Lead generation shouldn’t be that tough.

qualified sales leadsLet’s be honest. Cold calling is bottom-of-the-barrel prospecting. It can take eight to 14 touches just to reach a prospect who isn’t expecting a call from your sales rep. He’s “dialing for dollars” (read: “wasting time”), and who has time to waste? There has to be an easier way to score qualified sales leads!

Cold calling is a demeaning sales tactic and an inefficient way to generate qualified sales leads. It doesn’t matter how much research your reps conduct, or how much they know about their prospect companies and the trigger events. If all they have are names, they’re cold calling, whether those names came from people, bought lists, or social media. They’re like every other bothersome salesperson out there. Yes, bothersome. They bother people and interrupt them with sales pitches they don’t want to hear. They’re the reason sales gets a bad name.

But it’s not their fault. The only reason sales reps cold call is that they’re measured on the number of calls they make and emails they send.

There’s one large company (I won’t name names) that is particularly egregious. I rarely download anything, because I know “free” downloads come at a cost: my contact information. But one day I took the bait, and sure enough, the cold calls and emails started.

That poor sales rep wasted his time and mine. Of course, he’s probably accustomed to that. Cold callers know the odds are against them every time they pick up the phone or copy and paste their cold calling scripts into emails. But I’d had enough. This time I took action. I wrote back to the rep and told him I downloaded the eBook to learn, and I wasn’t a prospect for him.

I get it. Lead generation is tough. Getting qualified sales leads is even tougher. In fact, sales leaders tell me that’s their number one challenge. But cold calling isn’t the answer, and neither is warm calling.

Wake Up from the Warm Calling Fantasy

More and more, sales professionals use social media as an indispensable sales and prospecting tool. It provides valuable insight into prospects and decision-makers, which has prompted some sales pros to wonder if cold calling is dead, replaced by so-called “smart” or “warm” calling.

Many salespeople now buy into what I call the “warm calling fantasy.” It goes like this: They’ve researched prospects on social media, identified trigger events, and gathered information from social intelligence. They even have mutual connections on LinkedIn. So, they email these prospects and make the business case for a phone call. They really believe they’re not cold calling, because they know all about their prospect and even have a few “friends” in common. They’re sending “warm” emails, right?

Wrong! Prospecting is either HOT or cold … period. If you have just a name in hand (and not a referral), you’re cold calling. The person doesn’t know you and doesn’t expect to hear from you, and most likely doesn’t want to talk to you.

Forget “Warm,” Get HOT

Hot calls are expected and welcome calls. Unless a sales rep already knows the prospect, the only way to make a hot call is with a referral introduction—not just a name and contact info, but an actual introduction.

When you and your sales reps adopt a disciplined referral system with metrics, skills, and accountability for results, your prospecting shifts dramatically. Referrals become the way you and your sales reps work. It’s your #1 outbound prospecting strategy. And it works.

Referrals address your biggest sales challenge: Getting a consistent stream of qualified sales leads. When salespeople receive referrals, they:

  • Get every meeting with one call
  • Ensure every lead is qualified
  • Shorten their sales process
  • Outsmart the competition
  • Bypass the gatekeeper
  • Reduce the cost of sales
  • Convert sales prospects to clients 70 percent of the time

No other lead generation strategy comes close to these results.

Strike a Balance Getting Qualified Sales Leads

This doesn’t mean salespeople shouldn’t use all the tech tools at their disposal. Social media is a great way to identify mutual contacts who could provide referrals. But before they start name dropping, they need to reach out to those referral sources, make sure those two people actually know each other (not all LinkedIn connections are actual relationships), explain why they want to meet the prospect, and ask for an introduction. (Hint: Don’t use LinkedIn’s automated introduction request. Those are easy to ignore, and you lose out on the chance to check in with your referral sources and nurture those valuable relationships.)

Bottom line: There’s no such thing as a “warm call” or a “smart call.” Only cold calling and hot calling exist. Which call would you rather make?


Could a referral program transform your sales strategies? Take the Referral I.Q. Quiz and have your sales reps do the same. It’s 14 “Yes/No” questions and should take only a few minutes to complete. It’s your checklist for referral selling. Then give me a call at 415-461-8763 or email joanne@nomorecoldcalling.com.