Cold Calling is NOT Dead.
You're driving across town to another client and you see a new sign on an office building for a company you hadn't noticed before, and make a note. You call them and inquire who is in charge of <insert business here>. You find out their contact information and establish contact. Over a year later, lo and behold in a regular check-in call they mention a need and it results in a sale. It's an exhilarating feeling to get new business from a cold call. It's the thrill of the hunt, and a numbers game, and you know what? When done right, it works.
If I had to pick one topic that I've seen most over the past year or two, it's probably "Cold Calling is Dead." And in the B2B world I couldn't disagree more. At our training firm our salespeople set aside an average of one day a week to cold call. So why the resistance?
Automated Marketing is Better
I've personally used many automated marketing platforms and many are very good. I really am impressed by applications such as HubSpot, Pardot, Unbounce, Drip and others, and think they should be part of any sales professional's toolkit. Everyone's mileage may vary, of course, but we saw a lead generation rate of about 3%. Of these, about half actually resulted in business, for an overall conversion rate of 1.5%.
With cold calling, year over year we've seen a relatively constant lead generation rate of 1 in 40 calls (2.5%), but over 75% of them resulted in new business, for an overall rate of 1.9%. In addition, relationships were built even among prospects that did not have a need right now, allowing for warm follow up calls in the future and the opportunity to ask for referrals.
Automated Marketing is Cheaper
Most of the automated marketing systems we've used cost around $800 per month, which is far cheaper than the salary of a salesperson. But wait, at least in the B2B world I still need a salesperson to handle the leads generated by the system, so I'm really not saving anything there. So if I have to have a salesperson anyhow, they can reach out to prospects and at least introduce themselves and build relationships while they're at it, something automated marketing cannot do (no, promo codes do not count as relationship-building).
Fear of Rejection
People respond to the notion that online tools and automated marketing can replace cold calling because it's what most want to hear. Not many people actually enjoy cold calling. The usual reason is they are uncomfortable with the risk of rejection. And while that is perfectly understandable, we encounter perhaps one call every six months where a person is actually rude. Besides, salespeople who are afraid of sales calls really aren't salespeople, they're order takers.
Cold Calling Done Right
There is certainly a right way and a wrong way to cold call. Our people are trained to never be pushy, never lie, and always follow up when you say you will. If we're not a fit for what the prospect is looking for, tell them. It's called pleasant persistence, and is something that marketing automation does, um, automatically. There's no reason why people can't as well, especially with a good CRM.
We recently made a renewed focus on "old fashioned" cold calling and paper mailing, and so far the results have been notably better than before. After all, when was the last time you received a high-quality piece of mail from a vendor? So if you want to avoid the spam folder and really build relationships, pick up the phone.