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If You Believe Cold Calling Is Dead, You’ve Already Lost. Here’s Why.

Posted by Amy Volas on Mar 7, 2018 9:00:00 AM

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Let’s get right to it. I’m sick and tired of big, obnoxious platitudes like “cold calling is dead!” They are dangerous, and quite frankly if you’re spouting them or believing them, you’re not just missing the boat, you were never on it in the first place.

Call me a dinosaur if you want, but I know cold calling works. I’ve used it to initiate the conversation on 8-figure business deals. Deals that have gone on to generate more than a million dollars per month in revenue with some big-name brands.

I’ve also done the same with social selling. Which is why I laugh (and am filled with frustration at the same time) when I hear these big black and white statements about a methodology… it’s like saying a screwdriver is better than a hammer!

Rest assured, cold calling is not dead. Nor is anything else. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

First, a concession of sorts.

Just in case you do actually think I’m a dinosaur, let me start by acknowledging that yes, the world has changed. More people are using tools like LinkedIn to buy and sell these days than ever before and the magnitude of this change is supported by data everywhere.

So of course, I use tools like these to sell just as frequently as everyone else does! There are even some I couldn’t live without at this point.

But that said, Gong.io’s latest report on the tenure of VP’s suggests a very disturbing trend in the midst of these changes… salespeople are getting worse, not better. See for yourself:

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Spoiler alert, this isn’t happening because salespeople are still relying on “ancient weapons and hokey religions” like cold-calling when they should be using social selling and the internet – it’s because they are failing at the fundamentals of sales.

And in fact, I’m proposing that the reason salespeople are failing at the fundamentals in the midst of these changes is precisely because of platitudes like "cold calling is dead." 

Here’s what I mean.

Why platitudes about methodology are dangerous.

As I mentioned above, I’ve sold millions using cold calling and I’ve also done the same using social selling. How did I do it using both methodologies? Simple. I used the most important tool in sales – the 8 inches between my ears.

Think about a craftsman. It would be ridiculous if someone suggested that he/she use a hammer for every task they had to do, right? And when a craftsman screws up because he/she doesn’t know how to use a hammer in a given situation, it’s not because the hammer is outdated right?

Nope, it’s because the craftsman either failed to use it correctly or because they selected the wrong tool for the job in the first place.

News flash… sales is no different.

I’m going to be blunt. Your prospects, leads, customers, etc. don’t care one bit about your methodology, other than when it: 

1. Is poorly executed and gets in the way instead of helps

2. Doesn’t reach them at all (but then that may be a good thing if you botch #1)

Instead, what they really want is to have their problems solved, to make more money, and to look like geniuses doing it.

That’s why top-performing salespeople know that winning at sales is about learning to select the right the “tools in their kit” to help their prospects do that, rather than pigeon-holing themselves into a particular methodology and trying to make it work (Einstein’s definition of insanity anyone?).

So while it’s easy to spout big blanket statements about which methodology “works best,” the bigger picture is usually getting missed by those who are saying/hearing it.

Bottom line: Winning in sales is about finding the right tool to solve your customers’ problems to maximize the value you provide on each deal. Because quality always comes before quantity in sales (and if you don’t believe me, read this). 

No methodology can account for poor execution or poor selection of the right method to use in the first place for a given situation. And the best method to win a sale might need to include cold calling, so don’t rule it out (and in fact, it’s way more prevalent than you think).

Just keep in mind that it depends on your prospect and what they need, NOT YOU.

(Related: 3 out of 4 salespeople suck. Here’s how to be the one that’s killing it.)

Where these platitudes come from.

There’s been quite a lot of discussion on topics like “cold calling is dead” in sales circles online (just check out the first two links to Linkedin discussions linked above). And needless to say, there are a lot of theories out there as to why people are pushing these platitudes when they’re not true.

Some believe it’s the result of The Valley’s “go big or go home” mentality. Some think it’s being pushed by consultants and speakers fishing for business and using the data to their advantage.

I think those are probably both accurate, but I also think there is a deeper and more tragic reason for why these platitudes originate and take hold: they’re coming from people who are more worried about their own problems than their customer’s.

And that’s a recipe for failure every time in sales.

Killing it in sales is not about you. EVER. It is ALWAYS about the customer. And the real tragedy with these platitudes is not just that they are inherently wrong (which they are by the way), but that they teach salespeople to focus on the wrong things.

The science of dealing with human beings in a commercial relationship doesn’t change. The person buying wants value and the person that gives them the most is the one that is going to get their business. So you MUST use your creativity to maximize value on every deal if you want to win the deal.

Your methodology is dictated by your prospect's needs, not the other way around.

What you need to take away from this.

Sales is as much an art as a science, and there are no absolutes in art. So be wary of blanket black and white statements about methodology and the people who are proliferating them. Period.

Just like you can’t use a hammer or a screwdriver for every task, or the same paint brush for every effect, you can’t use social selling, cold calling, Challenger, Miller-Heiman, or anything else for every situation either. And instead, you need to learn which tools will work best in each situation.

Take it from me—the reps who master this concept are the ones who will lead the pack.

Let’s have a little fun with this. While I know folks here are big into social selling (I mean, it’s awesome, why wouldn’t you be), I’d be curious to find out how many people are still picking up the phone to connect. 

That said, if you’re still using cold calling (even a little bit), leave a comment and let us know!

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Amy Volas

Amy Volas

About the Author

I'm a sales fanatic turned entrepreneur, bitten by the startup bug many moons ago and couldn't imagine spending my time anywhere else. I created Avenue Talent Partners to help with the tremendous task of growing startups through one of their most valuable assets—salespeople.

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