alt text image of a telephone

The Last Word On Cold Calling Versus Social Media

I believe in social selling. I believe that the tool kit that is social media has made the world much smaller, has given us an easier way to learn about our clients, and has provided a much easier way to both connect and nurture relationships.

I have won major accounts with relationships that were begun on social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter, and this blog. Social media and inbound marketing are helpful and sometimes effective tools.

But it is criminal negligence to suggest to salespeople that they no longer need to make cold calls (or pick up the telephone).

It’s easy to recommend that salespeople not pick up the phone when you don’t carry a bag. It’s easy to tell salespeople not to make cold calls when you don’t have a quota. It’s easy to tell salespople that the old ways of selling have died when your business model allows you to acquire clients more easily through social media and your blog.

If what you sell is designed to help salespeople better use social, it’s easy to sell the idea that they will no longer have to make their calls. But it is criminal negligence. You’re hurting people.

Would you take your own advice if you were that salesperson or their manager. Would you abandon the phone if your family was counting on you to support them? Would you stick with social media alone if you didn’t have a blog–or were forbidden to keep one? If you were a sales manager, would you stake your job on a prospecting plan that included social selling and inbound alone when opportunity creation is one of the biggest challenges any sales organization faces?

If the only way you can sell something is by convincing people that they can have the results they need without having to do what is necessary, you aren’t helping people. You’re selling snake oil. An honest approach would be to tell salespeople the truth, namely that they need to be able to use all prospecting methods available, including social selling. Not to use social media to prospect would also be criminal negligence.

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  • Mike Kunkle

    I doubt this is the final word on this topic, Ant, but it should be… *for awhile at least.* Thanks for stepping up to say it.

    For me, balance beats evangelism in this case (and perhaps most cases).

    With some people, I get the sense that the “cold call debate” is simply semantics and trying to make a point… meaning, warm up the calls with introductions or social approaches and methods.

    Others seem to really think that phone prospecting and cold calling really are dead, and that selling is simply connecting, helping, pay it forward, give to get, etc. That sounds great until you miss your number.

    Things ARE changing… content management, marketing automation, lead gen, predictive analytics, other big data stuff, inside sales growth, the connected/social sphere, and the way buyers buy… all are driving change and require some shifts now and more over time. In 5-10 years, I predict that things will be VERY different than they are today. Sales pros need to start to understand where things are going and prepare. But that does not mean we forsake what still works TODAY, right here, right now, and use all the of the tools in the Sales Utility Belt. Hats off to you, for saying it straight up.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Little bit of a rant, but then, you’re never offended by rant, are you, brother?

      • Mike Kunkle

        Me? LOL, never. I *love* a good rant.

    • Kevin

      I fall into the ever ambiguous camp of “it depends”. It depends on what you sell and who you sell it to. Use the tool that fits the product/service/prospect. Sometimes that’s a highly informed “warm call”, sometimes it’s a direct mail piece and other times it means just SHOWING UP on their doorstep, unannounced, and asking for a meeting.

      Sales prospecting success is becoming much more about being curious, creative and resourceful, and less about how many dials you can make in a day. I just got a note today from an ISR on my team that created a new twitter search that he then combined with some cold calls and already got a few highly qualified appointments. He’s a professional, and sales professionals will always use every tool they have, in every way possible, to find the next deal.

      Ok… to the headline of “COLD CALLING” – here’s what I’ve found…execs that have no idea about the changes in the B2B world default to “get everyone making cold calls and leads will come”. I think that’s even more dangerous than saying “never call – social selling rules the day”. Understand your buyer, engage accordingly.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      Thank you, brother!

  • Matt Heinz

    It’s not that different than the inbound/outbound marketing conversation. I’m a huge proponent of inbound marketing, but if you rely on that alone you lose control of creating a consistent, repeatable and high-quality pipeline. It’s not inbound or outbound. It’s allbound. Social selling is no different. Great set of tools & strategies, but you have to balance it with other focus areas (including cold calling) to be consistently successful.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I love “allbound,” Matt! Did you just coin that term?

      • Matt Heinz

        No, first heard it from an Atlanta entrepreneur, Alan Nance, but I love it!

  • sketharaman

    Just the line “Would you abandon the phone if your family was counting on you to support them?” would make your blog post the last word. But, never one for letting go of such final moments, here’s what we keep telling our customers: “The efficacy of outbound has dropped from 100 to 70 and that of inbound has risen from 0 to 10″. The drop no longer sounds so lethal or the rise, so earth-shattering. At this point, most sales leaders stop thinking that cold calling is dead. That said, it’s another matter to get their inside sales teams to pick up the phone and place the call.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      I wish I could hit the like button on this comment 42 times.

      • sketharaman

        Et tu Douglas Adams fan?

  • Mike Weinberg

    Thank you for laying it on the line. The answer is “yes.” Yes to inbound, yes to social and yes to traditional prospecting that includes making proactive telephone calls to strategic target prospects. Period. If anyone wants to argue, I am happy to point them to any number of companies (including my own clients) who are thriving using the telephone – either to sell or to secure face-to-face discovery meetings.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      The answer is “yes!” You and I have the same experience.

  • Ron S LaVine

    Cold calling is very effective, targeted way to educate a specific decision-maker about current or future challenges and new technologies they maybe unaware of.

  • Dialing for Dollars

    This is a very valuable article and candid commentary. Especially for a gal whose job is to cold call and sell socially. Sadly, I have found that there are plenty of people who preach social selling, yet when approached as a prospect, they go silent and therefore the situation necessitates a cold call.

  • Tiffani Bova

    sales reps need to find what works best for them, but this is not a one size fits all business. managers have to let sellers find their own rhythm and that may be a combination of social and tele – it might be only face to face – it might be via tools like Eloqua. either way, i believe in balance, but the skills of a seller has a much greater impact in the likelihood of success then just using ‘social’ as a way to sell

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  • trishbertuzzi

    It is the “cold” that is dead not the “calling”.

    • S. Anthony Iannarino

      How do I get the last word if you people keep chiming in? Thanks, Trish!

      • trishbertuzzi

        You are a man.. you should be used to not getting the last word. :)

      • S. Anthony Iannarino

        Truer words have never been spoken. I have twin daughters.

  • Amar Sheth

    Completely agree – Trish Bertuzzi loves to remind me that it’s the “cold” that’s dead in cold calling. And as Jill Rowley says it here, social selling is just another tool in the sales tool belt. Great content as always!

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