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Is cold calling dead?

The argument for this question will no doubt go on forever with as many statistics and case studies ‘proving’ they are right from either side of the debate. The reality is that when people talk about or consider using the telephone to proactively reach out to prospective businesses and market or sell to them, it is called ‘cold calling’, so the terminology is just wrong.

So let us define cold calling. The term cold is a reference to the potential buyers pre-disposition. They are not expecting a call, they have not requested a call and they may or may not be in a position to purchase anything, it is totally unsolicited and will be an unplanned interruption in the buyer’s day. For B2B or consumers this is exactly the same. The coldness of the potential interaction by definition means it can only be the first step in the overall direct marketing or sales process.

Cold Call

The reality is common sense prevails, if I ‘Cold Call’ 100 people today that I have established might be the right person to buy my services or goods and (assuming they answer) interrupt their day with the best pitch in the world only 3% of the market is buying at any time so only 3 people on that list are even in the position to listen and do act. That is 97 calls of 1-2 minutes so around 3 hours of completely unproductive work. Not common sense at all.

Of the 3 in a position to act, did they get a great positive experience from your call that interrupted their day? Cold calling by its nature means you have to push against a closed door, you have to get past gatekeepers, get past obstacles and objections and be pushy. People do not buy from pushy sales people anymore; there is too much choice and too much competition to have to be cajoled into a position we are uncomfortable with. So perhaps we got 1 of the 3 that was by luck happy to listen, in a position to act and actually is interested in our product and service….well then we have to qualify them, what a genius flow of work. We interrupt them, work past obstacles and finally get someone interested, and then we qualify them in or out. Do they have a budget? Do they have a timeline to purchase? Do they have a specific need for our product/service? Is that person the ultimate decision maker? Are they credit worthy? Are they looking at competitor products/services? Any one of these on their own could lead us to decide that actually we don’t want to do business with them. It’s a hugely inefficient and ineffective method of finding new business. It is not dead but common sense tells us there are more productive and efficient ways to find those sales.

Telemarketing and telesales can be very effective when part of a complete end to end marketing strategy and implementation. On their own they are as good as dead in terms of the return of your time invested. Business needs to create demand by whichever means possible with a ‘warm call’ as part of the direct communication at the appropriate time.

We all buy when our time is right, from businesses and people we trust and like. That comes from building relationships, positioning your company as the 1st choice for a buyer and making sure you are engaged with the 3% all the time. Is ‘Cold Calling’ dead?

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