Does cold calling work? The question gets asked time and again, which isn’t really a surprise. Cold calling is one of those sales techniques that seems easy to approach on the surface—pick up a phone and call—but requires a lot of effort to yield results.
And even then, the regular rejection involved can be discouraging. The evolution of communication methods can make phone calls seem old-fashioned, if not outright backwards. But simply put, it would be outright wrong to say that cold calling is dead.
Cold calls remain a great way to take initiative and create sales opportunities. There are just a few things to keep in mind while doing it: maintaining control, knowing your purpose, and knowing your audience.
With these in mind, you’ll find that cold calls can be an effective—indeed, essential—part of your sales funnel. Let’s dive deeper into the debate on the topic, “Is cold calling dead?” to understand its impact on sales.
- Cold calling refers to calls made to a person whom your business has not previously interacted with—but that doesn’t mean finding common ground with prospects isn’t important.
- The majority of buyers are open to receiving cold calls, especially early in the solution-seeking process. Phone calls remain an important part of people’s preferred communication methods.
- Three things to keep in mind when making cold calls: build your phone number lists with care, make a script and refine it, and incorporate it into a broader omnichannel approach.
What Does Cold Calling Mean?
Before we discuss the question “Is cold calling dead?” further, let’s break down cold calling first.
A cold call is a call made to a person whom your business has not previously interacted with. While the term might once have involved “calling upon” someone face-to-face, it’s now widely understood to refer to phone calls.
While cold call recipients aren’t existing contacts, that doesn’t mean they’re chosen at random, or that you don’t need to know anything about them. Given the prevalence and efficacy of current-day spam filters, it’s important to choose your cold-call prospects carefully.
A point of connection—whether it’s mutual contacts, common interests, or geographical proximity—can vastly improve your chances of success. (Or, at least, they can minimize your chances of being flagged as spam.) But more on that later on.
For now, you’re probably wondering whether cold calling is worth all that effort and potential discouragement to begin with.
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How Effective is Cold Calling? A Look at the Data
Few cold calls will result in a sale. Compared to other approaches, in fact, the typical business’ cold calling success rate can seem quite dismal.
And yet data from the Rain Group shows that 82% of buyers are receptive to cold calls from virtual sales assistants; however, few of those calls will result in a sale. That’s because most of these prospects don’t buy until after three or more calls. These sales still trace back to cold calls but by then, of course, they involve warm calls and, probably, communication through other channels as well.
This brings us to the second noteworthy statistic: the vast majority of B2B buyers prefer to interact using multiple methods, including calls (McKinsey). These include:
- Traditional methods (face-to-face, direct mail, etc.)
- Remote ones (including phone and video calls, as well as email)
- Virtual self-service
Both studies; however, noted that human interaction—such as you’d get through a call—was more important and preferable the earlier in the buying process the recipient is.
It’s also worth noting that cold calls are generally seen as more viable among B2B sales funnels, rather than B2C ones.
Of course, general statistics may not apply directly to your business. You’ll need to study your niche to understand which methods to employ, and when. While it’s extra effort, this could earn some goodwill from your users—McKinsey found only about 1 in 10 buyers had been asked about their preferences.
Cold Calling Best Practices to Make it Work
Perhaps the answer to the question, “Is cold calling dead?” lies in how effective your strategy in it is. To get the most out of your cold calls, it’s important to prepare for them thoroughly. Here are a few steps you should take to maximize the results of your B2B cold calling efforts:
Get Phone Numbers the Right Way
One major hurdle is figuring out how to get numbers for cold calling in the first place.
It may be tempting to buy phone number lists or get them secondhand, but calling the wrong people is a good way to waste your time and potentially get flagged as a spam caller.
It’s much better to find phone numbers through reputable sources, such as B2B databases or public directories. You could even offload the task of compiling a list to a freelancer or outsourced agency.
Here are some good sources to comb through:
Anyone listing their number on social media is likely to be receptive to calls made at the right time, with the right approach. Remember to look for people who’ll be in a position to decide on a deal or, at least, influence decision-makers toward considering your company. This includes managers and directors, c-suite executives, or SME owners.
In addition to social networks, consider looking for online resumes or portfolios as well.
Referrals from peers or clients are a great way to collect numbers. While it’s not as fast as other methods, having a common touchpoint gives any potential call a much stronger opening.
