Cold Calling Isn't Dead. Not Even Close.

May 16, 2017 by Bill Golder

how to increase revenue

I’ve seen and read the same blogs and articles that you have read about cold calling. It's a dead sales discipline, doesn't work, RIP.

There are even a number of statistics to back up the demise of the dreaded cold call:

  • Only 2% of cold calls lead to appointments (Leap Job 8)
  • Salespeople who dial 8 calls/hour and prospect for 6.25 hours will set one appointment. (Ovation Sales Group)
  • Buyers want to connect with Sales during the consideration stage, not the awareness stage. (Sales Hub)

Despite all the proclamations and statistics that suggest cold calling isn’t effective, I say otherwise.

At Slingshot, we are working with clients who are yielding meaningful first conversations that lead to meetings and culminate to real revenue due to effective cold calling tactics.

So why all the proclamations about the death of the cold call?

The biggest culprit is tied to the marketing technology firms who claim marketing can educate, inform and nurture suspects into leads for the sales team much more efficiently.

Additionally, industry research firms who claim no one wants to talk to a salesperson early in their buying journey has piled onto the notion that cold calling is dead.

I am a big believer in the power of marketing automation and how it can supplement the tactics to create qualified conversations for the sales team.

However, we are observing that companies with the healthiest pipelines have not abandoned the importance of sales-generated appointments via cold calling.

Modern selling organizations that are winning are still cold calling. They are just way smarter in how they get it done than their competitors.

Here are five keys to modernize your cold calling efforts:

1.) Get smart about your ideal customer

Cold calling is no longer about canvassing or door knocking aimlessly in a territory. Prioritize which companies are the best fit.

We spend a lot of time helping our clients define their sweet spot customers by more than pure demographics. We look at additional key business triggers or dynamics that make certain companies more ideal prospects than others.

For more information on how to define your sweet spot customers, check out this tool.

2.) Leverage technology

There’s been so much written about how the buyers are in control now due to technology’s role in providing unlimited information access, but guess what?

The same is true for the sales professional.

The most effective cold callers are leveraging Google, LinkedIn, market intelligence tools like InsideView and the hundreds of sales enablement software tools available today to research the people they are calling.

It’s much easier today to find the exact contacts to contact, and much easier to get some insights on both companies and individuals so that your cold calls are actually much warmer.

3.) Leverage existing relationships

We are more connected than ever before thanks to technology like Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Existing customers and other professionals you are connected to should be a primary source for referrals and introductions.

Spend time with those you know well to help you gain introductions to sweet spot prospects. Our highly connected world has us typically only a relationship removed from an introduction to a sweet spot contact.

4.) Commit to the calls

It’s still a numbers game. The tools we have to help make cold calling more strategic and targeted doesn’t change the fact that you have to make the calls.

Any successful business developer will tell you that despite how much smarter they are with their efforts, they still know it’s a numbers game.

If you know it takes 10 calls to get one appointment and you need to get two appointments a day, then you have to make 100 calls this week to get 10 appointments next week.

Set a recurring appointment on your calendar to make the calls. Be sure to treat that appointment as important as any other commitment on your calendar.

Don't wait until you feel like doing it. Schedule it.

Get used to the rejection, and train your brain to make it fun.

I recently heard Jeffery Gittomer, coined the King of Sales by many, share how he has fun with cold calls. 

In his mind, everyone was one step closer to a "yes." He would even joke with those contacts who said "no."

He would tell them that he typically gets a "yes" about every 7th call and then he'd thank them for getting him closer to the "yes."

Sometimes, the levity would open up the conversation and turn into a real sales opportunity.

5.) Speak to the pain you solve, not the products you SELL

Improve your conversion rate by leveraging what you know about your current customers and the research you’ve done identifying your sweet spot customer.

What pain points does your product or solution solve? Are there 3 – 5 key business problems your firm typically solves for your sweet spot customers?

Hone your introduction into a clear message about the problems you solve, not what you do.

If you’ve done some research in advance and know there’s some evidence one or more of the pain points exist, then be more specific to those likely issues.

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Photo Credit: Shutterstock

About the Author

Bill Golder

Sales growth consultant with decades of small and large enterprise experience. Former CSO for Miller Heiman and Bulldog Solutions.


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