Cold Calling — Digging Ditches With A Spoon
Cold calling is an artifact of early B2B selling where both the caller and recipient loath it. Companies build entire infrastructures to thwart it. Cold calling advocates have no more value-creating means of finding a prospect.
An apocryphal story about economist Milton Friedman recounted a trip to an Asian country. He saw thousands of workers digging ditches with shovels. He asked the construction manager why they did not employ heavy equipment. The answer was, “This is a jobs program.” Friedman responded, “Well, then give them spoons.”
Cold calling is the “spoons” in B2B selling. Does cold calling work? It does, just as a spoon can dig a ditch.
Is there a better way? Here one must apply critical thought. That is a very rare commodity in the B2B selling world where many of the tactics are leftovers from 30 years ago. If those cold calling and those receiving the calls hate it, what do you think?
Imagine a cold caller at a bar and someone asks, “What do you do?” Instead of saying, “I am a digital transformation advisor,” which is the person’s LinkedIn profile, they say, “I call strangers all day and beg them to give me 30 seconds to hear my pitch.” “Oh,” the listener replies. “You’re a telemarketer!”
Well, dear reader, what do you think? Do you think the listener would say, “How do I get in on the action?” Perhaps not.
To measure the effectiveness of any selling method, I recommend the principle of reciprocity. That means, how would you like it if you were its recipient. You know the answer already, don’t cheat.
It is 5:30 p.m., you are just pouring the first glass of Cab for your special other, and the phone rings. You do not have RoboKiller so you take the call. It’s from your area code; it may be important. Maybe the vet, about that dog thing.
Then you hear that dreaded, chirpy voice. There is noise in the background. It is a sales call.
Admit it! You feel the instant anger running down your spine to the dial pad to hang up. You are interrupted. You are disturbed. You hate it. How did that marketing reach-out work? Not so well?
Put yourself in any prospect’s place. That is why they have spam filters for their email. They are applying AI technology to keep sales pests out. They protect cell numbers with the same urgency as Social Security numbers.
Why are there so many sales coaches, gurus, and, Sherpas touting cold calling?
If all you have is a spoon, you will apply it to any problem. If that problem is yogurt or ice cream, it’s a fit. If it is ditch digging, well, you get the metaphor. Cold calling is a public works program for the VC funded madness in over-funded tech companies.
Cold calling and SPAM email are the touchpoints of ABM, Account Based Marketing. Cold calling is where Marketo-SPAM-generating machines turn a “lead” from level 1 to level 2. Cold calling enables sales funnels. It enables management to measure “productivity”, at least in numbers of calls per day.
Cold calling legitimizes the over-investment in stupidly spent dollars used in “sales platforms” and “revenue tracking” systems, previously called CRM. Without cold calling, none of that infrastructure is necessary.
Cold calling immediately reduces the caller to a pest, and people do not seek digital transformation advice from pests.
Buyers get their B2B buying advice from those they already trust. Trust is not a transaction; it is a long-term set of interactions that have generated deep value for both parties.
The truly wise sales and marketing minds are building ways to harvest the trusted advisor networks around coveted buyers. Those advisors are open to learning about a solution that may help their colleague. They are the value adding, not value detracting, means to sell complex products in the age of “too much information.”
Do not denigrate cold calling. Embrace it. Tell others how great it is; get your competitors to use it. Recommend transaction Sales VPs to competitors who will initiate massive cold calling.
Then you, using critical thought, can go the trusted advisor route and win the business.
Reprinted from Software Executive Magazine OnLine