Why Cold Calling Doesn’t Work

For years, there’s been the debate that cold calling is dead. Sales Practitioners argue on a daily basis that it works/doesn’t work/only works in certain situations etc etc.

Many get distracted from the point that cold calling’s outcome is to ignite a relationship. Not to sell. The basis of all outreach is to ignite a relationship. To kick start 2-way communication. Here are my top tips for effective cold calling – or, as I prefer to say, “Sales Calls.”

Five reasons why cold calling doesn’t work:

It’s totally cold

There’s been no “warming” of the accounts or the contacts; the people your sales team are calling have never heard of your company or ever encountered it. They’ve never seen your business at related trade fairs or scrolled past an ad of your services on LinkedIn, and they definitely haven’t received a direct email from the cold caller themselves. It’s 100% cold; your SDR is trying to melt an iceberg with a single match.

One call and onto the next

Picture this; You buy one raffle ticket and expect to win the top prize… It’s not going to happen (or the odds are very much stacked against you). Just like buying one raffle ticket, one cold call is likely to not gain you the win you’re looking for. The best outreach teams cadence their outreach with a series of calls, emails, social, videos, mail and carrier pigeons. (ok, maybe not the last one!)

“If you’re not on the phone, you’re failing” mentality.

Expecting your sales team to call continuously from 9am-6pm, you’re setting them up to fail. When do you think they’ll have a chance to research and understand their prospects? How are they going to personalise their approach to each individual? Just like a good lasagna, the grunt work goes into the prep. Selecting the finest ingredients, warming them up over time to eventually serve the lasagna hot out of the oven with all the trimmings. Prospecting is the same: selecting the ideal customer profiles, warming them up over time through strategic marketing, LinkedIn initiatives and direct emails, and then a world-class tailored call, now that’s going to convert.

No tech = no outcomes

Let’s refer back to our lasagna… if we don’t have a sharpened knife, chopping board, working hob, extractor fan, or hungry guests, how can we expect to make our lasagna and for it to be devoured? Most of your competitors will be using technology, and so should you; it will dramatically enhance your outcomes. Can you sell without it? Yes. Can you sell much more with it and set your team up to be overachievers? Even more, yes. You’ll make it easier for your teams to find the right people with the correct contact details, increase scalability, help your team prioritise activity, and schedule the next steps automatically. Scrap the spreadsheets, use technology and the systems built within.

Insanity – Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result

One of the hardest things about cold outreach is dialling the phone. What will they be like on the other end of the phone? Are they going to shout at me on the phone? Are they even going to be the right person?

Once we’ve got over this hurdle, the rest can be relatively plain sailing (it won’t, but that sounds good, right?). The point is, the largest hurdle has now been jumped, and now, you’re sitting on the back of your chair expecting the meetings to roll in because you’ve told them what’s always worked for you and expect them to do the same. The beauty of cold calling is that each step will be tracked, and what can be tracked can be improved. Are they getting hung up on at 30 seconds or 2 minutes? The fix will differ for each answer.

Cold calling has always worked and will continue to work as sellers grow alongside it.

Gone are the days of calling through the Yellow Pages.

The spray and prey approach will not go as far as it may have done previously. Buyers see themselves as good prospects that deserve time and effort. 

Put more effort in, get more business out.