If you’ve ever been on the receiving end of a cold sales call you didn’t want, you’ve likely wondered how this strategy could ever be effective. After all, cold calling necessarily reaches out to people who haven’t engaged with the brand or haven’t shown interest in a specific service in the past. It also tends to alienate people, who might not want to be bothered with a conversation during a busy workday or at home, during hours when they’re trying to relax.
But with 55 percent of companies using cold calling in some way, there must be some reason why this strategy is still alive. So can cold calling ever truly be effective?
An Integrated Approach
In one interview with Jeff Winters, CEO of Sapper Consulting, Winters explains that cold calling is most effective when it’s part of an integrated approach. He says, “Cold calling can work, but it’s not the most effective means to get the best meetings. The best strategy to get meetings is to use an integrated approach: phone calls, emails, LinkedIn, Twitter. An integrated approach gets the most meetings.”
This integrated approach naturally compensates for some of cold calling’s inherent weaknesses. There are some people who prefer other methods of communication to phone calls; this approach allows you to reach them. There are some cases where a cold call could work, but the timing is off; a follow-up via email or social media can bridge this gap. Most importantly, the integrated approach allows you to still get the benefits of the small percentage of people who respond well to this marketing tactic—without sacrificing your other demographics.
When “Cold” Isn’t Cold
You can also modify your strategy slightly to make your “cold” calls a little warmer. Warm, qualified leads are prospects who have expressed some interest in your brand, your products, or your services or are people you’ve successfully contacted in the past.
It doesn’t take much to take a cold lead and warm them up a little bit. You could start by using a more thorough process to obtain your prospects’ information, collecting it with a targeted landing page rather than buying a semi-random list. You could also do a screener round of cold calling, collecting more information on people before you make a full pitch.
The Power of Persistence
In a HubSpot article gathering research from other independent sources, writer Steven Macdonald says, “30% of leads never receive a follow-up call after initial contact. However, the same survey found salespeople have a 90% success rate in making contact with their lead on the sixth call. That means by making a few more call attempts, sales reps can achieve a 70% growth in contact rates. Sound like something you’re interested in? Don’t give up too soon.”
The takeaway here is clear: cold calling is much more effective when you make several calls. You’ll increase the chances that your prospect will be available, and you may be able to increase brand awareness, which can increase your prospects’ likelihood of buying.
Cold Calling vs. Cold Emailing
Instead of cold calling, or in addition to it, you can try “cold emailing.” These two strategies are highly similar, and may even be feasibly used with the same list of prospects. However, cold email gives you a handful of distinct advantages. For starters, your prospects will have more timing flexibility; you won’t have to worry about catching a prospect at the perfect moment, nor is there any pressure to respond immediately. You’ll also get much more detailed information, such as open rates, which you can then use to analyze your performance and make better campaigns in the future.
The power of cold calling and cold emailing tend to increase when these strategies are used in conjunction with one another; reaching out through two complementary channels can increase your total brand visibility and awareness, and ensure you get the best cross-section of people who might be interested in your brand.
The Bottom Line
Cold calling isn’t the sexiest strategy, but it doesn’t deserve to be written off. More than half of companies still use cold calling in their sales and marketing processes, and if they implement it properly, they can see a positive return on investment (ROI) from it.
These days, cold calling is best used when it’s modified (to “warm up” its intended leads) or when paired with a complementary strategy (like email or social media). As long as you’re paying attention to your close ratios and are actively improving your implementation, you can greatly increase your chances of success.