I just received an email from the editor of St. Louis Small Business Monthly asking: "Is cold calling dead?" Apparently, he's polling sales experts to fill out a debate-style article. I'm fortunate in that I have you guys to answer these kind of questions for me. So, how about it?
The correct answer is Absolutely Not.
A cold call is any self-initiated telephone call with any person with whom you have not yet had a previous telephone conversation.
That being said, there's a world of difference between making telephone calls at random and cold calling after you've thoroughly researched the lead, and the lead has been thoroughly briefed on you, your firm, or your offerings.
There is a wealth of information available today about prospective leads, ranging from their public profiles to news articles to their activity on your firm's website. All of that is enormously helpful in making sure that the cold call is productive.
There are also marketing techniques that can help pave the way. For example, if you build a great website and the customer enters their contact data, and you know what they looked at on the site, you should be able to move the sale forward quite quickly after you cold call.
It's is true that some marketing techniques result in the customer calling you. That's a good thing. But very few firms can depend upon that for all their business. If your pipeline gets slack, you'd better be ready to start making some calls.
And even if you get ALL your leads from prospects calling you, guess what? You're almost always going to have to call other people in that prospect's firm -- people to whom you've never spoken -- in order to move the sale forward. So you're still cold calling.
What I find irritating are sales trainers who say that cold calling is dead, when they know full well that it's not dead and never will be dead.
They're just catering to the well-known fear and dislike of cold-calling. It takes guts to call people you don't know. It's hard. You get shot down, even under the best conditions.
The sales trainers who claim you can be a sales professional without superlative cold calling skills are exactly like diet companies that claim you can lose weight without changing your eating and exercise habits. It's total BS.
If you're in sales, you're going to have to call people you don't know. That's cold calling. Live with it. It's part of the job.
If you can't call people you don't know and engage them in a business conversation, you've got no business trying to sell.
READERS: Anyone care to argue this point with me?