Cold Calling is Dead! Really??

I have been reading blogs and keeping up with discussions on the internet, whilst also starting and growing my own business over the past year. I have been a voyeur rather than participator due to work focus.

There has been a number of conversations, articles and videos that have discussed the ‘death of the cold call’ and even the death of the telephone as a sales tool. Recruitment commentators have also been having their pitch on this angle claiming that social media will/could/might /should (insert level of confidence you feel the day you write your blog) replace the phone as the primary business development tool.

So you don’t have to read to the end of the blog I will declare my hand now – The cold call is not dead, at all.

My perception is this:


There are many sales practitioners out there (recruiters and non recruiting sales professionals) who are substandard in their approach to their business development phone based, face to face and social media. There are also those who are very good at ‘cold calling’. I am not going to go down the avenue of trying to reframe cold calls as being warm if certain criteria are met.

We haven’t spoken? I’m coming in cold!

Good sales people phone prospect clients every day and generate business opportunities every day.

Why do people think that cold calling is dead?

1. Personal experience of receiving bad calls:

  • The reason why you experience poor quality, ineffective calls from recruiters on the telephone is that they have few or no clients currently and need to generate business! This is either because they are new, or have no clients or both. Sometimes they can be new but learning (why let them on the phone so early as trainees? – another blog post me thinks) sometimes they can be new and a bad hire (why let them in? another blog post in the ‘one for the future’ bank), other times, they just ain’t that good – not everyone gets to go to Top Gun.
  • It has been suggested that this is caused by the KPI culture that is set in the large multinational recruiters where the scream of “get on the phone!” can still be heard. The drive to hit a certain volume of calls to prospective clients does not create poor quality sales calls. What causes poor quality calls is a lack of training for recruitment consultants to develop a reasonable sales strategy, develop a robust sales planning process and engage the right prospect client, about the right subject on the right day. With this level of understanding they are going to call people who either need them now or in the very near future and can potentially add some value.
  • If you are not a true prospect you will not hear from a good recruiter – they are talking to good quality prospects who are likely to want to hear from them! So those who claim the cold call is dead because they are being contacted by sales people when they are not in a position to buy (through choice or circumstance) then it is the sales practitioner who is dead not the call! Someone told me recently that good sales people don’t have skinny kids. Bit weird but I get the point.
  • Poor training. If the majority of your sales training revolves around objection handling then I think you may be selling the wrong service to the wrong person never mind it being the right day or not! Seriously though, if all your training is about how to do the call and none of it about how to plan and qualify a prospect before you call then its time to get another trainer.

2. Because social media has arrived

  • Yes, social proof has become a powerful way to find new suppliers of products and services. I tweet out looking for good suppliers - printers, lawyers, PR specialists, etc. I get good results too. At some point the conversation needs to move from Twitter to the phone (for me). The sooner the better too!
  • Yes, social media gives you a greater reach and the case studies of some very successful businesses suggest that social media can be used as a marketing and word of mouth referral system. It doesn’t mean it replaces the phone – it complements it.
  • No – not everyone is on it, and even with the impressive figures of users, not everyone is logged in everyday. 79% of visits to Linkedin in the UK are made by only 35% of the registered UK users. 29% of visits are made by less than 1% of users - see these Linkedin statistics
  • I love social media. I can’t knock it. I love my phone. Together they are my best friends. If I lost either it would make my job much more difficult. One will not replace the other IMO.

3. Because the phone ringing to the other person is a distraction

  • Apparently one of the biggest causes of work disruption is the phone followed by email. Mervyn Dinnen makes an ‘interesting’ point here about getting rid of phones. If it rings and you are busy, let it go to voicemail. It is not the phone distracting you it is your own lack of self control.
  • No one would openly say ‘please interrupt me and sell me something” though most would appreciate a call from someone who has something they want, wouldn’t they?

I am sure there are more reasons but I must admit I got tired of hearing people who don’t seem to work in front line sales any more (or recently) now pontificating about the death of the sales call.

Don’t like it? Don’t do it.

Don’t think the person who is “selling” to you is any good? Tell them if you genuinely care about it stopping. Nothing stops a sales person dead in their tracks as quickly as “are you new to this?” or “Have you had any training yet sonny?” Try it.

For those of you in recruitment who are making sales calls every day, ask yourself this:

“Why would this person want to talk to me? What is in it for them right now?”

If you don’t know – call someone else.

My final point to drive the nail home is this; I called a company (cold call) and spoke with their Sales Director. She said (towards the end of the call)

“Could you come here and train my recruiters how to make sales calls like that, I don’t like taking sales calls but I am fully engaged now and ready to buy” It wasn’t what I said in the call – it was how my sales planning was delivering me qualified leads.

It works for me - see you at Miramar.

Top Gun