Should you cold call or cold email?

Is the cold call dead?

Listen to the talk online about the future of the sales profession and you might believe it is.

Many believe social selling will replace traditional sales methods, some believe cold emails are the best way to get your buyers’ attention, and others still are adamant that only a phone call will work.

So which method should you deploy?

I’d say none of them exclusively.

It’s very tempting to try emails if you’re unsure of making cold calls. If written well, you may get some positive responses, but it won’t work for everyone.

But if you only use the phone, there are some people who see any unexpected call, no matter how good, as an interruption and therefore an annoyance.


Understanding people’s preference


I’d suggest that there are two main types of communicators, and each prefers a different approach:

1. Prolific emailers

They love to communicate in this way far more than face-to-face or even on the phone. You more than likely work with people like this who will trade emails for hours, but try to avoid direct conversation. Years ago, at the start of my career in tele-sales I had a client who I never spoke to or met. I of course followed the traditional perceived sales wisdom and pushed for a call and a meeting. The response came back, firm and polite: thanks, but no thanks. In fact, they made it clear that they continued to buy from my company at that time as they could do it all by email, which they found more enjoyable and less intrusive.

2. Talkers

I worked with a very senior leader a who said that he viewed email purely as a source of information. This did account for why he seldom responded to them. If you wanted his personal attention you needed to talk to him face-to-face. This was how you got internal meetings going, and the same applied for those who tried externally.

READ: Selling 101: Closing the deal


Finding out your target’s preference


This can get tricky.

If you’ve never spoken to someone, how do you know their communication preferences? Knowing this gives you a competitive advantage. Here are two tips to help you find out.

1. Harness your network

Do you know someone in their organisation who can give you this insight or does one of your colleagues or wider contacts know? Try your network – it’s likely someone will help you to find out.

2. Put your trust in technology

If you can’t find out from your contacts or would like a second opinion, then you could try an online personality analyser like Crystal Knows. This looks at a person’s LinkedIn profile as an example and gives you a snapshot into their personality and suggestions on the best way to approach them.

Be careful, this analysis is based on what they have put on their profile or what they have published or commented on. So if they’re not active on social media it’s unlikely to be completely accurate.


Customer-centric thinking


Now you know the method of communication that will get you the best possible response. You’ve already started thinking about them and their preferences, rather than your own. This means you’re starting to develop customer-centric thinking.

The approach you take then also needs to be customer-centric, and you can discover more on how to do that in this article.

Want more help with sales and relationship-building? Visit the Academy of Trust’s online learning and coaching platform to learn more.