Cold calling has been a sales strategy for decades. But does it still work in today’s sales market? Or is it an outdated strategy?
That depends on who you ask. If you talk to B2B sales expert Jill Konrath, she’ll tell you that it’s alive and well.
“People tell you that cold calling is dead, but that’s not true,” says Jill. “Lots of people are still doing it—but they’re no longer dialing for dollars.”
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Konrath explains in this video that cold calling isn’t the same today. In the past, cold calling was dialing the phone as soon as a number lands on your desk. That’s not the case for the modern sales rep.
Today’s savvy seller is actually making very smart prospecting calls, calling on people who they know have an opportunity to use their product or service where they can make a difference.
By doing your homework, Konrath says that sales teams can be more effective in their sales strategy. A savvy seller:
- Researches the organization and learns the key issues and concerns going on there
- Understands the decision-maker they’re calling and the challenges that particular person is facing
- Creates messages that make sense to the person on the other end
Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue, sees cold calling a bit differently. He writes in this article that traditional cold calling is dead because it often means starting a sales conversation with the wrong person.
“The biggest bottleneck in prospecting into companies isn’t selling to the decision maker,” says Aaron. “It’s finding them in the first place.”
Oftentimes, the ultimate decision maker, such as the CEO or VP Sales, is not the best person for your initial conversations.
Aaron realized early in his sales career that he spent most of his time searching for the right person, not qualifying or selling to them. “If I could find the right person, I could usually have a productive business conversation with them.”
On a Friday afternoon, he decided to conduct a sales experiment. He sent 100 cold emails (“Do you have these challenges? X, Y, Z…”) and 100 short emails simply asking to be referred to the right person at the company.
The results? Short emails: 10. Salesy emails: 0.
In the next month, he increased his response rates by 500%. The solution was clear: Cold calling needed an upgrade.
His strategy, what he calls Cold Calling 2.0, focuses on not making the initial contact about the sale at all.
“Trying to sell at this stage will wreck the conversion rate of these emails,” says Aaron. “It’s like going for coffee with someone on your first date and you are leaning in for the kiss before you have said hello.”
So, is cold calling dead? The experts don’t think so. As smart sales teams evolve with the buying process of their customers, so has the meaning and approach to cold calling.