Cold Calling: the Myth of Cold Calling 2.0 and Other Urban Legends

I receive Google Alerts daily on my favorite subject of conversation, cold calling, and I read them. I’m always on the lookout for an opportunity to contribute to a discussion on cold calling, sales, or any other related subject, especially if I can inject some self-promotion!

In the over four years that I’ve been following this subject, I’ve gotten very good at spotting trends, and there’s one that is popular right now: The idea of “Cold Calling 2.0.”

Whoever coined this term no doubt took the name from Web 2.0. However, the idea that cold calling is any different today than it was in the past is far-fetched and ignorant at best. In my opinion, attempting to dupe salespeople and small business owners that there is anything new or different about cold calling that might work in today’s economy is problematic at best, and downright unethical and dishonest at worst.

Here’s an example: I had a coaching call today with an individual who spent over four figures (yes, four figures!) on a package from one of these “Cold Calling 2.0” gurus. What was he taught for that obscene amount of money? To send e-mails to companies, pretending to ask for help, all with the lowly goal of learning who the contact person is.

Well, that’s a lot of effort – and a bit of lying – just to find out who the contact person is. After all, the sales interaction doesn’t even begin until that contact person is, well, contacted … and I’m guessing the recommended advice is the old, ineffective, obsolete cold call.

Let’s face it: A cold call is a cold call is a cold call. I don’t care if it’s a direct, in-your-face, old-school cold call, or a sneaky, pretend-to-be-someone-I’m-not-to-get-a-contact-name cold call. (And if all you have is a contact name, you still haven’t even made the cold call!)

Here are some key reasons why cold calling – whether it’s “old-school” style, or especially this sneaky “cold calling 2.0,” continues to become less and less effective as time goes on:

1. Cold calling lacks honesty and integrity. I’ve been talking a lot lately about honesty and integrity. They need to be the foundation for everything you do, end of story. Without building on those principles, nothing else you do will last for the long term. Sure, you might get a lead and maybe even a sale now and then by being sneaky and telling little white lies, but what will that do for your reputation and self-esteem in the long term?

I have many clients and students who now receive 100% of their business from referrals. Do you think this could be possible if they didn’t live and do business by the highest, utmost standards of honesty and integrity? No way.

A big part of the “cold calling 2.0” myth is using a new “angle” to cold call. Well, I hate to break it to you, but honest, ethical people don’t have to use “angles” or “gimmicks” to do business.

2. Cold calling provides zero value to others. Another subject that’s coming up a lot in my talks and programs lately is that of giving value first. If you give first, with no expectation of reward, and no strings attached to your giving of value, you will reap rewards like you’ve never dreamed possible. People will look up to you as a trusted business adviser, they will respect you, and they will see you in an entirely different light than your competition.

Here’s the clincher: You can’t give value first if your initial contact with a prospect is through a cold call. Instead of positioning yourself as a generous provider of value, all a cold call does is position you as a hungry salesperson who just wants to get a sale … with no regard to providing any value first. This is precisely why closing rates of leads that come from cold calling are the lowest of all, or as my friend and author Jeffrey Gitomer has said, “Cold calling has the lowest percentage of sales call success.” It’s also why prospects tend to trust cold callers far less than other salespeople – they wonder what’s wrong with you and your company that you have been forced to cold call – the last resort of a desperate salesperson – to drum up business. It doesn’t speak highly of you or of your company’s financial stability.

3. Cold calling strictly limits your income by time. Due to the sheer amount of time required to make enough cold calls to get enough qualified leads, you will never make a high income by cold calling. Think about it – with all the time it takes to run appointments, meet with prospects and customers, handle customer service issues, attend sales meeting, write proposals, prepare reports, attend training (including your own continuing education), and so on, how on earth are there enough hours in every week, day, and month to make all those cold calls? There simply aren’t! Sure, if your product or service is a great offer and you’re good at cold calling, you might manage to eek out 100% of quota and hang on to your job for another month, but do you really want to spend the rest of your life eeking out your quota and starting over again next month? Of course not! I assume if you’re taking the time to read this article, it’s because you’re focused and have high goals for your career and your life and want to make the big bucks!

You’re not going to make the big bucks cold calling. Even if you’re some kind of cold calling genius who can make it work, you’re going to severely limit yourself by time and never reach the six-figure and higher income brackets. The only way, and I really mean the only way, to achieve that is through leverage. You need to have lead-generation systems in place that work exponentially, and simultaneously, to generate the quality and quantity of leads you’ll need to have to make the big bucks. That’s what will open the doors to promotions to upper management, consulting opportunities, or my own path – becoming a bestselling author and speaker.

If you’re out in the ocean, you have two choices: Swim back to shore and live on, or tread water until you die. Cold calling, including the new, so-called “cold calling 2.0” tactics, are treading water. Do you want to break through and move to the next level and beyond, or do you want to continue treading water?

Hopefully those points clear up this idea of “cold calling 2.0” and expose that urban legend as just that – a legend. I’m tired of hearing from struggling salespeople who have spent hundreds, or in some cases, over a thousand dollars on these “new cold calling” courses, only to have them fail, spend a mere $97 on my system, and find out it was the answer to their prayers. Save your money, use your brains, and think for yourself … and stop treading water with those ineffective and time-consuming cold calls!

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