How Effective Is Cold Calling Really?

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Telemarketing–everyone hates getting those intrusive telephone calls, but businesses have to keep up the practice of cold calling prospective customers because it really works, right?

Not necessarily. Finally marketing experts are starting to confirm what I’ve always suspected–when most people get a cold call their main goal is to get the annoying salesperson off their phone as quickly and painlessly as possible.

On Friday, John Jantsch‘s Duct Tape Marketing blog started a discussion on The Abusive Math of Cold Calling. The post contrasts the effectiveness of using pure cold calling to generate sales leads with the effectiveness of using networking to generate referrals before making a sales call.

Guess what? Networking and referrals win, hands down.

The results shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who’s ever been on the receiving end of an unwelcome sales call. (I’m guessing that’s all of us, right?) After all, it’s what our instincts have been telling us for a long time.

When you add the annoyance factor to the lack of targeting, it’s no wonder that cold calls are less effective. The classic case of the untargeted cold call is the aluminum siding sales person calling the owner of a brick house.

While the “Do Not Call” laws have impacted the ability of a company to cold call a consumer at home, business cold calling is still popular and in use. In fact, there are still plenty of folks who recommend cold calling as a marketing technique.

Now, I’m the first person to admit that some people are naturally more charismatic than others. In fact, I know that a few people actually enjoy picking up the phone and calling a complete stranger from a list of names with a script in hand. It makes sense that those folks would enjoy a higher success rate. For them, cold calling makes sense.

For the rest of us, however, networking and referrals make much more sense as a way to generate new business. Fortunately, we live in an age with an abundance of networking tools, so networking is easier than ever. In fact, in my opinion there’s really no excuse any more for not qualifying your sales calls before you make them.

Do you use cold calling as a lead generation or marketing technique? How well is it working for you?

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