Remembering the Cold Call (1877 – 2013)

Learn about the factors that led to the cold call’s demise as a viable sales prospecting tool.

February 7, 2014

No More Cold Calling - LinkedIn Social Selling

The cold call lived a long life, delivering sales throughout its time. It will be remembered as one of the primary tools for generations of sales pros, who ‘smiled and dialed’ each day to capture an interested prospect.

While the cold call may not be remembered as the most personal or empathetic of sales tools, it certainly played an important role in closing countless sales during its lifespan.

As we remember the cold call today, we ask ourselves how did a once-foundational sales prospecting tactic age so quickly?

Here are three reasons why cold calling became an ill-fated approach to selling:

Reason #1: The internet

On average, today’s buyers are nearly two-thirds of the way through their decision-making process before they speak with a sales rep.

Buyers are simply more comfortable conducting research and evaluating products/services on their own terms. The internet allows them to gather a wealth of information without engaging with any particular company.

Cold calling was commonly used as a way to increase awareness and interest among prospects who may not have been actively seeking a solution, but who’s interested could be garnered with an effective pitch.

Today, these same buyers can easily dismiss cold callers by:

  • Asking for information to be emailed
  • Agreeing to check out the website and get follow-up on their own timeframe
  • Routing un-known callers to voicemail

IBM’s preference study indicated that cold calls are 97% ineffective. The same study also revealed that 75% of respondents are more likely to use social media in future purchasing decisions. Because of this data, IBM implemented a social selling program that saw a 400% increase in sales.

The internet allows social sellers to identify actual buyers who are starting the decision-making process so that they can educate them in a way that ensures they are among the vendors in the final decision process.

Reason #2: LinkedIn

LinkedIn ushered in a new era of sales prospecting: the era of warm introductions.

Yesterday’s cold callers are today’s social sellers, and this transition has elevated the entire sales profession.

Buyers and sellers alike leverage the world’s professional network for day-to-day business and career advancement, which means sellers are connecting with buyers in a business context.

Pre-LinkedIn, you could be cold calling your colleague’s best friend without knowing it. Today, LinkedIn Sales Solutions features like TeamLink automatically show how a prospect is connected with members of your organization, not just the individual salesperson.

Sellers use their LinkedIn profile page as a centralized business hub and leverage the content network to curate and share relevant information through strategic communication channels like InMail.

Reason #3: Cold calling has had one foot in the grave for some time

Let’s face it, if there were a better way to efficiently reach out to new prospects, cold calling would have died long ago. But there wasn’t, so salespeople sat at their desk and played the numbers game, getting blown off repeatedly to eventually find that one prospect willing to talk.

There’s no need to call and hope prospects are looking to buy because online lead generation and social listening can do the pre-qualification work up front. Not only is social selling more accurate than cold calling, it’s more efficient and more fun.

Learn more about how social selling beats traditional sales methods like cold calling in this story of two sales experts.