This past week I got a call from  a business owner referred to me by one of my clients. We’ll  call her “Julie.” Julie was frustrated by the sales process. The source of her frustration was that old age problem of prospects not calling her back. She shared with me who she was calling, what she was calling about, and just how rude she thought these people were for not returning her call. She informed me that what she had to offer could bring tremendous value to their company and their associates.

I empathized with Julie, and then I asked her two simple questions. Did she know or had she ever met the prospects she was trying to call? What was the motivation for the prospect to return the call if they did not understand the value she could bring to the organization? She was silent for a few minutes, then she started to laugh. She got it – cold calling creates a big ole Catch 22. People won’t call you back unless they know you or believe you can add value, but how can they know you or the value you add if they don’t call you back?

So why do we cold call? No one really likes it, it rarely works, and just thinking about doing it causes people more stress then actually doing it. Why do sales coaches continue to encourage us to do it?

When you think about it, it is really pretty bad advice. The supposed wisdom behind cold calling is that if you call people you don’t know, call people who have never even heard of you, and call people that do not know anything about the product or service you offer they will call you back, agree to see you, and buy something from you.

Well, when explained that way it sounds at the very least a little crazy and at the at the very best inefficient and unproductive.

Think about it, business owners and professionals are extremely busy people. They receive well over 100 emails a day, have to make and return countless phone calls, lead and attend meetings, do their jobs and oh yes have a personal life. Managing all of that means they have to make choices.  They’re are going to have to choose which phone calls, emails and appointments are most important to engage in and which they can let go, there is only so much time in a day.

So, how do you think they make those decisions? It is not rocket science. They make those decisions based on the information they have at the time. If they don’t know you, if they have never heard of you, and if they have no idea about the value of your service than the lack of information they have “advises” them not to call you back. It is that simple.

If you want to be successful in today’s business environment forget cold calling. Put more emphasis on networking, building referral sources, and continuing to deepen long established client relationships. Work on establishing yourself as an industry expert and resource,  increase your visibility through marketing and public relations, and find opportunities to consistently add value to all your relationships.

Forget cold calling, invest in relationships and value added information. Makes sales more fun, easy and far more effective!