by Michele McGovern
Don’t let anyone convince you cold calling has one foot in the grave. Cold calling statistics prove it’s very much alive and one of the most effective ways to gain new customers when prospecting.
The more you know about what you’re up against – and what’s working – the more effective you can be at cold calling.
The doors are open and buyers are waiting
Buyers are interested, willing to take your call and want to know more so they can make an educated decision is right for them.
Researchers dug deep when they looked at the state of cold calling and prospecting, talking to salespeople and buyers.
There is good news for salespeople:
- 57% of C-level buyers prefer that salespeople call them, according to a comprehensive Rain Group study
- About half of all directors and managers prefer the call, too
- 69% of buyers accepted a call from new salespeople in the past 12 months
- 82% of buyers accept meetings when salespeople reach out to them, the Rain Group found
- When’s a good time? The earliest part of the buying process: 71% say they want to hear from salespeople when they are looking for ideas to drive strong business results
- 75% of prospects in some industries have attended an event or scheduled a meeting based on cold email or call, a DiscoverOrg study found
- The ideal number of calls to win the sale: Six, according to research by Velocify. Fewer than that and salespeople might not cover enough ground. More than that and its diminishing returns on time and effort
- However, 50% of leads never get a second cold call from salespeople, another Velocifiy study found
The facts on cold phone calls
It may seem challenging to get buyers on the phone (after all, don’t all of them screen calls?), but making a personal connection is key to cold phone calls.
Here’s what you need to know:
- The best days to make prospecting calls are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, according to comprehensive research from CallHippo
- Wednesday is the absolute best: 46% more conversions are made on Wednesdays compared to Mondays, the CallHippo researchers found
- The best call response time: Within an hour of customers making an inquiry. Whether they download something from your website or call or email with a question, the most effective calls to them happen within 60 minutes
- The best times to call prospects: 4 to 5 p.m., then 11 a.m to 12 p.m. (on those best days we noted)
“A phone call will get someone’s attention much quicker than an email, and you’re able to customize your sales pitch,” says Stuart Leung, SEO manager at Salesforce.com. “With actual, real customer interactions, you will be able to pinpoint the problem by asking specific questions and offer the prospect a solution.”
- Phone calls stand out and can make a difference, considering the typical businessperson receives 115 emails daily, according to research from The Radicati Group
- 80% of calls go to voicemail, according to research by RingLead. Be prepared to leave an 18-30 second message
- Why? Prospects won’t listen much more than 30 seconds to a cold call message, an Inside Sales study Each additional second used beyond your 30 decreases the chances of connecting with customers by 2%.
The low-down on cold email
Email may be easy to send, but cold call email results can be difficult to see.
Here’s what’s important to know:
- 80% of buyers prefer that salespeople contact them via email, The Rain Group researchers found. One caveat: It has to be a personalized – not a mass-marketed – message
- 77% of buyers have responded in a positive way to a salesperson’s email in the past 12 months
- Problem is, 59% of buyers think the sales emails they receive are irrelevant, a Direct Marketing Association study shows
- More than 50% of customers will find someone else – even when they’re looking for a provider – if they don’t receive personalized emails, a Salesforce survey found
- The best time to send those personalized email messages: late morning and midafternoon (just ahead of the times buyers are most likely to open and click through email messages), according to research from Get Response
“In general, though, you’re more likely better off if you send your emails in two time slots, from 10 to 11 a.m. and from 2 to 4 p.m.,” says Michal Leszczynski, Content Marketing Manager at GetResponse. “That’s when most marketers see the highest opens and clicks, and when almost one-third of all email marketing campaigns are sent.”
- The best days to send your email prospecting messages: Any weekday, according to research from Yesware
“We ran the numbers and found that open and reply rates were pretty similar no matter what weekday an email was sent,” says Bernie Reeder, Director of Product Marketing at Yesware. “Despite the bad rap, Fridays are no better or worse for sending emails than any other day of the work week.”
The impact of social selling on cold calling
You can hardly sell these days without some element of social media networking mixed in your process. That’s especially true for cold calling. Social media is a powerful tool for gaining cold calling inroads.
- 82% of buyers believe a company is more trustworthy if it’s active in social media, according to a BrandFog study
- 77% of buyers say they are more likely to buy from a company if the CEO uses social media, the same BrandFog study found
- 90% of buyers say that positive online reviews influence their decisions to buy, a Zendesk and Dimensional Research survey found
- 86% say that negative online reviews influence their decisions
- As for those posting the reviews: 45% are doing it on social media and 35% are posting on product review sites
- 82% of buyers look up providers on LinkedIn before they respond to their outreach efforts, according to The Rain Group survey.
- 61% continue that LinkedIn look, researching the provider on social media until they buy (if they do)
- And don’t think your cold call is completely cold: Nearly half of buyers search for potential vendors on LinkedIn in the past 12 months, an IDC study found
“Online social networks play a vital role in the purchase process of 84% of the most senior B2B buyers,” says Kathleen Schaub, Program Vice President, CMO Advisory & Customer Experience at IDC. “In the final stage of the purchasing process, when stakes are highest, online professional networks … are the number one information preference of buyers.”
