Cold Calling is Dying. But Here’s What You Can Do About It
Our business used to be simple: make cold calls, set up meetings and get hired. Wash, rinse and repeat.
As my career started in 2008, this formula proved tried and true. But over the last decade, I’ve noticed that our cultural communication has shifted, forcing a re-evaluation of this “spray & pray” approach. Here are some of my general observations:
- Not Available Right Now: As a culture, we appear to be developing an aversion to unexpected communication. Think about it: are you ever annoyed when a friend surprise calls you without first texting to see if you’re available? The same forces that have rewritten the rules of dating – Tinder/Bumble (good), random bar conversations/blind dates (bad) – are insidiously creeping into our work relationships. Will you still be able to periodically finagle your way into a cold called meeting? Possibly, if you can find their phone number.
- Bye Bye Phone: Businesses no longer rely as heavily on phone communication. There is a quiet revolution – Slack, Skype for Business, etc. – of applications that are shifting the way businesses interact internally. And as their usage of phones decrease, so does their need for them. As a result, it’s not uncommon for “new economy” businesses to communicate via personal cell phones when needed. And it’s incredibly challenging to cold call a company when their phone numbers are unlisted.
- New Friends on Social Media: The dominance of social media and its network-identifying intelligence has allowed astute operators to efficiently target opportunities. The carpet-bombing characteristics of cold calling is yielding to the surgical strike capabilities of LinkedIn. Imagine increasing your conversion ratio by 5x, while reclaiming significant amounts of time.
In spite of the recent trends I’ve described above, I continue to be a strong advocate of cold calling…for the moment. To ensure we stay ahead of the curve, I regularly evaluate my team’s output and measure their “return on time investment” to ensure it doesn’t drop below certain levels. Cold calling continues to prove effective even though our conversion ratios are shrinking.
Yet I know that there will come a time, perhaps within the next 10-15 years, when business leads will almost exclusively be identified using sophisticated artificial intelligence tools that mine our collective digital presence and social media feeds. Cold calling may soon be viewed as anachronistically old school and rising stars will scoff at the once-productive skill-set. So some advice to my fellow brokers? Go all in on cold calling now while it’s still effective, as the days of the cold caller appear to be numbered.
Questions or thoughts? Comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.