Is Cold calling still effective in 2022?

TIME TO READ: 6 minutes

Firstly, the only way the phone will ever stop being a means of doing business is if people merge over to the cyber cloud and stop answering phones full stop, permanently ending the capability of one person to reach another person by phone. Nothing is ever dead until it is totally dead from the standpoint of getting people to hear your message, goals, and intent on how to reach them.

Cold calling has been the backbone of sales for many years. And in many ways, it still is. But it’s also no longer what it used to be. It all comes down to the formula used. Unprepared and poorly researched calling should have died out a long time ago.

How can cold calling be aligned with how buyers today prefer to buy?

Obviously, as a salesperson, you need to be able to talk about your product or service on the phone. The thing is: buyers will form their own opinions anyway.

Today’s buyers have a very different set of tools at their disposal compared to just 10 or 20 years ago. There’s an astounding amount of information online and on social networks that they can use to make a purchase decision.

If you’re using the call for a plain product presentation, the prospect will probably feel that the conversation is only meant to win him over and turn him into a new customer as quickly as possible. This means your chances are very high that they won’t be buying anything from you. So instead, you should make your buyer’s life easier and provide immediate value.

Motivate your prospect to ask questions they would have otherwise searched on Google. For example, you can explain how your product(s) or service(s) compare to your competitor’s. Or you can discuss valuable best practices that immediately help your prospect (even without buying your product/service). This way, you give your prospect the feeling that you’re not just about convincing him to buy, and you’ll be able to provide the answers to the questions he is asking himself.

When you’re reaching out to a prospect and potential customer who has had no prior awareness or dealings with you or your business, your first goal must be to find out if they have an actual or potential business issue that you can address. Your key objective is to discover the problem, not sell to your company or your so-called solution. After the call is finished, your prospect needs to believe that you’ve been helpful, that they have learned something valuable, that their time was well spent and that continuing the conversation with you will be to their benefit. If you do that, you will be intrinsically aligned with how buyers today prefer to buy.

Biggest cold calling mistakes

Cold calling first began in the 1800s. Long before the invention of the internet. The biggest mistake companies make when cold calling is making a truly ‘cold’ call with absolutely no information about the prospect.

Today, in 2022, there’s no reason to call someone if you really know nothing about them. Even two minutes spent online can give you some understanding of the main challenges of a particular industry and an insight into the company you’re calling on. This extra bit of information allows you to make a more authentic connection earlier on and build a stronger relationship versus “cold” pitching that is generic.

It’s usually a combination of many mistakes all rolled up that create a terrible experience for the prospect. People still take calls; they just don’t take bad calls…..and most calls are bad calls.

Mistakes are usually combined…for example:

  • Not researching who you are calling. That leads to all kinds of missed details that make a difference.
  • If your prospect has an unusual name, don’t figure out how to say it with them on the other line. A person’s name is important to them, and most people are sensitive to it. Saying it the wrong way is usually a DOA error to make because it shows a lack of caring about the prospect.
  • Not knowing the industry and space the prospect serves and how your offer fits in that.
  • Trying to circumvent the EA or gatekeeper…better to work with them and see how you can engage.
  • Not taking notes on the call. So many times a call was pretty good, but no one wrote it down. So next time the salesperson talks to the prospect, they cover ground that was already discussed, and you can be sure they are annoyed.
  • Spell check your follow up communication. Not taking the time to construct a well written follow up email without spelling mistakes comes across as careless and lazy and diminishes any future discussion.

There are many other things in that first engagement that can increase or decrease the chance of it sticking and building momentum.

Even the term ‘cold call’ isn’t really a good description. A ‘cold call’ can be a great call if the caller puts the work in to make it great. A real cold call is just dialling a number and blathering on, hoping to get the prospect to bite.

Is the cold calling strategy of targeting C-level execs still relevant?

Cold calling C-level execs is still a very relevant channel in 2020. It is definitely an acceptable option if your product/service is used by executives or requires top-level budget approval. However, if your product is a line item in an existing budget, it may not be the best way to go. In that case, deciding which vendor to use is typically up to the department head and not the division head.

There is one other consideration; does your product or service align with the strategic vision of the company you’re targeting? For example, if you sell copiers, there probably isn’t a clear and compelling link to a vision or strategic plan. Photocopiers are related to day-to-day tasks. Therefore, the purchasing decision is unlikely to be made at a high level unless it’s a small organisation or the procurement is high-value and maybe is done via a tender process. For example, a large, company-wide fleet of copiers/printers involving possibly hundreds or more machines.

It can work as long as the people you need to speak to are just a phone call away and you’re strategic about it. The first thing you have to work out is who takes the initial calls? Most likely, it’s a gatekeeper, like an EA or a receptionist. The same applies to emails. Unfortunately, a lot of people get the use of cold calling wrong. You shouldn’t be cold calling because you think it’s the only way to set appointments — it’s simply just one more touchpoint.

Many companies have decided to do away with cold-calling and telemarketing efforts altogether. Or at least they have reduced their reliance on it as a lead generation strategy because fewer and fewer people are actually answering. But they don’t realise the positive consequences a phone call can have. Say you called twice and left two voicemails. The executive probably realises you’re not going away. The chances they call you back are slim, but they may text or email you. However, these calls and messages still played into their response. Cold calling can still be effective when built into an omnichannel approach.

Yes, cold calling can also work for businesses that sell high-value products or services. But it is vital to do the up-front work and turn the cold call into a warm one. Before you actually call, you need to take the time to find out who this person is. What do they do? Learn about their region, local economy and the impact their business may have on it. Also, learn about their competitors and keep fine-tuning as you go along.

There is nothing worse than calling a major prospect and you don’t even know who they are, their job title, what their business does, where all their offices are etc. Therefore, it is essential to be educated about your target prospect. As a potential partner, make sure you’re seen as someone who cares about what you’re doing and has the skills and knowledge to do your job. You’re no longer just a phone dialer. You are your company’s first line of communication, PR, and marketing, hopefully spreading a solid and consistent message to the industry.

Verdict: Cold calling is still alive in 2022

The days of cold calling being your ONLY strategy to get leads (because it’s just a number’s game, right?) have long passed. However, cold calling will likely not disappear as a sales strategy anytime soon. To make it work, organisations need to be strategic about how it fits into their overall demand generation strategy.

The success rate of getting clients through cold calling alone is somewhere between 1-3%. This of course differs from industry to industry, depending on the quality of your data and the skill of your salespeople, but generally speaking, that’s the average return. But combine this with a multi-channel approach, including a strong digital strategy, practising your skills and staying informed on who your buyers are, how they tend to buy, and how you can best solve their problems; it can still be an effective way to connect with prospects.

Of course, suppose your cold calling activities are just not achieving your business’s expected results & requirements in lead generation. In that case, Leads2Sales may be your answer to a better and more consistent flow of quality B2B leads.

Start here to let Leads2Sales help you grow your sales pipeline today!