Does Cold-Calling Still Work?
There are big questions we all ask at one point in our lives. “What is the meaning of life?” “Where will I go when I die?” and “What is another word for “Thesaurus?”
Lately, the only question that rattles around in my brain sun-up to sundown is “Does cold calling still work?” Despite over a decade in sales, I don’t have the answer, nor am I convinced either way.
On one hand are the skeptics, authors of books promising we never have to cold call again to become rich like Rockefeller. Sounds good to me.
Then there are the people who claim they love to cold call. We view them with sheer disbelief and total mistrust. I’ve even met a couple of them, and given them my best disbelief and mistrust face.
With all the conflicting and polarizing opinions, my personal experience is what I have to go on.
Around the turn of the century (this one, not that one), the Internet muscled into the space previously owned by smiling and dialing. Optimizers won the game. SEO and SEM were the only letters you needed to know to have bags of cash delivered directly to your door. The Internet gained momentum and blocked the need for cold calling. Google was the buyers’ BFF. End of story.
For many it was a golden age. Optimize one minute, phone rings the next, and cash arrives moments later. For others it was tarnished by a slow-adopting company with a so-five-minutes-ago marketing plan. The bags of cash passed by the smilers and dialers directly into the hands of the early-adopter Internet marketers.
Enter 9/12’s economic kick to the gut. The new world order was mistrust of the man, government regulation, and bottom-line scrutiny. The AIG effect met the CYA effect, and gave birth to an ugly baby named ROI. Internet leads are down by 50% in my corner of the industry. Bags of cash no more.
Collectively we decide to take matters into our own hands, SEO be-darned.
“Let’s send out a mass email,” we say. Delete.
“Let’s call buyers,” we say. Voicemail and delete.
“Let’s mail a flyer,” we say. Trash can and chastisement for killing a tree.
Buyers don’t need anyone but each other and salespeople are back to being the enemy. Buyers will buy what they want to buy and they don’t want any help buying it (thank you very little).
Has my expertise really been reduced to being a glorified telemarketer (again)?
All bets are off. We’re in a race to find buried treasure, and we have no map. The gun goes off and we scatter. It’s like Survivor without the bandanas.
In many ways it feels like a very 70’s ‘if it feels good do it’ age. What feels good to me is the decidedly convenient attention paid to social media. I like people, people like me. I make fast friends and genuinely enjoy it. No bags of cash to speak of, but I have 704 Facebook friends. Wait, make that 705.
My current strategy (and by current I mean this week) is very back-to-basics. Recently one of my speakers and I hopped in the car and visited four different groups of buyers. We brought energy drinks, Chinese food, Starbucks, and our product. We felt like we were in the movie “Tommy Boy.” Maybe that is where this is all going. Face-to-face meetings with friends. You can’t delete a friendship, afterall.
Sales experts would tie this all up nicely with a bow and insert their opinion here of what works. I am not a sales expert and I don’t have any bows to tie.
A speaker friend of mine taught me years ago “Don’t ignore the obvious.” My obvious is my genuine love for people, and that’s all I’ve got.
Which, ironically, is the answer to the meaning of life question.