Why referrals make a difference on cold calling
Nothing is officially easy about cold calling. But using referrals to kick-start cold calling efforts can ease some burden.
- 84% of buyers are mostly influenced by recommendations from friends and family, making referrals the most effective tool salespeople have for cold calling, a Nielsen study on trust found
- Customers won through referrals are about 24% more profitable than other customers, a Wharton School of Business study found
“The speed at which referred customers churn and leave … is, on average, about 18 % lower than that of other customers,” says Phillip Schmitt, one of the Wharton School study authors. “Referred customers are more profitable and more loyal.”
- Almost 75% of executives prefer to work with salespeople who’ve been referred to them, according to the IDC study
The logic on lead nurturing
Nurturing leads – making sure they’re qualified candidates and learning as much about them as possible before making a cold call – can lead to success, if it’s done right.
- Salespeople don’t follow up on half of marketing leads, according to Dreamforce by Conversica survey
- Why? 41% of salespeople claim they get leads who are too difficult to reach; 37% say Marketing gives them poor quality leads
- In their defense, 30% of marketers in the Dreamforce by Conversica study say salespeople don’t have success with their leads because they don’t reach out soon enough or try hard enough to connect with the prospects
“Despite all the emphasis being placed on sales and marketing alignment today, that alignment … remains elusive and frustrating,” says Conversica CEO Alex Terry. “Our survey found, as we suspected, that lead engagement is clearly at the heart of … problems.”
- Making early contact with the right leads counts: More than 60% of buyers got relevant information from the salesperson who ultimately won the sale in the early, lead-nurturing phases of the sales cycle, researchers at SiriusDecsions
The biggest obstacles for cold calling
Of course, cold calling is still one of – if not the – most difficult parts of selling.
Here are some of the tougher obstacles researchers have found salespeople are up against when they set out to make cold calls:
- Lists aren’t solid. A Baylor University Keller Research Center study found that the odds of reaching someone in a true cold-calling situation are slim: 55% will not answer. 17% of contacts’ information will be incorrect. Only 28% will answer the call
- Change happens. Why is nearly 20% of contact information outdated. ZoomInfo says 30% of people change jobs, 66% of people change their title or job function, 43% of people change work phone numbers, and 37% of people change their email address. That’s all in one year
“These complications make it imperative to know who your audience is and how to best tailor the sales process for relevance and value,” says Shelley Cernel, a researcher and senior marketing manager for LearningTree.
- You can’t learn everything. Only 37% of prospects in a HubSpot survey feel salespeople who’d made cold calls to them had delivered information relevant to their needs. Yet, nearly 75% of salespeople thought they were spot-on with what they knew and pitched
- It’s complicated. An average of seven people are involved in the buying decision, and it takes at least five of them to agree for a sale to happen, making it difficult for a cold-calling salesperson to even get a hold of the right person, according to Salesforce research
- So few seek or make referrals. In a Heinz Marketing report, researchers found only 22% of salespeople had a formal referral system. Leads for cold calls are lost even though customers are willing to give them.
- Time isn’t well spent. Ideally, salespeople want to sell most of the time, but an in-depth Pace Productivity study found they spend 35% of their time on administrative paperwork and 22% on selling. Ideally, salespeople should be shuffling paper 17% of the time and selling 33% of the time.
About Michele McGovern
Michele is a veteran writer and editor who has focused on what makes businesses rock and roll for more than 20 years. She has authored many white papers for upper-level execs and business news posts on topics such as employee morale, customer service, loyalty and sales.
Get Access To Free Sales & Professional Development Resources
Join the ResourcefulSelling community where we provide insights, dish out strategies and cover all things sales – soup to nuts
When you claim your free MyResourcefulSelling membership, you'll immediate access to practical advice curated from industry experts, thought leaders and sales professionals, and solutions specific to your role – delivered straight to your inbox.
Claim My Free Membership
What percentage of cold calls result in sales? ›
The average cold calling success rate is between 1 to 3%. This success rate is quite low when compared to other sales techniques. However, it still works and should be integrated with the entire marketing plan.How effective is cold calling in 2021? ›
As seen, cold calling in its original form will not work for your business in 2021. And this does not only refer to phone calls but to the digital equivalent- cold emails, social media solicitations, and unscheduled drop-ins.Who answers cold calls? ›
Researchers dug deep when they looked at the state of cold calling and prospecting, talking to salespeople and buyers. There is good news for salespeople: 57% of C-level buyers prefer that salespeople call them, according to a comprehensive Rain Group study. About half of all directors and managers prefer the call, too.Is cold calling the most effective? ›
Data suggests that cold calling still offers unique benefits. Here are some of the statistics, according to RAIN Group… And perhaps most significantly, cold calling has proven to be 5-10 TIMES more effective than email marketing campaigns.