Cold calling has long been a popular way for businesses to reach out to potential customers, but is it still relevant in the current landscape? Does it differ from telesales? How do sales people feel about cold calling? And how do prospects feel about cold calling?
In 2023, almost everything can be done online. Does this mean we no longer need to utilise the phone?
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How did cold calling start
The earliest form of cold calling was primarily used by door-to-door salespeople who went from house to house trying to sell their products or services, usually without prior knowledge of whether or not anyone living at that house was interested. I still remember it now, it was like a comedy sketch in our house, parents telling us to hide and be quiet when they knocked.
In the 21st century, cold calling has shifted from being door-to-door to primarily over the phone. It is still used by many businesses in the UK today as it provides a direct way of reaching potential customers.
However, cold calling is not without its drawbacks and risks. It can be intrusive and annoying for some prospects, and it often requires a lot of time and resources from the business in order to reach out to potential customers properly. As such, businesses need to weigh the pros and cons of cold calling before pursuing it as a strategy.
What is the Difference Between Cold Calling and Telesales?
Cold calling and telesales are two distinct methods of sales that involve reaching out to potential customers who may not be aware of what you offer. They both involve making contact with people, but the approaches differ in how they target prospects and the results they yield.
When it comes to cold calling, a salesperson directly calls their prospect without prior awareness of the product or service offered. They directly approach their potential customer based on an assumption, requiring more effort and time in the long run. I’m sure some will disagree and suggest that they aren’t making assumptions because they are doing lots of discovery. I firmly believe that cold calls are made because we are trying to take the shortest route to conduct appropriate discovery or, even worse, revenue.
On the other hand, Telesales involves calling people who have already expressed interest in what you offer. It is seen as a much more cost-effective and efficient option than cold calling, as the prospect has already taken a step towards the offer by engaging with content or people within the business.
Based on the conversations I have, I also think that there are a lot of people out there who carry out telesales roles but believe that they are cold-calling.
Advantages of Each Approach
Telesales offers several advantages over cold calling. First, it is much less intrusive, as calls made through this method are limited to those who have already expressed an interest in what is being offered. Second, it can yield better results since the prospects are already familiar with the offer and, therefore, more likely to convert into customers. Finally, telesales are usually much faster and cost-efficient, as they require less effort from the sales team.
Cold calling, on the other hand, can be effective if done correctly. Its main advantage is that it allows businesses to reach a larger audience than telesales. Cold calling also offers more flexibility in terms of targeting prospects since it can be tailored to specific demographics or interests. Finally, it can sometimes be more effective as calls made through this method are usually unexpected and can surprise the prospect, leading them to notice what you’re offering more (it is essential you weigh this up as it isn’t always positive when the surprise factor is gone).
Disadvantages of Each Approach
Telesales also has its disadvantages. It is limited in its reach since it only targets those who have already shown interest in what the business is offering. It can also be time-consuming as salespeople have to go through a list of leads in order to reach out to potential customers.
Cold calling, on the other hand, has its own set of drawbacks. Since it involves reaching out to people who are not familiar with what you offer, it can be seen as intrusive and annoying for some prospects. It is also time-consuming as salespeople have to manually call a large number of contacts in order to reach out to potential customers. Finally, it can lead to many rejections from prospects who are not interested in what you’re offering. If you are selling multiple products or engaging the services of an agency, this can also lead to you burning through contacts and damaging your future chances of success.
How Do School Leaders Feel About Cold Calling
Speaking from the perspective of school leaders, cold calling is not usually welcome. From their point of view, receiving a call out of the blue without any prior knowledge or contact can be intrusive and annoying. It disrupts their workflow and distracts them from more pressing matters at hand. They may also be sceptical about what a salesperson is offering since they do not have any prior knowledge of the product or service being offered.
In addition, cold calls are often seen as a waste of time and resources, especially if it’s done by an inexperienced salesperson who is not well-versed with the school’s unique needs and requirements. This can lead to a lot of frustration for school leaders who feel like they are being taken advantage of or sold something that is not suitable for their school.
63% of sellers say cold calling is the part of their jobs they dislike the most, and personally, I wouldn’t say I like it either. Even when done well, it’s a numbers game and less about the prospect. If you disagree, take a step back and ask why do managers of cold calling teams have tally charts on the wall and why do calling agencies charge for x number of dials.
The best salespeople I come across value the relationship first and foremost. They want to be trusted and care about the next steps, etc. I’m definitely not saying that cold callers are bad people, but by design, their role is about volume, and inevitably, that leads to a drop in quality somewhere, and that somewhere is far too often the relationship (IME)
Is There Still Room for Cold Calling In 2023?
When attempting to answer this question it’s important that I explain I’m entirely bought into calling, speaking to someone is the best way to build a relationship. The phone is and always will be one of, if not the most important tool in a salesperson’s toolkit.
When questioning the value of cold calling, I do so under the premise that there’s a difference between cold calling and telesales. Calling in general and telesales can both be valuable elements of a well though out strategy.
In short, cold calling can still have its place in the sales process in 2023. It is a way to reach out to potential customers who may not be aware of what you offer, and it can be a cost-effective way of reaching out to larger audiences. However, it is important to note that cold calling can be intrusive and annoying when not done correctly. As such, businesses need to weigh the pros and cons of cold calling before pursuing it as a strategy.
Businesses should consider more modern contact methods when exploring strategies for generating conversations. After all, technology has evolved, and more importantly, so have people. Ask yourself this…. Would you want to receive a cold call yourself? I answer them and can genuinely say I have never ended a cold call by saying I’m glad you rang.
This is not a debate we will end in this blog, and ultimately the market will decide the true value of cold calling versus other methods. It is, however worth noting that there’s a generational shift in the workplace with the proportion of employees from Generation Z on the rise and as true digital natives they are born and raised with social media platforms.
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