You can use a referral program, social media, or a newsletter to solicit numbers from a broad audience more efficiently.
B2B databases automate the process of searching publicly available information, saving you time in doing so. (This also means they’re not as intrusive as lists ‘bought’ off other businesses). These databases are often packaged with database management and prospecting tools, rendering them worthwhile investments.
Have a Cold Calling Script Ready
There are a few reasons why you should have a script prepared for cold calls.
First, it makes things easier. Cold calling is a numbers game—your team will be fielding a lot of calls. A cold calling script or template you can build on saves time and energy.
Second, it helps you analyze and improve your sales call process. By deliberately changing and retaining certain elements of your script, you can narrow down what works and what doesn’t.
Finally, it can help you ensure you get the most important information out there in the first few seconds. This is vital for cold calls, as even a slight delay can result in a lost lead.
What Makes for a Good Cold Calling Script?
It should include a good introduction: give your name, your business’s name, and why you’re calling. Where you go from there may depend on what sort of prospects you’re reaching out to.
If you don’t have a lot of info on your prospects, it’s reasonable to lead with your services. Choose one particular selling point to open with. This selling point should be consistent with what you know about the specific segment or vertical the recipient belongs to.
You’ll get more mileage by showing you know their business and focusing on how you’re relevant to solving problems they likely face.
On the other hand, if you do have more details to go on, you can build on your connection with that prospect. This holds especially true of referrals. The recommendation of a mutual connection can earn you a few vital seconds, or a more accommodating attitude.
Finally, keep in mind that the vast majority of cold calls won’t lead to a deal then and there. Make sure your script is designed to facilitate that next point of contact, rather than pinning it all on a sale or bust.
Use It Alongside Other Sales Methods
Cold calling is great at generating opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise have, and for taking initiative in broadening your reach. But it still is, as many have noted, more intrusive than many alternatives and also very much subject to circumstances beyond your control.
If you rely entirely on cold calls, you may find your lists exhausted early (which could lead to sourcing new lists of dubious quality) and your sales development representative burned out from rejection. (It’s a natural, human response.)
You may find that it produces unreliable peaks and troughs—again, because much of its success depends on external factors. Instead, here are some things to consider:
- Spend a bit of time on it each day or week
Most businesses find that people are more receptive to cold calls on certain days or at certain hours. If you’ve identified your sweet spot, focus on that, while minimizing cold calls at other times.
- Let your lists set the pace
Cold calls are best undertaken when you have a reasonably promising set of prospects. If you find yourself without a reputable list of numbers, there’s no need to force the matter. Spend some time researching a new list and resume calls when it’s ready.
- Consider cold calling services
A cold call is an easily repeatable process, which lends itself to outsourcing or delegation. Part-time freelancers or outsourced cold calling services can handle initial contact, setting up later opportunities for your in-house reps to focus on.
- Use automated cold calling systems
While they won’t do the whole call for you, prospecting software, progressive dialers, and similar tools can streamline the process, saving SDRs time and energy.
So, Does Cold Calling Really Work?
Recent data shows that cold calling remains a viable method for gathering leads and making sales. That said, its current niche is a part of a broader omnichannel approach.
It’s important to be deliberate about cold calls and thorough in researching their viability. Depending on your industry or niche, you may be better off simply investing in cold calling alternatives to handle the remote channel parts of your sales process.
The proliferation of automation tools and on-demand work like telemarketing outsourcing makes cold calling quite accessible. You can easily outsource B2B or B2C cold calling services, minimizing the resources you spend on them.
Is cold calling still effective? Broadly speaking, yes. It won’t be going anywhere soon. But to make it work for your business, you’ll need to find what works for you—and remember that getting a few dropped calls is all part of the process.
Add Magic to Your Cold Calling Success Rate
There will always be a debate on the topic “Is cold calling dead?” and it’s up to you how to make it work. That said, you can get outsourced cold calling services to make the process more streamlined at a low cost.
Whether it’s cold calling real estate or email lead generation for your startup, Magic can help boost your sales effort. Our remote workforce can handle different tasks in your sales process such as B2B lead generation and appointment setting.
Grow and scale your business as you see fit with Magic. Focus on what matters most and book a call now to know how we can help.
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