Many companies around the world have built their businesses through cold calling. Salespeople call companies, with best intentions, to book appointments with key decision makers. This is how it’s been done for years and very successfully, but things are changing, read on to find out why…
Is cold calling dead? No, at least not yet, but it may be on life support in many countries as there is a shift in what people deem to be acceptable both from within organisations and from legislators. Remember this isn’t about what’s the most effective technique, and I’m sure many salespeople will argue that they can make enough appointments without over complicating things with technology etc.
But there is definitely a change in how companies decide who to invite to deal with them. In fact, many organisations now just won’t accept a call unless you know exactly who you need to talk to. The old get around the gatekeeper tricks may well be numbered too because if you’re not on the list, you’re not getting through.
Even if you manage it once it may well be the last time, so be warned. Internal systems are getting far more advanced in filtering out who they want or don’t want to speak to.
Why is there a shift?
Two main reasons in my opinion, at one time every company was doing it, so it was just part and parcel of doing business. But along came the internet with technologies that marketers and sales directors could only have dreamed of.
It was just far more efficient to gain quality leads through various types of online marketing campaigns and forward-thinking companies quickly embraced these new technologies.
Secondly and probably a significant factor is time.
Yes, it’s cheaper to pick up the phone, but it’s a total time hog for all concerned. The salesperson picking up the phone 100 times a day and the prospect being called numerous times from a selection of suiters all vying for the opportunity to ‘talk’.
What a waste of resources. If everyone got through, who just wanted ‘5 minutes’ they would never get any work done.
I’ve lost count over the years of the routine, you know how it goes…
…there’s a call for you John, who is it?
I don’t know, hold on, what’s it about?
Stationery supplies, no, I’m not free, ask them to call back later and so on…
It’s not just a direct waste of time but it disturbs time and routine, and it takes time to settle back into what you were doing before.
GDPR the biggest changes by far
If you’re based in Europe or doing business with European (EU) based companies, the introduction of GDPR will affect you no matter where in the world you are located, the whole prospect (excuse the pun) of cold calling has changed.
If not immediately it will undoubtedly change over time for most businesses, both large and small, so we have to expand our lead generation efforts if you’re not already doing so.
Whether you agree with it or not it’s here, and it introduces sweeping changes that if ignored could seriously affect your bottom line.
But I’m not in Europe or do business there
That’s great for now, but experience tells me that if Europe has done it, others will follow with their own versions.
It makes sense because as it stands companies can be fined if they’re dealing with Europe and get it wrong, but European companies are probably free to do what they want if calling the USA for example, I can’t see that lasting for long.
Can you still cold call under GDPR?
It’s not illegal to call someone up, at least not yet, however here’s the kicker it may be illegal to know who you’re calling! What the heck does that mean to your business?
Now I want to be clear I’m not a Lawyer so don’t take my word for this however here’s my understanding and opinion of the situation.
If you call someone, you’re within your rights to announce who you are and why you are calling. Oh and make sure you’re recording the call, and of course, you must tell them.
If they are interested in talking to you, you are bound by law to ask them their consent to process their data.
You must also state where you got the data from, which is a grey area in my view and you could be putting yourself in a compromised position without even realizing it, so as already mentioned in this article, get them to sign a form if you’ve met them in person.
How do you generate leads without cold calling?
Now you obviously have their phone number and possibly their email address, if you don’t have their email you need to ask for it so that you can get their permission to send your data protection statements to them so that you can continue to speak.
Cold calling is a challenge at the best of times so before you even get to the good stuff you have to go through this process.
By the way my thoughts on this is a lot of what if’s.
What if my email is never received with my data protection info?
What if they threaten to use GDPR against me?
If they ask me to delete their data, I’m bound by law to do so!
What if someone else from the organization calls them, not knowing I’d already done so.
Well, they should know, how so? If we’ve deleted their data, we’d have no record of them on our database.
Things could get ugly very quickly, and as I see it, it would only take one prospect to cause you a lot of problems.I don’t mind admitting it, I find the ‘idea’ of GDPR to be OK as it does cut down on unwanted phone calls, spam emails and the like.
However, the practical implementation of it seems a world away from reality and what is actually feasible for most businesses on a day to day basis. What’s even worse is every lawyer I’ve spoken to directly or otherwise has an entirely different interpretation on each of the main points.
Total confusion for everyone.
Am I cold calling? If I can avoid it I’ll not do any cold calling! I prefer a clear, permission-based prospect to contact.
Of course there are times when you need to reach out to someone directly, but that’s another article.
I’m playing it safe, and if I make a mistake, then I’ll cross that bridge when it comes to it. Personally, I never liked cold calling that much anyway, there are far better ways in which you can generate leads that are far more qualified. If you’ve set up your lead generation funnel well, then prospects will actually be warmed up and interested in what you have to offer before you even get to speak to them.
The following article ‘How do you generate leads without cold calling?‘ highlights effective ways that you can generate leads without cold calling anyone.
So is cold calling dead for you?