Cold Calling is outdated. You’ve heard the phrase “work smarter not harder” right? But for some reason, sales leaders preach the quantity over the quality approach when numbers aren’t trending in their favor.

For years, Cold Calling has been the measuring stick for sales activity and consequently the birth of the sales cliché “Activity drives results!” No it doesn’t. The right activity drives results!

If sales professionals were not hitting their numbers the solution was COLD CALLING. So what’s cold calling? Let’s look further:

Dial more numbers + Make more stops + Send more emails = COLD CALLING

Sales leaders, stop the insanity! First of all, the landscape has changed. Sales organizations and sales professionals have to adapt and change their activity. Here is the reality:

  • 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. [Source: Marketing Donut]
  • 50% of leads are qualified but not yet ready to buy. [Source: Gleanster Research]
  • At any given time, only 3% of your market is actively buying. 56% are not ready, 40% are poised to begin. [Source: Vorsight]

Now that we have taken a peak at the market, let’s take a look at some real-life scenarios that sales people experience. Let me know if they sound familiar:

Don’t increase the activity; change the activity.

Scenario 1: Struggling Steve (aka Superstar)

Steve is having a tough month. Steve’s Sales Manager pulls him into his office to discuss his current numbers (even though Steve is already ahead of last year and on pace to hit this year’s sales goals). Steve’s appointment pipeline has been abysmal for the month. So, his Sales Manager’s solution to generate more appointments—you guessed it—make more cold calls. Not only that but Steve needs to make these phone calls from the office in the morning from 7:30 – 9 and then come back to the office to make calls from 3pm – 5pm.

Scenario 2: Struggling Susie (new rep)

Susie started 6 months ago, and she immediately made an impact with sales. Now she has exhausted her personal professional contacts and has hit a wall. Susie’s Sales Manager pulls her aside and suggests that she makes more phone calls in order to hit the mandatory number of appointments for the week. Also, her manager suggests another “brilliant” idea. Susie should send out an email blast to her prospects with the subject line: “Hey!” Also since she’s new, her Sales Manager outlines her week Monday – Friday. This detailed plan with times to make calls and emails is to ensure that Susie is “successful.”

Deja vu? Have you been in this situation? Cold Calling is outdated. Again, don’t take my word for it. Let’s take a look at some numbers:

  • Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment. [Source: Leap Job]
  • 80% of calls go to voicemail, and 90% of first time voicemails are never returned. [Source: RingLead]
  • 15% of every sales reps’ time simply leaving voicemails. [Source: RingLead]
  • 50% of sales time is wasted on unproductive prospecting. [Source: The B2B Lead]

So, if the numbers show that dialing on the phone isn’t the most productive use of time, then why do sales organizations used cold calling as the magic solution to get results? What should we do? First thing is to understand that the landscape has changed.  It’s harder to set an appointment today than it was 15-20 years ago.

It’s easy to say make more phone calls. Make more stops. Send emails. And to top it off, micromanage the activity. So what is the answer? Change the activity not increase the activity. Use new ways and methods to approach customers.

Follow these 3 solutions for smarter selling: 1) Companies need to create a lead-nurturing program. 2) Marketing and Sales need to be aligned. And 3) Let Sales close.

Solution 1: Create a Lead-nurturing Program

The Cold Call approach dictates that outside sales should generate the interest. Today, generating interest should start from the company.

  • Companies that excel at lead nurturing have 9% more sales reps making quota. [Source: CSO Insights]
  • Nurtured leads produce, on average, a 20% increase in sales opportunities versus non-nurtured leads. [Source: DemandGen Report]
  • Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. [Source: The Annuitas Group]
  • Only 30% of CMOs have a clear process or program to make marketing and sales alignment a priority [Source: CMO Council]

Cold Calling Is Outdated

Solution 2: Marketing & Sales Alignment

Sales and Marketing MUST be on the same page. I have seen so many companies that have a marketing department, but they fail to ask the sales team’s input on how marketing can improve sales. Often times, the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

  • Companies with aligned sales and marketing generated 208% more revenue from marketing [Source: MarketingProfs]
  • Alignment of sales and marketing impacts revenue growth up to 3 times [Source: Bulldog Solutions]
  • When sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies became 67% better at closing deals [Source: Marketo]

Solution 3: Sales to Follow-up and Close

Sales professionals close. If you alleviate the prospecting time for sales, they will have more time in front of your customers and follow your sales process which will create more closing opportunities.

  • 44% of sales pipeline comes from marketing, and sales average dials are down 20% year-over-year. [Source: Bridge Group Inc]
  • If you follow up with web leads within 5 minutes, you’re 9 times more likely to convert them. [Source:]
  • 95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “Provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process” [Source: DemandGen Report]

So in conclusion, Cold Calling is outdated. Companies need to find new ways to reach customers. Companies need to create lead-nurturing programs. Marketing and Sales departments need to be aligned. And leave the closing to sales.

Greg Hahn

Greg Hahn is known for entrepreneurial vision and translating vision into revenue generation and productivity, thriving in a diverse and fast-paced executive environment. Throughout his sales management career, he has led several sales teams toward positive growth. His most recent accomplishment was with The Blue Book Network. In just two years, he was able to reverse an under performing region to one of the top regions in the company in 2015. Greg specializes in online marketing including website consulting, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and social media marketing.