How Valuable are Cold Calls?

Posted on 09/12/2013 in Selling Skills

Like many of you, I’ve explored numerous social media sites and found some useful sales resources.  One of the better discussion groups that I’ve found is through a LinkedIn network of sales professionals, sales managers, and sales training providers.  One topic in our discussion group seemed to attract the most attention and a wide range of opinions, namely:  How valuable are cold calls?

I’d like to use today’s blog to share my thoughts on this question, as well as some diverse points-of-view that were expressed from other salespeople and managers.

There were many passionate responses in the discussion group regarding the value of cold calls.  Most of the respondents fell into three categories:

Category 1:  Cold calling is absolutely essential to sales success.  Every sales professional must excel at cold calling and should spend much of his/her time making cold calls.  

Many salespeople sell products and services for which cold calls are still a good way to generate new business. If you would place yourself in this category, I would make one suggestion.  There is a big difference between making a lot of cold calls and doing it well.  There are sales techniques that can improve your success rate when making cold calls.  In addition, you’ll want to expand your capabilities in all areas of sales prospecting and business development (link). 

Category 2: My salespeople dislike cold calls but we still spend substantial time doing it.  Why?   Because it is the method we’ve always used to generate new business.  

Many salespeople fall into this category.  They don’t enjoy cold calling but they do it anyway.  You can make cold calling more enjoyable, and successful, by utilizing the skills mentioned above.  In addition, there are other methods besides cold calling that you can add to your sales tool kit.

Category 3: Cold calling is the least effective way to generate new business.  As such, you should spend time on other methods of generating new business. 

For those readers who know me, you will not be surprised to learn that I fall into the third category.   Many statistics support the low success rate of cold calls.  Yet, a large number of salespeople continue to spend too much time on this low payoff activity.

Please don’t misunderstand me.   When I say that "cold calling is least effective,” I’m not saying that a sales professional should not spend time prospecting for new business.  I believe that other methods besides cold calling are more effective at winning new business.  

Every sales professional needs to excel at prospecting and business development. However, cold calls are simply one method to do so.  We’ve posted many related blog topics: referrals, cross selling, and other prospecting topics.

We’d love to hear your opinion on cold calls and whether or not you agree with me.