The Inconvenient Truth: Why Your Cold Calls Go Unanswered

April 5, 2016 Amar Sheth

The Inconvenient Truth: Why Your Cold Calls Go Unanswered

With all of the data around the near Wall Street-type collapse of cold calling effectiveness, why is it that our sales industry still sings its praises?

That’s the question I’ve been asking myself for years now.

First, Some Background

I came from an aggressive calling culture in my past lives, making up to 100 dials per day. But in those days, it was much different. Without giving up my age (who are we kidding?), this was 10 short years ago.

From those 100 dials, I would easily have 20-30 people pick up the phone. To the millennials reading, this may sound wildly exaggerated but it’s true. I say this to give you the reason I believe we still continue cold calling like robots on an assembly line.

Now I look at my younger cousins who are just entering the modern sales forces of today, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and they’re trained on cold calling incessantly. Not only is there training, but sales gurus are brought to their kick offs and mid-year events that espouse the benefits of cold calling.

But here’s the inconvenient truth that they’re not telling you: hardly anyone is picking up the phone these days.

And what’s the answer these spiritually enlightened sales gurus give? Dial more.

To add confusion to shear head scratching, they come up with new programs and courses to refine andoptimize cold calling effectiveness on the calls that are successfully picked up.

But how do we make quota when the cold calling success rate (that is, people picking up the phones, not even giving you a “yes” to anything you’re trying to accomplish) is less than 3%? And on top of that, only 1% of cold calls actually convert into appointments according to Keller Research Center at Baylor University.

The sales gurus aren’t equipped to deliver the news that it takes more than one way to tackle an account. Their hands are tied because they have no further products/services to sell.


Our sales culture affects us. The sales leader of today grew up in this culture. There’s a common belief that what worked then must work now.

My friend and fellow social selling advocate Larry Levine asks it best when he says that the sales leader of today has their teams selling the way he/she wouldn’t buy. That’s right – you heard that correctly. I’m willing to bet a hefty sum to find a handful of courageous sales leaders who actually would entertain a cold call today, let alone be agreeable to move through that sales professional’s next-step process.


Since we’re living in a culture of obvious truths, I’d like to verbalize an all-too-forgotten one: just as it takes multiple ways to get fit, it will take multiple ways to prospect, nurture and close effectively.

Social selling isn’t the only way to sell. Cold calling isn’t the only way to sell. The buyer of today is as educated as ever – they could be wrong, but they’re at least self-educating themselves. And therefore, it will take multiple ways and multiple touch points to get their attention, keep it and advance any sales process.

If you agree with this, then let me ask you – why is your sales process so lopsided in favor of cold calling?

Tweet me your thoughts @AmarShethconnect with me on LinkedIn, or cold call me at 800.643.5512 x4002.


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