Cold Calling is Far From Dead

Type “cold calling is dead” into a basic Google search and you receive over 50,000,000 search results. Many of which are provocative thought pieces around the shift in buying behavior and how technology has made the cold call obsolete.

I agree that cold calling has forever changed, but it certainly is NOT dead.

Even in today’s fast-paced digital environment, inside sales teams still maintain their core function – pushing leads through the pipeline.

It’s true that inside sales reps no longer “smile and dial”. Those days are long gone. We now operate in the era of digital engagement and customer analytics, an environment where customer expectations have changed around the level of intelligence a sales person brings to the conversation.

The reality for sales teams, however, is that implementing sales and marketing technologies is no longer just IT or marketing’s problem to solve. Sales teams are beginning to recognize this and are embracing Digital Sales Coverage as a means to accelerate pipeline velocity and make better use of SG&A funds. You can find an overview of Digital Sales Coverage in this previous post.

The Shift from “Smile and Dial” to Digital Sales Coverage.
Here are the four steps that an inside sales team can take in order to stop chasing bad leads within a dated inside sales model.
Side note – these four steps can also apply to direct selling teams.

1. Establish prescriptive call lists that identify accounts and targets which are worth sales time RIGHT NOW.

We believe that the average inside sales team can reduce their dialing lists by 15% or more. That is not to say that inside sales teams necessarily need to be 15% smaller, but it is to say that your reps are wasting significant amounts of time by chasing bad leads and accounts. A good predictive model should prioritize call lists by looking at specific types of data in one comprehensive view of the customer – demographics/firmographics, transactional and behavioral data, and digital footprint data.

2. Build dynamic lead scoring models that manage lead quality.

Lead scoring has been covered in detail by every expert out there, so I will be brief. The two common items often overlooked within a lead scoring program are lead recycling and consistent innovation. Selling teams need mechanisms to recycle the leads that are thrown back to nurture pools, and need to constantly adjust the scoring system to align with changing customer behaviors.

3. Build the digital infrastructure to support a new customer coverage model

When a lead is handed to inside sales by marketing, the sales rep often has no idea how that lead became marketing qualified. If a lead enters the call list of an inside sales rep (ISR), does it do so automatically? Can the ISR easily understand how it became a lead? Does the ISR know how to tailor the message to the lead based on their recent behaviors? Does the ISR have the ability to quickly recycle the lead if required? The technology exists to enable this entire process, you just have to properly piece it together.

4. Focus on the content required to feed the beast.

Many companies have turn to content marketing to generate leads. In their haste, they have severely overlooked setting the right strategy. It is of critical importance that this content is both persona-specific and influential across various stages of the buying cycle. We see few companies doing this well. Content marketing is not about thought leadership alone. It needs a sales focus.

The “New” Version of Cold Calling

I was twenty years old when I made my first cold call. The only piece of modern technology on my desk was a hardline telephone.

Outside of that I had four other pieces of equipment –

  1. One pen
  2. One piece of paper, numbered 1 through 100
  3. One “shoebox” of 3×5 paper leads
  4. One waste basket

I used the pen to cross off 1- 100 for every dial I made and threw the garbage leads in the waste basket. I started with #1 at roughly 7:00am and ended with #100 at 7:30pm. I could catch the 7:47 train if I was succinct in telling my manager how many leads I found that day.

That version of cold calling is certainly dead.

I was finding leads the hard way, whereas today’s inside sales teams are qualifying leads by serving as the human buffer between marketing and sales technologies, such as marketing automation and the CRM.

Today, our inside sales teams are smarter about who to dial, when to dial, why to dial, and what to say. These teams are also honest, however, in saying that they have a long way to go before creating an optimal coverage model suitable for today’s customer-led buying process.

Yet, today’s inside sales reps still have to pick up the phone, introduce themselves and offer a unique proposition in a matter of seconds, and manage objections in real time.

Call me crazy, but isn’t that still a cold call?

To learn more about Digital Sales Coverage, listen to our webinar on “How to Improve Sales Productivity in 5 Steps”.