Has NetSuite proven that cold calls still work? Kind of.

At the SalesHacker Conference last week the SDR topic was discussed, discussed again, and then discussed another four times. If you weren’t there and are interested in this topic, you missed out big. The popularity of the topic wasn’t a shock, since you can’t scroll down your LinkedIn feed without seeing a trending article on SDR’s productivity. These articles typically focus on the newest sales or marketing technologies, but at SalesHacker Conference the real focus was on sales leaders techniques and processes. One particular presentation led by Liz Cain of NetSuite challenged some of my own biases about a heated topic in the modern SDR world: cold calling.

At Skaled we work with SDRs at many growth stage companies, so we see first-hand that many companies are moving away from calling, especially as marketing takes over some traditional sales roles. I’m a data guy, so I don’t really care one way or the other — I just want my team to do whatever it takes to get the job done in a repeatable way.

So what can I tell you from our data and experiences at Skaled? When we implement a cold calling strategy in our campaigns, only 20–30% meetings are set from a call.

Many professionals believe that if your territories are still pretty broad, cold calling might be worth it. But your reps could send out 100 emails into a cadence of 4–6 touches, and set two to five times the number of appointments they would in a two hour call block. When you’re still early and scaling, you need to perfect messaging and it doesn’t make sense to cold call. Take the easy wins and don’t make it tough on yourself from day one!

WHEN DOES THIS BREAK?

1. Super narrow customer base- sub 2000. These targets require more customization and you will need to be more persistent.

2. When you have a growing or larger team of 15+ SDRs. At this point you have started to work through your low hanging fruit and need to get scrappy. You should still be using email heavily, but calling may be necessary to add that level of persistence.

At the SalesHacker conference, NetSuite’s Liz Cain said that her group actually sets 70% of their meetings from phone follow ups- AND those appointments have a 2x close rate!

That is data based proof that cold calling is not dead. Of course Liz’s team uses emails to nurture, but the call is the significant event.

WHAT HAVE I LEARNED?

1. Emails work early on and enable faster growth than calls.

2. This breaks at a certain point and calls become very effective.

My lesson learned here is that it’s okay to go wide for a period, but you will eventually need to instill a grittier style in your SDR efforts. As you scale you better make sure your SDRs have the right attitude and aren’t allergic to the phones, because the data proves that cold calling isn’t dead.