Home > Cold Calling > Cold Calling works big time.

Cold Calling works big time.

Okay, I can't resist. Call me a trouble maker for starting a subject that people have argued against on this forum - in a day an age where there is sales training material against this practice but I beleive from the bottom of my heart that this practice is the most effective way to open doors for new business, period.

Here is what is suggested by those who preach "never cold call again" (and correct me if I miss anything);

- "your time could be better used in front of prospects" ... totally agree but ...

- "it works with a very, very low success rate, your time could be better spent else where" ... yes, there are referrals but ....

- Blog and write articles to generate leads ... well, yes, in some industries but ...

- The world has changed, buyers are different ... blaaa, blaa, blaa ... hmmm ...

- "ROI" ... "conversion rates are low" ... yadda, yadda, yadda.

Now I want to relate a story of a 79 year old. He still gets on the phone every day. Just over 4 years ago he made a call to Toyota. It was a cold call. This man had never called that company before, did not have any intro, knew no one in the upper echelon of this huge manufacturing retailer, had no lead in from another company exec that used to work there ... it was a 100% cold situation.

The result of this cold call was a 12.1 million dollar sale. And the single biggest commission check of his storied career (he was number one salesman National for Apecco, number one five times at the largest Minolta Copier dealer in Canada, top producer for PVA Consulting - that is top producer in each of three different generations!)!

Please, do not tell me cold calling does not work.

Now I will relate a story from my sales career, a very recent one. I spent a couple of hours on the phone 6 weeks ago. As a result of a week when I kept 22 face-to-face appointments, all made over the phone, all cold, I have landed a major national account. One of the largest Insurance companies in the world - their financial planning division.

In addition, since I was on the cover of a North American wide newsstand magazine in Feb. '04 for being successful in my own business, and that business relates to professional lead generation. You might just say that I am an expert in the other side; blogging, newsletter writing, fax broadcasting, email blasting, mass mailers, non addressed ad-mail (flyers) ... I have done and sold all of these services in my own company.

I can tell you, there is no really good way to advertise to generate enough leads to keep a whole team of sales people busy in certain industries. Now, I can easily develop unlimited leads in the business opportunity field and others. But how do you get a constant supply of warm market leads and ad responses for ... say ... photocopier sales in a territory in Mediumtown, USA or Barrie, Ontario Canada?

And what do you do while you have huge gaps in your appointment book? Do you blog? Can't you blog at night when there are no businesses open to call and introduce yourself to?

What does a young sales rep do that has no money to do mass mailers? How do they get started in a 100% commission position?

If you have nothing else to do, why not get on the phone? What are you scared of?

Here is the rock the world kind of question - isn't it really just that you have never been trained in how to prospect on the phone that causes your success rate to be so low, your moral as you "have to" do this to tumble and ultimately you to hate this sales practice?

Sure, "never cold call" sales advice is a best selling item. Why? Because sales people would rather do anything but suffer a high rate of rejection!

Wouldn't you rather pitch than phone prospect any day?

The 79 year old pro that is too old to run around doing sales appointments any longer does nothing but cold call. And he loves it. So, let the fur fly I say ... start ripping my post apart ! - by Gold Calling
I challenge those who preach that cold calling doesn't work or anything similar to come to this public forum, or just this thread, and openly discuss the validity of their claims. In my opinion the newbies and untrained might believe cold calling doesn't work but the pros know better. - by AZBroker
Just thought of something else to say ...

That 79 year old telephone prospector who used to be a top road warrior in his day. I was just talking with him (easy to do, he is my dad!), and we discussed an appointment he got for a client of mine. Happens this guy is the president of a Dale Carnegie franchise. And, because of my recent involvement in this forum, I looked on their site (have to admit, though I have read Dale's books, never attended a live seminar by their group - though I have had every opportunity to do so from the "inside").

I read a comment by their client about "booking appointments on the phone". This guy stated "I booked as many appointments in a week as I used to book in a month". Now, imagine that you sat through a seminar by the 79 year old master prospector - say he knew something about getting appointments that you don't. Suppose that something made it possible for you to convert 25% of the suspected prospects you speak to into appointments (or qualified prospects).

If it formerly took you 50 calls to get an appointment that might reduce to 17 (remember, not everyone is in or reachable when you call - so some calls end up being fact finding and call back types). Would that make it worth your while to cold call?

My average, when I pick a targeted market, is under one in ten! - by Gold Calling
Well said AZ.

For people like AZ Broker, Bluenote, Skip Anderson, myself and many others, what bothers us about pros arguing against professional practises, whether they be prospecting or face-to-face techniques, is that the impressionable will get the wrong idea.

We want up and coming sales stars to have the chance to become well rounded professionals who excel at every area of sales and that means they should not have to read unconstructive criticism stop them from mastering anything that will help then make money. Whether that be prospecting or closing or a type of sales training.

Why would we, who love the art of communications and the art of salesmanship, state in a forum that is in place for sales professionals, that a very well respected sales training course was "manipulative"? Or argue that a profitable practice such as telephone prospecting should ... well, it is not my desire to offend, but ... never be done again?

My name is Steven Burke and I can't stand by to see misleading information about what I consider to be the greatest profession in the world be spread by its professionals. I humbly suggest that this argument take place here, in a civil manner. That we help others to understand that there is a place for telephone prospecting, whether you choose to master it or not. - by Gold Calling
I think Cold Calling is a waste of time IF all the salesperson does is pick up the phone and call a prospect without having done at least some mental exercise about the business they are calling and the possible fit between their needs and the solution being sold.

