What Really Infuriates Me
“Cold calling is dead. Email and social media have replaced the telephone as the primary means of business communication. Trying to reach new leads via phone calls is a waste of time.”
I hear this argument from people outside the telemarketing industry frequently; of course, I completely disagree with it. Our clients would disagree as well. They hire us week after week to find difficult-to-reach decision makers and, for many clients, we are their primary source of new business opportunities. With all the positive feedback I hear from clients, I know what we do is needed and that they are willing to pay for it.
While we are not, by any means, a typical call center, VSA is at its core a call center (or telemarketing center, to use the older term). We make outbound business-to-business cold calls and follow up with emails with the objective of helping the sales process. No matter how sophisticated the program, or how customized the design, or how little we use the term “call center” to describe our business, we nonetheless fit the criteria.
As such, we are a member of the professional association for the call center industry, PACE (www.paceassociation.com). When speaking with colleagues in PACE, even though they may run organizations much different from VSA, we all know that cold calling is alive and well, and that many business transactions still originate and are finalized by phone.
But when I step outside our industry, I am perplexed to hear people announce, “Cold calling is dead.” I hear these proclamations and think about the great lead we recently got with a big hospital chain or manufacturing plant, or how we reached the CFO of a national corporation. I have proof that cold calling is not dead.
I usually remain quiet during these infuriating talks, but at a recent meeting I couldn’t help but interject. The speaker was a colleague who prefaced his comments with, “Valerie, you’re not going to like what I’m about to say, but…” and proceeded to describe why cold calling is a waste of time, and it’s much better to focus on a more narrow market and reach out via email or LinkedIn. I had to interject—if cold calling didn’t work, our clients wouldn’t hire us. But we are still in business because we can and do make eight or more attempts to reach someone and we deliver qualified leads.
After the talk, the speaker and I met on more nuanced grounds. He agreed with me that outsourced appointment setting and cold calling is still effective, and I agreed with him that it’s usually not cost effective for in-house salespeople to be making the cold calls themselves. While it has gotten more difficult to reach decision makers by phone calls alone, that does not mean we should abandon the telephone altogether.
Our clients have realized that cold calling is still a viable lead generation tool. While it may be inefficient for their internal sales team to make the calls, it’s well worth their investment to hire VSA to spend the time on the phone for them and deliver well-qualified leads.