Anthony Iannarino | The Sales Blog

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Breaking the Argument Against the Cold Call by Examining Other Mediums

Breaking the Argument Against the Cold Call by Examining Other Mediums

The Gist:

  • Those who believe the cold call should be eliminated often have a set of complaints.
  • These complaints are inconsistence when compared to the alternatives: LinkedIN and email.
  • When mediums other than the cold call are subject to these same criticisms, the arguments often fall apart, proving the cold call as the higher yielding medium.

Were you to eavesdrop on those who believe that the cold call should be eliminated as a choice for scheduling a meeting with your dream clients, you would hear a number of complaints and criticism. Their complaints and their criticism display their incredibly poor thinking and a staggering display of inconsistency. What they are guilty of is something called a performative contradiction, doing exactly what they tell you that you shouldn’t do.

It’s time that we take a look at the criticisms of the cold call and its asynchronous medium: the telephone. We’ll then use these same complaints to see how the other mediums, the ones that they recommend as replacements, hold up to the same scrutiny.

Asynchronous mediums

Complaint Number One: No Permission

The definition of a cold call is that it is not expected. You are very literally interrupting the individual without permission. The reason for your call is because you believe that your prospective client will be able to improve their results by doing something different from what they are doing now.

Complaint Number Two: Not Targeted

I am certain I take more cold calls than you do. It’s a professional courtesy, as well as a way to keep in touch with what salesperson are taught and trained to say when asking for a meeting. There is no research better than field research.

There is little evidence for a lack of targeting. Very few B2B sales organizations are willing to deploy their sales force to call people who don’t buy or won’t benefit from what they sell. Human beings are expensive resources. That said, I am certain there are groups who treat prospecting more like a telemarketing company.

Complaint Number Three: Low Yield

Every time you see statistics about the efficacy of cold calling, you will see the reported number represented as exactly two percent. This is how you know that it isn’t true. But you can also confirm that it is not true is by asking a few simple questions. Is it two percent that say yes to a meeting? Is it two percent that result in a won deal?

Different people and different companies produce different results, based on a number of different factors. But for our purposes here, let’s assume that a small percentage of people agree to a meeting and some number of those become clients.

I’ve already written my defense of the cold call, so there is no reason to spill ink repeating my arguments. Instead, let’s start with a challenge: applying these same ideas to email and LinkedIn, the two mediums recommended in place of the cold call.

Before You Accuse Me, Take a Look at Yourself

Those who would have you eliminate the cold call would recommend you replace it with email and LinkedIn. Having already established their complaints and criticism, let’s apply the same criteria to both of the mediums they propose as replacements.

Complaint One: No Permission

The fact that you have my email address does not give you any more permission to email me than it does to call me if you have my phone number. As such, email fails the very test from those who would have you remove the cold call from your outreach. Some of us feel better about receiving a cold call than the avalanche of spam that pours into our inbox every day.

How does LinkedIn hold up under the same scrutiny after invites and InMails have been automated? Having the ability to InMail people is not the same as having the permission to reach them in their LinkedIn messages. Both of these mediums fail the “permission” challenge.

Complaint Number Two: Not Targeted

It’s embarrassing that anyone who recommends email and LinkedIn as replacements for a phone call does so because they believe that B2B sales organizations are dialing for dollars. It’s the ultimate in performative contradictions.

There is little evidence that email provides any real targeting, unless you believe the idea that any email address that ends in “.com” is a target. One of the reasons that companies use email is because that is cheap—and because it can be fully-automated. If you had to pay $1.00 per email, your spam filters would take a long vacation. At $2.00 per email, you wouldn’t need spam filters at all.

Oh, Linkedin. The automation that allows people to scrape contacts never ceases to surprise, one that often contains offers from people who are in your industry, including your direct competitors. Like email, the idea of targeting is something like, “has a pulse” and a profile.

Both mediums fail the targeting complaint and make those who use the phone look like they using a laser made for pinpoint accuracy.

Complaint Number Three: Low Yield

Since we don’t have any data on the yield from email or InMail, we’re going to have to go on our own experience.

In the last week, how many emails showed up in your inbox that were designed to sell you something, even if that something was a reply or a meeting? How many of those emails did you respond to, and how many senders were thrilled (and, no doubt, surprised) by your response?

In that same period, how many InMail pitches caused you to click the poor, lonely Calendly link to schedule a meeting with the sender? The fact that you come with a goose egg here means that your sender likely ended up with a goose egg of their own.

Just like the cold call, some people use these mediums better than others. There are people who put LinkedIn to good use, and some do well with email. On the whole, they are both low yield because prospecting is generally low yield, and high value for B2B sales organizations.

Those who espouse to hold the moral high ground by providing a set of values to be followed would do well to follow that same set of values. Before you accuse me, take a look at yourself.

Do Good Work

  • Identify of how often you receive LinkedIn or email that provides little or no value, one that has poor targeting.
  • Recognize the fallacies in the arguments against the cold call.
  • Ignore those who would offer alternative mediums, effectively lowering your prospecting ability.

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