I posted a few weeks ago a tongue-in-cheek comment that prospecting was for miners and professional salespeople relied on demand creation. Actually, it's more true than funny in the world of complex B2B selling.

We use a demand creation approach that offers to connect senior level executives in the companies we target with thought leaders in our firm for an exchange of information in a 20 to 30 minute telephone call.

Cold calling? Well, yes, to some degree. But it goes deeper.

We use a method that weighs the number of touches with the prospect against the probability of making a connection with the prospect. We target multiple senior executives in the same company and don't treat executive assistants as 'gatekeepers' but rather as an avenue to the executive. We use telephone, email and - to a lesser degree - the mail for contact.

When we make the connection, we don't use the call as a total qualification call. We share trends that we see in the marketplace and then validate whether these trends affect the company we are calling. If there is a fit, we end up raising awareness of our solution with a company that may have never heard of us; getting into opportunities at a very early stage; and making a connection with a senior level executive with the power to drive.

Once again, if I was selling newspaper subscriptions pure cold calling is probably as good a tactic as any other. However, if I am trying to sell a big ticket solution to a major company, a demand creation method similar to the one we use is the way to go.

Jim Cundiff - by jcundiff
So, Jim, what you are saying is you do use the phone to call people you have no previous intro or referral connection with?


Am I understanding that you use it, you just feel you use it more effectively, is that correct? Can you break it down to just sales practices minus the descriptive or philosophy, just so we can see exactly what you recommend ... I appreciate that. - by Gold Calling
That could be an interesting discussion AZ. I have cold called by phone and foot the past 10+ years and the return is as good or better today as it was back then. - by Houston
I read a chapter in a book once about cold calling, tried it and failed so let me tell you my friend, cold calling doesn't work and I have an army of people with similar experiences behind me to prove it. ;wk ;st - by SpeedRacer
I outsource my cold calling which yields me a 35-40% return of highly targeted prospects reached.

These figures are a fact and what puts an unlimited amount of High Probability Prospects in front of my staff every single day.

My entire staff makes a stellar living as a result of cold calling. - by bluenote
By the way bluenote, I like your idea of outsourcing cold calling. Did you provide scripts to the telemarketers? - by SpeedRacer
I challenge those who preach that cold calling doesn't work or anything similar to come to this public forum, or just this thread, and openly discuss the validity of their claims. In my opinion the newbies and untrained might believe cold calling doesn't work but the pros know better.
A little dramatic don't you think? As though anyone who thinks there are better ways of prospecting would be 'scared of them cold calling guys.

Virtually every study I've ever seen on the effusiveness of cold calling has indicated it isn't time effective. I've met very few top producers who cold call.

If you think it works, do it. I personally think there are far more effective ways to find prospects--not to mention that the vast majority of salespeople cold calling flush out of sales in short order.

I honestly don't understand the name calling and snide school yard remarks people here have about differing perspectives. I find it amusing that people get so worked up when someone challenges their methods.

Lots of name calling and snide remarks but little discussion of the issue. I guess I need someone to tell me what's so great about a prospecting method that is despised by the vast majority of individual and business consumers, that automatically signals to consumers that the person on the other end of the line is so desperate for a prospect, any prospect, that they'll spend hours trying to find someone willing to talk to them, and, as I said, every study I've ever seen indicates it is a waste of time?

It's cheap, it's easy, and it's probably the most despised marketing any consumer can think of. - by pmccord
Bluenote - great story. There are more than enough of these positives to blow away the people who swear it does not work. Yours is a classic.

What kind of business do you have the outsourced company prospect for you Blue? My company firmappointments.com specializes in setting appointments - we do not get paid unless we do!

We work the high end.

PMCCord; Allow me to correct you - cold calling is not cheap. Top level people want $100,000 or more a year to work the phone (like retired sales pros). And it takes good people to get through to a qualified buyer on the phone.

Telemarketing on the other hand is relatively cheap (relative in cost, not in return).

There are a few comments to be made in relation to your post ... who was studied (B2C? If B2B what inexperience did they have?)? And what do sales people do when their appointment schedule is not full, twiddle their thumbs?

If you have no one to see, why in God's name wouldn't you pick up the phone? What is it you, a professional sales person could be doing, that you could not do after hours, to find business when your schedule has openings? Answer me that Paul and I will lay some more outstanding truths on you that will also make you stop and think. Such as;

You either walk in and introduce yourself, pick up a phone and do the same or you are an idle salesperson, it is that simple, is it not?

Granted, telemarketing to homes, what we might refer to as B2C Telemarketing, is not well liked, nor is it fun. But, thankfully, it is not something a professional sales person does or very few. So, in a sales forum that is primarily Sales Pros, this is not what we are discussing.

Door-to-door B2C sales people were more prevalent in the past but that is just not the case today (thank God!). No, this post is about B2B business and calling a business person to make an appointment is absolutely a professional and cost effective thing to do.

If Toyota accepted a call - one that was absolutely cold - and were willing just 4 years aqo to do a $12.1 million software deal (plus annual support revenues), what is it you or anyone else has against making an introduction via the phone? Are business owners trying to say they are better than Toyota ... or that they do not have to accept calls that will save them time/money or make them more competitive.
I for one would be glad if you called with an idea that helped me!

. - by Gold Calling
By the way, PMCCORD, AZ's post wasn't drama, not at all. He just expressed his conviction. And mighty succinctly I might add. - by Gold Calling
The ability to cold call effectively is a valuable skill.

Some people believe that cold calling is more marketing than selling. Some people believe it is part of a sales process.

