For decades, cold calling was seen as one of the most powerful tools in any sales pro’s kit.
However, even in its heyday, cold calling had a dark side.
It took up a tremendous amount of time and energy for seller and prospective buyer alike. The average salesperson dreaded making those calls and the average buyer dreaded receiving them – there was (and is) simply not enough time in the day to deal with all of them.
A tiny handful of sales experts may have built successful businesses on the back of cold calling, but for each one who did, there were hundreds or thousands who simply wasted their time.
Today, cold calling is being supplanted by a much more valuable alternative: Warm calling. When companies embrace warm calling along with an end-to-end inbound marketing strategy, they build deeper customer relationships on a foundation of respect.
Let’s take a look at these two methods side by side and see where the big differences lie.
This is the biggest thing that distinguishes a cold call: It’s an interruption. The seller picks out a name, dials a number, and expects to be patched through immediately. Attempts to find the “best day” to make a call hardly softens the underlying assumption that others owe you their time.
Based on Demographics and Patterns
Cold calling is usually adopted as a way to hurry through the sales process as quickly as possible. To capitalize on the expected time savings, cold callers generally look at statistics like company size, industry, region, and recent buys. They know little (or nothing) about the individual buyer.
Early in the Process
The theory behind cold calling is that you can “drum up” business. Cold callers don’t really expect to connect with someone interested in a solution like theirs: Instead, they want to create a desire that’s not there. Thus, cold calling is early in the sales process ... often, step zero.
“Seller First” Worldview
Cold calling is all about the seller’s needs. If you’re not interested in a given solution – or don’t even think you have a problem– that’s okay. As long as you fit the profile, you are a prospective buyer, and the seller will do everything possible to exhaust (“overcome”) your objections.
The best warm calling comes after buyers show an interest in what you offer. Ideally, this means a personal recommendation from someone they trust – but that’s not the only way. Buyers often signal interest when interacting with your content. (Ex: If someone downloads an offer, The Ultimate Blogging Checklist, they have signaled a pain. They want to start blogging, or are interested in what's needed to start blogging efficiently.)
Based on Personalized Research
With warm calling, you use personal insight to create a genuine connection with a buyer. You can see what pages on your website he or she has read, for example. Deep dive research into the challenges and opportunities confronting the prospect can help you foster trust.
Later in the Process
Whereas cold calling often takes place as soon as you know a prospect’s name, warm calling is a natural outgrowth of an ongoing relationship with your brand. It’s up to you to find the sweet spot where prospects know a bit about you and are ready to have a meaningful conversation.
Buyer First Worldview
The final goal of warm calling is to motivate sales, of course, but the strategy is very different. When you warm call, you acknowledge not everyone is a good customer for you. Open-ended questions and active listening are crucial to truly hear what buyers have to say.
As B2B buyers take on more control over the sales cycle, warm calling is heating up (see what I did there?) fast. Prospective customers don’t want to talk to a sales rep who doesn’t know anything about them – they want expert advice from someone willing to take sincere interest in their needs.
Inbound marketing gives you the power to do it, and warm calling is an essential piece of the puzzle.