“For decades, companies have been getting diminished returns from cold calling. Now they’re flogging a dead horse.”
- Preface to com column written by Geoffrey James, Contributing Editor
If it’s on Inc.com, one of the most venerable sources of online business journalism … it must be true, right?
Well, maybe not. Or, at least debatable. Or maybe highly debatable.
The headline of a recent column on the well-trafficked web site declared “Cold Calling Is a Waste of Time,” followed by the aforementioned introduction. The accompanying photo? Wait, didn’t that guy work with Don Draper?
The column itself is well written and, on its surface, well reasoned. Its premise is that technology and human behavior have changed in ways that render cold calling useless as a modern sales practice.
Is this true? Very possibly so, if you’re a salesperson who personally knows 10,000 people who will actually take your call … or one who just avoids the heavy lifting, and hard work, that comes with being a successful sales rep.
Mr. James’s opinion is just another high-profile salvo in the “cold calling is dead” theme preached by people who are supposedly smarter than the average salesperson. Or, maybe they just have bigger megaphones, or higher soapboxes, to make their thoughts known.
Anyhow, I began deconstructing this argument in my last post … and am eternally grateful to Mr. James for providing real, tangible fodder with which to carry on.
Let’s be clear: No one is saying that cold calling should be your only sales tactic. Sales are built around relationships. Relationships have to start somewhere. Networking and referrals are great. But are they enough for you to hit quota?
Abandoning what can be a very effective sales technique, done correctly, is unilateral disarmament in the midst of a hot conflict. You have competitors gunning for the same customers, correct?
To use a sports analogy: Would Olympian Usain Bolt, the “fastest man in the world,” run a 100-meter race with just one shoe? Granted, he could probably still beat any of us with ease … but you get the point.
Speaking of which, Mr. James’s central thesis is that changes in the world around us have rendered cold calling obsolete. No, his perspective is obsolete. He presumes that cold calling is still done the old-fashioned way: find a list of numbers, dial, and pray.
Think again. Smart cold calling strategy is like water. It runs around the obstacles in its path. It’s not static … and neither are the practices of smart salespeople who employ cold calling as a successful tactic.
Here’s how: They identify ideal clients. They research them. They don’t try to become best friends on initial contact. Oh, and they don’t sound like salespeople.
Mr. James’s column is so intriguing – and wrong – that we’re not going to leave it here. We’re going to dissect his argument, point by point, in future posts. It will be fun.
I’m already rubbing my hands in gleeful anticipation. Don’t believe it? Watch this. You can gauge the credibility for yourself … but then again, we can’t all be affiliated with big-name journalism brands.