Some people prefer other marketing methods and other forms of new business development as alternatives to cold calling.

Many of those people are successful. They often are successful because they too have developed their skill sets, just like successful cold callers. It's just that they prefer to work differently. - by Joe Closer
By the way, I like your idea of outsourcing cold calling. Did you provide scripts to the telemarketers?
I do. In fact, I personally trained these reps on a conference call. They conduct my presentation word for word and have astonishing results.

I know this because I can listen in live to their presentations over the PC... I also get my leads back in real time.

I used to do my lead gen through direct mail which brought me a 2.5-3% return, which is still great by DM standards.

Imagine the smile on my face when I started getting a 35-40% return by outsourcing through a telemarketing company at 1/3 the cost.. and having the same closing ratio on the leads?


;bg;bg;bg;bg - by bluenote
Gold Calling. Do you really think the only way of finding business is cold calling or cold walking? Of course you don't. As I said, I've never met many top producers who cold call and I've met thousands of great producers. But they have a ton of prospects they work with.

For most, referrals--direct introductions from their clients--is their primary method of marketing. Not their sole method, but their primary method.

And there are a great many business to consumer salespeople in this forum. Everything from financial services, to Mary Kay. It isn't just b2b. But even then, I don't know many b2b top producers who cold call. Sure, they'll make an occasional cold call. But it is just that--an occasional call to a very specific individual whom they just haven't been able to get referred to and they have a specific reason to believe they can help. It is by far the exception to the way they do business, not the rule.

I realize this discussion goes straight to the heart of how you make a living, but that shouldn't obfuscate the fact that there are other ways to generate business by cold calling or cold walking.

And, yes, the same argument can be made about me--that the issues deals with how I make a living. But like you, the vast bulk of my business is corporate, not individual.

And just for the record, I never said AZ Broker was a drama queen. I said his statement was a little too dramatic that no one who disagreed with cold calling would dare come to this thread. Yes, that's a little dramatic. That doesn't make him a drama quessn, although it appears that you're infering that, although I don't know why. - by pmccord
Do you really think the only way of finding business is cold calling or cold walking? Of course you don't. As I said, I've never met many top producers who cold call and I've met thousands of great producers. But they have a ton of prospects they work with.
I am one of the top producers in my field in the United States. In the last 5 years I have won 3 national sales contests. I work autonomously---for myself--with a small staff. I make a good buck.

I am well schooled in the art of cold calling having been a trainer for a well known company for five years.

I believe cold calling is a viable and valuable skill. I encourage those interested to learn it and learn it well.

But I do not cold call.

Nor do I twiddle my thumbs because my selling opportunities keep me too busy to do so. - by Joe Closer
A little dramatic don't you think? As though anyone who thinks there are better ways of prospecting would be 'scared of them cold calling guys.
No, I do not think that, in a public forum designed specifically for the discussion of sales practices, challenging others to step up and openly discuss the validity of their claims is a little dramatic. - by AZBroker
Joe Closer. Congratulations on your impressive success.

Although there are far more effective ways to find prospects than cold calling, I do encourage people who are just learning those new skills to continue doing what they are doing until they not only have learned their new skills, but those new methods are producing the business that allows them to phase out their old methods. I also encourage them to continue perfecting their current marketing methods until they can phase them out.

Most often, those methods are either cold calling or direct mail. One is time inefficient, the other money inefficient. But, like you, I think having the skills necessary to make a living doing those is imperative--until they learn and implement more effective methods and those methods have been developed to the point they can work themselves out of the more inefficient methods.

In addition, although I said I've met very few top producers who cold call, but I've met a couple of top producers who do it, who love it, and who will never do anything but cold call. They have a staff that works for them as sales assistants and these guys won't allow them to do anything but cold call. They don't have a problem admitting there are more efficient ways to do buisness, but cold calling is what works for them and what they're comfortable doing--and more importantly, they enjoy it. - by pmccord
I challenge those who preach that cold calling doesn't work or anything similar to come to this public forum, or just this thread, and openly discuss the validity of their claims. In my opinion the newbies and untrained might believe cold calling doesn't work but the pros know better.
The reference to dramatic was the phraseology of "I challenge." A simple request would have worked. I don't know if anyone else would be willing, but I certainly am. I don't feel the least bit intimidated, as the "I challenge" would imply someone who thought cold calling was dying might feel.

I have nothing against people cold calling--I just think the evidence--other than anecdotal--supports my position. In addition, I think it doesn't make a great deal of sense to engage in the marketing method most prospects hate more than any other.

I think when trying to communciate with a prospect it makes far more sense to find ways they want to be communicated with rather than methods they don't want. - by pmccord
My position is that cold calling works (vs. cold calling doesn't work). On any given day tens of thousands of salespeople, if not more, across this planet pick up the phone or knock on a door and earn a living. Cold calling works... big time. - by AZBroker
Yes, they make a living, at least some of them, but they don't become top producers. If all they want is a living of some kind, then that's fine. If they want to become top producers, they need more effective methods.

But then again, it doesn't make sense to try to communicate to a prospect in a manner they don't want.

Sure, it works some of the time. Many squeak out a living, a few make lots of money, most die on the vine and end up out of sales. I'm sorry, but I just can't see that as a big time winner. - by pmccord
I am not saying that cold calling is the most effective prospecting method for every situation (big time winner). I am saying that cold calling works... a properly trained and motivated salesperson can hit the phones or the street and convert (vs. cold calling doesn't work).

