Can These 5 Keys Determine the Fate of Cold Calling?

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Wed, May 07, 2014 @ 05:05 AM

phoneThe May issue of Top Sales Magazine is now available and in addition to my monthly article, this month's issue is loaded with important reading on sales and selling.

Bob Terson posted my article, Are Your Salespeople Still Cold Calling - The Ugly Truth over at the Selling Fearlessly Blog.

When marketers and writers tell us that cold calling is dead, they never remember to qualify what they are trying to sell us.  The amount of death in cold calling is dependent on a number of variables that never seem to be discussed.  If we take a good hard look at these variables, we can see that taking a broad brush stroke to cold calling is a mistake:

  • New Salespeople - Even this needs clarification.  New to selling?  New to the industry?  New to the vertical?  New to the company?  New to the role?  Unless brand new salespeople are fed an endless number of leads, there may be no other way to establish themselves other than making cold calls.  On the other end of the argument, veteran salespeople who come from the industry, territory, or vertical, and are simply new to the company, may not ever need to make a single cold call to reestablish themselves.
  • Size of the customer pool - If the company has 12 potential customers in the entire world, cold calling is not in the salesperson's future.  On the other hand, if everyone is a prospect, there may be no other way of reaching them all without using cold calling to target the most elusive of them.
  • Size of your online network - If a salesperson has a large and influential online network, that individual might be able to generate enough introductions to keep a full pipeline.  But the key word is "might", and when it isn't happening, cold calls will be required to supplement.
  • Expectations - If a salesperson's role requires 20 new meetings to be scheduled each week and there aren't 60 leads flowing in to support that outcome, the salesperson will need to cold call.  On the other hand, if the salesperson is only expected to schedule 5 new meetings each week, it's possible that a combination of leads, customer referrals and online networking can support that goal.
  • Skills - This is clearly the biggest variable of them all.  IF cold calling will be necessary, then the amount of cold calling is in direct disproportion to the salesperson's skills at performing this.  I know this was true for me as I started 3 businesses in the 70's and 80's.  I hated it, but was willing to do it.  I vowed to get so good at it that I wouldn't have to spend a minute more doing it than was absolutely necessary.  While others spent their entire days making cold calls, I scheduled the meetings I needed to schedule in less than an hour.

As long as we are discussing the variables that must be considered before we say cold calling is dead, you might be interested in these additional 15 articles on the death of various aspects of selling.  These have all been written over the past 8 years or so.  Has my thinking changed?

The Latest Fiction for the Sales Force - No More Hunters and Farmers 

Double Article Friday and the Death of All Selling Forever 

Sales Candidate Shortage - More Proof That Sales Isn't Dead Yet 

Could it Really be The Death of SPIN Selling? 

Sales 2.0 - The Answer to our Prayers or a Costly Distraction? 

Sales Management Best Practices - Are Top Salespeople Challengers? 

Is There a Lack of Clarity on the Current State of Selling?

Insider Opinion - Why Sales Experts Can't Agree on Anything 

Has the Death of Selling Finally Arrived? 

The Death of Selling Revisited 

Seth Godin - Sales Expert or Marketing Genius? 

The Death of the Sales Force is Greatly Exaggerated 

Sales, Sales Force, Sales Call - More Death 

The Death of Selling Part 4 

The Death of the Sales Force Part 5 - Will Selling Live On?

 

Copyright: wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, prospecting, death of selling, appointment setting

Double Article Friday and the Death of All Selling Forever

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Fri, Apr 25, 2014 @ 07:04 AM

warYou get more bang for your buck on Fridays!  Especially this Friday when you get my powerful rant below, as well as two bonus articles!

The Selling Power Blog has my new article on why consultative selling is so difficult.  Head over there for a great read!

And over at Top Sales World, my article on the premature announcement that SPIN Selling is dead is one of the top 10 articles for last week.

There is no doubt that selling has changed - a lot - but the marketers who most benefit from telling you that it has changed to the point where you should not sell anymore are simply trying to get you to buy their stuff!

Don't get me wrong - they ALL have great tools, applications, insights, data and uses.  But you need to buy those services on their own merit because you need them or they would add to your sales force's effectiveness.  THEY DO NOT TODAY, NOR WILL THEY TOMORROW, BE USED INSTEAD OF SELLING!

There is a very significant movement, by everyone selling something for inside sales and inbound marketing, to get everyone else on this overhyped, death of selling, band wagon.  I've said this before and I'll say it again.  For very transactional sales, very quick sales, very inexpensive sales, or the lowest price on the planet sales, inbound, outbound, overbound, double bound, inside, not outside, two-sided and both-sided, inside and inbound will surely replace traditional salespeople.  But it stops there folks.  Everyone else needs salespeople, and while selling has surely changed, that doesn't mean that you should take their myopic advice and stop selling!

You don't stop selling.  Repeat it three times. You don't stop selling.  You don't stop selling.  You don't stop selling. You don't replace salespeople with marketing.  You don't make salespeople passive.  You don't stop asking questions. You don't stop qualifying and closing.  If the methods of these inside sales experts are so good, why are their win rates so low and their sales cycles so long?  Why is their turnover so high?

Good questions.

I've seen the underbelly of their sales forces and you don't want to trade what you have now for what they have now.  Adopt some of their technology, sure, but don't blow up the farm.  You still need the harvest to eat.

Image credit: stefanolunardi / 123RF Stock Photo

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Inbound Marketing, inside sales, death of selling

Sales Candidate Shortage - More Proof That Sales Isn't Dead Yet

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Thu, Nov 07, 2013 @ 06:11 AM

Death Of SellingAs you probably know, many people have been writing premature obituaries about the impending death of selling.  Of course, that's been going on since at least 2006 when I posted my first rebuttal to this silly claim, and as recently as last month when I posted my latest rebuttal.  It's being perpetuated by extremist marketers who are claiming that inbound will become the be-all end-all.  

