Cold-calling has been getting less effective for years. Back in the day, decision makers either answered their own phones (usually off-hours) or had admins screening their calls. And any salesperson worth their salt could sweet-talk, bully, or fool an admin into putting a call through.

Then came voice mail. While admins still sometimes picked up calls, rather than putting the calls through, they sent salespeople into the decision maker's voice mail. Calling the bigwig at 6 a.m., before the admin came in, became hit-or-miss. Chances are you'd end up in voice mail.

Caller ID was next. Suddenly, cold calls were the second-class citizens of the phone world. Admins and decision makers alike quickly figured out that answering a call from an unknown or blocked number was a waste of their time.

Increasingly desperate, cold-callers learned tricks, like calling accounts receivable and asking to be transferred, since most decision makers will pick up a call with a caller ID from accounting. Other salespeople became voice-mail pests, leaving message after message, usually in vain.

Then came the smartphone, texting, and always available email. Now there was no reason, really, to answer a phone for fear it might be important. If it were, you'd get a text. So why pick up unless it's a scheduled call?

As traditional sales organizations frantically watched their cold-calling get less and less effective, they latched onto robo-calling, figuring that if they called thousands of numbers they'd maybe get one or two people willing to talk.

As an increasing number of companies clamored for a decreasing population of people who still answer unexpected calls, SPAMmers and scammers have flooded the phone system, making all cold-callers seem like they're con men.

Which puts us where we are in 2019: Approximately 50 percent of all calls placed are robo-called cold-calls from companies both legit and non-legit. Now only the elderly and their grandkids actually answer phones in person. No true decision maker is dumb enough to answer a cold-call.

While there are still sales trainers around who are pretending it's still the 1970s and that you can build a business with cold-calling, their success stories are either bunk or outdated. Cold calling isn't just dead; it's buried and rotted to the bones.

And you know what? Good freakin' riddance. Cold-calling was always rude and obnoxious, the electronic equivalent of street touts who grab your arm and try to pull you into their place of business. Most salespeople hated cold calling because...who wants to be that guy? Frankly, I feel embarrassed that I've written some posts about it (although many are almost a decade old).

So cold-calling, RIP. You won't be missed.

LATER: Once I'd posted this, a reader pointed out that I should have explained what DOES work instead. Now that I've appropriately slapped my forehead, here are the lead generation methods that do work, in order of effectiveness (with links):

Published on: Jan 12, 2019
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