If we can agree that cold calling works then we can discuss the advantages and disadvantages of cold calling opposed to other prospecting/lead generation methods. - by AZBroker
I don't mean to sound like I'm quibbling, but if you mean someone can on occasion get a sale from cold calling, I've never said they couldn't. Can someone actually make a living cold calling? Certainly. For most, it isn't much of a living. But yes, many can and do eek out a living. If that's what you mean, then we can agree.

If you mean it's effective, no, I can't agree. When you have a method that results in significantly more than 50% job failure rate, I can't agree that's working. - by pmccord
I believe a properly trained and motivated salesperson can do better than get a sale on occasion from cold calling and I'm not judging the validity of the method by the failure rate of those who fail to execute it properly. - by AZBroker
Different types of sales demand and react to different methods. I think your statements are some what blanketed.

There are many mortgage brokers who are making their living (comfortably) and rely almost completely on cold calling.

They are out working TARGETED leads of people who need to Refinance out of BAD mortgages, or credit situations.

I hope people who are new to sales don't hear these negative comments and believe the hype. - by Lance_Best
They are out working TARGETED leads of people who need to Refinance out of BAD mortgages, or credit situations.
Why would you call that a cold call?

From what I read in your post, that lead generation venue has already sorted "Need", and there exists some element of the qualification process that has taken place.

If you pick up the phone and respond to that information, I don't think that is entirely cold.

If, on the other hand, you think that cold calling is simply making an unsolicited call to a stranger, then your perspective is different than mine. - by Joe Closer
"and I'm not judging the validity of the method by the failure rate of those who fail to execute it properly."

I'm judging it based on several characteristics, some of which are:
  • It's effectiveness
  • It's social acceptability--again, why would someone use a method that is despised by the vast majority of consumers. It is accepted in sales, despised by the prospect
  • It's influence on new salespeople--most are taught that cold calling is the key to success and then 60-70% fail in sales which I find totally unacceptable
  • The message it sends to a prospect--desperation
  • The damage it does to the sales profession. Salespeople are looked at by many in both the b2b and the b2c segments as
    unscrupulous hucksters. Of course, not all of that image has come from cold calling, but much of it has.
"There are many mortgage brokers who are making their living (comfortably) and rely almost completely on cold calling.

They are out working TARGETED leads of people who need to Refinance out of BAD mortgages, or credit situations."

Having spent a good number of years in the mortgage industry as originator, manager and executive, I am well aware of the lack of cold calling success by mortgage brokers and bankers.

However, cold calling will work today, for a short time in the mortgage industry, as there are several million homeowners in mortgages they fear--and when there is a huge group of consumers you can appeal to based on their fear--with promises of salvation, cold calling will work. And don't tell me these mortgage folks aren't promising everything under the sun to get people to sit down with them. There are many good people in the industry and many, many who will say anything to get the appointment.

How the brokers are working with the leads they buy from your company, I don't know. If you're selling leads to people who have requested someone to call, I don't consider that a cold call. If you're selling just lists of homeowners with high rate mortgages, then that would be a cold call. Either way with the market in the turmoil its in, cold calling will work just fine--as long as the fear continues--and until the market has worked its way through those high rate mortgages. - by pmccord
Each person has their own criteria to judge by. My criteria on whether cold calling works or doesn't is quite simply... Can a trained and motivated salesperson generate new business by calling on prospects face to face or by telephone?

Personally I think there is a fundamental difference in the way you and I view many of the characteristics you listed above some of which have been covered or touched on in previous threads. - by AZBroker
Joe - thanks for your post.

I do beleive that you should augment it by saying what does keep you busy. And, as leaders I think we need to explain when this will not work for people who are relatively new/unestablished in an industry.

For instance; I know very well established sales people in the mortgage industry that get lots of referred leads from bankers, were th bank will not take the high risk. However, to get to that stage they had to cold call the bank managers and credit managers and take them to lunch and ... you know establish a relationship with them.

This will work for a few experienced, mature individuals. And, if everyone in the mortgage industry adopted this sales practice bankers would get overwhelmed too.

My point is, comments we make as leaders can be misleading.

PMCCORD - why don't we leave B2C telemarketing out of this because, in the great majority of cases, those are not sales people. In B2B you quote failure rates. If they are as l,ow as 70% I would be surprised.

Here is why - have you seen the failure rates in car sales? This is an industry that (for the most part) does not prospect, they are retail sales people. Do you think more than 30% can cut it?

Failure rates in sports, sales, medical school & internship ... they and many others are high and for good reason. But I will leave this argument alone. Let me address "eek out a living".

Every one of the telephone prospectors that works for me earns at least $100,000 per year. With the relevant phrase at least.

None are overly concerned about the perception of prospects if it is negative. Why? Because if you are in business you should answer your phone. Otherwise what you are saying is; "it's a one way street for me. Yes you can call and buy but you cannot call with a good idea and sell." Not only is this an egotistical attitude to adopt it isn't very smart. Cause the person selling to me could buy from me one day or know someone who needs what I sell.

Great sales people have a knack for not upsetting prospects. If they do their best and the prospect is irritated anyway, that is the prospects issue, not the sales person's issue. And, as a professional in this industry I not only expect you to take this point of view, I expect you to defend us, when those who are not in the know make uninformed comments.

Flyers for duct cleaning are not very affective. So, Douct Cleaning companies hire students to call houses. They are not pros and they piss off the householder by blundering through a script or talking on when someone says they are busy. What has this got to do with me calling you at work if I potentially have a good reason to do so?

The statistics available on the effectiveness of getting on the phone to introduce yourself in business is dramatically swayed by who is doing the work. Serious phone prospectors would be a completely different story than the average, I can assure you.

