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Is Cold Calling Still Relevant in 2024?


November 17th, 2023

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Cold calling is one of the oldest, and most popular tools in the sales playbook. For as long as phones existed, sales professionals have used them to connect with potential prospects. Though the nature of cold calling has evolved, thanks to the development of new tools and technologies, the strategy remains essential to the success of countless sales reps worldwide.

The question is, as customer journeys evolve, and buyers become less responsive to outbound sales and marketing methods, is cold calling still an effective solution in 2024?

Read on for a behind-the-scenes insight into the effectiveness of cold calling, the alternative strategies you can try, and the methods you can use to unlock success.

Cold Calls in Sales: The Pros and Cons

Debates about the effectiveness of cold calling are everywhere in the sales world. While many companies still use cold calls to connect with potential leads, they also recognize that on average, only around 2% of cold calls lead to closed deals and new opportunities.

There are various downsides to relying exclusively on cold calling for your prospecting and outreach strategies. First, in today’s world, many consumers actively ignore calls from unknown numbers to minimize their exposure to unwanted sales pitches. Cold calling can be annoying, particularly when businesses are reaching out to consumers who are not interested in making a purchase.

However, there are benefits to cold calling too. Though the success rates of cold calling aren’t as high as other outbound lead generation techniques, cold calling can still:

  • Deliver new opportunities: If you take the right approach to cold calling, learn about prospects before making a phone call, and follow the right script, your chances of sales can increase. Simply sharing the reason for your call at the beginning of a conversation can be enough to increase your success rates by 2.1%.  
  • Fill the sales funnel: Cold calling is still one of the best ways to fill your sales funnel with potential leads. Although there are other methods of reaching out to “new” buyers, around 49% of buyers still say they prefer initial contact to be made over the phone. 
  • Develop skills: Practicing cold calling techniques can be an excellent way for sales professionals to hone their skills. New sales reps can learn from every call, discovering which strategies, pitches, and phrases drive engagement, and which encourage turnover. 

Cold calls are also an excellent way to build the foundations of a strong relationship with consumers. Real conversations between two human beings are often more engaging than interactions over email or social media messages. Cold calls gives sales teams an opportunity to build rapport, ask questions, and demonstrate emotional intelligence to consumers.

Is Cold Calling Still Effective in 2024?

In 2024, cold calling might seem like an outdated concept. In some industries, it’s much easier to reach potential customers and prospects through social media channels like LinkedIn, than it is to encourage them to pick up the phone for a call. 

However, cold calling can still be effective. In the modern world, cold calling benefits from:

  1. Increased Access to Data

In the past, one of the biggest reasons cold calling strategies failed to deliver results for businesses, is that companies focused on “generic outreach”. They used the same scripts and pitches with every customer, meaning campaigns were only relevant for a handful of prospects.

Now, companies can take a more personalized approach to cold calling, with access to innovative technologies and tools. AI solutions like ChatGPT can help professionals gather more information about their customer segments, and personalize messages to suit each customer. 

Businesses can also collect information from recordings and transcriptions, paving the way for a more data-driven approach to sales strategies. 

  1. A Humanized Approach to Selling

We’re living in a world where almost everything can be automated, or influenced by bots. While powerful AI tools can improve the efficiency of sales teams, and campaigns, they can’t accomplish everything – like forming deep human connections with potential customers. 

Today’s buyers are increasingly looking for human interactions in an environment driven by AI. Cold calling gives sales reps an opportunity to connect with prospects on a deeper, more meaningful level. It ensures reps can build rapport with each potential client, gather information and insights in real-time, and even show empathy and compassion to buyers.

Phone calls are still one of the best ways to engage prospects. It could even help differentiate your business from other companies reliant on emails and social media strategies.

  1. A Way to Connect with Executives

Just like any sales strategy, cold calling can be more effective in certain industries and sectors than others. According to one report, phone calls are still one of the bet ways to connect with executive and c-level professionals, with 57% preferring calls for the first point of contact.

While today’s buyers don’t necessarily need to connect with sales reps to make purchasing decisions, a cold call can give companies an effective way to engage buyers throughout their journey. Speaking directly to the decision makers in a business is an excellent way to connect with prospects.

It can even be an excellent way to strengthen the trust customers have in your business, products or solutions. If you conduct research prior to a cold call, and deliver value to your potential customers in the form of statistics and useful information, they’ll be more likely to see you as a trusted advisor going forward. 

