Monday, December 11

Business Development 101: Is Cold Calling Dead?

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Cold calling as a sales tactic has been around for years. In days gone by, it was a successful strategy—more successful than sitting in your office and waiting for customers to magically appear, at least. Unfortunately, the majority of businesses haven’t seemed to notice that as a sales tactic, cold calling is certifiably dead.

If cold calling is dead, why are so many businesses still using it? The answer lies in the sad truism, “If it ain’t dead, don’t fix it.” After all, salespeople reason, if cold calling has worked in the past, and if it still gets some results, why stop using it? As recently as March 2007, one Xerox salesman admitted that he made 55 cold calls a day (30 in person and 25 over the phone). “I’ve had some great success cold calling. We stick to a system, and the system works,” said the salesman, as quoted by the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. “If I keep my targets the way I would like to, I see one sale a week.”

Only one sale a week! What a waste of energy. Cold calling has such a high rate of failed attempts that salespeople are forced to set ridiculously low goals. Compare the Xerox salesman’s numbers with those of one entrepreneur who uses article marketing as a primary source of income: “I write about 100 articles per week for each new product I’m promoting. Each article takes me about 15 minutes to write, and I pay someone a dollar to submit them for me. Each article on average generates one sale.”

Cold calling is even less successful now than it used to be: the CEO of one 65-year old company says that sales from cold calling have shown a marked decline over the past two decades. Reasons for the increased failure rate of cold calling include:

  • People are hardened to the approach. A stranger approaching with a smile and an outstretched palm no longer has the charm of novelty.
  • People are busier than ever. Nobody has time to spare on a long sales spiel. Cold calls are not only intrusive, but usually badly-timed.
  • People are favoring other methods. Cold calling no longer fills a need. People in the market for a product or service have better alternatives for finding it.

Here are some of the most popular and effective alternatives to cold calling:

  • LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networks.

  • Targeted emails to an opt-in email list.

  • Blogging.
  • Article marketing on platforms like EzineArticles, InfoBarrel, etc.

  • Twitter.

  • Google AdSense.

All of the alternatives include one key to success that cold calling lacks: they target a specific audience. Because of this targeted approach, the rate of success is much higher, which means the salesperson can make more sales while expending less energy and time. In addition, their customers are more likely to be satisfied with their purchase.

If your eyes glazed over as you read the above list of alternatives, or you thought, “Oh, I wouldn’t know where to begin!” you need to get a firm grip on reality. Cold calling is dead. It will never come back. The new technologies for targeted selling are easy to learn and implement. Fear of stepping out of your comfort zone is the only thing holding you back.

However, if you really have no desire to master new sales skills, just pay a seasoned Internet marketer to develop and maintain sales campaigns for you. It’s worth the money to hire someone who knows what they’re doing—like cold calling, modern sales technologies have clear right and wrong approaches. If done well, you will save time, money and energy. More importantly, the results will be so much more effective than cold calling that you will wonder why it took you so long to join the 21st century.


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