For the past several years, there’s been a trend of rebellion against one of the most historically popular marketing methods in the industry: cold calling. Reading the phrase might give you cause for concern, especially if you’ve tried cold calling in the past to no avail, but the problem doesn’t lie with the strategy itself—instead, it lies with how people use the strategy.
Cold calling isn’t perfect, and it isn’t going to work for all your needs, but if it’s used intelligently as part of a broader marketing strategy, it can land you some impressive results.
The Weaknesses of Cold Calling
The reason so many business owners have given up on cold calling is that there are some significant weaknesses attached to it. And make no mistake—there are weaknesses. But understanding these weaknesses and how to compensate for them are the keys to getting the most out of the strategy:
- The antiquated medium. First phone calls are often considered a somewhat antiquated medium. Most people, especially young people, are starting to prefer emails and social media interactions over phone calls, which makes them naturally resistant to having a phone conversation with a salesperson.
- Time to catch interest. When someone answers the phone, you only have a few seconds to catch their interest before they hang up on you. If you sound overly salesy, or if you can’t align with their interests and needs, you won’t last long.
- Relative ROI. New marketers are also concerned with the return on investment (ROI) for each prospective strategy. Because email and similar digital outlets can be largely automated (or at least done efficiently), it’s commonly perceived that cold calling must have a lower ROI by default.
- The dreaded gatekeeper. Of course, you also have to worry about the gatekeeper when you’re cold calling—the person in charge of taking and/or blocking phone calls. This isn’t a problem with all calls, but can make things difficult when you’re trying to reach real people.
No Strategy Is Perfect
These are genuine weaknesses of cold calling and they need to be considered, but the thing to remember is that no strategy is perfect. Email isn’t a perfect alternative to cold calling because it lacks personal connection potential, and puts pressure on people to go out of their way to respond. Social media isn’t a perfect alternative because it’s harder to reach certain demographics.
Your focus shouldn’t be finding a strategy that doesn’t have a weakness, as this is an impossible task. Instead, you should be worrying about how to compensate for the weaknesses of all your strategies.
The Better Solution
The most straightforward path is to harness the power of an integrated approach. If you want your outreach campaign to be successful, it should include elements of cold calling, emails, LinkedIn outreach, Twitter outreach, and even in-person networking, all aligned with your brand voice, and all operating simultaneously.
Additionally, you can compensate for the weaknesses of cold calling by:
- Targeting the right demographics. Not everyone will respond well to cold calling, and it’s your job to know which of your demographics will respond positively and negatively to your efforts. Don’t cold call demographics that won’t respond to it.
- Getting higher-quality information. Part of your success depends on your ability to get high-quality lists. If you’re not calling the right numbers, or if you don’t even know who you’re calling, you probably won’t find much success.
- Being persistent. Most people won’t respond to the first time they’re contacted by a company, but after getting contacted multiple times (especially if it’s through multiple mediums), they’ll be more likely to pick up and have a conversation. Make sure your strategy is built around persistence.
- Avoiding the sales pitch to start. For people who are naturally resistant to cold calling, an immediate sales pitch can turn them off of the conversation. Instead, work on having a personal conversation, finding points of mutual connection, and leading into a sales pitch only when you better understand their needs (and strike up a bond). This can also help you get past the gatekeeper in some situations.
Are you warming up to cold calling yet? None of this information is meant to suggest that cold calling is going to be the strategy that turns your marketing campaign around, or that it’s going to be 100 percent effective for 100 percent of businesses. Instead, it’s meant to draw attention to the unfair conclusions that have been applied to the strategy—that it’s obsolete, or that it can’t work. Like any outreach strategy, it has strengths and weaknesses, and to compensate for those weaknesses, you need to have multiple outreach strategies working in concert.