That's the question I'm asking today: Is cold calling an addiction?
First, a bit of background, because there are three varieties of cold calling addicts - the first two are related because one eventually morphs into the other, and the third is another story altogether.
The first variety is the "tradition" type. If you ask why they cold call, they'll tell you, "Because that's the way we've always done it." They were taught cold calling by their bosses, who learned it from their bosses, and so on down the line. They don't know anything different and, to make matters worse, don't care to. They're convinced that cold calling is the only way, and their minds are so closed to the possibility of alternatives that they won't even hear you out.
The second variety is the "addict." This type of salesperson frequently starts out as the "tradition" type, who has been taught by sales managers that there is absolutely, positively no other way to prospect other than by making cold calls.
But, eventually, something happens. These sales reps spend many years of their sales careers cold calling. They fall into a comfort zone, they get complacent and become satisfied with barely meeting their quotas - and the income that comes with only making quota - and they begin to fear the very thought of trying something different. "What if it doesn't work," they'll say, pointing out that cold calling has enabled them to stay employed (barely).
Here's the problem: Making cold calls is very much becoming a zero-sum game. As an example, the Kenan-Flagler Business School (University of North Carolina) did a study on the topic, and concluded that 80% of American business decision makers won't buy from a cold call.
That leaves the remaining 20%. Who will buy from a cold call.
The result? The addicts are all fighting each other for that measly 20% - only 1 out of 5 prospective buyers!
To make matters worse, they manage to get a sale from cold calling just often enough to convince themselves that it's "working," and so they continue the addiction.
In reality, what they're doing is fighting a zero-sum game with their peers, while those who have opened their minds to alternative methods of lead generation are having an easy time picking up sale after sale after sale from the 80% who reject cold calls.
And each time they do make a sale, they feel that rush, just like any other kind of addict, and they fall right back into the pattern of making cold calls to find the next sale.
The third category of cold callers is unrelated to the first two: It's the macho-man type who thinks "real men" cold call and if you make sales without cold calling, which most of us are doing nowadays, it somehow doesn't really count, much like a ridiculous old employer of mine who only counted sales generated from cold calling toward quota (?) as though any other kind of sale wasn't bringing in real money!
In summary, if you're suffering from the cold calling addiction, you need to break it and move on toward other, more modern, more effective methods of finding prospects - things like social media and LinkedIn, online lead generation, publicity, effective networking, and the myriad of other lead generation strategies that blow the doors off of old, antiquated cold calling any day of the week.