The Big Problem With Cold Calling

Jamie Grenney
January 19, 2022
The Big Problem With Cold Calling

If you go by what people say in sales blogs and LinkedIn chatter, there’s a big debate going on about cold outreach. 

Some people say cold calling is dead. Buyers are overwhelmed and tuning it out. Conversion rates are going down, and it’s time to move on. 

Others insist cold calling still works—if you do it right. 

Cold calling has been a part of my workflow for 20 years, and at this point I’ll say this: 

The smartest go-to-market teams today are winning by doing something very different than what most people know cold calling to be.

Let’s just admit that cold calling sucks

I started my career as an SDR. I’ve been an AE, run enablement for global sales orgs, and served as a CMO. I’ve lived in the sales trenches and I’ve looked at selling from a 10,000-foot view. 

I have to say it. Cold outreach is a painful grind for everybody. Nobody likes doing it. Nobody likes receiving it. It’s annoying and unpleasant for everyone involved.

Cold outreach is really expensive

While yes, there is data pointing to some amount of sales that can be attributed to cold calls, it’s usually a small fraction of a percent. Any marketing channel with such low performance should raise big concerns. Especially one that requires a large team and a thick tech stack. 

For some reason, cold outreach efforts don’t get the same level of scrutiny as tactics like events and paid marketing campaigns. But just stop for a second and think about the cost of BDR teams, their managers, and all those licenses for Salesforce, Marketo, ZoomInfo, Outreach, Ringcentral, etc.

It’s a lot of money. 

Meanwhile, there isn’t a lot of data about all the business that cold calling loses. But I think it’s safe to say that people generally don’t want to buy from companies that annoy them.

Data regulators are coming 

Government data regulations are becoming more common and a lot more powerful. I’m sure you’ve heard of GDPR and CCPA. But do you know about China’s Personal Information Protection Law? Or Brazil’s General Data Protection Law? Or Pakistan’s Personal Data Protection Bill?

There are dozens of examples of new laws controlling how information about individual people is stored, shared, and used. And they have teeth. Ignore them at your peril. It may well be that your next cold call campaign results in a massive fine for your company.

Why do we keep doing this?

There are a lot of reasons why people do things that don’t make sense. Approaches that worked in the past take on a life of their own, even after they’ve become ineffective. Managers feel like they have to justify the sunk costs invested in teams and tools. Sometimes we do things just because we assume everyone does them. Groupthink is real. 

There’s a better way to go to market 

In the blog battle over cold calling, the pro-cold-outreach camp often qualifies their arguments with lines like this:

“A big component of cold calling is calling the right prospects at the right time, providing them with the correct information,” written by a sales outsourcing firm. 

It’s hard to argue with their point.

But if you’re calling the right people at the right time with information they actually want…are you really cold calling? 

I think maybe not.

And that’s where the magic of tools like Connect The Dots really starts to shine.

We’re seeing a large chunk of our beta users using our platform to perform a very specific go-to-market motion where they skip cold calling and surgically target their best leads by using the relationship graph our platform helps them build.

It’s really simple.

Sales teams are joining the platform, along with sales leadership, the company’s C-Suite, and often their lead investors.

For the more connected members of the team, Connect The Dots is a one-step solution that allows them to share their networks with senior AEs and business development folks. Those in the trenches now have access to a large network of warm contacts. They can see who their leaders know well, and ask for introductions easily. AEs and BDRs find warm connections to top accounts, get connected, and go from there.

(Stay tuned for a more detailed post about this process, but in essence, that’s pretty much it.)

Our working name for this process is “Relationship GTM.”

It’s the very simple notion that it’s better to go to the market via warm connections to people who want to help than it is to pour good money after bad into cold outreach campaigns that hurt as much as they help.

Oh, and by the way, a lot of our beta users piloting this technique are on the free version of our product.

You’d be amazed how far you can take it. 

Interested in giving it a try? Get on the waitlist.

Have questions? Let’s talk!

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