Why cold call still works, this was the subject of a heated debate we had with Mario Martinez from Vengreso. During our webinar, we discussed which method is better to build quality pipeline fast: cold calling vs digital prospecting via social media, email or LinkedIn. Things got a bit heated, so we decided to put our cold calling to the test. We wanted to see how many appointments and how many pipelines we can generate by cold-calling using a predictive dialer.

We had our sales development representatives call thousands of leads. They spoke to cold prospects and just gave them an idea of what InsideSales.com is all about. For this week, we drew the line to see the results.

The Cold Calling Experiment – Building up Your Sales Leads

Cold calling has always been an intimidating method of working a lead. You basically pick up the phone and call a prospect to deliver a sales pitch about your service or product. The prospect has never heard of your company, doesn’t know who you are or what you do. It’s what ‘old-school’ sales reps do and what new, digitally-savvy marketers would say is a waste of time and a sure-fire way to annoy your leads.

We think cold calling is NOT dead and it still has better results than contacting prospects via social media or email or anything else, so we put our theory to the test. 

It might seem like a lot, but the truth is, their efforts were rewarded times ten:

  • Our sales reps had 632 meaningful conversations with prospects. This means 5.08% of all cold calls turn into meaningful conversations, which is a great rate and certainly better than email, which sits at 1-3%.
  • They set 64 appointments with their leads, and 70% of appointments held
  • Out of the appointments that held, about 50% turned into opportunities…
  • …and this is how they built $1.68 million in sales pipeline over the course of 5 days!

This has been an amazing experiment to show the power of cold-calling in the age of digital sales and marketing campaigns.

The phone still works, and here at InsideSales.com we are big proponents of picking up the phone and calling your leads.

webinar McKinsey and Company - using advanced analytics to boost sales revenue

Cold Calling Lead Generation: Predictive Sales Technology

Now, something can be said about our cold calling strategy. You can’t just pick up the phone and blindly call people. Our team used a sales dialer powered by Artificial Intelligence, which means they had a smart lead scoring system to guide them only to the best leads.

Cold Calling 101 – The basics you need to do cold calling properly today:

  • A list should be clean, well targeted and accurate before you begin your cold-calling;
  • Sales reps need to know your sales pitch by heart and don’t stumble when talking to decision-makers;
  • You need an awesome predictive dialer system for lead scoring that allows sales reps to get to the most valuable leads first, rather than gut-guessing who their targets should be;
  • Make sure your dialer can suggest the correct phone numbers for targets, using predictive functions;
  • Have a LocalPresence system that displays a local phone number, increasing your chances of prospects answering the phone;
  • Make sure you have a click-to-call system, so your reps don’t manually dial a phone number. This one is a no-brainer and the technology has been around for a while, so there’s no reason not to use it.

Cold calling has changed since the age of the Rolodex. Make sure your tech stack can keep up with the needs of modern salespeople.

Cold Calling is NOT Dead

Some sales reps think that digital sales are now the new black and that cold calling is dead. But seeing the results of this experiment, I just don’t buy it. Don’t ever contact leads directly on social media, thinking you have no shot of getting to them over the phone. You are wrong, and if done right, the phone still works today.

Cold calling is the single most effective sales strategy you have today to build a pipeline without complex marketing strategies that take weeks to put together or without creating content.

Granted, sales reps have to put in a lot of work into this play to make sure it is successful.


cold calling is not dead - three cold calling techniques guaranteed to help you win


I have news for you– nobody is ever thrilled to receive a phone call from cold callers. Even using a predictive sales technology stack, our numbers show you need to make 19.7 calls before you land ONE meaningful conversation with a prospect. To set just one appointment for a meeting with an account executive, SDR’s need to ramp up 194.6 calls.

Cold calling is hard work and you can see why sales reps are quick to shy away from the phone and say ‘it just doesn’t work anymore.’

It’s your job to show them why they needed your cold calling solution yesterday and how it solves their problems. 

We’ll be starting a social selling experiment soon, to see how results compare to this one, so stay tuned for more!

overcoming cold call objections - break barriers with one simple method

What do you think about cold calling and how effective it is? Let us know in the comments below.

Up Next: What Is Cold Calling | Everything You Need To Know


Editors Note: This article has been updated for quality and relevancy. Original publish date: May 2018.