I recently came across Gary Vaynerchuk’s Keybound speech at Hubspot’s Inbound conference. Gary is a very charismatic (and dramatic!) speaker with a potty mouth. He paraded around the stage and proudly declared that cold calling is dead and gone; it is no longer a strong sales tactic. Gary has a great talent for articulating best practices, current and future. He makes a point of slapping the marketing industry around, and sometimes he’s right. We need a wake-up call now and then. The rapid change in our industry has left many behind, and sometimes the old ways are no longer the best ways.
However, the more I watch him, the more he reminds me of a bitter drunk arguing about politics at the local dive bar. He’s opinionated, over-the-top, and does not provide a balanced point of view. Before taking his word for it that cold calling has passed on, remember that Gary presented this speech at a conference run by HubSpot - a company whose product competes directly against cold calling as a sales tactic. Not only that, but he also owns a marketing agency that competes against cold calling. Really, we shouldn’t be surprised that he is so ready to write the obituary.
Where's the Evidence?
Curious as to what other experts were saying, I did some research. Is cold calling dead and gone? Can a company do well while using it as a sales tactic? I found myself facing a seemingly endless wall of well-crafted blogs ready to put the tactic in its grave. However, a little digging revealed that most of the authors were trying to sell their own competing product or service!
My favorite example is 16 Compelling Statistics that Prove Cold Calling is Dead, written by our friends at HubSpot. While the evidence provided does suggest that cold calling is less effective, that certainly doesn’t prove that it’s dead. Don’t you want to know for sure before you start throwing dirt in its grave? A better title might have been “16 Compelling Statistics that Prove Cold Calling is Feeling Under the Weather.” Even more interesting, almost all of the references come from companies who make money by convincing people to move away from a cold calling model!
All of this fanfare around the death of the tactic makes me chuckle a little. Why? Because while I worked at HubSpot, I spent most of my time cold calling marketing agencies. Companies might be quick to believe a source that seems credible when the message is one they want to hear (I know you don’t like cold calling!), but should be careful of listening to advice that might lead them in the wrong direction.
Can You Still Benefit From Cold Calling?
Eventually, I was able to find an article that laid out a great argument that cold calling is well and alive: Death of the Cold Call - The Plague Affecting Millions of Sales Organizations, by Blake J. Harber. It seems to me that he is shining the beacon of truth and reality, without even trying to sell something. Here is a snippet from his blog:
“I see three articles a day on LinkedIn that promote this fallacy that cold calling is dead. For the past 45 days here at Lucid Software our team has been proving that cold calling is very much alive. We used to love our email only campaigns but have recently taken a more blended approach of social selling/email/phone. Here are our results compared to the previous month:
- Increased Dials by 352% across entire team
- Passed 300% more leads to a total of 168
- Created 203% more opportunities
- Closed 250% more ARR”
I now work at New Perspective, and we too sell a solution that directly competes against cold calling. So why do I want companies to know that the cold call’s death has been faked? Simple: I’ve been a business owner. I built a successful business on cold calling. Back then, I didn’t have the budget to commit to Inbound; cold calling worked for me. Now, my role at New Perspective is to help companies grow, and I will not sacrifice my morals and ethics when providing advice to clients.We’re in it for the long run, not a quick buck, and we want to find ways to help clients succeed.
So next time you hear a marketing guru who says they have all the answers, take a moment to question what they are telling you and why. Just because they are on stage being dramatic and dropping F bombs doesn’t mean all the advice they are giving is worth listening to.