Has anyone, anywhere, in the entire history of the world (since the invention of the telephone) had a successful (legitimate) business in which cold calling was the featured sales tactic? I say legitimate to exclude all businesses which take advantage of the eldery, infirm, or mentally unstable by targeting them with cold calls specifically because they are known to be vulnerable. Btw, for any legitimate business owners who might be reading this, if your featured sales approach is also a favorite of con artists and scammers it might be a clue that perhaps you should reconsider your approach to the market.
I can already hear the counter arguments, and I would be remiss if I did not mention that the business for which I currently work, which is as legitimate as they come, also asks its’ sales reps calling as a way to target new business and mine opportunities. (note: I asked one of our regional sales manager for her take on this and she clarified this for me by saying they are not forced to use cold calling as a tactic, however they have sales targets they must meet and are sometimes encouraged to use the tactic as a way to bridge any existing gaps to meet that target). I am not so naive to suggest that cold calling never works and no business has ever been gained. I do believe however, exactly what I said in the subtitle, any business gained has already cost or will cost more in the long run then it ever did or ever will bring in revenue. Consider this, how many real opportunities to strengthen existing relationships, or learn additional information about their sales portfolio, or network with colleagues, or any of a million other value adding activities could that sales rep have worked on instead of spending their time picking up the phone to call someone who did not ask to be called and does not want to talk to a stranger or really anyone about their needs or wants.
Frankly it reflects terribly on the business making the call for several reasons. First, it suggests they either do not care to invest the time to make real contacts and establish an actual network in the area at issue, or they have tried and failed to establish such contacts. I am not sure which would be worse, but neither inspires much confidence in the quality of management of the business sponsoring the calls. Second, it shows a lack of seriousness in how they view the market they serve. Clearly, if the cold callers thinks business can be won that way, they believe the market is not deserving of the serious attention of an actual sales team who become a part of the culture of the market they serve. These real sales people actually go out into that market and meet the people that work within it, build relationships, and then use those relationships to make deals based on mutual trust and understanding. Businesses please stop asking your sales people to do this. It is uncomfortable for all involved, and simply does not work. Never has, never will.