Is Cold Calling Dead
“Cold” Calling Might be Dead, But Not Smart Calling
Telephone prospecting is essential for business sustainability and growth.
That’s right. Prospecting by phone is a necessary part of new business acquisition and growth.
Ideally, it’s not the only way; but it’s a vital component of the model. Businesses that merely react — waiting for the phone to ring, for web orders to stream in, and on business coming from existing customers — are not nearly as successful as those who employ proactive “hunting,” or telephone prospecting, as part of the mix.
Think about it: every business has customers who quit buying for lots of reasons; bankruptcy, downsizing, switching vendors, death, lack of attention by the vendor and more. Therefore, you need to replace that business just to maintain — and then hope to grow. And telephone prospecting can do that for you –quickly.
The Anti-Calling Crowd
Oh, there are detractors out there; people who say–and even believe–that prospecting is dead. They use the term “cold calling” in their denouncements; but they mean phone prospecting in general. (I do agree, however, that pure “cold” calling is dead, or should be killed. That’s calling someone you know nothing about, which should never happen.) Some of these “anti-cold-calling” gurus have made names for themselves and profited by preying upon the fear of cold calling. Just look at some of the books and learning programs released over the past few years:
“Cold Calling is Obsolete”
“No More Cold Calling”
“Never Cold Call Again”
These resources suggest either getting people to refer you to decision makers, or doing direct marketing to generate leads so people contact you. Those are sound theories, and certainly preferable to “cold” calling. If you have the time, ability and money to engage in those types of marketing programs to generate leads, I suggest you take advantage of them (as long as it does not take away from your selling time.)
Marketing is Not Selling
However, in reality, direct marketing is just that: marketing. And a when a sales rep–whose primary job is to sell– spends precious selling time sending out letters, drafting emails, and completing other administrative busy work, then he is avoiding his most important function: talking to people. I’ve seen many a sales rep who thought they were being productive by sending out mail. In fact, they were just busy. In many instances, they were afraid to make the calls; so they deluded themselves into believing that they were engaging in sales behavior; which, in actuality, was avoidance behavior.
Additionally, when you have identified a prospect that you feel would be a great customer–someone you just know would benefit wildly from a business relationship –you may very well grow old and poor waiting forever for that person to respond to a marketing campaign. And you might not know anyone who could refer you to them. But picking up the phone quickly fixes all of that.
The fact–proven by those of us who have made fortunes doing it, and those showing success right now–is that prospecting by phone works. And when done the RIGHT way it is wildly profitable.
In his book Cold Calling for Chickens (Cyan Communications London), sales trainer Bob Etherington writes, “Fact: In any market 85% of the available new business goes to the 5% of sales people who know the secret of successful cold calling.” Though Etherington uses the term “cold calling,” like most of who teach the successful way to do it, the call is not that “cold” at all.
The same goes for another expert who has proven the effectiveness of prospecting–fellow author and sales consultant, Paul DiModica. In his book, Value Added Selling, he says,
“Cold Calling is the fastest way to increase your sales pipeline, your company’s revenue, and your personal income. It is the difference between meeting a CFO of a Fortune 500 company and selling to supervisors. If you were to analyze the top income sales position in the U.S. (stockbrokers, commercial insurance salespeople, mergers and acquisitions salespeople) you would find that they all cold call.”
Telephone prospecting is the quickest, cheapest, and most interactive way to make a contact and a sale. Consider this: many of you could pick up the phone right now, call someone you don’t know and who never has heard of you, and have an electronic payment transaction minutes later.
Here are more benefits:
–You can enter a buying process that already is in progress. You may have been on the other end of this. Think of a situation where you were several calls, weeks or months into a sales discussion with a prospect. Perhaps you were already well into the proposal phase. Then, suddenly, you are informed another competitor has entered the picture. What? You’ve done the tilling, planting and nurturing; and they come later attempting to harvest the crop! Well, that’s fair. But you want to be that guy; and prospecting does this for you.
–Phone calling creates immediate opportunities for you that you never would have had previously. Hopefully this does not come as a shock; but only a miniscule percentage of the world’s population is looking for what you sell right now, or looking to buy from someone different. But a phone call can change all of that by bringing someone into a sales process immediately — even when they were not previously considering doing anything differently.
–Calling creates future opportunities. To somewhat contradict the previous point: you can surely create immediate opportunities, but let’s be real: most of the people you call will not enter into an active sales cycle with you at that immediate moment. Some will simply and flat out not be prospects. However, there may be a future fit with others, even if the timing is not right today. Therefore, with regular prospecting, you methodically fill your pipeline with qualified prospects whom you subsequently enter into your stay-in-touch marketing campaign; so that when the time is right, you are top-of-mind.
–It sharpens your sales skills. Anyone can reactively take an order or respond to a warm lead that contacts you. The more you practice regularly, the better you become.
–It’s motivating! When you take action on anything and move toward a goal — especially if it is just a bit scary — it is impossible to feel down or depressed. Your mind becomes preoccupied with the task at hand, and you inherently find ways to accomplish it.
Of course, purely “cold” calls are dumb-calling someone you know nothing about and giving a generic pitch. You should do Smart Calling™, which is doing your research in advance about the company, individual prospect, and any situations that might make them a good prospect to see value in what you offer. And then, you need to combine that information with a sound prospecting process and techniques so that you create interest and engage the prospect, as opposed to sounding like a telemarketer.
When your prospecting is Smart, you quickly build your pipeline, and sales.