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B2B Sales

The main reason that cold calling is a really bad idea...

Gabe Larsen and Mario Martinez Jr recently ignited another debate about cold calling, and whilst I respect Gabe's view, I'm completely with Mario on this one.  Check out Mario's video:

Frankly, I'm astonished at how many people still seem to think that 'cold calling' is an effective part of selling in 2018. In my humble opinion, this is a damning indictment on those business leaders that still allow this outdated, and low-value activity to continue. Let’s be frank, there is absolutely zero customer centricity in cold calling. Seriously, you may as well open up your 'cold call' with:

That's how prospecting works right? Churn through enough dirt until you find a gold nugget? As if it's not bad enough that you are annoying your customers, the main reason that cold calling is a really bad idea is often overlooked:

Number #1 reason that cold calling is a really bad idea:

When you ‘cold call’ someone in 2018 you are in effect telling them that you have no other options – that is, no referrals, no customer intel, no recommendations, no shared connections, no digital or social strategies....cold calling just makes your business look desperate and very immature by comparison with modern businesses in today’s digital, global, connected economies.

Bear in mind (before you make that ill-advised cold call) that the recipient of your foul interruption will more than likely assume that you are a 'telemarketer' working from a low cost, offshore call-center, because why would any business invest in high paid people to perform such a low value task in this day and age? Even when you do try to explain to the now agitated recipient of your call that you are in fact an employee of the company, and not some 3rd party provider, they will likely be wondering what type of company has to resort to this old ‘numbers game’ approach.

Remember how Jerry Seinfeld handled the cold caller? 

Cold calling’ is a classic churn & burn approach to prospecting from a bygone era where it didn’t matter if you burned a few along the way. In today's business enviroment, the opportunity cost associated with this approach is massive. Think about it - whilst you are roboticly churning through the calls annoying everyone that you ring, and sowing the seed that your company is ‘old school’, your competitors are using modern tools and approaches to gain customer intent data, create awareness, build mind share and to gain that all important ‘Inbound’. Ask yourself how many new opportunities did your company miss because you were not using the myriad of current tools, platforms and techniques that are ubiquitous today? ‘Martech’ is now a $30b industry that did not exist 10 years ago…and that should be indication enough that 'cold calling' is no longer a relevant tool in the armoury of sales people.

While you are cold calling (effectively breaking ground with a horse drawn plough), your savvy competitors are instead using the following:

  • Predictive analytics – to gain clearer customer insights around buyer tastes & preferences. Drilling down on key buying trigger points.
  • Customer Intent Data - analysing data with the various tools available that help marketers/sales people gain actionable insights and identify potential customers.
  • Marketing Automation – to send the right personalised messages to the right buyers, at the right time, via the right channel. (‘buying stage appropriate’ messaging).
  • Content Marketing – creating thought leadership and customer value without pitching anything. Generating inbound is critical.
  • Social Engagement – omni-channel marketing to customers or prospects and engagement across every digital channel and device.
  • Lead Management & Nurturing – sophisticated lead generation techniques that capture important customer data, and then nurture those relationships for repeat business.
  • Re-marketing - online programs targeted to buyers based on their previous actions and behaviors.

Being able to leverage the above tools correctly is of course predicated on the respective sales & marketing leaders in your business being closely aligned, and regardless of which tools you currently utilise, please consider at least using some of these approaches in your sales execution rather than that anachronism that is 'cold calling'.

Yes, there will always be an occasional outlier, but calling someone 'cold', without a referral/intro/hook of some sort is now an undeniable waste of your company resource. If your sales leader is still insisting that you perform this low-value activity then he/she needs to find a coach - fast.

Don't agree with me? Then just go and ask any buyer, in any industry, if they like having their busy day interrupted by some unknown telemarketer, trying to clumsily pitch them a new product, when they already have more products and suppliers than they can possibly manage. Remember, that all businesses are now trying to do more business with LESS vendors. Thus, why would anyone welcome an unsolicited call from a new vendor that they have no connection with?

In sum, cold calling sends the wrong message in every way…regardless of what you actually say during the call. But let me be clear: it's the "cold' that is dead...not the calling. Calling someone that you have never spoken with before, and quickly explaining (after you have apologized for the interruption) that “Bob Jones suggested that I give you call”, is a massive difference to the usual scripted drivel that most cold callers utilize.

I strongly urge sales people to do your research first....find a hook or connection and make a warm call if this is your only option. But please remember that your customers will be judging and comparing you based on the approach you use. 

As I keep saying, in this new customer-pull era, you had better start engaging your customers the way that they want to be engaged, and 'cold calling' is not the way. Period