Yes, You Still Have to Cold Call! (or, why salespeople who can’t cold call have skinny children)

Recently, I received an email link to author Frank Rumbauskus’ website. He believes that you can be successful in sales without cold calling. Frank harnesses the power of the Internet to sell his books, even getting his first book on the New York Times bestseller list. However, I am afraid that marketing is always most powerful when it sells a dream and a vision that something valuable can be gained without effort. Like diets that promise weight loss without a reduction in calories and exercise, this is snake oil.

Listen carefully, if you want to be a professional salesperson, no method of prospecting should be removed from your arsenal–least of all cold calling. Kirk Barton , a purchaser of these books, posted his congratulations to Mr. Rumbauskus for his latest book winning an award, and he posted it on Mr. Rumbauskus’ own website. It reads in part:

Now don’t get me wrong the book is GREAT, lots of good info. Its a
great additional to my purchase of ‘Cold Calling’ a few years ago. The
problem I had with Cold Calling and now Selling Sucks is a couple of

What does a guy do who is just getting started? The ideas are great
for someone with a business budget of several hundred to begin with.
During the use of the Cold Calling manual the flyer idea fell flat. I
figured my 3 days of deliveries must have been to the wrong places or I
did a crummy job on the flyer itself. I got ZERO responses.

I don’t have the money, yet, to have an ‘assistant’ setup
appointments. I’ve considered changing my voice and become my own
assistant to setup the times.

Can’t afford a better suit, the one I have is nearly 12 years old. I
feel my only solution is to do it the ‘old’ way until I can afford to
do it your way. I would be walking into small businesses to show them
how my companies service and products will ‘decrease expenses’ (page
60). I sell ‘Credit card merchant’ services. Or hope to very soon.

Any suggestions on how to start with no current customers, no network and no expertise yet.

Frank is a better man than I; I might not have approved that post. As for suggestions on how to start, I have many. Greg Winston at Inc. Magazine posted a sentiment similar to Mr. Rumbauskas’ here.

First, if you are not an extremely competent, seriously well-trained, and experienced salesperson to begin with, you should not be in a straight commission sales job. Ever. Period. You are either being intentionally taken advantage of by a company who has put nothing at risk, or you are working for a company that is either too lazy or too stupid to hire well. You can’t really help them, and they really aren’t going to help you.

Second, never believe the myth that you can do well in sales without cold calling. Or networking. Or referrals. Or telemarketing. Or anything else that provides you with a list of prospects. Cold calling is fast. It is efficient (and it beats the living Hell out of walking around delivering flyers). When it is done well, it offers you the opportunity to quickly find prospects while at the same time delivering value to the prospect as part of the transaction. The real reason so many salespeople dread cold calling is that they know (and their prospect knows) that they are not providing any value to the prospect during the exchange.

The real trick to effective prospecting is to create both interest and value for the prospect at every exchange regardless of the medium. That takes hard work . . . the kind that you have to do with your pinkish-gray matter between your ears.

While you will never hear me recommend a cold call over a warmer call (and networking is mandatory–more than mandatory), cold calling still rocks. And yes, you still have to cold call.

Follow this link to Mark Hunter’s (The Sales Hunter) post on Cold Calling. (He can help you learn to us the telephone; read his blog or pick up his training package).

Nigel Edelshain over at Sales 2.0 adds this to the discussion :

Prospecting in a Sales 2.0 world is not one cold call to
a prospect then give up. It’s a campaign to get in — a campaign that
uses multi-media to get through. The telephone is central to this
campaign but it’s not limited to this tool. Sales 2.0 prospecting uses
telephone, email, ground mail, fax, Fedex, gifts, books and more, as
appropriate to the importance of the prospect to you.

So like so many things in sales, we find what actually works today is
“upside down” from the sales lore of “old school selling”. Put your
effort and time in upfront and closing deals will be easy.

That, I believe is good advice–don’t limit yourself to the phone. But for God’s sake don’t abandon it either.

Filed under: Cold Calling

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