In fact, I just got a book from the library about professions for the persuasive. It showed the average incomes of sales people. Having seen that, if I were a young person trying to decide what to do at school, I would not have chosen sales as a career at all. And yet we (experienced pros) all know sales people who make hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, even millions (my own income has been in excess of a million a year twice, not that I care, I am more interested in how many weeks a year I can spend in my canoe!)!

Now, if I am fairly young, gotten into sales, don't have a referral network that is producing leads, don't have much of a budget to advertise ... and I am on commission, what is it I should do when my appointment book is empty, dare I say it again; twiddle my thumbs???

Please, be constructive. What does a person not getting referrals who is unable to advertise - a B2B sales person - do to stay productive? And, let's assume for the purpose of this discussion that this young person is not in an industry where they can attract clients by BLOGGING or e-newsletters or through any method on the Internet.

And you better believe that the numbers who succeed in this example are far lower than 30% .. !!!!

Answer me that one.

BY THE WAY - cold calling to "B" and "C" credit prospects (or targeted leads as PMCCORD put it) who need refinancing every few years when their property goes up in value, to eliminate credit card debt they have once again built up ... that will work after the credit crunch is over. As it did before. And the percentage of failures or rate of failure of sales people will always be about the same (crunch or no crunch, some people will just make a lot more!) - by Gold Calling
I'm sorry, but there are a great many b2c salespeople selling sophisticated consumer services who believe they are just as professional as any b2b salesperson.

The failure rates I quoted were from published studies. Would I suspect the actual rate to be higher? Yes, actually, I would. But the studies indicate 60-70% with most in the 70% range, so I'll accept those numbers. The statistics aren't cherry picked, i.e, I want numbers on this guy because he does well, and I want her because she does well, and I don't want him because he doesn't. They're studies of the effectiveness of cold calling, not a cherry picked padded study.

From my point of view, your statements are one of the issues in the sales industry. You just take it for granted that the failure rate is going to be 70% or higher. Period.

From my perspective, there are three elements that must be considered with the high failure rate of each marketing method: luck, the salesperson, the method.

I think we can eliminate luck as 1) it can't be measured, and 2) I don't think most thoughtful people would ascribe the success or failure of this group to luck.

That leaves the salespeople or the method.

It has been assumed that the high failure rate is salesperson related. They don't work hard enough. They don't define their prospects well enough. They don't have the proper training. They don't; they can't; they won't; whatever.

It has been assumed it isn't the method because a small percentage do well.

Consequently, the conventional thinking is it is the salespeople and that's just the way it is. Life is such in selling that you just live with a 60, 70, 80% failure rate. That's just life in the big city.

Some of us don't subscribe to that theory. We see tens of thousands of salespeople diligently working their tails off; taking every cold calling class they can; putting in thousands of hours, trying to perfect their skills. And failing. And we look at it the problem not as a salesperson problem alone, but as a method problem also.

Are there salespeople too lazy to work as they should? Of course. Are there salespeople who take the training and refuse to implement it? Of course. Are there salespeople who don't think they need training and try to reinvent the wheel on their own? Of course.

Is that 70 or 80% of all salespeople. No.

I don't see salespeople as simply a numbers game--oh, well, there goes another one down the toilet.

Your assertion that if you're in business you should answer the phone sounds great--but the truth is business owners and executives don't care. Most don't have the time or the inclination to answer cold calls. The ubiquitous gatekeeper is there for a reason--people have learned that cold calls are a waste of their time. We as salespeople have taught them that because seldom does a cold call ever add value to them, so they avoid them all.

What does a person do besides cold call? Network, not through the chamber or a BNI breakfast meeting, but by joining organizations and associations where their prospects congregate. As I've said in other posts, if they are cold calling, they continue as they learn more productive methods and phase out the cold calls.

The conventional thinking is if you're in business and you own a phone, a salesperson has an intrinsic right to interrupt your day--because that salesperson has to make a living. If the prospect gets upset because a salesperson called them out of the blue, I don't blame the prospect; I blame the salesperson for trying to contact the prospect in a format the prospect doesn't want nor respect.

And please read more carefully. I never said calling a subprime prospect was "targeted." That was quoting Lance Best. - by pmccord

Although there are far more effective ways to find prospects than cold calling, I do encourage people who are just learning those new skills to continue doing what they are doing until they not only have learned their new skills, but those new methods are producing the business that allows them to phase out their old methods. I also encourage them to continue perfecting their current marketing methods until they can phase them out.

In addition, although I said I've met very few top producers who cold call, but I've met a couple of top producers who do it, who love it, and who will never do anything but cold call. They have a staff that works for them as sales assistants and these guys won't allow them to do anything but cold call. They don't have a problem admitting there are more efficient ways to do buisness, but cold calling is what works for them and what they're comfortable doing--and more importantly, they enjoy it.
What exactly do you mean by "more effective" or "more efficient" methods of prospecting than cold calling? A well know real estate trainer(Mike Ferry) pushes cold calling as the most effective and cost efficient way to reach people. Those old pros that no longer cold call might get plenty of leads through WOM but could probably do even better with some additional cold calling. - by cdchurch
I took my time answering PMCCORD’s post in this thread that I started because he deserves a quality answer.

Anyone with his qualifications, having studied sales to the extent that he obviously has and contributing to salespractise.com in his way, deserves respect. And, I find the day to day grind plus trying to keep up with contributing to a forum can end up with me posting ambiguous explanations, some even sound irritated or approach the anger threshold.

This happens only because of my passion. If I did not care, I would not put this level of effort and concern into what I do.

