Cold calling has reportedly died. No one cold calls anymore and it doesn’t work. Is this true?
Here is an email message I recently received:
Looking over the numbers my agents generate, I have noticed that dials to contacts have slowly decreased in the last 10 to 15 years, which, in turn, means the number of appointments has dropped as well. People have to dial an amount that is unsustainable… My question is, that with the tools that are now being understood better, such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter, why would anyone want to continue to cold call?
Ah yes, why would anyone want to continue to cold call? Well, because it’s the most direct and effective way to generate new business. The problem is, of course, that most agents cold call badly, which is why it does not work for them.
If you really want to build a solid sales pipeline packed with qualified prospects, there are only four ways you can use to do so:
1. Marketing activities
Most large sales organizations have marketing departments that function to generate qualified leads and drive traffic to the company’s website and/or to the company’s inside sales team. If you’re an independent agent or small-business owner, you’re the marketing department.
2. Leveraging (referral selling)
Contacting existing clients and/or people within an agent’s or business owner’s circle of influence and asking for referrals. This is an excellent way to develop new business.
Joining leads and/or networking groups and/or using social networking sites/Web 2.0 resources. This is another excellent way to build a pipeline.
4. Cold calling
While all of these activities will generate leads for new business development, only one is directly under your control. The first three are essentially passive, in that once you initiate the activity, you must then wait for someone else to take action—a prospect to call in or a client or networking contact to come through with a referral. Because you have to wait for the results, that is, for prospects to come to you, these processes also take longer to generate sales.
When you cold call, you can target the companies or types of individuals with whom you are interested in doing business, make a phone call and begin your sales process. While cold calling is not as easy as say, clicking a link on a social networking site, the good news is that cold calling is a communication skill (heavy emphasis on the word,’ “skill”) and like any communication skill, it can be learned and improved upon.
People who say that cold calling does not work today or that cold calling is dead are a little like someone playing softball, who, when up at bat, swings and misses the ball. He throws the bat down in disgust and says, “The bat doesn’t work.” The bat works fine–it’s just that he missed the ball.
Although cold calling works today, it is different from the way it was practiced 20 years ago. In the email referenced above, if the agents are making their dials the same way they did 10 to 15 years ago, then it’s not surprising they’re not having much success. It is no longer enough to rely on sheer volume of calls. And this is still the strategy employed by most people who are making cold calls. If that’s your strategy, then it’s true, “people have to dial an amount that is unsustainable.” If that’s your strategy today, then cold calling won’t work for you.
In order to be successful in 2013, cold calling must be strategic, targeted and skilled. A cold calling campaign that is all three will succeed in developing new business. Anything else will waste your time.
If you’d like help developing a cold-calling campaign, I invite you to download my complimentary eBook, The Cold Calling Survival Guide: Start Setting Appointments in the Next 24 Hours.
By Wendy Weiss
Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling,” is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://www.wendyweiss.com.