Prospecting is a tough business – more than 40% of salespeople say it’s the most challenging part of the whole sales process.

So, it’s essential you use tactics that deliver the biggest punch.

That’s why we’ve organised a heavyweight B2B prospecting championship. Before the bouts begin, let’s assess the form of each.

Waiting for their weigh-in we have:

  • Cold calling
  • Cold emailing from a bought list
  • Exhibitions
  • Networking/Referrals
  • Advertising
  • LinkedIn messaging
  • Content marketing/thought leadership
  • SoPro’s social selling

We’ll check their form against factors such as scalability, cost, lead generation, targeting, risk, personalisation and in-house time.

And first two to step up to the scales are cold calling and cold emailing from a bought list.

Cold calling

Very much the whipping-boy of the bunch, if we had a prospect for every time we heard that cold calling is dead, we’d have a company the size of J.P. Morgan by now.

Consider these hard-hitting stats:

  • Less than 1% of cold calls actually result in meetings
  • A convincing 90% of B2B decision makers don’t like or respond to cold calling
  • Only 28% of those reached engage in a meaningful conversation
  • It takes an average of 18 calls to actually connect with a buyer

Form guide for cold calling

In terms of time taken and success rate things don’t look good.

Cost is relatively low, until that is you consider what else your sales team could be doing. But the risk of turning people off is high (and even higher if you’ve outsourced your telemarketing).

Scalability is achievable and targeting is good (unless you’re calling from a bought list).

And yet, you’ll come across stats like this:

Cold calling may be dead but the phone comes into its own in developing a relationship that already exists.

Cold emailing from a bought list

While infinitely scalable – just ask the spammers – and relatively low-cost, at around 25p per contact, email lists on the face of it look rather attractive.

But here comes the knock-out punch.

The freshness and accuracy of bought lists decays at an alarming rate, as we reveal here. Due to the nature of how often we change our jobs any email list hits its database half-life in its second year. This is the point at which more than half of its data is obsolete.

Within its first year a third of its data is no longer current and by 18 months the half-life of bought data is reached.

Which means a list that cost you £2,500 is actually worth just £1,250. What it also means is that your deliverability is going to be hit. And not just this mail campaign but, potentially, all your emails, including transactional ones.

That’s a high price to pay.

Another hidden cost is that, depending on the info you purchased alongside your email list, your ability to segment and meaningfully personalise the mail will be affected.

  • Personalisation in an email can boost your response rate by as much as 143% according to a report from Woodpecker
  • And your open rates can be boosted by 22.2% if personalisation is used in the subject line, according to a report from Adestra

The results speak for themselves:

  • The average cold email response rate is 1%, which means for every 100 people you mail, you’re getting through to just one person (and probably pissing off a large number of others)
  • Meanwhile, the average success rate of an email phishing attack is 0.1%, which is uncomfortably close

Form guide for cold emailing from a bought list

In terms of time taken, scalability and cost things look well-oiled.

Targeting depends very much on the data provider and depth of data you purchase.

But the risk to your reputation (and deliverability reputation) are high and the potential returns are low.

But, just as with the phone, marketers love email.

You don’t have to search too hard to find these sort of stats suggesting that email marketing has an ROI of 3800%.

But, remember, our focus here is on prospecting not email campaigns to existing customers, or even existing prospects.

Email may be red hot but cold email is definitely frozen out.

Coming up next

Up next to the prospecting scales are exhibitions and networking/referrals.

See you ringside in the next post.