Hold the phone: Calling prospects is okay in inbound marketing. Here’s why and when.

I have an aversion to phones when it comes to talking to clients. I’m way more comfortable with the written word, and yet talking on the phone has been one of the best tools in my marketing toolkit. I was off camping with my kids and setting up a tent when I closed my first $1000 sale over the phone, 4 years ago.

Phone calls have a bad rap in the marketing industry. If you’re like me, you hate cold callers interrupting your day or your dinner.  When you’re short on time and you haven’t asked for a service, it feels like an intrusion and consumers are increasingly irritated by these tactics because they prefer to research and find out more online before engaging over the phone.

When is it appropriate to phone prospects and how can you incorporate the phone into your inbound marketing strategy? Read on to find out.

When is it okay to call prospects?

When is it okay to call prospects

Calling prospects is an appropriate marketing method in the following cases:

  • If they have asked you to call them in an email or voice message.
  • If they have shown interest in a particular product/service, they have given you their number and you want to offer them some additional value to further educate them and answer their questions.
  • If they have an immediate issue with your website or service and it’s imperative you respond quickly to resolve it.
  • If a mutual contact has referred you to them and you have a genuine reason for calling them, other than to sell them something out of the blue.

As you can see, these situations combine customer service and marketing. These days, thanks to social media, the lines are significantly blurred between these two business operations.

The main thing to remember is that if a prospective client has given you their phone number, just like you would with email, you need to treat it with respect. In giving you their phone number, they have given you their trust. Abuse it at your peril.

The fact of the matter is, talking to someone on the phone is still one of the highest conversion tactics, but there is a way to go about it and cold calling is not the answer.

How to call inbound marketing style

Inbound marketing works by pulling potential clients into your sales funnel.

  • First, you attract the right people through powerful content that provides value to their lives, and helps them make an informed buying decisions.
  • Next, you use your most relevant content as an irresistible carrot to join your mailing list.
  • Then you use marketing automation to determine your prospects’ level of engagement with the carrot (the irresistible piece of content you’ve just offered them).

Marketing Automation Defined: When someone opts in to your mailing list they automatically receive relevant content and updates related to their interest in your business, their behaviour (whether they click through to a certain link or not) and their level of engagement with your brand.

If prospects aren’t engaged but joined your list anyway, you send them to your newsletter list.

If they are engaged and have clicked through to watch a video, listen to a tele-class or read an ebook etc, then you know they are a warm lead and you can follow up with them to see how you can help them further.

What I like to do is offer a discovery session by phone or skype. This gives me an opportunity to get to know my prospective clients and it gives them an opportunity to gain some clarity on what strategies they could employ to solve their most pressing problems.

Making calls accessible in your online marketing

  • Add a Voicemail App to your website. I’m often amazed at how many people opt to use voice messaging on my website over a regular email message. The fact is, some people like to talk while others prefer to write. Speakpipe* is an awesome tool for this. It works well and enables you to respond either by voice mail or email.
  • Add your phone number to your website, preferably in an image.  A lot of small businesses rely too heavily on email contact forms on their websites. Adding your phone number to your website, makes you way more accessible. If phone calls become an issue, you can always forward your phone to your voice message bank during meetings or busy work periods. Maybe specify times during the day where it’s okay to call you.
  • Ask for people to give you their phone number upon subscribing to your newsletter and spell out for them exactly when and how you might use it, so they have given you their permission to call in certain circumstances.
  • Include an appointment request form in your email marketing and send it to your warm leads. Some email marketing programs such as Infusionsoft will enable you to set this up as an automated process or will flag you to respond by phone.


Calling prospects is not taboo in inbound marketing. Like with any permission-based marketing tool, phone calls need to be considered carefully.

Do you incorporate phone calls into your marketing on a regular basis?

*FYI: I am not an affiliate of Speakpipe… I just think their plugin deserves kudos.

  • treb072410

    Great post Cas.. I really had a great read, it was really informative.. Thanks for sharing..