All good things must come to an end … but not without a flourish! I’ve been having serious fun dissecting an Inc.com column that sang the tired “cold calling is dead” refrain. To be polite, we could just say that its author, Geoffrey James, is more than a bit off-key. My first article delivered a few body blows against his claims. My next article landed some sharp jabs. My last article left his argument reeling on the ropes.
“This is not to say that there aren’t companies attempting to develop sales leads through cold calling. However, they’re not getting much of anywhere because the only people who still use land lines, listen to voice mail and answer the phone directly are senior citizens and low-level people at ‘buggy whip’ companies.”
– Excerpt from Inc.com column written by Geoffrey James, Contributing Editor
All good things must come to an end … but not without a flourish!
I’ve been having serious fun dissecting an Inc.com column that sang the tired “cold calling is dead” refrain. To be polite, we could just say that its author, Geoffrey James, is more than a bit off-key.
Now, it’s time for the knockout.
First, more targeted punches. Mr. James states that “leaving voice mail is rapidly becoming an exercise in futility.”
Sure, if you don’t know how to leave a compelling voicemail that actually entices the recipient to call back. You know, if your message begins with “My name is …” or something similarly bad that makes you sound like a salesperson.
No, wait, Mr. James continues. It’s complete changes in behavior that make cold calling obsolete. People won’t take calls from numbers they don’t recognize, he claims. If you want a phone conversation, it has to be arranged beforehand.
Hogwash. I schedule appointments all the time via phone – especially by cold calling.
You see, here’s where Mr. James (and so many others) have it all wrong. They’re oblivious to the correct use of cold calling.
It’s not about building rapport. It’s not about qualifying prospects. It’s not even about selling a product or service. Only salespeople do this … and their approaches are usually dead giveaways.
Cold calling should be used only to schedule dedicated time – a follow-up call or meeting. Nothing more. Would you buy right away from a complete stranger? Didn’t think so.
And, plenty of people gladly accept calls from strangers. Many professionals’ businesses – realtors, attorneys, financial representatives and more – depend on referrals. They live off inbound calls. A number they don’t recognize could be their next big account. So much for Mr. James’s “everyone screens their calls” theory.
Here comes the haymaker.
Do you like being insulted? Does anyone? Well, Mr. James apparently doesn’t know – or, perhaps worse – doesn’t care.
Read the last sentence from the column excerpt above. It states that if your business uses a land line (as most still do), you’re a “buggy whip” company, i.e., one that is outdated and doomed to extinction. Such a damning label, based solely on the choice of a communication system!
Mr. James exhibits an extremely elitist perspective toward tens of thousands of American businesses. Oh, and apparently anyone who answers the land line in their office is “low level.” Can you get more condescending?
The irony? He claims to be an expert in B2B selling. So, does he refuse to do business with companies that still use land line phones? Does he lower himself to such “buggy whip” entities?
Let’s dig in further. Read the line here where he states “Please share why you would be a great client.” He’s asking prospective customers to sell themselves to him. Seriously?
The author doesn’t live in (nor understand) the world inhabited by real salespeople. He doesn’t grasp the cold reality of commission sales, or the neck-dripping sweat of hitting quota.
Mr. James conveniently ignores that a good salesperson uses every available tool to succeed. Cold calling is one. It’s certainly not the easiest. Like most other things in life, though, it gets easier and more effective with training and practice.
I suppose that, if you’re a columnist for a major business publication, it’s easy to look down your nose at a practice deigned beneath you.
It’s another thing entirely to be in the sales trenches, slugging it out daily with a market that only gets more competitive. Foregoing cold calling is equivalent to unilateral disarmament. You’ll never see the knockout punch coming … and it just might be from one of my clients.