Every couple of months or so I get together with a couple of ex-colleagues for what’s become known as a “Ruby Night”
“Ruby”, short for “Ruby Murray”, is Cockney rhyming-slang for “curry”. After much research we’ve now found a fantastic Indian restaurant in the centre of Strasbourg that is happy to serve us what we all agree to be the absolutely hottest Lamb Curry this side of Mumbai. It’s magma-level, mouth-numbingly, sweat and tear-inducingly hot. In other words, it’s just how we like it. No pain, no gain…
At the last Ruby Night the three of us got into a particularly heated discussion. I’m not talking about the meal (even though the chef on that particular night seemed to have a mission to defeat us in terms of how hot he could make the curry. Boy, was it a scorcher). I’m talking about Cold Calling.
Cold calling, for those who’ve never been in Sales, is the soul-destroying process of calling-up people that you think could be sales prospects for whatever it is that you’re selling. I suppose you could think of it as the pre-internet version of spam. Every once in a while you’d get someone who’d take the call, listen to what you had to say and – if you were very lucky – agree to see you. However, the vast majority of cold calls end in “No thank you, I’m not interested” at best – and profanity at worst. Cold callers need to have a thick skin.
The Ruby discussion centered whether the definition of a “sales person” was still someone who could not only cold call, but could get to the point of meeting the prospect. It was also whether, in todays “Commerce 2.0” world, there was still a need for cold-calling at all.
So, has cold-calling served it’s purpose and destined to go the way of the floppy disk, Sony Betamax, or rotary telephones?
I’d say no – but with a reservation. Cold calling hasn’t died, but the cold-calling techniques of old certainly have.
As I’ve mentioned before, much of the vendor-customer relationship today is based upon permission-based marketing. Today, your customers are doing their homework well before they contact you (or allow you to contact them). They know about your value offering – and the offering of your competitors. They are empowered with information like never before. If your cold calling prospect selection process still amounts to little more than sticking a pin in a page of the Yellow Pages, then don’t be surprised when you’re told where to go.
Today, lead generation programs need to be an aligned and cohesive Sales and Marketing tag-team initiative. Sales calls need to support Marketing’s information-based lead nurturing efforts. The result is that the call is not so much cold as maybe ‘tepid’.
Cold calling hasn’t died. It’s just grown-up.