Tweak Your Biz

Home » Marketing » Why Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time (And What You Should Be Doing Instead)

Why Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time (And What You Should Be Doing Instead)

This post originally appeared on Sarah Ryan’s blog, Sarah is a regular contributor to Tweak Your Biz. 

Yesterday I received an (unsolicited) email from a marketing firm telling me how great cold calling is. They assured me that “cold calling is very effective for sales lead generation when executed properly” and “it is a known fact that the phone is still a powerful and effective lead generation tool.”

Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time

This is a firm who say they have been in marketing for 15 years and yet they:

  1. emailed me without permission (don’t get me started – permission marketing is a post for another day)
  2. had a link to ‘top tips’ and ‘white papers’ in the email which was broken (and further search on their website revealed neither to exist); and
  3. they not only seem to believe that cold calling is still the way to go, but apparently, it’s a “known fact” that it’s the best way to generate leads.

There were so many things wrong with the email from top to toe – and from a marketing company to whom others outsource their campaigns no less! – but today I’m going to deal with the supposed effectiveness of cold calling.

The Joys of Cold Calling

 I think even those who champion cold calls will agree that:

  1. Putting together call lists are either very time consuming or expensive (or both);
  2. Most of the time the caller doesn’t want to talk to you – and often you can’t even get past the gatekeeper;
  3. Making so many calls is extremely time consuming (and disheartening); and
  4. Cold calls have a very low success rate.

You even run the risk of annoying those who could have been potential customers had you approached them in another way.

A little internet surfing revealed that the stats for cold calls were not encouraging:

I’m not saying that with perseverance, and a lot of time, you can’t secure some meetings through cold calling, but at what expense? Staff have spent time and energy convincing a handful of people to agree to a meeting and that’s it, there’s no guarantee sales will come of it and there’s little to show for all that effort.

The Alternatives

It’s time to leave behind outbound marketing and embrace inbound marketing.

Stop annoying and interrupting people with unsolicited phone calls, advertisements and emails. Start attracting them to you instead.

3 key methods for attracting inbound leads are:

# 1. Search Engine Optimize (SEO)

Optimize your website for your company’s keywords so that you turn up in the search engine results when people are searching for exactly what your company offers.

# 2.  Blogging

Write a blog about your industry and become a recognized source of valuable information. This will attract visitors, inbound links from other websites – which will help improve your search engine rankings too – and inbound queries.

# 3.  Listening

Get involved in the online conversation, in forums, social media platforms, wherever your target potential customers hang out. Listen to what they’re saying and learn from it. Get involved and offer something of value.

A blog post in particular can last forever, once it’s been indexed by the search engines it’s there, waiting for someone to call it up by searching for your keywords.

Just imagine if your salespeople spent the same amount of time creating content for a blog as they did talking to people with no interest?

Think of how many great articles you could have on your website, articles that can be read by any number of visitors – unlike that sales call pitch which is only reaching one person at a time.

In short:

Create valuable content and you will attract visitors and people who will link to your content from their own site.

More visitors and links will in turn boost your search engine rankings, thereby drawing in more potential customers all of which will translate into inboundqueries.

The phone will ring and emails will arrive, all from people who actually want to hear from you … now wouldn’t that make a nice change?

Bonus Feature:

HubSpot, the champions of inbound marketing, have a great skit to highlight the point, check out the video below.


Did you like this article?  Write for the site. Sign up for our RSS.


Images:  ”Close up image of a man in black shirt screaming on the telephone during the

Sarah Ryan is an Online Marketing & Communications manager with 7 years experience. After being located in San Francisco for 2 years, Sarah returned to Dublin in early 2012.

Similar Articles
  • Hi Sarah, as someone who used to train people to do this, I’ve not come full circle! Businesses need to move with the times, cold calling no longer makes sense.

  • I agree that there could do with there being a lot more pull marketing rather than push marketing, however I don’t agree that cold calling or cold emailing is dead. I’ve had over 60% of the attendees on my January courses as a result of cold emailing. Plus ALL of them told me that they were glad I had emailed them.

    Nor do I mind getting an email in, if it is not something relevant to me or my business I reply asking to be removed from future mailing lists, if it is relevant I’ll have a look at what is on offer and make a decision from there.

    There is a lot of new technology out there and the one thing I hear over and over again from the early adopters is “You HAVE TO get on board with this” when they don’t!

    I believe it will take at least a full generation for everyone to come on board with all of these changes and until then the old methods will still work – albeit a bit slower, with slower results but they will still work

  • Derbhile Graham

    A heartening post. Shows you’ll get a lot further by building relationships.

