What was replaced by cold calling

Acquisition - definition and success factors for successful customer acquisition

Definition of acquisition

Acquisition, also acquisition or acquisition (from Latin “acquirere” for “acquire”), describes all measures with the aim of customer acquisition. A distinction is made between the acquisition of new customers (cold acquisition) and existing customers (warm acquisition). The acquisition process includes the steps

  1. Identification of interested parties (lead generation)
  2. Review and classification (lead qualification)
  3. contact
  4. Sale or deal
  5. Follow-up sales (after sales)

Do not confuse: warm calling vs. cold calling

One of the fundamental differences between different forms of acquisition lies in warm and cold acquisition. The two forms can be roughly distinguished from each other as follows: The “cold” acquisition means the initial approach to potential new customers. In other words, you have never seen or spoken to these contacts - they are completely unknown to you. Legal aspects therefore also play an important role in cold calling: In B2C, i.e. in private customer business, cold calling over the phone is prohibited (Law against Unfair Competition, UWG §7). In B2B, on the other hand, another company can be contacted by telephone for the first time, provided that this company also has a "presumed interest" in the corresponding offer. This has not changed even with the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The warm acquisition, on the other hand, concerns the further development or consolidation of the relationship with already existing contacts. It can include addressing (most recently inactive) existing customers as well as contacting potential new customers with whom you have already established contact in the past. The latter could have been a conversation and the exchange of business cards at a trade fair or a phone call in the past. It is assumed that warm calling is up to five times more efficient than cold calling. This is also conclusive, because you do not fall in the house with potential customers and first have to convince them of your own seriousness, but have a good basis for discussion right from the start.

More about the difference between warm and cold calls

With the steadily growing number of channels, especially in the digital sector, the opportunities for acquisition also increase. In general, companies can take appropriate measures both online and offline, which by definition fall under the acquisition process if their goal is to win customers.

The prerequisite for successful acquisition, regardless of the route, is continuous documentation in the CRM system. This is the only way to get an overview of the current status at any time in what is often a lengthy process. Who has already been approached, has there been any feedback or has there already been a specific need? Has information material been sent yet? Have there already been agreements or suggested dates?

Only those who properly record such information will cut a good figure in front of the customer in the team. Otherwise, it quickly becomes apparent that the left in your company does not know what the right is doing. A lot has happened in puntco CRM software in recent years. CRM systems no longer have to be complicated or expensive. There are solutions specially developed for small businesses that are easy to use and run as inexpensive web software on all devices.

Telephone acquisition

Acquisition over the phone is still a widely used instrument for acquiring new customers, even in the digital age. The sales representative contacts the potential customer by phone in order to make their own product attractive to them. Some companies rely on the commissioning of sales employees or call centers. Especially companies with more complex products, which no layman can explain simply, usually keep the telephone acquisition in-house.

Personal sales at trade fairs or in direct sales

What used to be "knocking on doors" is now essentially direct sales. Direct selling describes the ### strong to go. Companies like Würth or Dell are also successful in the B2B environment, while companies like Vorwerk or Tupperware are known in the end customer business. With direct and personal acquisition, it is of course interesting that you can calculate with different prices or margins due to the lack of commission to the dealers.

The so-called"Representative visits" or "door-to-door sales" However, they have the dubious reputation that customers buy from a feeling of being overwhelmed, rather than out of conviction. The legislature has reacted to this, which is why signatures in such transactions can be revoked according to ### a href = "https://www.gesetze-im-internet.de/bgb/__355.html"> § 355 (BGB). Incidentally, this also applies to "contracts concluded outside of business premises" (such as coffee trips). Companies with B2C business are therefore more likely to acquire their customers at agreed events such as sales parties.

In the B2B area, however, visits by representatives are still common. Whether such visits are worthwhile depends largely on the previous oneLead qualification depending, i.e. how exactly was checked whether the potential customer is actually in question and, at best, has a need.

Depending on the business model Measure the more efficient acquisition channel. This applies to the marketing potential in particular for the sale of expensive and very special products with a small target group. With good reason, manufacturers of machines or industrial goods often charge 6 to 7-digit amounts for a trade fair stand.

But trade fairs are usually very expensive even in the SME sector. A recipe for success can be one Book a stand at a trade fair where theExhibitors represent the target groupBecause visitor numbers fluctuate and it is often uncertain whether the right target group is coming. The sales teams at the trade fairs are, however, supported by department heads or colleagues with decision-making authority who stroll through the trade fair themselves in quiet moments. It is important to be present here.

Newsletter marketing

Email or newsletter marketing is becoming an increasingly popular form of acquisition because itrelatively cheap and effective is. As with the telephone acquisition, there are also legal conditions to be observed here. While existing customers can simply be contacted by e-mail, contacting potential new customers by e-mail requires their prior consent.

