Uber, Amazon, HQ (the Online quiz show) and The Pet Rock. They all fall into the category of “Why didn’t I think of that?”.

Recently I read a quote that falls squarely in that category. Marketing extraordinaire, Matt Heinz, said:  “If cold calling is dead, then cold everything is dead. All channels, all relationships start cold.”


Of course, Matt is right (as he often is). When we first reach out to someone on LinkedIn to make the cold call warmer, the LinkedIn outreach itself is cold.  Similarly, the initial email sent before a call is as cold as a call made before an email or a LinkedIn connection!

The fact of the matter is, there are three main communication protocols; Social, Digital and Human-to-human (H2H).  Which is the best way to connect with a prospect? The answer is #alloftheabove. Most sales people don’t realize that it’s not about them but more about the prospect. Many of us view the world through our own lens and assume that just because we act a certain way, everyone else acts the same way. So, if you prefer to receive emails rather than phone calls, you’re far more likely to respond to an email than a cold call. But that’s not necessarily how your prospect likes to communicate.

Sure, you can generalize by demographic. For example:

  • “Millennials don’t answer the phone and are always on social media.” (But Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t post things on Facebook about his everyday life like where he goes to dinner, so he must take a break from social.)
  • “Baby boomers don’t use social media.” (But isn’t Trump, the Tweeter-in-Chief, a quintessential baby boomer?)

You make such assumptions at your own peril.

 You Cannot Presume to Know What Communication Your Prospect Prefers

Different people respond to different types of outreach.  And while most believe they, themselves, behave in a certain way, their actions may actually demonstrate something else. Let me explain.

We were recently on a scheduled call with a key player who was convinced that cold calling was dead. Hence, he initially denied interest in our prospecting solution (which includes cold calling).

“People just don’t pick up their phone anymore. No one has time for that,” he said. That argument held water for about 10 seconds, until we reminded him that we initially called HIM and HE picked up the phone, which is why we were having that conversation. There was a brief, familiar pause before he acknowledged the irony and we continued our discussion.

(Why was that pause familiar, you ask? It’s because that light bulb moment happens all the time for our prospects and clients. They are shocked to realize that they engaged in the very behavior they proclaim is dead!)

After further reviewing the details of that account, we had reached out to a few different executives. We left voice messages (H2H), sent permission-based emails (Digital) and connected and communicated via LinkedIn (Social). We also noticed that 2 of those people viewed our LinkedIn profiles and visited a few of pages on our website. So while we got him on the phone, we generated interest and awareness with other key players in the organization through a variety of channels. And if that conversation becomes an opportunity, we will have created familiarity with others who will likely be involved in the decision-making process.

The moral of the story is, Matt Heinz nailed it: The first outreach to anyone is cold. If cold calling is dead, cold everything is dead.

The reality is, there is no ‘warm’ without a cold start.

Yogi Berra Quote