Cold calling is a traditional sales tactic. When it first became popular as a selling strategy, it was a successful money earner. But how about now?

Many years ago, small business owners and large corporations discovered that the telephone - a new technology - was an excellent way to connect with a large number of people in a short period of time. As it became more and more common for ordinary householders to have telephones in their homes, businesses reached out to potential customers through this form of communication, rather than waiting for the customers to hear about them through word of mouth. It was a novel approach, and it worked. Businesses made money through cold calling.

However, those days are long gone. Where people used to enjoy the novelty of the phone ringing, now it is something we often wish we could turn off completely. With hundreds of businesses a day clamoring for customers' attention, cold calling is taking place in a completely different societal context from the early days.

Yet many businesses continue to use cold calling as a sales tactic. Why? Perhaps it's just because it's a familiar strategy that worked in the past. Perhaps because many business owners are afraid to break away from a sales tactic that does, after all, bring in a few sales every now and then. Perhaps because the results of cold calling are well documented, so it's easy to predict how many sales you will make per hour or per number of calls.

It's time for businesses to let go of these sad reasons. If cold calling had never existed, and someone tried to implement it today for the first time, and it resulted in the low number of sales that it actually does, would anyone stick with it? No! They'd say: obviously, this strategy has a low success rate, so let's throw it out. They wouldn't pour thousands of dollars into employing people to sit on the phone all day, getting one rejection after another. Yet that's exactly what businesses who are still using cold calling today are doing.

Why doesn't cold calling work? Here are three possible reasons:

  1. People are bored with cold calling. Everyone is familiar with the typical sales spiels, and people know very well that the person on the other end of the phone is getting paid to call hundreds of people a day. It's not an approach that people find attractive, and they're fed up with being bothered all the time.
  2. People are too busy to talk to strangers on the phone. Sales people always seem to call at the most inappropriate times, like in the middle of dinner or early in the morning. Actually, every time is a bad time, because people are so busy these days that any unwanted phone call feels like an intrusion. Every second a customer spends talking to someone who only wants to sell them something is a second they feel they could be doing something more important.
  3. People are proactive when they want to fill a need. In days gone by, people didn't have the same drive to research and find products that they do today. They might actually have appreciated some random stranger calling and telling them about a new kind of vacuum cleaner they'd never heard of. But nowadays, people are likely to say to themselves, "I need to do X. I wonder if there's a product that could do that for me?" 5 minutes on Google, and they've figured out that not only is there a product, but they're comparing prices and reading reviews. Cold calling just annoys people like that because they justifiably think, "If I want something, I'll look for it myself!"

Knowing this, can you imagine deliberately using cold calling as a sales tactic? There are so many better ways to connect with customers. People are smart; you don't need to insult their intelligence by treating them like numbers to be crossed off a list. Create a product, provide value, and give customers a way to find you. When they do find you, if you treat them right, they will tell all their friends. It's not rocket science. Plus, you will actually make money this way! Here are four ideas to get you started:

  1. Social networks like LinkedIn and Facebook.

    People are very likely to take recommendations from friends seriously. If you want to market a business idea or product, start with social networks. Use the power of friendship to leverage your business.
  2. Targeted emails.

    Nobody likes getting spam anymore than they like receiving cold calls, but targeted emails are a whole different ball game. Basically what you do is invite people to sign up for an email list (known as "opting in"). They are willingly asking for the information you provide, so it should not be an annoyance when they actually receive the emails! You can include valuable information as well as calls to action. People are more likely to buy when they have already expressed interest.

    Setting up an email list is not as complicated as it might sound. Most people use a reliable, cheap email marketing service such as Aweber to automate the whole process.
  3. Article marketing.

    This is a tactic that people use to drive traffic to a website or simply to provide content that contains their own affiliate links or product placements. The nice thing about article marketing is that it provides the opportunity to make a little extra cash on the side, as many article directories will share their Adsense revenues with you.
  4. Blogging.

    Blogging can be a great way to make money online if you do it right. Blogging started as a way to document personal journeys or chronicle day-to-day experiences - the word blog actually comes from "web log." Nowadays many businesses have Wordpress blogs, and the platform of blogging has really exploded. The nice thing about blogging is that you can start with a very minimal money investment. Also, if you use additional revenue sources like Adsense, you are able to keep 100% of the Adsense revenues, versus posting your articles elsewhere. Even if you have never blogged before, you can easily get the hang of it in a few weeks. To really be financially successful, though, you will need to get specialized training to make money blogging.

Do you see how these marketing strategies all have one thing in common? They target a specific audience, unlike cold calling. This means that the rate of success is far higher than cold calling. And of course, the result of a higher success rate is that you can make the same number of sales while putting in less energy and time (or put in the same amount of energy but make many more sales, depending on how you want to look at it).

Plus, your customers are more likely to be happy with their purchases because they are less likely to be impulse buys - that is, they are actively seeking out information or looking to buy.

Many businesses are still using cold calling even though they have heard of the four alternatives above (as well as many others we didn't mention). The reason may be because these business owners think they are not technically skilled enough or don't have the computer know-how to use other methods. This is just silly. Modern technologies for making sales are easy to learn if you put your mind to it.

And if you really are averse to learning new skills, why not hire someone else to do it for you? There are plenty of Internet marketers who will gladly and efficiently run online sales campaigns for you. You'll save money and time. And the results will be effective.

If you are still using cold calling as a sales tactic, stop right now. You cannot make serious money using cold calling anymore.