Is there possibly any question in marketing or sales that has been and will likely continue to be so thoroughly beaten to death as the perennial favorite – Is cold calling dead?
First of, I’d like to mention that I saw a survey on LinkedIn today in the group discussions for Inside Sales Experts and it was built using Instant.ly which is a very interesting free survey. If you’re interested in tools like this I suggest you check it out.
So – back to the question and what the survey reported. At time of writing the results are pretty conclusive. A whopping 88% of the respondents say that cold calling isn’t dead and – just to be thorough – the definition of cold calling was this: A phone call where the person didn’t fill out a lead form, didn’t download your content, doesn’t know you, is not a referral and is not expecting your call.
About 60% of the respondents are in sales and I am yet to see a survey taken among sales people that doesn’t reaffirm that cold calling is indeed alive and well and a critical part of the business building plan for many, many companies.
So where is the “Cold calling is dead” wave coming from? Who says it’s dead and Why?
Companies who are in the business of inbound lead generation and marketing/email automation will all tell you that cold calling is dead – because they’re doing their best to replace it.
Best in class lead generation marketers will support “cold calling is dead” because over the years they have been able to put the resources into programs to drive, nurture and qualify leads. No, I doubt that there is a lot of cold calling coming out of the Oracles and the IBM’s of the world.
A lot of people and companies will tell you cold calling is dead – but they’re usually qualifying it with some sort of caveat that allows them to put their own special spin on it and use that spin to tell you why you need their service too. You know – “cold calling is dead but warm calling is alive and well.”
I love the quote from Trish Bertuzzi on Insidesales.com “Let’s not kick outbound calling to the curb just because it needs a name change – let’s just change the name.”
What shall we call it instead? – Here are my top choices :
- Outbound telephone lead generation
- Outbound telephone prospecting
- Outbound telephone sales
Calling is not dead. There is a world filled with companies who hire sales people to do what Brian Carrol has described as “Selling like it’s 1992” In this world sales reps are expected to find, close and service business. If they want to keep their job they need to pick up the phone and make outbound calls to people who did not first ask to speak with them. They’re usually working with databases that haven’t been properly updated since the original import.
Many sales driven companies either don’t have any marketing department or have one or two people reporting directly to the big boss to make collateral material as instructed, order the annual Christmas gift baskets, run the golf tournament and maybe update a website. Every sales rep uses their own email templates and presentations. The really good ones (in other words the ones that worked) get shared between the reps. And finally as far as lead generation is concerned, everything that even resembles a possible sales opportunity is passed to the sales team – even the responses that already say “No Go Away” because of course any sales person worth their pay relishes the opportunity to turn them around. That’s the reality.
So that’s 1992? No, its not. It’s 2012 for most businesses. Is there a better way to do things? Yeah, probably. But unless you have a lot of money to spend on more staff and the technology to manage the new bells and whistles, you’d probably be better off if you just pick up the phone.