Cold Calls Are A Waste Of Time

I read a job listing the other day. I read a lot of job listing, as it’s one of the ways we find new clients, AND it gives us an idea of what our clients’ competitors are doing.

The listing was a solicitation for a SaaS Sales Representative, posted by a “global” software company.  I stressed “global” as I had never heard of this company, but as the saying goes, “There are more things in heaven and earth…”, so, my not  knowing who they are doesn’t mean squat.  What caught my eye was the skill-set they were looking for:

2 – 3 years of customer service experience, good written and verbal skills, the ability to work hard, and a willingness to make cold calls. 

Cold calls. Cold. Freakin’. Calls.

I admit it; I was floored. A global sales company finds themselves in need of sales people who they can “groom” that are willing to interrupt busy folks, who are entrusted to make purchasing decisions on behalf of their company, who:

  1. Have no expectation of their call
  2. Likely don’t know their product, OR the newly groomed” caller, OR (if they’re like me) the company the newly groomed are representing

On the off chance that the person who answers the phone was, just that morning, thinking about the inefficiencies of their old software, and how great it would be to get new software from a stranger on the phone.  Well shucks! Why the heck not?

As has been covered, there are a lot of things I don’t know, but that type of Cinderella scenario sounds like a lot.  This company is global!  And I know this is true, as they said it on the Internet (don’t fight me on this).  The compensation listed was “base” plus commission, plus bonus (?). This means that they are willing to pay some dollar amount to have new hires not make connections on the phone.

I totally get wanting your new folks to get on the phone.  They need to have their hearts broken; their feelings hurt, and then get back on the phone. I don’t know a better way for them to prove to the company, but more importantly, themselves, that sales is the right move for them in their current incarnation, but not cold selling calls!  How about scoping calls?  Scoping calls stir the same pots of human anxiety, and provide the same potential for being brushed off as cold calls, do.  Plus, you’re way more likely to get what you came for.

Back in the days when Beverly Hills 90210 was getting blockbuster ratings (so, a long time ago), I was beginning my sales career as a nurse recruiter for a (real) national company. When I started, cold calls were mandated.  I stayed on the phone, getting ignored and ALWAYS hitting my calls quota, but never hitting my contract / nurses staffed, quota.

This went on for almost a month before our district blazed into the office and told us all that we would be fired and replaced the following month, if we didn’t make our shift numbers, and that she didn’t care how we did it.  I had already figured that no Director of Nursing (DON) wanted to speak with me about some unknown nurse that I said I could provide.  Faced with the threat of unemployment, and tired of the testy tone and unreturned calls, I started faxing (it’s a machine that used to be hooked to a phone line) a Skills Summary that listed the qualifications of the nurses that we had available before I called.  Now, I reasoned, the DON could have some belief that there was actually something worth talking about.  I did this because she, sometimes he, was busy and I had a roster of nurses that I needed to get shifts for.  I did it because I wanted to respect her time and my own.  But mostly, I did it because it worked. After a time, I gained a reputation as a recruiter that rang when she had something worth talking about.

And that was the end of the cold calling game, for me.  I’m no Aaron Ross (shout out to Predictable Revenue), but it made sense to me that busy people appreciated folks that understood that they had things to do.  I had things to do.  I know that cold calls are a lovely old chestnut that used to work.  We have a client right now, that insists that we make X number of calls to their potentials before we do anything else.  Mostly, the team leaves lots of voicemails, and gets very few calls back from folks that fit both the client’s budget and time requirements.  This week, we’ll be setting up the second set of prospects for a new campaign: emails, calls, and real human connection for this same client.  I suspect that we’ll get a bit more traction.

If anyone reading this is out there successfully making cold calls, hit me back.  I’d appreciate the opportunity to learn something from someone else that I have never been able to quantify on my own.

Kimberly Jones leads business development for Pure Blues Technologies, and makes excellent fried cauliflower that tastes better than chicken.  She asks that folks contact her here, or telepathically.


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