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We should be careful to get out of an experience only the wisdom that is in it — and stop there; lest we be like the cat that sits down on a hot stove-lid. She will never sit down on a hot stove-lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit down on a cold one any more. (Mark Twain, Following the Equator)

We’ve never been sure about why the cold call is so reviled — why it’s so anathema among salespeople. For that matter, we still haven’t figured out why lead generation has become a marketing activity, rather than a sales activity. The fact remains that marketing isn’t a sales-support function. Rather, sales is a marketing-fulfillment function.

Once technology bred inbound marketing (huh?) and marketing automation (which most people quixotically imagine will translate into sales automation), the world for commerce went a bit awry. Since then, cold calling became the commercial equivalent of mephitic flatulence at a cocktail party — a heinous transgression to be avoided like real work. No one will do it because it’s considered downright déclassé.

That’s why cold calling is dead. And here’s a self-serving infomercial (that attempts) to prove it.* But what’s really going on here? It’s pretty simple:

  • No one likes to call (on) strangers.
  • It’s hard to prepare to call strangers.
  • Few people have the ability to engage strangers.
  • Even fewer people have the personalities to engage strangers.
  • Cold calling, whether on the phone or in person, makes it hard to take rejection impersonally, even from strangers.
  • Thin skin and the seductive promises of technology (Automated contacts! More conversions!) are a compelling combination for people averse to calling (on) strangers.

At risk of creating the impression that we think work and risks are still worthwhile, consider this: After the first call, that same call will never be cold again. And after the first conversation, the person with whom you spoke will never be a stranger again.

We’re not sure that’ll warm anyone up to cold calls. But there’s still some wisdom in them.

*If you encounter an infographic with footnotes, let alone 16 of them, be suspicious. Be very suspicious.