The cold calls vs. cold email debate have been going on for a while. We stand our ground, however, that cold calls shouldn’t spearhead modern B2B strategy, at least, if you want your B2B strategy to have long-term success.
This may sound as a heavily-biased opinion since cold emails are the bread and butter of our company, but we have our reasons.
In this article, we will finally share them with you.
The negatives of cold calling
They piss people off
This is the ultimate truth. There is no such thing as a “non-annoying sales call,” not in the world of today and especially not among the U.S.-based clients.
When it comes to promoting to your prospects across the United States, get ready to deal with people who have severe advertising fatigue. Having been bombarded by ads for nearly 80 years, they are naturally sensitive to any word that comes out of your mouth or that is typed out by you. They won’t feel like they’re missing out by cutting off the communication and distancing themselves for you. They value their comfort and their control over their time more than any proposition you might have for them.
The increased need for privacy and autonomy marks the new era of B2B and B2C relationships.
Surrounded by competitive service vendors as they try to get on with their day, your prospects become attuned to their own, personal rhythm of working, choosing services, studying, and networking.
This pattern is particularly natural for millennials, who are very protective of their private space and make up the majority of start-up founders. By making a cold call, you intrude into your prospect’s bubble, distracting them from their routine and forcing them to take new information at the wrong moment and with the wrong attitude.
Given that millennials are expected to be 98% of B2B prospects by 2025, we came to the conclusion that the modern audience doesn’t care about making or receiving calls as much as it cares about communication and buildup.
They don’t work for international businesses
Cold calls can be an option for companies that sell locally. After all, they have more information about the B2B prospects stationed in the same region: they know how they think, what their average working day is like and when it is best to call them.
However, when we talk about businesses that work across the globe, adjusting your cold call schedule for different time zones and acquiring phone numbers for calling worldwide becomes a pain in the neck. Not to mention that the attitude about cold calls can vary from country to country. While some of your prospects can be at least neutral about it, others will react with animosity, resulting in lots of stress for your sales team — and potential benefits for your competitors. Many companies stationed at your client’s territory will love to take the opportunity if you give them one.
They don’t provide control.
The common pro-cold calls argument claims that while it takes you several emails and a lot of tinkering with the mailbox to get a reply from a recipient, cold calls put you on the line with your prospect at once. Yes, it may take a while before a mailbox starts sending emails that get opened and read, but this fact doesn’t reduce the reliability of cold emails - at least in our practice.
A wise man once said that cold calls offer more control to the sales rep because they allow to wield questions — and the one who asks questions owns the conversation. However, this commentary was relevant 5-10 years ago. Nowadays, in the highly competitive world of advertising, when everyone wants to ask you “The Question,” a sales representative has to be a fortune teller to make prospects actually hear them out without hanging up.
It’s not really about how you talk. You can be the smoothest talker at the office, but once you dial your prospect’s number, there is little you can do. If their disposition toward a random call is negative already, they will leave you before you’re done speaking.
In modern B2B communication, it’s not about how much control you have. It’s about the autonomy that you offer your prospects.
Cold emails don’t intrude. They sit in your prospects’ inboxes, waiting to be opened and read. They nudge your prospects politely, asking for clarification or just a two-sentence reply. They provide your prospects with the freedom of choosing when and how to reply. Handing a considerable part of the control to your prospects allows them to feel that you care about their convenience more than you care about selling.
They are not personalized
Kraig Kleeman as our witness, we don’t mean that it’s impossible to do your research and present the solution to the prospects’ pain points during a 15-minute call. However, all your efforts will go nowhere if you swoop down on your prospects in a call they don’t expect to receive.
When we talk about personalization, it’s a little bit more than presenting relevant information and knowing the buyer. It’s about how you do it.
If you start your communication with a cold call, there is an 85% probability of alienating your prospects with the mere fact of your interrupting their routine. Therefore, the offer that you put together with such care will be accepted with hostility rather than interest.
When you personalize your offer, you give your prospects some space to let your value proposition sink in. An adequately structured B2B sales template allows them to gravitate to the simple and definite conclusion, “These guys feel me!” all by themselves. It’s critical for B2B offers to read and feel natural because your prospects are smart. They can tell the difference between personalization and “personalization.”
They don’t allow you to present complimentary benefits effectively
There is a reason why people don’t order food by phone when they can do it online. Why talk when you can read and click? Why do you need Steve from Domino's Pizza to list you the menu while trying to sneak the hottest offer into your order when you can scroll the menu online and make an order all by yourself, without the threat of extra hot wings getting added to your bill?
It’s the same with free trials and features from your service when you try to sell via a cold call. The users of today are wary of any offers made to them in a phone conversation, especially with a brand they are not yet familiar with. Therefore, if you start your discussion with trying to persuade your prospects to give your free trial a try, there can be only three types of outcomes:
- They say that they will call you back later — and never do.
- They hang up on you.
- They directly tell you they’re not interested and ask you never to call them again.
Even if your complimentary features were a great help to your prospects, the mere fact of a cold call would inevitably result in a knee-jerk reaction that leaves no chance for a B2B relationship.
Cold emails (unlike cold calls) allow your prospects to explore the offer without thinking that they have to make a decision right here, right now. Also, cold emails enable you to illustrate your point by attaching case studies and materials that outline the advantages of your services and free trials.
To call or not to call?
So, we don’t use cold calls; however, it doesn’t mean that we never call.
Communication needs more than email exchange to survive, so a switch from emailing to calling is natural.
After we send our cold emails and receive a positive response from the client, we offer them to jump on an introduction call. It’s a much easier way to nurture a sincere conversation because:
- The client knows about you already. You’re not a random stranger, inviting yourself into your prospects’ lives and trying to speak about their pain points when they’re least inclined to listen. If they’ve agreed to an introduction call, you’re someone they’ve decided to talk with.
- The client is more disposed to think your offer over. You gave your prospect food for thought in your emails, and the introduction call picks up where you left off, allowing you to pitch your value proposition further and to a more responsive audience.
- The client feels in control. Your prospects actually choose the time and day for a call. It goes neatly along with their business schedule. They are in charge of exploring new opportunities, so they speak more freely and are eager to answer your questions.
- The client is more inclined to make the purchase decision. Respect drives B2B relationships, and nothing speaks about respect louder than a vendor that is very mindful of their clients’ time and privacy.
After years of work in B2B marketing and sales development, we’ve seen that calls perform best when they are expected, planned, and wanted. It’s the warm-up that defines the ultimate success of a sales call, so our ultimate suggestion to anyone willing to make the most out of their sales teams’ negotiation skills is this: use a multi-layered, sophisticated approach and don’t rely on calls alone.
Every niche requires its exclusive strategy and more than one tool to set that strategy in motion. To ensure that all your efforts bring results, you have to be a patient analyst, not a quick talker.