There can be no doubt, Paul McCord deserves better, so do you. Leading me to offer an apology to all of you and a promise; as much as is humanly possible, I am never going to post here again with less than the most professional response, the same way I do when I occasional start threads.

It is true to some degree what Paul says under his handle PMCCORD. Sometimes when I call a business owner they are irritated by that call. Yes sir-eee-bob.

The thing about business is decision makers can never tell who is calling and what the impact of that call might be on their business. Much in the same way you can never tell what a terrific impact networking groups can have on your business, a sales practice that PMCCORD and every sales leader involved in teaching prospecting should include in a prospecting seminar.

In fact, I just got off the phone an hour ago with a company president for a really unique concierge business, the kind that Shaquille O'Neal would call (and has) in the middle of the night to get something, maybe in a strange town while in a manor panic.

I called this president on behalf of an overseas client that is about to launch a massive U.S. campaign. This launch is part of a global expansion of their model of member benefits packages they market through various traditional and non traditional means and they want to outsource the concierge service (amongst other things). This company has a track record of attracting 300,000 members in South Africa and Europe!

I fully expect them to exceed their prediction of a million members worldwide with North America being the biggest market. Can you imagine that president not having taken my call? And, just to make this point even more poignant, earlier in the day, this lucky president’s competitive business owner would not take my call. Look at the potential business they just lost!

This contract will be worth between $50 and $75 million per year!

But this example does not address the valid points raised by PMCCORD, a renowned and astute sales trainer and valued member of this community/forum (though it is illuminating!). So, let me roll up my sleeves and have at it.

Paul has several contentions with what I posted about cold calling. One, highlighted by a study that I do not question the validity of, shows few can achieve cold calling success. And, I do not contest that study, I am sure that the quoted research was excellent, that the numbers generated are bang on or maybe even worse than he mentioned.

The other is the failure rate of sales people that our illustrious trainer, PMCCORD, finds unacceptable. That tens of thousands of sales people are taking every cold calling class they can and still failing. This further explains what he attributes to the unacceptable failure rate of some where around 70%, with the finger pointed at the method.

And before I address those, there is a minor one about a misunderstood comment I made about B2C sales pros, stemming from a slight misunderstanding. I had not intended to indicate that B2C sales people are not professional sales people. I was referring to B2C Telemarketers, most which never intend to do sales as a profession. I wish I had of made that more clear.

Now, let’s rock!

I cannot say more how much I appreciate Paul’s attitude. He wants to change the way things are. And, because of this amazing and vaulted goal, well … he has my heart!

But … is there “a but?” Well, yes, there most definitely is.

In a previous post I said that things are the way they are “for good reason.” I perhaps could have put this better, let alone have fully explained what was on my mind. However, I am somewhat limited. Not only by the brains God granted me and the time available but a forum is also not a place to write a significant portion of a sales training book. Though I fully intend to do that one day. And when I do I will announce it here first, out of pure respect for Jeff Blackwell.

So, in some posts, apart from being harassed by the nagging pull of time and how limited it is, I have also been very aware of what portion of a forum I can use – of how large a single post can be and still be acceptable. Now you know why I have not stated everything on my mind at times. But, it is not right either to be cryptic and not back it up!

How do I convey to Paul McCord and people like him the immense respect I have for them because of their love for the world’s greatest profession and yet straighten them out or at least point out my differences of opinion? It’s tough. And, yet without doubt, since I became a master of salesmanship, which I expect few to argue when they read my works, this is clearly the most important communications of my adult life in regards to business, and this must be done.

I hope the impact hits you square between the eyes. Because you are reading the truth and nothing but the truth from a man who will lay his reputation on the line here, for no benefit except to make sure that you, the person following in my footsteps on the way to being a pro salesperson can get it straight and not be mislead. I do this all the while knowing that people who are not even close to my level of experience will rip apart what I right, proving Kipling’s poem IF; “knaves making a trap for fools …” And I do so willingly for those who can understand and change the way they feel about our profession.

So no matter the level of the challenge here goes …

There are universal laws. They transcend sales. And in order for you (anyone reading this) to understand let me begin with a parable;

If you have a fish tank that happily supports ten guppies and one gets pregnant, a very strange thing happens. First, the miracle of birth, and along come ten or so little ones. And, while that is a miracle, it is not the strange part at all. That comes if you do not get a second fish tank (assuming the first one is not oversized). You see, as the lover of fish finds out, as the gup-pups grow, twice as much food does not support the colony and fish start to die!

In fact, no amount of food will support more life in that small universe. That tank may only support 13 or 15. As soon as that limit is reached, young-ins begin to die. The strong survive and this is just a law of nature, it is the way it is.

Okay, so what does this mean? That there’s only room for so many sales people? Well, this is the paradox, as you will learn when you read on. But, in point of act, this is completely and totally true and manifests itself in ways that are complex though the principal is as easy to understand on basic levels as the workings planets in a solar system.

Paul, it is my belief, that you will be blown away to eventually learn, that no matter how altruistic your beliefs are, you will never make much difference in the survival rate of fish or sales people. The percentages are always going to be roughly the same even if you become many times more effective than you are today, which by the way I fully expect you to!

Paul, this is a law of the universe or, perhaps you would prefer me to say it as; this is a Universal Law of Survival. Fight it, claw away at it, scream and howl at the full moon about it all you want, you may, if you are one of the greatest motivators and trainers of all time, make but one half of one percent difference.

Notice no exclamation on that last sentence. “Juts the facts Mam, only the facts!”

