Al Gore inventing the Internet by SOCIALisBETTER via Flickr
As part of my furious promotion of the Jigsaw Sales Jam event, I had a recent conversation with Steve Richard, co-founder of a sales training and outsourcing group called Vorsight. Because I had never spoken with him, I did a little research beforehand (OK- I clicked a link in his email signature that led me to an article he had written) in order to see what kind of cat he was. What I found was Cold Calling Lives, which is the best commentary I have read on a question that has been bandied about ad nauseam since Al Gore invented the internet: Is the Cold Call Dead?
My opinion on this topic hasn’t changed since I was handed a
list of past alumni donors at a college funding event when I was 19. The first
couple calls were disastrous (to everyone that graduated before 1970, aka “the
people with money,” Brown had “gone to the hippies and commies” after they
abandoned grades and a structured curriculum). I quickly figured out that I
needed to focus on men whose profile listed a Greek affiliation and tell them that I was calling from “[insert fraternity
here], because the liberal university officials made us,” listen to some
grumbling and glory day story, and ring up cash. We killed the goal in record
time. It was an epiphany for me- you can call people you don’t know, quickly
get over the awkward part by saying creative (frequently outlandish) things,
and make money.
Twenty years later, no amount of social networking technology or nifty marketing channels has completely replaced good old fashioned “dialing for dollars.”Most of the argument is one of semantics, so let’s all get on the same page as to what “cold call” even means. Steve does a great job setting it up:“You are calling a bunch of people who don't know you. You can call it cold calling, warm calling, or quasi-cold calling, but in the end, it is up to you to have the skill, ability, and savvy to take the first conversation and use it to advance the sales cycle”
The main point is that you are calling someone that doesn’t
know you and hasn’t been “introduced” (which in the age of Linked In usually
means forewarned) by someone else.
The term “cold” by itself doesn’t denote dialing
from a list without any prior knowledge about the prospect to begin with-
that’s just a f^cking idiot punching numbers to look busy until they get fired.
With all the information available via the web, you absolutely have to know at
least one thing (remember my one click research) about the person in order to
get them to engage. But even if you have a twelve page dossier about them, in
my definition, if the person doesn’t know you, the call is a cold one. Ideally, all of your company’s business isn’t going to be
derived from cold calling.
There are tons of ways to attract customers that
have a much better ROI (I personally will suffer any sales pitch for a T-shirt). Those guys in marketing have to pay for their fancy glasses and Mini Coopers
somehow. But particularly in this economy, not even the most brilliant marketers
can make all of the best corporate customers “raise their hand.” Any good
salesperson exhausts every social connection that could result in a sale during
the first week on the job. So the truly efficient organization (I’m talking B2B
here) has to have at least a couple people (researching first!) braving the
last matrix of hell known as cold calling to start the conversation that will
eventually lead to a deal.
"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated"
cold call is dead my ass”
-- Garth Moulton