With a double opt-in procedure, in which, for example, the recipient has to confirm the registration for a newsletter again, companies are legally on the safe side. You can find more information about double opt-in and the like here. Since more and more companies are now relying on their own newsletter and flooding the mailboxes of the recipients, it is important, as is so often here, to stand out positively with your own newsletters. Suitable tips and tricks for your own email marketing can also be found on our blog in the article “The ultimate guide to newsletter marketing”.

Customer acquisition via your own website

Acquisition does not always have to take place through an active and direct approach. In contrast to these "push channels", your own website is a place where you can acquire new customers. However, in order to generate a certain "pull factor" here, the site must be well made and offer interesting content. Well done in this case means above all that the users of the site can find their way around and find what they are looking for. At the same time, the search engines (i.e. Google) must classify the page as valuable and relevant in terms of content and therefore display the page high up.

The topicSearch engine optimization (SEO) plays a big role here, after all, there are a handful of keywords for every company under which it would like to be on page 1 on Google.Only one percent of Google visitors click on page 2

Themost important criteria for a Google ranking are i.a.

  • Appropriate, detailed and high quality content
  • Backlinks (links pointing to the page)
  • User signals (users stay for a long time)
  • Matching domain (the search term may be in the name)
  • and about 200 other factors (Google keeps the details of their algorithm secret)

A good website can be a good and, above all, sustainable channel for acquisition. While almost all other channels no longer generate sales if you shut them down, a good website just keeps running for now.

A website acquires "passively".

In other words, if a company stops advertising or fires its sales team and no longer makes calls, visitors will continue to come through the website and hopefully buy.

More tips on search engine optimization (SEO)

Search engine advertising

We have just talked about optimizing our own website. However, your own advertising in search engines is also a common acquisition method. One tries to get the top places in search engines like Google and Co. through paid advertisements,to direct your target group to a suitable landing page and then encourage them to buy. How Google distributes its advertising space and how you can place search engine advertising is explained in the article "Everything about Search Engine Advertising and Google Adwords".

Referral Marketing

What would convince you more, a vacuum cleaner company that throws a flyer in your mailbox or a friend who recommends a vacuum cleaner from the same company? Referral marketing is an instrument in which your existing customers recommend you to others and thus get you new customers. On the one hand, through consistently good performance and attentive service, you can indirectly ensure that your customers recommend you to others.

On the other hand, you can also help a little andStrengthen referral marketing through affiliates. Affiliates are website operators themselves (not necessarily your customers) who recommend your products online and receive a commission from you if they are successful. Technically, the whole thing works via so-called affiliate links, which can be used to trace exactly from which affiliate a new customer came to you. You can find more on the subject of referral and affiliate marketing in the two articles “Referral Marketing: How to Win New Customers from Existing Customers” and “Affiliate Marketing: Definition, Examples and Strategies for SMEs”.

You can find a good overview of different acquisition channels in our article “5 Forms of Customer Acquisition”.

There is a special recommendation for lazy readers, oursPodcast sales kitchen. There, too, we dedicate ourselves to the various opportunities that are available to a small company or SME in terms of acquisition.

Feel free to listen to the episode"Customer acquisition for B2B sales: 7 ways to get your thing done"

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The acquisition process step by step

TheThe acquisition process is mostly based on the results of marketing. In marketing, for example, measures are planned in which interested parties leave their contact details. This can be a competition or a web blog where readers subscribe to the newsletter. However, other addresses are also researched by hand or simply bought.

At the beginning of the acquisition process there is the procurement or identification of names and contact details of potential customers. Even if the process is certainly dependent on the product or business model, there are definitely overlaps and, as indicated above, is carried out in a very simplified manner in five stages:

Stage 1: Identification of addresses (lead generation)

At the start of the acquisition process, it is important to identify potential customers. Because regardless of whether it is about cold or warm acquisition, you cannot establish a first or second contact without contact details. Basically, this first step is about using marketing measures to generate leads, i.e. potential buyers. Online marketing in particular offers a multitude of options for collecting names, addresses, telephone numbers and e-mail addresses. In our article on the topic of lead generation, we look at nine of these possibilities. These include:

Step 2: Qualify contacts - or sort them out

After the research is before the qualification. Because not all of the information and addresses collected are suitable for further consideration in the acquisition process. For example, if you have decided to buy addresses from a chamber of commerce, you can assume that some of the companies have no need for your products or services at all. This requires further research and analysis, after all, you don't want to make a lot of effort for a contact that later becomes a file.

The situation is different with leads who have already shown a high level of interest in your offer (e.g. a company that has already requested an offer using the contact form on your website). With this type of lead, you want to provide the relevant contact with the information they want. On the other hand, you also want to find out more about the associated company - what is its name, how big is it and does the data left in the contact form already belong to the decision maker?

