm Calling In Sales?
Warm calling means you're calling a prospect with whom you've had some prior contact. The stronger the connection between yourself and the prospect, the warmer the call is. For example, if you meet a prospect at an industry event and he asks you to give him a call so that you can set up an appointment, that would be an extremely warm call. On the other hand, if you send a letter or an email to a prospect and then follow up with a phone call, that would be more of a lukewarm call.
Referrals are Warm
A prospect who's been referred to you can also qualify as a warm call, even though you haven't directly been in contact with that prospect. The fact that the referrer is recommending you to the prospect creates an indirect connection between you and the prospect. The prospect may not know you, but he knows the person who referred you to him, so the referrer acts as a kind of bridge.
A third type of warm call occurs when a prospect has reached out to you for more information. For example, a prospect might fill out a form on your website requesting a callback or call a general number in response to a TV commercial. These prospects are usually intrigued enough to go to the effort of reaching out to you, but they don't actually know anything about you personally. These warm leads are certainly easier to work with than cold leads, but will still need some rapport building on your part.
Truly warm calls are much easier to convert to appointments than cold calls. Your previous contact or connection with the prospect means that you already have a bit of trust between you. As a result, the prospect will be more willing to invest some time in hearing what you have to say. Many salespeople make it a goal to do only warm calling, since not only are warm calls more productive, they're also less likely to result in rejection, which makes them far more pleasant from the salesperson's point of view.
Dividing up your calls into cold calls and warm calls can be tricky because what really matters is how the prospect views the call, not how you classify it. If you've been in contact with the prospect before but he doesn't even remember speaking with you, then from his point of view it's a cold call. Thus, many salespeople who believe they are making warm calls are actually making cold calls.
If you are in any doubt as to how the prospect views you, it's best to treat the call as though it is a cold call. Assuming that you have a relationship with the prospect when you actually don't will only annoy him and make it harder for you to get that appointment.
Don't Sell During the Warm Call
One common mistake salespeople make with warm calls is trying to sell to the prospect during the call. Selling should take place during your appointment, not in a brief phone call. The exception, of course, is inside salespeople who only sell over the phone. For everyone else, selling should take place either face-to-face or during a virtual meeting.
When making a warm call, first introduce yourself and then immediately bring up your pre-existing connection with the prospect. His response will do much to tell you whether this is actually a warm call after all. If he says he doesn't remember you or otherwise responds unenthusiastically, shift gears and treat him as a cold lead. But if he does acknowledge the connection, you can move forward with confidence.