Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Is it Better to Cold Call in Person or on the Phone?

Probably ever since the telephone came into wide use, a debate started as to whether it is better to cold call on prospective customers on the phone or in person. This is one of these questions that will always draw many opinions and will continue to be debated for decades to come.

If you are going to cold call over the phone, there is one huge benefit that goes with it. You can obviously make a much higher volume of calls sitting at a desk and calling versus driving to each of your prospects for an in person visit. Indeed, the ratio could be as high as 10:1 in regards to how many calls you make over the phone rather than cold calling in person.

If this is the case, why would you bother to make face to face cold calls? After all, isn't the goal of many salespeople to make as many cold or sales calls as possible?

While this volume equation is true, I still think it is much harder to tell somebody "no" when they are right in front of you. Therefore, the major benefit of making an in person cold call is that it can be far more effective than cold calling over the phone. With both of these benefits of each method in mind - what is the answer as to which strategy is better?

On my last post, I published an article on how implementing your own creativity to each sales situation is the real secret to having sales success. Therefore, there is no definitive answer to this question. In fact, it mind come down to your own belief structure as to which method is more effective. If you believe or don't believe in something, it quite often becomes a self fulfilling prophecy when you set out to make it happen.

I would urge you to try both methods if you currently only using on of them. You will probably find that you will lean towards being better at one of these methods versus the other. However, you will run across situations where only one of these methods might be your only option. For instance, you might have a prospect you try to call over the phone repeatedly only to be stopped by the infamous "gate keeper". On the the other hand, you could run into a situation where your in person cold call is shut down by the "gate keeper" because you don't have an appointment. Regardless of which method you prefer, it is wise to develop skill in each cold calling method.

Remember to be yourself and to use your own creativity when you approach your cold calling activities. If you repeatedly get turned away when you cold call and have no results to show for your hard work, don't be afraid to change up your approach. Cold calling will always be difficult, so don't get discouraged on your sales quest. If it was easy, everyone would do it.


The Pipeline said...

Hi Will,

Great post.

I personally believe that for a small subset, the phone is a much better tool for getting a real meeting with decision makers. While it is true that it is harder to say no in person, how many times will we have a chance to see the decision maker? With security being the way it is, it is rare. So unless you are specifically targeting small business, where I do think face to face works better, you are better off with the phone for getting qualified appointments or engagements.


Adam said...

Personally, I think Cold Calling is dead... or, at least, dormant. Nowadays, it's all about warm introductions, and those can be done over the phone for the initial qualifying stage.


From the Author: Will Fultz said...

Adam & Tibor,

Thanks for your comments and insights. Cold calling always brings out strong opinions and perhaps nobody truly knows all the answers. Thanks again for your contributions,

Will Fultz

Charles said...

Telephone cold calling is hard. Most people don't want to be bothered and hang up. I know I do and lots of others when we get them. All the time. In person cold calling puts a face and a personality in front of a perspective customer, and that will make a great impact. Common sense from my perspective. Most of my business exposure is generated by being at the top pages of Google, and marketing with photos. Having photos allows me to have a clickable link to my site in the description box. Free marketing. My business is marketing and videos. You would be amazed at how many businesses don't use marketing videos. Videos are a crucial tool for any business. Great blog and info here. Take care.

N.S. Alvarez said...

Both methods can be effective. However in choosing one over the other I would choose the office visit. Let's face it, it takes much more bravado to actually walk in uninvited to a place of business instead of safely and comfortably picking up the phone. Having said that, it's much easier for potential customers to say no over the phone than in person, you can leave and receive business card contact info, you can leave behind sales marketing materials, you can discuss in person current promotions etc your company is offering and most importantly you are putting a real live human face behind your product and not hiding behind a telephone. Face to face interaction will gain you trust and credibility and when you followup on the phone the next day, they will actually know who they are talking to!
Nicholas S. Alvarez