On my desk sits a book called Never Cold Call Again by Frank J. Rumbauskas. Our Chief Exec gave it to a member of our sales team who, in turn, passed it along to me. As you might guess, the premise of this book is that cold calling is an unnecessary evil today. "It just doesn't work anymore." I know many sales people and recruiters that would disagree and others that hold the title of this book high and proclaim its truth every day.

While the phone is still a vital part of any sales or recruiting process, it's use has changed somewhat over the last several years. Only a few short years ago, a 60-page search record was slapped on my desk with the names of six or seven organizations, their locations, and main phone numbers on every one of those sixty pages. Along with the provided information were two empty boxes beside each listing where I was to fill in the information I gleaned from my many cold calls. I was to insert the name of an identified contact along with dates and results of each call I made. It was rudimentary and completely old school. And it had its place one time, but no longer. I was expected to make 60 -100 calls a day and log every call, fax, email, candidate packet sent out, and every resume received.

Yes, I still pick up the phone but I am part of that 45% of which Mashable spoke in their recent report. I pre-screen by looking at a resume and/or Google or LinkedIn profile before I ever make a call. Standard practice. Based on my findings, if I don't think there is even the slightest chance for a potential fit, I do not make the call - I move on. My calls are now targeted, my filter starts working before the first call is even made not finally after the second voice-to-voice conversation. I often pass on speaking with someone that doesn't have an online presence or LinkedIn profile. For the recruitments I manage? No, I wouldn't call because the candidates I need to talk to must have a strong understanding of the internet and some computer/tech/internet work experience. It is a necessity. There is no time for that kind of training in our office.

That is for my requisitions - others may not need this. It falls back on the type of search / recruitment you are managing. Many in our community do not need this type of filter / pre-screen and would never even consider it. It is not even part of their screening process. And true, I am all about saving time (which equals saving money or making money), I am also all about hiring the right person.

What do you think? Is hard-core cold calling a thing of the past?
Do you still rely on this practice to produce quality candidates? Does it work?
Are you willing to leave timing completely to chance?


Cold calling is forcefully wasteful on people who are not interested.

© by rayannethorn

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Great post. Surprising more have not commented as yet. I very recently struggled with the issue of cold calling in my last role. I was not cold calling candidates, but prospects for new business. It was tough, but like you I did a ton of research before I ever dialed. Using the tools you mention and others I was able to know who I was calling what they did, who they worked with, who we knew in common, etc. As a result I could make less calls with a higher percentage of hits out of those calls. But there are still those who see the raw # of hits (lets say 10 out of 20 being no different than 10 out of 100) and conclude that the person making fewer calls isn't working as hard. As my manager was fond of saying, "keep pounding the phones". I just don't see the pounding being as effective in this age of caller ID, email, texting, and social media.

And just to get back to the issues of a success ratio when cold calling. I mentioned caller ID above - because of this technology one now has to make multiple calls to the same prospect before they ever pick up the phone. What I just can't wrap my hear around is this; the very core of the technology we use for cold calling has changed, what haven't the tactics?
Hi Rayanne,

It's alway fun to read your post! I like cold calliing companies. If I don't call them, how would they get to know me? More importantly, how will I get to know them? I know that we live in the world instant messages and other social media but where is the real human communications? People can look great on the screen but you don't really get to know them without talking to them. The phone is still on of my best tools. If you leave it to Chance, you'll have a chance of not connecting with the right people at the right time.
Rayanne..if the question is " is cold calling for candidates still relevant"? it is..even emailing folks on linkedin about our positions is still cold calling.

But when talking about cold calling for clients who can pay our fees, that's a bit different...reality is that there are those potential clients who don't answer there phones, and don't pay attention to voicemails soliciting their business. what then?

Books like "cold calling is a waste of time" offer things that acknowledge this reality, and it's up to the individual to adapt these alternate methods into their practice..unless they like beating their head on a wall and leaving 50 voicemails a day. A better way is never found unless one goes looking for it.

personally, I've used strategies like white papers, blogging, and public speaking to make a lot of things happen, ( not all in recruiting) and it beats talking to voicemail all day, because the people involved want to be there, and it's their choice to respond...since a receptive audience is a good thing, why not put effort into finding more ways to get in front of the ones who want to hear you?

I think rumbauskas makes a great point in that he feels cold calling makes you look like a commodity - peddler..like copier salesmen and such.. I've noticed that recruiters want to be taken seriously, and not treated like stapler salesmen who can be beaten up on price..so the question then is - does cold calling itself hurt the recruiter, or is it that cold calling done badly is what invites the recruiter to be treated marginally and disrespected?

To put it another way - recruiters are perceived as salesmen, and not all recruiters like that label..they'd rather be thought of as partners and problem solvers and treated accordingly right? well, who cold calls? salesmen, that's who..so if I do what a salesman does in order to get business, do I have the right to get pissed when everyone calls me a salesman?

Doctors don't cold call..insurance agents don't cold call, no profession that anybody respects makes cold calls...hell, my mechanic doesn't cold call..he markets with articles and direct mail, but doesn't call my house while I'm eating dinner and watching penguins of madagascar during family time, asking if I need my oil changed..marketing and positioning and leading with value go a long way and cold calling doesn't always put you where you want. not saying cold calling is dead, I'll just say it's very very sick.

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