Cold Calling Advocates: Sincere, But Sincerely Wrong

Amar Sheth
Amar Sheth

cold calling wrongQuick, tell me what’s wrong with this strategy: let’s cut down a rainforest to print a book.

In what seems to be a somewhat popular image floating around LinkedIn, a software company that connects sales professionals with more live people on the phone, is making the rounds.

So what’s the issue?

None at all, except what’s in plain sight. If it takes over 10K calls to get a handful of appointments, what’s the point?

While the ardent advocates of cold calling are great people with great intentions, I challenge their vitriol against using social selling. At no point should a salesperson abandon calling prospects (cold calling, on the other hand, I define as calling someone without conducting even the simplest of research), because there is a time and place for this in the prospecting effort.

However, let’s get real. Are you seriously going to sit there and tell me to not also focus on using social networking via digital tools?

It’s not baffling. It’s bloody murder.

On the one hand, these folks pay lip service to using social. They claim that people should have a LinkedIn profile, and they should reach out to prospects, but that’s about it. The science of social selling is completely lost on them.

This lack of understanding forces their hand; the only thing they can offer us is what they know. Call more. Do more. Practice your pitches more.

And as a result, old-school VPs and leaders who don’t understand social, cling to their words.

Listen to Your Intuition, Not Your Inhibition

prospects become less digitalWill your prospects become less digital? Unless they’re going for a vintage feel, probably not. 

What does your gut tell you about the future of consumers?

Will prospects become more digital, less or stay the same?

Are prospects keen on using social and digital tools in their non-work activities? If so, what’s stopping them from – all of a sudden – bringing this into their work life?

Do you believe that millennials will begin to occupy decision-making positions in the coming decade?

If you have millennials working for you now, do you feel that they want access to digital tools as well, or just the way you’re doing things?

These are all fairly rhetorical questions, I know. But, they have an incredible importance. The failure to go digital can impact you significantly. Yes, you personally.

Even if you are digital, your company’s lack of digital presence/usage/willingness can spell doom. I’m not the only one saying this. Some are outright predicting the demise of companies that don’t move in this way.

The Dialog is Polluted

cold calling sincere but wrongCold calling advocates are lying to themselves. Don’t buy into the hype. 

The challenge isn’t cold calling or social selling, it’s hype.

While the cold calling advocates are sincere in their approach, they’re sincerely wrong in advocating for their approach as the sole correct one. I think it’s a reactionary move, to be honest. As soon as they hear “cold calling is dead,” they feel immediately threatened.

Imagine someone telling you that your entire profession, one where you’ve hung your hat, one where you’ve placed bets, done lots of business, gained popularity in, is in trouble.

My friends, it’s not me just saying this – it should be our collective intuition that predicts this.

The reality is that the world is becoming more digital. I don’t care if you sell boilers or business intelligence software. Facts don’t have feelings.

I hear responses that we should rather ensure that our sales professionals are properly trained on the basics before teaching them social selling. While I see the sincerity in this point, I see the deep danger in it also.

I’m not sure if you agree, but I certainly feel that waiting to drip training on an essential channel – one that’s increasingly gaining steam – isn’t wise. We need to sales professionals to be empowered with everything, not just a few things.

I was speaking to a sales team at a major University yesterday who has had oodles of training. They’re a lethal force, taking the University’s sales from inconsequential to becoming a major revenue contributor.

Despite having this training, they were shocked at the power of social – amazed to learn that social channels could accelerate connection and communication.

The Bottom Line

The dialog needs to change and I hope this message isn’t considered hostile or controversial. Listen, there’s a reason that the outgoing CEO of Cisco, John Chambers, predicted 40% of companies will be dead in 10 years.

He specifically cited their refusal to go digital and embrace the new ways of our customers.

I’ll end with this. Let’s all stop this nonsense about social sellers being anti-phone. Let’s face the facts – less and less people are picking up the phone.

The dangers of withholding social selling from sales professionals are real. The dangers for companies who aren’t adopting a digital strategy are even more so.

It’s time to buckle up. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Your next move? Connect with me – on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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