Alternatives to Cold Calling: Other Outreach Options

One of the reasons some companies and executives believe cold calling is no longer relevant in 2024, is that there are so many other ways to connect with customers. Phone calls are just one of a series of tools sales reps can utilize to fill the lead pipeline. Other options include:

  • Email marketing (or cold emailing): Where cold calling can interrupt people during their activities, cold emailing puts more control in the hands of your customers, allowing them to choose when they want to interact with your message. Cold emailing can also provide useful insights into everything from which messages resonate with your audience, to which drive sales, thanks to analytical tools for tracking metrics like click-through and open rates. 
  • Content marketing (inbound marketing): Another way to collect prospects is to use marketing content (blogs, podcasts, and videos) to educate and entertain your audience. Delivering high-quality content is an excellent way to demonstrate thought leadership and credibility. It also actively brings customers to you, connecting with them at various stages throughout the buyer journey, without relying on the pitches of a sales rep. 
  • Social media: As one of the most powerful prospecting tools available today, social media offers an opportunity to engage directly with leads (via outbound messages), and attract new prospects to your business. You can boost brand awareness with social media campaigns, use targeted ads to connect with specific groups, and message users directly using tools like LinkedIn. 

How to Improve Cold Calling in 2024

Most companies and business leaders that believe cold calling is “dead” in 2024 simply aren’t approaching the strategy effectively. Like any sales initiative, cold calling requires a strategic, carefully planned approach. Here are some of the ways sales teams can optimize cold calling in 2024 (and beyond). 

Step 1: Do Your Research

As mentioned above, a randomized approach to cold calling is rarely effective in today’s world. To ensure you’re using your resources effectively, you need to conduct research. This means figuring out what the “objective” of each cold call is going to be, and learning as much as you can about your prospects before you reach out. 

Creating ideal customer profiles, and understanding the needs, pain points, and expectations of your audience is a great way to “warm up” a cold call. Today’s sales teams can gather data in various ways, by assessing LinkedIn profiles, researching customer names online, or even speaking to gatekeepers and champions within the business. 

Step 2: Leverage Technology

Technology is also having a significant impact on the modern cold calling process. As mentioned above, companies can now access tools for everything from collecting prospect data, to analyzing market trends, and even creating personalized sales scripts. 

There are even tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator that can help sales teams track important moments in a buyer’s journey, such as when employees move to a new business or take on a different role. Automated tools can also remind sales professionals to follow-up with leads, and collect insights from each conversation, making every sales call feel more personalized, and relevant to the prospect.

Step 3: Get the Timing Right 

Most of today’s professionals and decision makers aren’t just sitting around waiting for the phone to ring. There are times of day when people will be more comfortable taking and responding to cold calls. These times can vary depending on the customer you target, and your industry.

For instance, lunch times can be an excellent time to reach out to executives, as it’s when most secretaries and personal assistants step away from the office. This minimizes your risk of having to deal with gatekeepers before speaking to a decision maker. 

Gathering insights from each cold call your sales team makes can give you a clearer view of the precise schedule to follow to get the best results. 

Step 4: Use and Optimize Scripts

Scripts are one of the most powerful tools in cold calling, capable of improving the flow of a conversation, and guiding sales teams towards the right results. The key to success is ensuring you structure your script effectively. 

Cold calling scripts should guide professionals through the process of opening a conversation with a customer, pitching a solution, and even asking important questions. At the same time, sales professionals should have the freedom to adapt the script as they go, personalizing what they say based on the responses of consumers. 

Recording and transcribing conversations so you can analyze the effectiveness of each sales script and strategy will allow you to optimize your approach over time. 

Step 5: Be Persistent

While cold calling can be an effective strategy for sales, it’s something that does require a certain level of perseverance. Studies show it takes around two to three attempts for most top-performing employees to connect with a prospect. Agents can’t simply call once and give up.

They need to keep reaching out to potential customers, regardless of how often they’re rejected. The best professionals keep pushing until they get a solid “no” or a “yes”. Sometimes, sales teams may even use various different outreach methods at once.

This could mean contacting a prospect via phone call first, then leaving a voicemail, following up with an email, or reaching out over social media. 

Is Cold Calling Still Effective?

In today’s ever-evolving world, cold calling can seem like something of an “old-school” approach to sales. However, reaching out to prospects over the phone can still be a valuable tactic. Cold calling remains an effective way to seek out new prospects and opportunities, build relationships, and pave the way for increased sales. 

The key to success is mastering the right cold-calling techniques. With a more strategic approach, focusing on everything from the use of data to in-depth research, companies can improve the success rate of their cold-calling strategies almost instantly.Discover how to master the art of cold calling for sales in 2024, by connecting with the experts at the Hardskill Exchange today!

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