Why Cold Calling Is Dead

Our world of selling is closed off from other areas of business that continue to adopt and embrace new, efficient ideas. I was reminded of this recently while re- reading Seth Godin's "Permission Marketing." Here's a book that was intended for business owners and marketing executives, yet it provides a much-needed dose of common sense that would be of great benefit to sales organizations, especially sales managers, who continue to cling to very old, and, in their minds, very right, ideas. Unfortunately, our brave new world has made these old ideas very wrong.

Seth Godin talks about Interruption Marketing versus Permission Marketing. Interruption Marketing is traditional advertising that interrupts your day in an attempt to get your attention and sell you something. In other words, it is the marketing equivalent of Cold Calling. Permission Marketing is systematically getting prospects to give you permission to present to them. In other words, it is marketing's equivalent of what I teach salespeople to do. In the book, Seth uses the metaphor of someone trying to get married to describe the flaw in Interruption Marketing, or Cold Calling. The bachelor goes into a singles bar and asks every woman in the place to marry him. When they all say no, he blames his clothes, buys a new suit, and tries again at another bar, only to fail again and again, just like a cold caller.

Are you getting the point he tries to make in that story? Think about it. A salesperson spends weeks cold calling with dismal results. The salesperson goes to the sales manager for advice on what to do differently to start getting results. A conversation ensues about what the salesperson is doing. A lot of old ideas begin to surface. Ideas such as "Initial Benefit Statement," "Elevator Speech," and other concepts that once upon a time were the right answers, but have since become very wrong answers. Working on these things is the equivalent of the man in the story blaming his failure on the suit, changing into a new suit, then going to a different singles bar to do it all over again.

With the business world in its present state, I really don't see how salespeople can afford to keep fooling away their time on old ideas that were once right but are now fatally wrong. It is this very feature of capitalism that is causing salespeople, managers and organizations to fail in record numbers. Capitalism is essentially "creative destruction." In other words, capitalism is a perpetual cycle of destroying old, less-efficient businesses and ideas and replacing them with new, more efficient ones. People and companies are clinging to old, obsolete ideas and are being dragged down to failure by them. Yet they still won't let go. I think the reason they can't let go is simply because it wasn't all that long ago that they really did have the right answers. It reminds me of a story I once heard about Albert Einstein when he was a professor. One of his student assistants who was preparing for an incoming class said, "Professor Einstein, what test are we giving them?" To which Einstein replied, "The same test we gave them last week." Bewildered, the student assistant replied, "But Professor Einstein, we already gave that test." Einstein simply said, "Yes, but the answers are different this week."

The bottom line is that the answers are different. The rules have changed. Time is running out for those who do not adapt to the new rules. As Napoleon Hill put it so well, "Whenever a nation, a business institution, or an individual ceases to change and settles into a rut of routine habits, some mysterious power enters and smashes the setup, breaks up the old habits, and lays the foundation for new and better habits."

If you're not achieving the sales success you desire, perhaps it is time for you to lay the foundation for new and better habits.

Frank Rumbauskas is the author of Cold Calling Is A Waste Of Time: Sales Success In The Information Age. He is the founder of FJR Advisors, LLC, which publishes training materials that educate salespeople on how to generate business without cold calling. For more information, please visit http://www.nevercoldcall.com

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