Cold Calling is Dead

When I started my sales career 25 years ago, our primary method of successfully developing leads and closing deals was cold calling. Prospects would answer phones, take the call, engage in a conversation, and close a deal. But times change. People change. Technology changes. And then 2009 hit us like a brick.

The first innovation was voice mail. Answering the phone wasn’t so imperative because the caller can now leave a message. You no longer had to answer the phone. The second innovation was caller ID. That allows the prospect to take a call, but only if he/she knows who’s calling. If they know you, they might talk to you. The third innovation was popularized by necessity at the start of the recession in 2009: the automated receptionist. A person no longer answers the main number, and you must dial the direct extension of your prospect. Even if you dial 0, that doesn’t guarantee a human. We spent 80 hours making calls for one project during 2009, and we had 12 conversations.

We knew it was time for us to innovate.

So we took a look around. How were we communicating with people we actually knew? With our co-workers, our clients, our friends, even our moms? We were communicating by email, many of us on our mobile phones (76% of smartphone owners use them to send and receive email, according to the Pew Research Center). We were designing, selling and completing entire projects with current clients without even making a call. If that works with people we know, how can we make it work with people we don’t know?
Prospects are not answering the phone because they don’t want to deal with pushy sales people. In addition to eliminating the receptionist, the recession also eliminated about half of your prospect’s co-workers; so your prospect is doing twice as much and is not happy about it.

Prospects want valuable information. They want to do business with reputable providers. They want to engage with experts. They want results. And they want to know all of that before they talk to you. They want to ensure their time with you will be worth their precious time.

If your mom is on email, then your prospect surely is. Email drip campaigns provide short bits of information that are valuable and helpful to your prospect, and help establish you as the expert in your field. Email is a great way to warm up that cold prospect so that when the phone rings (we have to talk to a human eventually, right?) your prospect will answer!

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