It's simply not true.

The latest proof can be found in this July 2013 USA Today article.  I'll give you the important facts, but you should shoot over there and read the entire article.

The article said that in June, "the number of jobs in sales and related occupations jumped a whopping 445,000 to a four-year-high of 15.8 million."  That's in the USA alone.  Those numbers are trending the wrong way for the pro-death-of-selling folks.  Not only that, our company, Objective Management Group, will need to change it's BHAG from 14 million to 16 million salespeople evaluated! 

The article also said that "Thirty-five percent of sales managers couldn't find qualified candidates for open positions."  That's consistent with what clients have been seeing.  

Another important point from the article was that it is now taking three months to fill a sales position.  I should add that that's when standard quality sales managers look for standard quality salespeople.  If we raise the bar and look for high quality salespeople, the timeline can extend to six months!

These developments place an even bigger emphasis on the importance of using a best-in-class, sales-specific, accurate and predictive sales candidate assessment early in your sales recruiting process.  When there is urgency to fill positions and most of the candidates aren't very good, even your hiring managers will have to deal with the case of happy ears.  Consistent use of the assessment will alleviate that.

While this is all disappointing and frustrating news for companies that need to hire salespeople, and especially for those who want to hire great salespeople, it's really bad news for the people who have been holding those messed-up crystal balls!

Topics: Dave Kurlan, sales hiring, Inbound Marketing, sales candidates, omg, sales recruiting sales assessments, death of selling

Warning to Sales-Focused Companies Wanting to Stay Relevant

Posted by Dave Kurlan on Tue, May 29, 2012 @ 21:05 PM

relevanceMike Myatt wrote an article for Forbes' online site called, To Increase Revenue Stop Selling.  This article has been very heavily viewed and commented.  I don't agree with most of Mike's suggestions, but in his defense, he is not a sales expert, sales writer, sales manager, sales leader or salesperson.  He simply doesn't like being pitched or sold to and urges salespeople (he doesn't want them to sell or be called that) to simply let him buy - when he wants, where he wants, how he wants, from whom he wants, and for prices he is comfortable paying.  Sounds like retail, doesn't it? 

I disliked the tone of his article and I posted the following comment:

"Controversial article Mike – just the way it should be!

I didn’t have time to read all of the comments so I apologize if this has been covered.

I saw a number of comments about the similarity between Consultative Selling and your article, as well as people who say they’ve been pitched from consultative sellers.

Almost every client I have worked with in the past five years has claimed to have already been selling consultatively. In reality, that’s as far as they could take it on their own. A claim. They ask two more questions than they used to and then revert to a pitch. Well that isn’t consultative selling and that’s why you – and your readers – can’t stand salespeople.

It’s not the salespeople that are the problems, it’s the companies that employ them. And as long as people continue to buy, despite how ineffective salespeople are at identifying and solving problems, most companies won’t consider replacing their outdated models, processes, methodologies and salespeople.

By the way – it will always be CALLED a sales force, and they will always be selling (the verb), it’s just that the the description will continue to change in much the same way that cars still have horsepower even though the horses are long gone."

Mike isn't alone. There are are growing number of people who don't like being sold and your salespeople will find them difficult and resistant, and move on.  Worse, your salespeople might actually be tenacious enough to continue trying to sell to them - further reinforcing those strong anti-salespeople sentiments.

With the increasing number of people who dislike salespeople and being sold to, it becomes even more important to develop an awareness for what makes people feel like they are being sold to and how to prevent it.   

For an article like that to have been published and create the firestorm that it did, we are not dealing with a tiny, remote group of people, hiding in a bubble, in some remote village in Northern Alaska.  The risk to business, as you know it, is real.  And the first, in each industry to adapt and master the sales solution, sets the standard and wins.  Consultative selling is not new.  It has been around since the 1960's, but in the past few years, a growing number of sales experts are beginning to understand the complexity of the methodology.  Despite the growing awareness, most experts still find themselves behind the eight-ball when it comes to  transferring this difficult-to-learn skill set to salespeople.
You can no longer wait for your salespeople to transition from transactional to consultative selling on their own. Won't happen.  Never will.   And you simply won't get by with an abbreviated, homegrown, informal version of consultative selling.  You'll have to bite the bullet on this and adapt, starting with an evaluation to determine which of your salespeople are actually capable of making this difficult transition.
I recommend that you do five things as soon as possible:
  1. Evaluate Your Sales Force to determine the gap between where you are today and where you need to be relative to getting your sales force up-to-speed and selling consultatively.
  2. Get your sales process optimized to support a consultative selling methodology.
  3. Get your sales management team trained so that they can coach to it and hold salespeople accountable to it.
  4. Replace the salespeople who won't be able to make the transition with those who will.
  5. Thoroughly train and coach your salespeople.
Don't know where to turn or who to trust?  I'll be happy to help.  Just email me.

Topics: Dave Kurlan, Consultative Selling, sales force evaluation, sales management, Sales Coaching, hate salespeople, sales assessments, death of selling

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Best-Selling Author, Keynote Speaker and Sales Thought Leader.  Dave Kurlan's Understanding the Sales Force Blog earned a medal for the Top Sales & Marketing Blog award for six consecutive years. This article earned a Bronze Medal for Top Sales Blog post in 2016, this one earned a Silver medal for 2017, and this article earned Silver for 2018. Read more about Dave.

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