While the world has “gone digital,” cold calling is out of date to say the least. However, there are cold calling statistics that make me wonder; well sort of; it’s a bit of a conundrum actually.

Keep Calm and Stop Cold Calling smallIn the past I posted articles relating to the cold calling marketing strategy. One article alluded to the fact that cold calling has definitely had its day; another stated that the marketing shift caused by technology has left even the best cold calling sales people wanting, and another still that bashed the “training systems” still being marketed on the net.

In my training workshops, I speak to professionals and discuss cold calling and their reluctance, if not abhorrence of the concept, you can read more here.

There are competing sides to the story, so to speak.

I have found that most traditional sales managers cling to cold calling, despite its decline, for the frank reason that it’s all they have ever known. When they were the sales person, they were forced to cold call, and eventually got good enough to be promoted to sales manager. I spoke about so-called training systems that are still to be found online in an article last year, which can be found in the blog archives.

Today’s consumer has all of the disruptive marketing shields; caller id, voicemail, Tivo or the DVR, Serius Radio, ad free digital news media. I wrote about this before. Every person I know hates telemarketing pitchmen. You as an executive shield yourself from unsolicited calls too. Knowing all that, why do business owners still choose to use cold calling despite all of the negatives associated with it?

The truly candid rationale I come up with is “I don’t have to learn any new strategies or tactics to get what I am after.” It’s true, inbound marketing takes time and a bit of education. Sure you will need to know how to effectively create email marketing campaigns, online lead generation and nurturing and a host of other methodologies. It is also true that cold calling is the most challenging of marketing tactics, and very few are actually good at it; that is why the stats are what they are; a whole lot of efforts for 1-3% return at best.

In the Zen Blog Archive, there are a host of articles regarding inbound marketing, and the proven fact that it costs less than traditional marketing by as much as 60%. The fact that inbound marketing is growing at such a drastic rate is because it works. But you decide.

Here are the pros and cons I was able to come up with to attempt to offer both sides of what I see is an issue facing a lot of businesses, especially this close to tax season.

PRO
On one side of the debate as to its worthiness, cold calling is a revered, yet out-dated sales generation methodology. The Direct Marketing Association study in June, 2010, noted an average of their constituents yielded a 6.1 customer to cold call ratio. With the nation’s average shrinking annually from the 1-3% average return, this is surprising. Remember though, these are a minimum of two year old statistics.

CON
The other side on this cold calling issue, which comes to us from Kenan Flagler Business School at the University of North Carolina:

Cold Calling Is Dead- “Over 80% of decision makers absolutely will not buy from a cold call.”

PRO
May 2011 – B2B Marketing Zone – More than 70% of all US employees are not engaged, so it is important to keep inbound sales people active through innovative games, contests and ongoing training. This article earned 7 Tweets

CON
On the same page of the B2B blog report, a Hubspot article stating, “So, why do we take our expensive salespeople and insist they must be good at “cold-calling” when the buyer doesn’t want anything to do with this?”
Jan 2011 – This article earned 299 Tweets

PRO
The aforementioned Houston Chronicle article, written by Miranda Brookins of Demand Media gives a complete explanation of cold calling, how it is done, and boasts the statistics from sources in favor of it.

CON
That same article was sponsored by an online public relations firm. Additionally, when looking up exactly what Demand Media does, the very first words on their site are “At Demand Media, we live up to our name by first listening to what our more than one hundred million monthly visitors want and then delivering the content and rich online experiences they crave.” You discern the true meaning of all this.

QUESTIONS

  • Now if it is true that more than 80% of company executives want nothing to do with a cold call, why would they invest valuable resources using a method they despise?
  • When was the last time you accepted an unsolicited phone call from a stranger?
  • If the national average success rate for cold calling is between 1.3 and 3%, the Direct Marketing Association claims their members (who happen to be the best trained cold callers in the world) reach 6.1%, what can you expect in terms of results?
  • What amount of resources are you willing to invest for your expected return?

In the past I have done a pretty good job of bashing cold calling, but the aforementioned facts and suppositions speak otherwise to a degree. It is up to the individual executive to determine the marketing path they will pursue. Cold calling may have one time been the preferred choice of marketing tactics, but is it in this digital world today?