Inbound Marketing & Sales Development Inspiration

Has Inbound Marketing Killed The Cold Call?

Posted December 22, 2015
4 minute read

Like the early days of email marketing, the early days of cold calling were incredibly effective. Getting a phone call was a novelty. It was special, not annoying. This led to more telephone conversations and ultimately, more sales. That’s changed quite a bit over time. Marketers and salespeople have over-used the tactic, driving down its effectiveness and annoying prospects in the process.


If cold calling wasn’t already dead, the rise in digital communication would be the final nail in the coffin, right?

Turns out, digital hasn’t killed cold calling, it has saved it. The use of social websites for researching prospects, combined with digital marketing automation tools, are increasing the success rates of outbound calling.

Moving Prospects Through The Sales Funnel

Your sales funnel has stages. As prospects get closer to making a buying decision, they move lower down the funnel. Your ability to close deals is dependent on moving users from one funnel stage to the next.

Upper funnel prospect are cold; they are in a research gathering mode and usually not ready to speak to a salesperson. When placing outbound cold calls, most prospects you speak with are in the upper funnel stage. Those in the middle of your sales funnel are warmer. They are considering their buying options and developing an opinion. Those in the bottom of the funnel are hot and close to making a decision.


To close more sales, you must move people through your buying funnel. On a conceptual level, this sounds pretty simple, but how is that done?

Inbound marketing, when applied to your outbound call process, can warm up your cold prospects so they are more likely to engage and move to the next stage of your buying funnel. Here are two common scenarios for placing outbound calls, and how to enhance them using digital technologies.

Scenario 1: Cold calling brand new prospects

This is the most familiar scenario. You purchase a list of contacts and deploy a cold calling campaign to set sales appointments. One of two things happens: 1) you make a sale/generate an appointment with the prospect, or 2) you don’t.

Then what?

If you are unable to set a sales appointment, you might put them on a call back list in a few months. Or, you don’t do anything at all, and move onto the next.

Social media offers a wealth of information that can be used to qualify a prospect prior to call. To increase the productivity of your cold calling efforts, reference LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook to research the individual, their company, background, and personal interests. Using this information to develop a personal connection with the prospect early in the call will make them more receptive.

Once on the call, ask for the prospect’s email as a fallback for setting an appointment. Then, begin nurturing that prospect with relevant, targeted email messaging. Marketing automation tools can simplify and scale this process. These light touch interactions will warm up your prospects prior to the next follow up call.

Scenario 2: Cold calling old prospects in your database

Your database of former customers and prospects is a major asset, but is often underutilized. These individuals are more aware of your company than those you’ve never engaged with. They’ve worked with you before or have gone through the sales process. They know something about how you operate, what you offer, and what it’s like to engage with you. You also know something about them.

Prior to making your follow up call, use automated email nurturing to warm up these prospects. Segment them by persona, purchase history, or value drivers. Then, send valuable, relevant content to these individuals, via email, for 30-60 days before your next phone call. This email contact can be promotional or educational. For example, a checklist, self assessment, or inspiration guide. If you can offer something to the prospect, for free, which makes their life or job easier, your chance for successfully re-engaging increases. Use social media sources, as described above, to fill in any blanks and get the most recent information about the individual. Then, place your follow up call.

The new era of digital technology is not killing the more traditional marketing channels, they are enhancing them. Cold calling is an effective method for building your digital lead nurturing list. Similarly, lead nurturing can improve your outbound calling success. When deployed in a complementary manner, rather than a competitive one, combining inbound and outbound tactics can yield the best overall results.

So start calling.

Topics Sales, Inbound Marketing, Outbound marketing

Agree, disagree, or just have something to add?

Leave a comment below.