The Entitlement of Cold Calling

Recently, I watched a short video on LinkedIn featuring a “cold calling expert” who had this incredible “trick” (his word) to get people to stay on the phone with you long enough to pitch them…whatever. And I thought — Wow, what an outdated and brand-dangerous approach to selling. So I said so on his thread and more people actually liked my response than his original post. But it got me thinking about the state of cold calling in today’s society. 

I mean, what gives companies the right to cold call? What entitles them to do so? They are making the conscious choice to bother people, annoy them and add to the noise in a way that doesn’t really showcase the brand they’re representing in the best possible light. But, several salespeople jumped on my response and said “Oh Scott….you just don’t understand sales.” Hmmmm. I don’t understand sales huh? Well, let’s find out.

One of my mentors, Donald Miller, has a great illustration of a business as an airplane with marketing and sales serving as the right and left engines of that plane. Our dual functions give the plane/business thrust and keep it in the sky, but these engines MUST work together or the pilot will be looking to make an emergency landing. (aka bankruptcy)

To me, here’s how these engines need to work together.

Marketing creates the message and gets it out there to make people CURIOUS. Then marketing helps develop the relationship to the ENLIGHTENMENT stage and that’s where sales (the left engine) takes over and deepens that relationship leading to COMMITMENT where the customer has a problem, trusts our brand as the way to solve it and moves forward to do so. Now sometimes marketing can just close the whole transaction without any personal sales – it really depends on the brand, the problem and the customer. But sales should NEVER try to replace marketing because sales doesn’t know the problem, doesn’t have a relationship (yet) and are very likely to annoy the prospect before marketing gets a chance to build that relationship.

This brings us back to cold calling or cold contact (text, email, DM, etc). Why would someone do it? Well, it’s pretty much the proactive search for money and it’s very one-sided because the sales rep isn’t doing it for you, he/she is doing it for themselves and you just happen to be in the way of them getting to your money.

Folks, that is the gospel truth right there.

To me, the top reasons companies cold call (including phone calls, texting, emails and DMs) in 2023 are:

  1. Lazy — it’s a numbers game and SOMEONE somewhere is bound to have a problem we solve so let’s just keep on smiling and dialing until we find them.
  2. It’s Worked Before — As dumb as that sounds, that description can be used for SO many things businesses do on a daily basis and cold calling does produce sales at some point.
  3. No Perceived Downside — hey, who cares if we bother the whole world? — I mean, what does that matter as long as OUR sales numbers look good and our “tricks” to keep them on the phone keep working?

And there was a time when cold contact worked very well and maybe it was even necessary because our methods of communication were not as advanced and we didn’t have as much direct contact. But today, cold contact is seen as rude, invasive, annoying, bothersome, etc and nothing that you would want associated with YOUR precious brand. Salespeople rarely think about the brand and especially the long-term brand damage that can be done when you engage in behavior that ticks the customer off. 

That’s my point to all of this — if you are REALLY thinking about YOUR brand, and YOUR customer relationships, you won’t do anything that could destroy them and cold contact is a GREAT way to burn all of the bridges and scorch all of the earth. So…just stop it. There are better ways — just look to your marketing engine and let them start things off the RIGHT way (right engine, get it?) and then sales can come in and do what it was supposed to do all along — meet needs, build relationships and yes, make MONEY!