The ultimate goal of the second stage is to determine which leads qualify for the third step of the acquisition process - keywordSales funnel. After all, you want thatPut particular focus on leads with a high purchase probability and weed out those who are not interested in buying anyway. The contacts qualified here then make it to the third stage, which is about establishing concrete contact.

At best, the different acquisition stages are recorded directly in the CRM system. In this way you move the contacts one step further with each step and you can also work in a division of labor. While the leads may be generated in the marketing team, the sales team takes care of the qualification. Under certain circumstances, the initial contact (see level 3) even starts with a call center or a sales agent and only when there is a specific need and a meeting is done, a trained employee takes over. However, this assumes that the previous process is clearly documented in the CRM software.

Step 3: making contact and initiating business

At the beginning, communication with the potential customer is usually handled via email for reasons of efficiency. In the course of the acquisition process, however, telephone contact with potential customers is often sought. Other companies also rely on cold calling by telephone and the commissioning of call centers or sales agents right from the start.

Since, especially in business-to-business, a contract is usually only concluded at a personal meeting, the latter is also the goal of the efforts of this third stage. This business initiation and offer tracking can take a long time depending on the industry, target group or company and is therefore also one of the essential stages of acquisition - after all, the step to a personal sales talk is one of the biggest obstacles on the way to closing a sale. Here one should be careful not to unnerve the potential customer with too much one-way communication, but at the same time maintain a regular point of contact.

In addition, hasty offers should be avoided, with which one surprised and scared the interested parties. In principle, salespeople should ask themselves two questions before they start writing an offer:

  1. Customer side: Is the contact really interested in a specific offer? Does he already have a more precise idea of ​​his goals and timing?

  2. Sales page: Do you have enough information at hand to be able to write a specific offer that corresponds to the goals of your contact?

An early and poorly thought out offer is usually a shot in the oven and costs not only you but also your potential customers time and nerves. If an interested party is then ready for an offer, the good preparation of this offer plays a major role.

Level 4: Convince in the sales pitch

Regardless of how many potential customers you can find and get them to a personal sales pitch, in the end you have to be convincing in exactly this and ensure that there is not only an interest in your offer, but also a deal in the end . For good reason, the acquisition discussion is therefore also referred to as the supreme discipline in acquisition.In general, there are several things to consider for these customer appointments, which have a significant impact on the outcome of these discussions and which we have put together for you here:

  • The appointment preparation: Thorough preparation for customer appointments is usually half the battle. A common mistake that ultimately causes the acquisition process to fail is a lack of background research by the customer or the company. In addition to information about the company, an industry research and details of the contact person also help to be competent and well prepared in the sales talk. Good salespeople not only know their own product, but also their counterparts ... Read on now

  • The appointment confirmation: In addition to good preparation, the appointment confirmation is an important aspect that must be considered before the acquisition meeting itself. Because customer appointments are seldom arranged without a certain lead time, and it is not a good idea to appear at an appointment agreed today for two months without any further contact point. On our blog we give five practical tips for confirming appointments.

  • The acquisition talk: As I said, the supreme discipline of acquisition and therefore essential for the ultimate success of all efforts that were expended in the course of the acquisition process. In addition to defining your own goals for the conversation, good time planning and the structuring of the content of the conversation also play an important role in the outcome of the conversation. In our article "The acquisition interview - 5 things to consider" we give a few practical tips for your next sales talks.

  • The appointment follow-up: Many overlook the relevance of a proper follow-up to an appointment, regardless of whether a customer appointment was successful or a failure. If you come back with an order in your pocket, everything has to be arranged for the provision of the service. However, if a customer appointment does not go according to plan at all, the right lessons should be learned from it. A proper follow-up to an appointment is essential for both scenarios. More on the subject of follow-up appointments

If the customer is finally won, the service is provided, e.g. the delivery of the product or the execution of the corresponding service. Then, if necessary, further support for this customer begins, for example in the form of follow-up meetings.

Level 5: Existing customer care and CRM

While for some companies the acquisition ends at this point, modern companies have long understood that, especially in connection with warm acquisition, maintaining one's own customer and business relationships is essential. After all, acquiring existing customers is known to be more cost-effective than finding new customers.

A clean customer relationship management or customer relationship management (CRM) helps to strengthen existing business relationships and to successfully design the acquisition process - especially in the context of customer loyalty. Appropriate CRM software, in which all contact details, but also emails, notes, tasks or products that have already been purchased are noted, ensures that all relevant information about all customers is clearly documented and that the focus is on the customer relationship itself. Only a complete customer history can ensure that, even after months, you will still know which offer you spoke to a customer about when and where - and thus not only offer your existing customers better service, but also make your acquisition more efficient.

Research shows that the Acquiring existing contacts is up to five times more likely on average than simply acquiring new customers. Good CRM software helps you to start where you left off at any time in the acquisition process. So don't let a contact get "cold" in the first place.

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There's more about acquisition on our blog

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