cold-calling-300x227When you get referrals, you get meetings with one call.

I’ve heard it takes at least seven to 10 touches for sales teams who cold call and cold email prospects to connect with decision-makers. They research their targets (sometimes), identify trigger events, and create a compelling message (or so they think). But even after all that effort, many never get a foot in the door.

New research from demand generation firm Vorsight paints an even more dismal picture of cold calling, suggesting it takes 60 to 90 dials to actually get meetings. Who has that kind of time? And why is it so hard for these reps to actually get on their prospects’ calendars?

Because decision-makers don’t take cold calls or respond to cold emails. They have better things to do, and so does your sales team.

Think You’re Duping Your Prospects? (Think Again)

A favorite time of day for cold callers is 5:00 p.m. I receive at least four cold calls around that time almost every day. I know that’s when executives are most likely to be in their offices and answer their phones. But do reps really think we’ll pick up? We have caller ID. We’re onto their tricks of calling from cell phones so “wireless caller” appears. I got duped a few times, but not anymore.

Then they follow up their cold calls with generic emails or LinkedIn messages. Guess what decision-makers do with those? Delete, delete, delete.

It’s not really salespeople’s fault. Sales managers don’t hold their teams accountable for the depth of the relationships they build or the referrals they receive. Their KPIs are transactional, so their teams’ sales activities are also transactional.

Cold Emails Are Just as Bad

Cold emails might not interrupt my day the way cold calls do, but they clog up my inbox with irrelevant content I never asked for and don’t want. And that’s just as annoying.

For example, I read a lot of online content, particularly articles that cite research relevant to my clients or to my own business. But my desire to learn often triggers cold calls or particularly bad cold emails. Just consider this real-life example I received after downloading a whitepaper from a corporate site:

Hi Joanne,

I know that No More Cold Calling has shown interest in (Dumb Company) in the past, but did not end up implementing our solution. 

(That’s an outright lie. I downloaded a whitepaper. That doesn’t mean I’m interested in her company, and I never indicated a desire to talk to a sales rep. For all she knows, I might be a competitor doing some sleuthing.)

It’s understandable that you may have had to hold off or had other priorities at that time. In case you’re open to re-evaluating (Dumb Company) once again, I’d like to help in taking the first step. 

(She doesn’t “understand” my company or me. I never evaluated her solution in the first place, so why would I “re-evaluate”? What hubris!)

I also wanted to let you know that we have some very strong January-only promotions going on. I would love for you to take advantage of these promos before our fiscal year ends. 

(Sure, she’d “love” for me to buy so she can make her numbers. “Buy before this offer runs out.” “Don’t miss out on this special promotion.” Those ploys might work in the B2C space, but it smacks of a product push and commodity sale in the B2B space. She’s blown her credibility—if she had any in the first place.)   

With your permission, I’d like to send a calendar invite for 15 minutes of your time to discuss your current status as it relates to CRM. How does your availability look this week?

(She doesn’t have my permission. And 15 minutes is never 15 minutes—not if she wants to understand my company and take the time to uncover my issues and concerns. No way.)

Not long after receiving this email, along came the calendar invite for a phone call I never agreed to take.


Stop Fooling Yourself—Cold Is Cold

A call is either hot or cold. There’s simply no such thing as a warm call. Nor are emails or social media messages warm, just because reps have done a little research. Regardless of how you reach out to prospects, your attempts are either:

  • Cold: The prospect doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you.
  • Hot: You’ve received a referral introduction from someone the prospect knows and trusts, so she knows you and looks forward to your call.

There is no in-between.

How do you want your sales reps to spend their valuable selling time? Cold calling and cold emailing prospects seven to 10 times? Or getting to their decision-makers with one call because they have referral introductions?

If your answer is the latter, ensure sales reps are trained how to ask, and that they’re measured and incented based on specific referral activities.

Want to learn more? Call 415-461-8763 or email me at Carve out 30 minutes to discuss your business-development challenges and explore whether referral selling will work for you. I always offer referral tips. No pitching. Let’s get to know each other.

In the meantime, test your referral savvy by taking my Referral I.Q. Quiz. It’s 14 Yes/No questions and should take less than four minutes to complete. People find the results enlightening.

Connect with No More Cold Calling

Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.