In today’s post, we’d like to pay homage to a number of outbound prospecting techniques that we’ve lost in recent years. The sales industry has gone through a tough time in the wake of uncontrollable Internet growth and customer expropriation of the buying process. As loyal sales devotees, we feel the time has come for us to honor and respect the sales strategies that companies like ours have sent to the guillotine.

Cold Calls
Cold calls are the archetypal outbound approach. As recently as five years ago, decision makers received as many as 300 voicemails in a single week. Now, the red flash of a new message on the machine is a rare and unwelcome reminder that sales reps increasingly abandon the technique that defined their profession for decades. Unyielding persistence is gone forever. Decision makers used to get hundreds of calls from the same obstinate reps, but now, reps get responses from a single call. Reps throw out the dogged dedication of the cold call in favor of a targeted approach. They completely lack the grit to grasp the determination required to risk cauliflower ear in pursuit of the 500 a day call record. They even Tweet at prospects today – further proof of their flagrant dismissal of tradition.

List Buys
With the passing of the cold call, so too has gone the need for lists of names and phone numbers. An entire industry has crumpled under the rapier of Sales Intelligence. The CRM has outmoded the excel spreadsheet, and has superannuated the rigor and perseverance that we all put into keeping our lists clean.

The Press Wire
We’d like to honor a number of defunct marketing practices, but since the press release languishes on, we think it deserves a special shout out. The press release is symbolic of expensive marketing content that companies now abandon in favor of less costly – or free – alternatives. Four hundred dollars on the press wire just isn’t the same as it used to be; Twitter and Facebook have driven the press wire into obscurity with their free platforms and optional costs. Customers now have very short attention spans. They used to spend at least ten minutes reading articles to gain a deep understanding of relevant news. Today, Internet users scan titles. Peruse has become one of the most misused words in the English language. Twitter has replaced the press wire. The articles still matter, but readers are too preoccupied with the highly targeted news streams they create for themselves on social sites to manage to find a press release that companies have paid moderate sums to promote. The promotion game has changed, and the press release will never be the same.

Outbound prospecting used to require a unique persistence. Few reps demonstrated the charm to win over new prospects and build relationships from scratch. Today, reps feign these qualities. Sales Intelligence, like a helicopter parent, solves all their questions for them. Reps don’t even have to speak to a prospects to know what they care about and when they’re likely to buy. The integrity of sales has been completely disrupted.

We know things will continue on the path they’re headed, and as we remember the losses the sales community has experienced, we request that all our readers offer their opinions. Are you glad that you’ve helped kill the cold call? Which sales deaths do you mourn the most?