A Cold, Cold Lead World

Jacob Brain


In a world where it’s harder and harder to get in contact with people, is there a place for cold email, cold calling, or cold social media?

In this post will explore these cold contact development strategies, and see if there’s a place for them in this world we operate in. We all need ways to connect with new prospects in meaningful ways, but what pitfalls and challenges exist in these media?

Cold Emailing

Cold emailing – purchasing email lists, scraping, or sending random blast emails to unknown contacts – is a dangerous strategy. I’m not totally advocating against it, but I do want to raise awareness about some of the challenges in using it, including issues of legality.

In some cases, it’s a viable strategy for growth, although there is often a low return on activity. The opportunities to use this are good when you’re trying to enter new markets, or simply need to reach a very large volume of contacts about a particular product or service.

Cold emailing is a real challenge because we live in a permission-based email society. That means that, if you are not given someone’s email address explicitly for marketing, simply emailing them in a cold context offers very low return or could even be considered SPAM.

Additionally, it may not be the type of brand marketing you want to embrace for your company. If you value relationships and advising or consulting, this typically is not the best foot to start out on, due to its lack of authenticity.

Cold Calling

Cold calling has been around for decades. It’s the most dreaded of the sales tactics by most salesman. Some salesman are pros at cold calling. Some would rather stab their eyes out. Either way you look at it, it is a viable tactic for reaching people. It’s more time-consuming than a mass or cold email would be, yet it mitigates some of the risk that a cold email presents in terms of lack of personalization and lack of authenticity.

The cons are well spoken of in other places, so I won’t recap them all here. But the pros can really make this a viable strategy, especially when you couple cold calling with an email automation sequence that follows up the communication. I would suggest that cold calling stays in the mix for any sales-driven organization, yet you might want to consider a more targeted effort on a particular vertical or industry niche as you move forward to limit the fatigue of your sales team.

Cold Networking

Cold networking, or maybe simply just called blind networking, would be defined as those “meat market” opportunities, such as business card exchanges and business club mixers, that offer a limited opportunity and have a “shark in the waters” vibe. In my experience these are rarely the best place to spend your time.

You can make good connections with others who might have your clients as their clients, but it would be rare to find an actual client at these events.

Cold Social Media

I’ll define cold social media this way: trying to make contacts or connections with folks online that you have no previous exposure to or context with.

This happens a lot, especially on networks like LinkedIn. People attempt to connect with you without any real context and come off as increasingly “sales-y” without any real value proposition. The key to doing cold networking on social media is going to be context and relevance. Without some sort of context or relevance, your attempt to connect is going to be perceived as one sided.

The first question on your mind should be,  “why should I connect with you?” Answering this question would put the value of the relationship in context of the person you are trying to connect with. What value would this connection be for the prospect? The answer should really be about value to them, not value for you.

The second question is,  “who do I know that knows you?”  Sometimes simply mentioning or drawing a line of connection in a personal network can help make the world a little smaller and bring some openness to your request to connect. Both of these tactics together increase your relevance to the prospect and can go a long way in helping your efforts.

Lastly, the next step, once you’ve made the social connection, is to move the conversation to additional channels such as an in-person meeting or an email address exchange, so that you could then follow up in additional context. Additionally, having a conversation over LinkedIn messenger is an option in a sales nurturing context.

How To Warm Up a Cold, Cold World

If you’re thinking about any of these cold contact development strategies, it’s worth putting some thought into them to determine how to best leverage your brand without falling into the many pitfalls of these methods. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss your strategies, and hear about some of the successes we’ve experienced with these approaches.

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