Will Cold Emailing Replace Using The Telephone For Prospecting?

The use of cold emailing as a first point of contact into targeted companies is on the rise and is being adopted as the outbound lead generation method of choice by some of the worlds fast growth companies.

People are more mobile, rely on email more than ever and screen out unwanted calls vigilantly. Combine that with the unpredictable nature of pure telephone based outbound calling and cold email as an outreach strategy is very, very appealing to many companies. We train and consult on it extensively.


Does that Mean The Use of The Telephone In Prospecting will die out?

Our view point is absolutely not!

There is still a very essential need for telephone prospecting. Our outreach programmes incorporate telephone prospecting quite extensively, though generally not as the first point of contact.

That initial contact is easier, quicker and far more effectively made by email. HOWEVER – To avoid confusion, this is definitely not cold calling. This is warm calling direct to senior people when you have a very strong and valid reason to do so. An integrated cold email and warm calling approach can live side by side in a professional sales environment.

There are exceptions, though. Our unique  ‘Bullseye Method’ Outbound telephone prospecting can be used very effectively. Many people are even beginning to coin the phrase ‘warm calling’ as defined in this excellent book, ‘Smart Calling’, to define the process of reaching out and making contact with people with highly targeted telephone calls.

At the centre of the bullseye is a client with whom you have just completed a project and for whom you have created fantastic results. You have understood their unique challenges, have worked through all of their blockages, and have designed a solution that brought incredible results. Like the outlying rings of the bullseye, you should take that knowledge to approach their direct competitors (if ethical to do so), other people in their industry, the industry supply chain and their partners. You should methodically move out towards the outer layers of the bullseye, taking your unique message with you. For a highly focused campaign such as this, an outbound approach based on a first telephone call is generally the best fit and can be done with relatively inexperienced sales staff, especially if you have a very strong message that seems to just ‘make sense’.

Let’s look at this scenario:

HR Corp has recently completed a project with Coke where they reduced their staff churn from 30% to 18% and they obviously would like to talk to Pepsi too.

Gatekeeper: What is it regarding?

Seller: It’s about a project we just finished with Coke that I thought he would be very interested to hear about.

Gatekeeper: I’ll put you through.

HR Director: John Smith, what’s this about?

Seller: Hi John, It’s Sam from HR Corp, we have just completed a project with Coke where we reduced their staff churn from 30% to 18% in 6 months which is projected to save them over £4 million per annum. How relevant is staff churn in Pepsi at the moment?

Focused outreach projects like this can bring you significant results when executed well. Get in contact if you’d like some help putting one together.

If you don’t have such a strong message, then our cold-emailing approach is by far the best way to systemise the outbound lead-generation.


What About The Skills Of Inside Sales People?


One of  the huge advantages of running a cold emailing outreach lead generation process is that the ‘system’ does most of the heavy lifting for you at the front end. This helps you in many ways:

  • It can help you inspire graduates/inside Sales people to come to work with you – as the movement grows so does the demand for great candidates!
  • It can help you bring on board new recruits and speed their time to revenue
  • It can help you connect to your target market place quickly and easily
  • It can help you bring on board new Inside Sales staff who aren’t (theoretically)  burdened with the fear of cold calling


What about BAD LANGUAGE!

There is a huge demand for brilliant inside sales people at the moment. Many people are turning to traditional recruiting and training style organisations that take graduates, train them and place them. Generally these provide very high caliber people but we do see this as one of the major reason for the perpetuation of BAD LANGUAGE in outbound Sales Development Representatives.

New SDR’s are somehow picking up the bad habits and words of the worst telesales approaches. Maybe this is through the recruiting organisations, the old style books they are reading or just their expectation that this is how it should be done.

Let me give you some examples that we hear everyday when working with outbound teams:

  • I’m sorry to bother you – What? You’ve just rang someone and in the first words you utter you have given them the psychological impression that you are going to bother them.
  • I won’t take too much of your time – What? There are two things that are certain in life 1) No one has enough time 2) No one likes having things taken from them and your first word are that you are gong to do both of these?


And then there is the debate over to use the phrase:

“Have I caught you at a bad time”   – What do you think about this phrase?

OK, on the surface level there are a few things wrong here:


  • You are asking a question where you are looking for a NO as your best choice. You shouldn’t be positioning a person to start saying NO to you straight away in a conversation. It can become a habit! If you do use it then at least ask “Have I caught you at a good time?” which is almost certain to get you a YES (or a “what’s it regarding?”) which is a far more positive way to start a conversation.
  • Soon (if not already) it will be meaningless and will cease to have any impact at all. Stephen Schiffman wrote a book many years ago called ‘Cold Calling Techniques That Really Work’ – that popularised the following structure for a call 1) Hi may name is…… 2) I’m calling from….. 3) The reason for may call is….. 4) what i’d like to do is….. Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with this structure. It has sound logic behind it because it answers the conversation going on in the prospects head. BUT… it has been trained and picked up by hundreds of thousands of telesales staff that use it religiously. It is so used that it now has become totally ineffectual despite the underlying logic. “How are you today” as an opening phrase is meaningless and marks you out as an unprepared sales ‘pitcher’ and soon the phrase “have i caught you at a bad time; will too.


But most of all I don’t think SDR’s should be using that phrase to start with. The call they are making is  the single most important thing on their agenda at that precise time and they should be convinced that they have to speak to the person on the other end of the line. They should have an urgency, a passion and a conviction in their approach. In their minds NOW is the right time and it is up to them to transfer that conviction to the person they have called. Not accept failure at the first hurdle. 


What Other Obvious Mistakes Do We See SDR’s Make?


Many inexperienced outbound lead generators and people with experience of traditional telesales make some fundamental mistakes. The reason for this is grounded in our concept that sales is a series of gates. Your sales process should be broken down onto a series of gates where the only reason to do specific things at a particular stage is to move to the next stage (or gate).

Let me explain.

  •  Our email templates are designed to be opened.
  • Once opened, they are designed to elicit a response.
  • Once there has been a response, we use our process developed to take every type of response as a bridge to a phone call (scoping call).
  • In every first scoping call the next gate in the series is the discovery call. That is the one and only focus of the call.

So what do inexperienced lead generators do wrong?

  • Any slight question or ‘objection’ is seen as a threat and results in a canned answer to try and deal with that question or perceived objection.
  • They start talking about in-depth case studies and testimonials.
  • They try to answer questions about technical or service competence (e.g. Do you have an open API or a link to xyz software?).
  • They try to answer questions about price.
  • They begin talking about what it will be like being a client, what the terms are and how much value you as a company could bring.


While these seem intuitively right, they are the worst thing you can do. What they should be doing instead is a process of ‘akido’ and using those potentially difficult questions as a reason to engage with you for a discovery call. We have a whole process designed to make this easy for you. To get you on your way, here’s something you can implement straight away. When faced with an in-depth question, objection or price question, use this phrase:

‘John, that’s a good question. Based on the fact that you are asking me that, I can see there is some interest from your side, which means you’d be a good fit for our initial discovery call, because that’s exactly what our account executive Steve, will cover with you. How are you fixed for next Wednesday?’


When undertaken correctly there is room, and indeed a necessity for both an outbound cold emailing and telephone based prospecting methodology.


What are your thoughts?


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