Does Cold Calling Still Work?

Mike Volpe (HubSpot’s CMO), Ken Krogue (’s President) and I will engage in a live Google + Hangout debate on this popular topic on Wednesday January 30 at 11 AM PST. To join us and watch online, visit our host’s Google + page (Software Advice’s Managing Editor Derek Singleton.)

Here are some key points I plan to make:

1. “Cold calling” is an unfortunate, outdated and stigmatized term that I’d love to see banished from our sales vocabulary, along with the equally cringe-inducing term, “telemarketing.” In the Sales 2.0 world, we’ve moved beyond the boiler room. Old school expressions like “pounding the phones” and “smiling and dialing” – along with “cold calling” – belong to the Sales 1.0 era we’re leaving behind.

2. Modern sales organizations have highly specialized and segmented sales forces that include inbound and outbound organizations usually known as “Sales Development” (or “Lead Generation”) as well as quota-carrying sales teams that don’t travel (or limit face-to-face meetings,) typically called “Inside Sales.”

3. Inbound Sales Development responds to and follows up with leads generated by marketing. Outbound Sales Development teams are the ones that prospect (“cold call.”) Their goal is to add incremental qualified leads to the pipeline. The good ones do this via intelligent outreach (not generic and irrelevant pitches) to buyers most likely to become customers, use multiple media for reaching contacts (e.g. phone, e-mail, social media), and are supported by ongoing marketing programs.

4. Sales Development teams that follow Sales 2.0 practices can measure the contributions they make to the company’s pipeline, forecast and revenue. And the best ones show significant business return.  In our last survey, we found that the average contribution of Sales Development teams was 55% of U.S. revenue. Brent Holloway and I include a case study of the ROI of Sales Development in the Sales 2.0 book that showed a return of over 1,000%.

5. Best-performing companies minimize the amount of outbound prospecting done by quota-carrying reps, either in the field or “inside.” (I dislike that term, too. But that’s the subject of another blog post…)

What contribution does Sales Development make in your company? Can you quantify the pipeline, forecast and revenue impact?

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Monday, January 28th, 2013 Uncategorized
  • John Philpin

    The implication is that “cold calling” used to work …. but I am not sure it ever did.

    Definitely people used to connect with others ‘out of the blue’ and something might happen – but the best sales people from ‘the old school’ i have ever known never cold called. They connected with a thought through and understood value proposition that they anticipated would resonate with the person they were calling – even though that person might never have expected the call – so was it a cold call – or a carefully calculated campaign of 1?

    Back onto definitions again … my take is that we should ban all meaningful jargon …. remember this one :

  • Anneke

    Good point, John! What’s a good word or phrase for what you describe?

  • Sudip

    This has stopped working. Now it is era of cold emailing or cold socialising. Sudip from