Yesterday, as I do on every Tuesday, I read Jeffrey Gitomer’s excellent sales newsletter, as you should too if you want to be a superstar in sales.
One of the guest articles really made an excellent point: The topic was, you guessed it, cold calling.
The author explained that up until the early to mid 1990s, companies generally had an “open door” policy when it came to cold callers. Salespeople who made cold calls were the primary means of learning about new products and services, and in order to stay on the cutting edge, decision makers would frequently accept cold calls if only to stay educated on what was out there in the marketplace.
Then came the late 1990s, and a little something called the Internet, and all that changed.
How The Internet Killed Cold Calling
Let’s be honest here – even though cold calls were far more widely accepted twenty years ago, they’ve always been annoying, and many busy people only did business via trusted referrals – something I do myself with all large purchases.
Having said that, though, up until the mid-1990s, cold calling had a place.
Why? I’ll explain:
Pre-2000: No Internet, or weak and poorly populated Internet. No blogs or online journals, or even good search engines at the time – you had to go to a site like Yahoo and then find the seemingly well-hidden search box. Therefore, salespeople who made cold calls were a useful resource to find out what was new and cutting-edge.
Post-2000: The Internet as we know it today, and now in 2014, you can even do all of your business networking, better than you could do it offline and in person, on sites like LinkedIn. Decision makers don’t turn to salespeople to learn about the latest and greatest. They rely on Google, LinkedIn, blogs, social media, and the Internet in general for that information.
Furthermore, they use the Internet to find vendors to serve their needs. In other words, the days of waiting for a salesperson to call or knock on the door are over. Now, prospects are pro-active: They don’t wait for a salesperson to call. The get online and find the right salesperson.
Are they finding you? If not, why not?
Guess what – people find me. And they find my sales reps and agencies and resellers. Yes, I’m still out selling on a regular basis, in my consulting and training business. But I haven’t made a cold call since about the year 2000.
It all started in 1996 when I got the dream job I’d been waiting for 2 years to get, on a waitlist. My new boss was horrified to see me cold calling – he told me that company was too reputable and too well-trusted to have salespeople ruining their image with cold calls. (Think about that – it’s a lesson in itself.)
He teamed me up with the top rep in the office, who introduced me to his many networking contacts throughout the city, all of whom where also top sales pros. I spent time with them, they mentored me, and I learned how they were doing it – and what I learned what nothing of what I expected. Hint: They were NOT cold calling!
As if by a stroke of magic, I finally started making sales. Lots of sales! I soon had so many leads that I was able to pick & choose which ones I wanted, and would give the leftovers to other reps in the office and split the commissions with them.
They all wanted to know how on earth I was generating so many hot leads, and that’s when it dawned on me that I had knowledge others would willingly pay for. At that point I wrote the first edition of my Never Cold Call Again system, produced two CDs to accompany it, along with some other materials, and, as they say, “The rest is history.” It sold so well that I was able to quit my last job only a couple of months later and I even became a New York Times best-seller!
If you want the same level of success, do yourself a favor: Drop the cold calling charade and begin using modern, Information Age sales prospecting techniques that work. Your wallet and your bank account will thank you for it!