I’m going to make a bold prediction…..
Millennials will wipe out cold calling as a successful sales activity by 2025.
*the crowd goes silent*
That’s right, cold calling, one of the strongest prospecting activities of the last decade, will be killed off by the millennial generation in less than 8 years.
There has been plenty of debate over the last couple of years around whether it’s dead already. All this is just noise though, and even those making the noise admit it’s just noise! Cold calling is far from dead, and whilst I wouldn’t go as far to suggest it’s thriving, it is still one of the strongest prospecting activities out there.
What is very clear is that it is dying. This is down to a few reasons, the internet being the first one. People are now able to and prefer to, research their purchases online. They are also buying more online and the amount they feel comfortable spending without speaking to a human being is ever increasing. There was a time when spending £5 online was scary, now we’re comfortable spending thousands.
You’ve then got laws starting to pop up banning unsolicited calls across the world as people start to push back against what is essentially an intrusive method of selling. The rise of alternative communication methods is also having a huge influence. We now have email, video call, text, and instant message.
These are all key factors in what I believe will be the ultimate end for cold calling, however, they are not the main reason. This will all come down to the wonderful millennial generation. What we now have taken over the world’s workplace is a generation of people who don’t like using the phone and who put far more value on their time.
John Brandon wrote a great article for Inc about “Why Millennials Don’t Like To Make Phone Calls”. He explores why this generation has built a fear of using a phone and explains that:
Millennials already know the benefits of digital communication better than some of us. They want results, not a lengthy discussion.
The reality is this is a two-pronged attack on the cold calling industry. On the one hand you will start to see your ever-growing millennial sales force not wanting to make the cold call but on the other hand, you’ll have the growing population of millennial decision makers not wanting to ANSWER the cold call.
Catalyst predicts that by 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be populated by millennials. Now if a large majority of that 75% don’t want to make phone calls or answer phone calls, do you really think cold calling will be effective?
But wait, how can you say this when MORE people than ever before now own a phone?
That’s very true, millennials love their phones and addiction to smartphones is a huge problem brewing at the moment. More people than ever before have a phone and almost have it with them 24/7. The problem is that they’re not addicted to making or receiving phone calls! They’re addicted to social media, to games, to apps etc. They want to communicate on their terms. So many people sit watching calls come through, waiting for them to end, leave a voicemail and will then determine whether they want to call them or email them back.
The world of sales needs to really wake up to this. It scares me speaking to companies large and small who haven’t integrated any social or digital strategy into their sales process. It scares me the number of companies who aren’t starting to educate, plan and build processes to ensure they are ready for this shift in communication preference.
I was kindly invited to keynote at the very first meeting of the new Reading AA-ISP chapter last week at the Madjeski Stadium and one of the Inside Sales managers made a great point. He mentioned that cold calling had always been strong over his career but over the last year or 2 he has seen success rates take a huge dip.
Less and less people are answering the phones, it’s a real challenge for our inside sales reps.
I’m not suggesting you should stop cold calling now, far from it. What I’m saying though is look ahead and look at the reality that it won’t be the same decision makers that you are approaching now in 5-10 years and so whilst right now they are responding to a cold calling, what happens when they don’t?
Millennials don’t want to make calls and they don’t want to answer them either. It doesn’t matter how successful cold calling was 10 years ago, it doesn’t matter how you may be more comfortable cold calling. It’s not about you, it’s about your customers. If your customers don’t want to speak on the phone then that shouldn’t be your primary prospecting method.
Change is never easy, but it’s inevitable.
Now is the time to start learning social and digital selling methods. Now is the time to start building the processes, embedding it into your current structure and future proofing your sales team and your business. Start having the conversation, start researching the methods, the tools, the technologies and you’ll soon learn to master it. The best part is you’ll end up making your sales process more effective and efficient along the way!
My prediction is that millennials will end cold calling by 2025, what do you think?
I’d love to know your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree? Let me know why in the comments box below, I think this is an important topic that needs to be discussed.