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Can effective cold calling trump email marketing?

New marketing tools in the wrong hands are just plain dangerous.

This was the title of a post on the Secret marketer from Marketing Week back in July.

It got me intrigued, as I am interested by new tools and methods of prospecting for new business. I should be as that is what we do. However, I also have an inherent scepticism of all things new. It is not that I instantly think they are bad, but sometimes, I do believe that the automatic perception of new approaches is as a replacement, when actually the old way of working was very effective anyway. Why replace something that works with something that might. Of course, there is a chance it will work a whole lot better.

This has always been a double edged sword. It may mean I am a frustrated late adopter, but it also means I don’t jump in and get my fingers burnt.

The article is written by a professional marketer, who goes on to explain that when on holiday recently, they took time to read the 200 daily emails they receive, a large number from agencies looking to win their business.

The frustration felt by the author was that the email approach was not and was unlikely ever to be effective.

“Agency relationships are based on chemistry, human interaction, trust and creative flair”

I agree with that statement entirely, but I was fairly nonplussed to read that they felt this could not be achieved via a generic email OR A COLD CALL!!

We’ll come back to the cold calling element shortly.

Email wise, the writer explains that they receive “40 to 50” per day from agencies. That is vast, particularly when perception is that it shows “minimal forethought where targeting or relevance to the recipient”.

The rest of the article becomes an understandable and justified rant on bad personalisation and the impersonal nature of strangers approaching you through LinkedIn or endorsing you for skills when they have never worked with you.

Email is impersonal. It is very hard to target the right message, even if companies purport to do this well and even if you do get an excellent message or piece of content to land in exactly the right person’s inbox, it is in the lap of the gods as to whether that is the “chosen one” to get read.

Where I disagree is putting cold calling in the same box as email marketing. It is quite the opposite. Despite the fact it is a “cold call”, well targeted telemarketing with a compelling offer delivered to the right audience by an intelligent new business professional IS human interaction. It is relationship building and conversations are very much geared around the prospect’s personal goals and challenges and are hence, highly relevant. The rapport that gets built over time with a prospect via the phone can be really quite staggering.

I suppose it comes back to the old message of choose a sales medium that you are good at and focus on that.

Email marketing done well, with good, clever segmentation, followed up with a personal call is a very effective medium. However, clearly in this instance, of the 40-50 agency emails this person gets, most are badly targeted and hence the good ones don’t get read.

It is the same with telemarketing. There are some terrible practitioners of telesales out there, but don’t tar everyone with the same brush. Give the next caller a chance and you may be surprised and find yourself in an engaging and interesting conversation with your needs, challenges and best interests at heart.

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