  • Sorry – I agree it has its limits and cannot be used in isolation, but I disagree that it is redundant. It is anintegral part of the Sales mix as far as I am concerned. It is not about converting asap , its about establishing a relationship and opening up lines of communication , listening to new potential business and research . If done with that attitude in mind it is invaluable – as no amount of online inbound marketing can come close to listening to someone in person, understanding individual clients and learning from your prospects before trying to sell them anything. In my B2B sphere its essential especially as some sectors are not as engaged online and rely even more on face to face and person to person contact.

  • Donncha Hughes

    This comment follows on from one below as I ran out of space….

    Next step was a direct mail campaign. We collated 4000 business names in one sector nationwide from a national phone directory. We designed a lovely branded two A4 page flyer and used a mail fulfilment company. Great value from those guys who did all the printing to include a cover letter for approximately a euro per item. We followed up with a phone call over the next two months and visited a lot of potential clients on request. This took a lot of time and effort – we only followed up by phone with about half of the list. We got a good reaction to this campaign. Over 100 clients signed up in first year which was above target and the campaign is still paying dividends as it is high up in the rankings online.

    To conclude, ‘warm calling’ does work in Ireland but it requires a very good offer, a good team and a structured process. And forget about the hard sell. If someone is interested, help them to make a decision that makes senses for their business. If not, say thanks and let them know you will be available if they ever need assistance.

  • Nash

    Cold calling is an activity, just like SEO, blogging and getting involved in the discussion. There are many factors that will determine whether or not cold calling or any other activity will work (Ex: Your industry, cold callings skills, messaging clarity, audience, and the market size etc). My suggestion for any organization trying to grow is to focus on a few key activities and have measurement tools in place so that you can test the effectiveness of each. From there you will be able to see what you acquisition cost per new customer is across the board and make better decisions. Side note: for SEO, it’s really important to make sure that the keywords you pick have enough search volume (you can use Google’s keyword tool as a basic free tool).

  • Ivan Kennedy

    completely absurd i am a registered commodity broker for almost 20 years and in my mid forties only the laconic and distracted looking for shortcuts would adhere to the notion that cold canvasing is ineffective you specifically have had no success cold calling is a more accurate assessment that’s the simple fact I insist you not project your inadequacies toward the unsuspecting novice who simply seeks guidance I have raised an inordinate amount of money in my time soliciting over the telephone in fact I boast about how I’ve never had a real job meaning I’ve only had jobs that involved cold prospecting via the telephone and my dear fellows I can’t guarantee investors make money but I assure you cold calling when done properly is flawless and seamless telemarketing is a disciplined most methodical activity that requires the highest level of concentration I’m right out of the army no college into finance and have supported my family to an acceptable extreme next you’ll be saying is that strictly commission work should be beneath you too I’ve never had a job that involves receiving a base salary nor would I lower myself cheat myself into being lured into taking one I’ve averaged a handsome income per annum most of my career once I familiarized myself with the most effective way to achieve time management and mastered my tactic don’t place less value on the less seasoned less nimble phone solicitors for they set the perfect stage to allow the masters to be distinguished as such in terms of relativity I’ve been a telemarketer for over twenty years but my poor unfortunate insipid incompetents cold calling is the essence of free enterprise do yourself a favor boyos actually take advice from one whose field experience in this arena justifies an informed opinion on this subject matter how dare you you depressed introverts with all your breeding and social agility some may say I’m the aberration or perhaps possess an extraordinary amount of talent I am neither I am driven maybe relentless maybe and perhaps even admittedly clever or conniving I dare say but the fear to address conquer the statistical mean should be overcome for dignity’s sake bottom line is the unsolicited approach is the most facile method one can utilize towards building a business and by the by it’s actually a grand time if you let it be so so believe in yourself like the fly said if you put your mind to it you can accomplish anything so in essence building a business and empire should be difficult once you’re lofty then you can complain about bad service and lack of selection at your favorite restaurant please pardon my trite and bombastic candor and contemplate to action philosophizing is wasteful incidentally for your own edification no one with acknowledged cold calling experience or a background in math has proffered an opinion in this forum so beware I wish you all the best in your endeavors peace and love to the low people and burnouts and if you don’t like my stream of consciousness you are not on my level I leave a white and turbid wake pale waters pale cheeks where’er I sail the envious billows sidelong swell to whelm my track let them but first I pass the whale chapter 37 sunset abhor or adore my vacuous profundities gentlemen…

Featured Author
© Copyright 2009-2018, Bloggertone LLC. All rights reserved.