Yes, I feel you brother. I love you for the way you think. It is just that I was weaned on sales as Tiger Woods was on golf. I was groomed to be a sales trainer by a master trainer and salesman. I have walked this walk, training thousands, and I have come to see it a bit from the other side.

Do I want to dampen your spirits? Are you kidding me? One half of one percent is still tens of thousands in your training career. Damn, no, I certainly do not want to stop you from achieving that. But I do want to stop you, oh learned one, from knocking any sales practice, with the exception of slimy behavior or fraudulent acts.

Picking up a phone to make an introduction is a powerful right. No matter how they hide from many nuisance calls, there are those like me that research to the nth degree, insure as much as we can that we do not waste our time or the prospect’s time, call and make a reasonable suggestion that will benefit the prospect and have the expectation that a normal business person will give us time if the benefit fits their business.

There cannot be anything wrong with this and never will be, not as long as I draw breath!

The Universal Law of Survival tells us that if everyone in sales tries to join the BNI or other group, there are not enough affiliated and non-affiliated morning breakfast meetings running or that can be started to support the 70% that are doomed to fail I our industry.

The Universal Law of Survival tells us there are not many who will survive making phone calls and/or wearing out shoe leather (door-knocking) and asking for referrals.

Common sense tells us that referrals and repeat business don’t come at a higher rate until after we have a client base.

Common sense therefore tells us that those starting out in an industry without a salary will not make it by the time the breakfast meeting, referrals and chance meetings generate enough prospects to live off of.

Lastly, common sense further tells us that breakfast meetings, associations and chance meetings do not take up much of the day. And it is during this otherwise idle time that anything and everything must be done to add to all of the great ideas you teach, in order to insure survival, this is what the “fit” do.

Paul, our prospecting seminar lasts 4 hours with a break in-between. We teach it all, and we tell the truth about doing whatever it takes to survive in a full commission environment. But, we know, most of the guppies will die no matter how straight we tell it, no matter how good the advice is, no matter how compelling the motivation is and no matter how many clubs and associations they join or breakfast meetings they attend.

Wise old sales trainers are perhaps less ambitious than you are Paul. What we do is seek knives knowing that “if it is not a knife you can’t sharpen it”. We make a valuable difference to sales people who have survived the beginning and who can improve their results. And this is the paradox I mentioned. If only so many sales people can survive how is it some can make outrageous money? Shouldn’t more be able to survive and make good money rather than some making half a million a year (or whatever amount)?

Well, no …….. !

I can and do make a difference, a huge one. I just make it with people who have the chemical make-up to survive. What I do is sharpen knives.

You, hopefully my friend to be, are playing with quite a few dull instruments. And this is by no way a slap in the face so don’t get uppity, please.

My references on human nature do not mean these are not good people. It just means they are not meant to be commission salespeople, that’s all. Whatever the combination of their make-up and their upbringing that brought them to adults as non survivors without this innate sales ability, they are just not suited for our profession. Sorry.

And, does being a survivor make us better people than them? Nope, but in the words of an insightful and great author; “in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king!”

I, for one, am glad I have at least one eye. - by Gold Calling
Gold Calling, I am a realist, but not a fatalist.

I’ve been in sales, sales management and sales training a fair number of years—about 28. Long enough to have seen a bit of the landscape.

Certainly, long enough to know that my position is diametrically opposed to the vast majority of others in sales training.

Do I believe that I am the savior of the sales world? Of course not.

Do I think I’m going to have a major impact on the industry? No.

Do I expect a great deal of opposition to my views? Absolutely. And I think that for a couple of reasons:

First, I’m going against accepted doctrine. Most people don’t like to have their core beliefs questioned.

Secondly, my position goes counter to a great many people and organizations who have their livelihoods based on cold calling. There are literally thousands of cold calling sales trainers and training companies, lead supply companies, cold calling outsourcing companies, and mainline sales trainers training cold calling. None are inclined to go gentle on my views—and many are my friends. And just because they are my friends, I don’t expect them to not challenge me, just as I will challenge them. Consequently, I have a great deal of opposition to the very ideas that methods can be questioned and that the marketplace is changing.

Thirdly, a great number of companies like cold calling because their most significant sales expense—marketing—is borne by their salespeople, not by them, saving them a huge amount of money. Cynical? To an extent, yes. But accepted industry practice.

Fourthly, part of my questioning of the method is philosophical and that’s not an issue that most people really care about.

Fifth, because there are some who succeed, there are many that take that as proof that the method is the way to success and that because the vast majority fails, it’s just the way of nature. The studies that show the ineffectiveness of cold calling instead of goading them to question the method, reinforces their belief that it’s a salesperson issue—or survival of the fittest issue.

And there are anecdotal studies such as that by Huthwait that indicate cold calling does work, that reinforce the perception that it is a salesperson issue, not a method issue.

Consequently, I’m not blind to the position I take.

I’m certainly not alone in my views of challenging current methods, but as a whole, I’m in a very tiny minority.

Fortunately, my future doesn’t rest on changing the world. I’m not trying to be a Galileo, Newton, or Copernicus, trying to change the course of history through some great new discovery.

I work with companies and individual salespeople and professionals who want to significantly increase their individual businesses. Rather than looking to change the industry, I’m simply looking to help a few become what they want to be. My goals are modest.

Now, do I think my views will eventually become more dominate in the years to come? Yes, I do. I do think eventually more and more people will question many of the current methods of marketing because they’ll have to. More and more we are moving into a permission based marketplace where marketing will only be acceptable after gaining individual consumer’s permission to market directly to them. Much has already been written about that movement by people like Seth Godin and through research by companies like IBM. But that is a movement that will take considerable time.

