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Is Cold Calling Really Dead?

Graphic Showing Working on LaptopThere are plenty of people who wish cold calling was dead, buried and forgotten in selling. But the truth is, cold calling is not dead. It's not even dying.

Cold calling still serves a purpose for both sellers and buyers. And, done right, cold calling can benefit sales organizations and buyers tremendously.

Why Is Cold Calling Loathed?

The problem is that cold calling is done poorly more often than it's done well. As inbound and social selling have emerged as options, we could easily sidestep cold calling and still fill our sales days with plenty of productive activity. Having options that work (to a certain extent), leads to these pronouncements that cold calling is dead.

Perhaps a better question would be this: Is cold calling necessary when using an inbound sales approach? The answer is yes. Cold calling still will be necessary at times. Let me explain.

Where Inbound Meets Outbound

The aim of inbound marketing is to get found online and create a path for your buyer's journey from stranger to prospect to lead to buyer. But the aim of every sales organization is to make sales. Inbound strategies will do two things to increase sales. Done right, inbound efforts will draw in potential buyers who have an interest in what you’re selling. And, with inbound support, you can turn cold leads into warm ones.

But what happens when you need more? Do you sit around and wait for someone to discover you online and work their way through the buyer's journey? Not if you're needing to make quota this month! That's a long-term strategy, and sometimes you’ll need to supplement it with more immediate action.

Cold calling can fill those gaps if and when they occur. The balance between inbound and outbound efforts will vary by industry, buyer persona, and other variables.

Inbound and outbound aren't mutually exclusive. I advocate blending the sales approach in a way that makes sense in your industry, company, territory and role. Figuring out where and how you can intersect with likely buyers is an essential first step.

Cold Calling’s Place in Inbound Marketing

In the purist’s view of inbound methodology, cold calling isn't advised. With a mature inbound strategy and plenty of lead flows in your pipeline, your need for cold calling and cold emailing diminishes.

But it takes time to build and execute on an inbound strategy. During this transition time, you can't abandon all your old strategies. Depending on what you sell, cold calling may always be a part of your overall sales approach.

In a perfect inbound world, you will do less cold calling. I know my own company's outbound work has been gradually balanced by more inbound work. But I am not yet able to say that cold calling never works and is dead. Since I still generate business through cold calls and cold emails, why would I abandon these efforts? Getting more from inbound while also making sales through outbound means more new business.

The “Cold Calling Is Dead” Belief Is Hurting the Sales Profession

Sellers who buy into the myth that inbound leads will endlessly flow into their pipeline are sellers who aren’t building critical skills.

One of the greatest benefits I’ve experienced throughout my sales career is the ability to give myself a raise. For 30 years, when I wanted to make more money, I intensified my cold calling to expand the top of the funnel. I’ve always been in control of my own income.

Inbound sellers who don’t have cold calling skills give up that control. If you’re relying on the company’s content to draw in prospects, you’re not in control. If you’re depending on the marketing team’s ability to accurately develop a buyer persona and attract those buyers for you, you’re not in control. And if you plan to have a lucrative sales career but aren’t developing a full range of selling skills, you’re not in control.

When sellers don’t cold call, buyers miss out. Unless they are in exactly the right place at exactly the right time to receive your content and recognize their need, they won’t hear about the products and services you offer. Because I conduct research with B2B buyers, I can say with certainty that buyers DO want to hear from sellers when there’s something of value to be offered.  

What You Can Do to Stay at the Top of Your Game

Learn about and use inbound marketing and inbound sales strategies. They work.

Learn about and use outbound sales strategies, too. They are necessary and will boost your sales. They will put you back in control of your own income.

Notice the first word in the two paragraphs above. Start by learning techniques and skills that will make you a well-rounded sales professional. Follow and learn from inbound experts as well as outbound ones. Don’t limit yourself.

Take the next steps to learn more

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