Cold calling. It sounds so...20th Century.
Some industries still break-in their salespeople by putting them on the phone and having them dial - more than one hundred times a day - and attempt to schedule appointments. You still receive calls like this from new, and sometimes not so new salespeople selling insurance, investments, copiers, office supplies, commercial real estate and long distance phone services.
Today, more salespeople are using the Social Network to find opportunities. Whether it's incoming leads from Blogs, researching and requesting introductions on LinkedIn, or simply finding the target audience from a Google search, salespeople are using these tools to connect more and more often.
Of course, one thing that will never change is word of mouth. Referrals and introductions from happy customers and clients will always be the finest method for generating new business.
Given all of the options, which salespeople are smartest? Is it those that are cold calling, those who are getting introductions or those that are using the Social Network? The answer depends on how you decide to measure what being smart means.
If smart is measured by the easiest method, with less work, and no human contact, then those using the social network are as smart as they come.
If smart is measured by following the path that most often leads to success, then those who ask their customers for introductions and get them are even smarter.
If smart means making sure that no matter what else happens during the course of the month, the salesperson adds the required number of new opportunities to their pipeline, then those who are cold calling are the smartest salespeople on the planet.
Cold calling isn't enjoyable (for those salespeople who are truthful about it). Cold calling isn't effective except for the most brilliant of callers. Cold calling isn't efficient anymore. One thing that cold calling will always be is controllable and manageable.
You can't control the number of inbound leads your salespeople will get. Of course, if you are generating more leads than necessary to keep the pipeline full of quality opportunities my argument doesn't work. But most companies aren't accomplishing that - yet.
You can't control the number of introductions you will receive from your clients and customers.
You can't control the number of introductions your social network will make on your behalf, even if you are asking for them.
You can control the number of cold calls your salespeople make. Even if the numbers are as ugly as this:
Attempts - 100
Connects - 10
Meeting Scheduled - 1
At least you can control that.
I don't think cold calling should still be the default approach for new business development. However, if a salesperson needs to add 20 new opportunities to their pipeline each month, and the other methods deliver only 7, then cold calling becomes a necessary method to secure the remaining 13 opportunities required.
Cold calling is slowly but surely declining in use but some salespeople have discarded it before its time.
Reevaluate what your salespeople are doing, how they are doing it, and make sure that the emphasis is on the result, not the method.