Why Cold Calling Sucks

why cold calling sucks

Cold calling never gets easier

I can feel your fingers itching to get into the comment section and drop that new-level sales methodology on me. When it comes to the point of view of a sales development rep, I’ve got his as I’ve been doing this for a while.

The fact is cold calling works.  Not like you would think though.  

You can’t just go out and get the phone book, start “smiling and dialing” and make it rain meetings booked.  You also can’t just start calling every business you find on LinkedIn, hoping for the perfect timing. Realistically, cold calling that way works about as well as eating a ham that has been frozen to the core. 

But when was the last time you ate frozen ham? 

Just like you would reheat that holiday dinner; it takes some time and is a bit of a process.  

Let’s move on to the subject at hand here, the goal of cold calling is getting leads.  Is it possible to find a great-fit customer, find new contacts at their locations, and manage to pull them into a sales process that results in landing a deal?  

Absolutely, and it happens all of the time. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck.

Critical ingredients needed to warm up your leads

Understanding your ICP

When you first consider cold calling, you need to find the right business. Is your prospect too big? too small? Does it have the right sales tech stack? Have something interesting to engage them with, etc.  

These are all great first steps to getting into the right accounts, but the list is not exhaustive. You need not look further than the customers you already have. Who is the best customer you have? What industry are they in? Where do they see the value you bring them (and have you asked them this question)?  

Understanding your buyer personas

So, you found the right company fit, now you need to find the right person. Odds are, there are a few types of people that you can sell to at any given company. Maybe someone technically-minded, creatively-minded, and then at different hierarchies such as Manager, Director, VP, or C-level. 

The more you find, the better. It is best if you can find at least 5 potential contacts at one company you are trying to penetrate. 

Pro tip: Your sales tech stack should start with sorting people by titles on Sales Navigator and then validate if the company is a decent fit. That way, you know you have a valid contact. Once you have your contact information documented, you can now start tackling an email campaign.  

A clever, patient, personalized, and pertinent email campaign

We’ve all been there, getting an email that has clearly been automated from someone that only talks about themselves. It’s not fun, and it doesn’t make you curious. 

That said, the subject line needs to be creative because if the prospect doesn’t open your email, you’ve already lost. 

I’m not going to detail how to write an email here, but the email needs to be personalized to the company, industry, and contact. Consider an email that speaks to you as a person, your company, your industry, and why it matters to you.  Now we are getting somewhere with winning mindshare, even if they don’t respond right away. This provides you great footing for following up on the email a couple of times over the next several days. 

As the next several emails go out, consider social media connections, or emailing articles indicating you are paying their company attention.  

Call at the right time

While you are sending emails, you may want to consider when they are OPENING emails. Calling when your end customer is available is critical to getting them on the phone.

Now you have relevant information for a problem that you have put time into researching. You have earned the right to be heard. The prospect will connect what you are calling about to the emails they have seen and the relevant problem they have. 

They are WAY more inclined to keep the conversation going. 

Say the right things when you do get them on the phone

At this point, they have seen a number of emails and touches from you that were pertinent and maybe even entertaining. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t try to connect more than 3-6 times in a short period of time. Now that they answered the phone, your messaging should be on point. Do you have a playbook or framework in your sales tech stack of the bullet points you want to hit? 

If not, you should. 

Mapping out what the call will look like before dialing allows you to continue the conversation that you were carrying on with the prospect via email. Now they have to interact with you live and thereby are less likely to put you on the back burner. 

However, you only have a few seconds – so maybe recognize that. I usually start with the following framework.

Take my call, maybe?

Hi ____, This is ____.  You might recognize my name from a few emails about _____. I know I called you out of the blue, so I’ll stay super brief. The reason for my emails is that I noticed (A), (B), and (C) and wondered if you share challenges around ____ with other customers of ours.  Not now, but can we connect for 10 minutes today at ____?

The (A), (B), and (C) parts can be bullet points that you can rattle off on any call, or highly personalized to the prospect. The point is that you are calling with something relevant that they have heard of before. 

Pro Tip: if you can reference someone they know or may know, go for it.  If there are social consequences for not hearing you out, they will be much more likely to. If you’re lacking a toolset that lines up the right things in the right order for every sales development rep every time, I can think of a company you should contact. 

(Word on the street is they are doing sweet stuff with real-time voice analytics & AI ).

Know when to call it quits

“Will you go out with me?  We might be a good match because of X, Y, and Z. Please? Pretty Please?” – Get it? 

It’s too much and makes you seem desperate. At this point, it’s not personal… so don’t take it personally. Just move on. One day, you will find the right person at the right organization, and you will be perfect for each other. In the meantime, don’t worry about it and let the one-sided conversation die a sad, lonely death. 

Don’t think about it, don’t care about it, it wasn’t you or your messaging. Just. Move. On. 

The reason Cold Calling works

If you skipped straight to this part, go back and read how warm we have actually made each prospect. And it works! The top reason this works to warm leads is that the strategy focuses on what the prospect cares about. 

Ultimately, the prospect doesn’t care about when you were founded. They also don’t care what gave you the idea, or about all of the case studies you can send them. 

They care about solving problems to keep their jobs, pay their bills, take care of their families, get promoted, and maintain their lifestyle.

The second reason that it works is because of personalization. There is natural reciprocity that occurs in humans to invest time in kind.  If you spent considerable time personalizing a message as a sales development rep, they will feel obligated to at least respond (even if they don’t really want to). 

The third reason is that it focuses on cold calling at a strategic time as opposed to calling randomly all of the time. You are calling at the right time (when they opened an email or are otherwise available), you got the messaging down-pat, and now your cold prospect wants to take a meeting to learn more about how you can solve their problems. 

Just don’t mess it up with a PowerPoint (gross…) when they hop on the call!