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Why Cold Calling is both an Art and a Science


"Make more calls and you will uncover more leads".  That is a common approach to take when tackling lead generation through cold calling.  There was a time when we had our reps make "X" number of calls per day and we decided that if we increased their call number by 28% per day we would pass over more leads to our clients.  It backfired.  We not only saw a decline in passed leads, we also saw a negative impact on morale.  After a few months we readjusted our number to approximately 15% more of the original number of calls per day and that seems to be the magic number.  It pushes our reps to make a solid amount of call activities per day while still giving them enough time to do research, make changes to their messaging, talk to our clients, and get a cup of coffee.

What I noticed when we increased the call number by 28% was that there was a clear point of diminishing return.  Sure, the reps were making more "dials" but by the end of the day they were burnt out and no longer putting the same amount of energy into their calls.   Instead, we have our reps focus on making a solid amount of "smart" phone calls.  By smart phone calls I mean researching who you are calling, determining what other prospects might be part of the decision making process, changing an email message to reflect something specific about a particular prospect, and being adept at knowing when to leave a concise message and when to "0#" and find someone else to talk to.  When our reps were driven to hit a high call number they didn't put enough time into their pre-call planning and their focus moved from getting someone on the phone, who they could have a business conversation with, to leaving a voicemail and moving on.
Now there certainly is a science behind cold calling.  We all know that the more people we engage with in a business conversation, the more chances we have to uncover an opportunity.  These are the numbers I like to focus on - the number of conversations my reps have, since this directly correlates with how many leads they pass.  By not pushing them to make 28%+ more dials a day it gives them breathing room to engage in more qualified conversations instead of rushing through their calls so they can hit their number.

Anybody can make hundreds of dials a day.  Instead, I want reps to understand the art of prospecting and how to uncover qualified sales opportunities - instead of focusing on blindly dialing so they can hit a call number.

What do you think?  Is cold calling an art or a science, or both?



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