If you look over any of the sales discussions happening now on LinkedIn, what you'll notice is that in spite of what you might have heard to the contrary, cold calling is not dead. It's happening every day and while sales reps don't like it any more than they ever have, it is showing no signs of going away.
So, why is there such a perception discrepancy between marketing and sales people on the subjects of cold calling and in fact anything that has to do with lead generation?
I think the first reason is simply one of different definitions. To some, cold calling is door-to-door and face to face. To others, it's on the phone. Some people call businesses and others call consumers. Some work from a phone book or a business list and first need to find the right person to talk with and others start with a company, contact name and title. Some call all types of businesses and others focus on specific markets. Company size can be anything from a single person in a home office to a Fortune 100 multinational. Some models require pre-call research and others - nadda. And, what's very important - some people are working on a product or a sales model that requires they attempt to close a sales on the first call, while others are only trying to open up a dialogue and set up a meeting on the first contact.
With so many different ways to look at cold calling, it's hardly a wonder that no one seems to agree as to whether or not it still works. When I write about cold calling, these are my parameters:
Telephone based, not in-person calling.
Business to Business
Working from a market specific company base - usually with a named contact and if not, with a job title.
Small, medium and large business but not SOHO.
Cold call objective, lead generation- book a sales consultation phone meeting- 15-30 minutes.
Pre-call research maxes out at about five minutes per company.
A cold call is one that the sales rep initiates. It is not in response to an information request or a quote. It is the result of a Rep doing what they have always done; think about their service and who can best benefit from using it and then reach out and see if there is a problem to be solved.
This type of cold calling hasn't gone away and probably never will. Although it has become harder and takes longer to make that initial contact, and in spite of the many virtues of social marketing and in-bound lead generation, many sales reps feel that they are still the ones creating the opportunities that lead to their best deals.
Look at this breakout from a webinar presented by Vorsight:
Where to your best deals come from?
Definitely Marketing Sourced - 10%
Probably Marketing Sourced - 19%
Probably self generated - 32%
Definitely self generated - 39%
For leads that result in deals worth over $100K, this research shows that 45% were definitely self generated.
Given that it takes anywhere from 8-16 attempts to make a contact in their first place, it's pretty clear that a lot of skilled sales professionals are still pounding the phones and still leaving a lot of voicemails and sending a lot of emails to get that coveted first contact.
So it appears less than likely that cold calling has gone the way of the Dodo yet or that it should.