As I said, I am simply looking to work with a few companies and individuals who know their methods aren’t getting them where they want to go and who want to learn how to get there. Those are the people I can help. I’ve helped thousands in the past and will help many more in the future and the vast majority will pass me by—just as with every other sales trainer out there.

I will question sacred cows. I see no reason not to challenge accepted orthodoxy. Frankly, I find the lack of critical questioning in the area of personal marketing to be appalling, but not surprising. People are not necessarily interested in questioning the methodology of the industry because they are naturally caught up in the day-to-day struggle of making a living.

For many, I’m more a Don Quixote than anything else. And from my perspective, that’s OK. I’m not looking to become a Brian Tracy, Tom Hopkins or Jeffrey Gitomer, appealing to a mass of people, if I were, I’d be parroting them.

Cold calling is safe for a long time to come. We work in an industry that hates change. In addition, it’s a mimic industry—“it worked for Joe, so I better do it too.”

There is some truth to the survival of the fittest concept in sales, but there is far more truth that the real issue is that the failure rate is so high because every salesperson is doing and saying and acting like every other salesperson. Take 100 salespeople from any industry and 90 of them couldn’t be recognized because they are clones of one another. But that’s another sacred cow we could get into. - by pmccord
That was beautiful man. I mean, fantastic!

Wow, what a performance!
You took the words out of my mouth.

Top Shelf GC! thmbp2; - by Jolly Roger
Thanks Jolly and Bluenote. But if you think that is fantastic, wait for what I have proposed next ...

PMCCORD and everyone;

After discarding no less than 6 drafts, I finally started to terms with my greatest fears. I was beginning to believe that there was no effective way on a forum to forward what is known and accepted as true in the sales profession as apposed to having concepts ending up in the “agree to disagree” category when clearly they should not.

If smart people believe things, “why can we not argue them successfully?” This was my thinking.

There are some basics about sales that we, the so-called experts, should be able to agree upon. And, as both Paul McCord and I fall into the well trained sales people category, you can see why I was getting so frustrated, as he and I have struggled over basics. Though part of this is do to different fundamentals causing us to focus from different directions.

It was during the height of my frustration that a creative idea came to me. And, honestly, I think this could be the most exciting event ever in connection with salespractise.com. There is no doubt in my mind that everyone can look forward to this too, as I hope Paul will agree.

I already know Jeff Blackwell is excited. In fact, he’s already done some preparation!

The idea came from some research into a philosopher, as I sought a way to convey truth. To that end I looked up the greatest in history at doing this, a man who died some 2,405 years ago!

He developed a method of handling the forwarding of information and developing of ideas, of establishing the difference between what is known, unknown and what is merely opinion. He “is customarily regarded as the father of Western ethics or moral philosophy.” <quote from Wikipedia.com>

His name? Socrates. The technique he used? Socratic Method. It is, of course, a debate.

What I like the best about this form of debate is the participants in the debate did not take it personally because they knew, way back then, what we seem as a society to forget all too easily today. And that is, none of us know everything, and; “it does not matter how you learn, as long as you do!”

Before I explain further what I am trying to convey in this last quote let me explain how this special kind of debate is done. “It is a form of philosophical inquiry. It typically involves two speakers at any one time, with one leading the discussion and the other agreeing to certain assumptions put forward for his acceptance or rejection.”

I other words, I can say “Cold calling works”. Paul can argue why it does not. But it is more interesting by far than this simple example!

Each participant argues a different side. Since Paul and I do come at sales from different sides, this is no problem. And, the object is to establish minor points that lead to a central point. To prove what makes sense through simple series of establishing the truths, weeding out the falsehoods and what were merely opinions not based on fact.

Those who practiced this did not mind when they themselves discovered they had been arguing the wrong side of one minor point or another because, in the whole, what was known was advanced. In other words they were learning.

I for one would rather risk greatly, live with passion and argue what I believe, even if I am found too be wrong, if it makes me better. This is far superior than always being afraid we will hurt another’s feelings and therefore leaving things unsaid and, more importantly, undiscovered.

The truth is not about feelings.

Even if you believe something today that is found not to be true tomorrow, is that hurting you or anyone with such a belief? After all, men once believed the world was flat. To discover it was not was simply a new fact, not something that was embarrassing to anyone who believed to the contrary. So, I propose we treat sales the same way and begin our forwarding of the world’s greatest profession.

In order to do this I asked Jeff Blackwell to set up a thread where only Paul and I could post. With Jeff acting as the moderator should either of us break the rules of engagement, so to speak.

In order that the “audience” has an involvement, a separate thread can be used. This allows for questions of a clarification or understanding nature to be inserted into the debate from this "outside" thread at the moderators discretion only. And, thus, a high tech example takes the place of the convention in the day of Socrates.

We will post no more than once every 2 days to give those following the thread a chance to read, follow and post questions.
The central focus will come from threads on this forum, from the very postings of each participant. Minor points will be established before we begin, as these are the building blocks of the arguments. Additional minor points can be added after we begin but only at the moderator’s discretion and only from the suggestion to the moderator directly by either of the two debating participants.

Finally, to win, either the central point and the minor ones, an “opponent must contradict themselves in some way that proves the inquirer's own point” or recant a portion of what they have stated before.

How about it Paul? Do you want to prove that you know sales better than I. Or more importantly, do you want to learn more about yourself and our awesome profession? I do.

Jeff is ready for us. I am ready. Just send me an IM if you are game. And, let me close by saying - this will be fun!

Moderator, please LOCK this thread. - by Gold Calling
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