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The End of Cold Outreach As We Know It

I made my first cold call when I was 15. I was given a list of phone numbers of community groups. I called each number to ask the community group to conduct a charity bike-a-thon to raise money for a charity. I was the only person to get a group to raise money. In fact, I organized two events, which was more than the rest of the people making calls.

Later, when I went to work in my family’s business, I was instructed to call companies to see if they needed temporary employees for business staffing needs. I had no reluctance to pick up the phone and call strangers, and I had some early success. A few years later, I moved to Los Angeles to play music. I needed a job where I did the same kind of work I had done for my family’s business. Three months after I started, the company installed a new manager who noticed that I had won more clients than the three salespeople responsible for B2B sales acquisition. The new manager transitioned me into outside sales.

At this time, if you went to the first meeting with a prospective client, you would be responsible for walking into the front door of the surrounding companies. If you failed to get a meeting, you would need to get a business card to prove you attempted to get a meeting. I tell you this because I have a long history of making cold calls, which gives me a particular perspective.

Phone First

There is every reason to start your pursuit of a first meeting with a phone call. Because you are able to ask for a meeting, you increase your chances of booking a first meeting with your dream client using cold calling. But over the last decade, each passing year makes it more difficult to get a decision maker to pick up the phone. It seems that voicemail is also not nearly as effective as it was in the recent past. Last week, I made cold calls only to find that every voicemail box was full. I don’t believe this was a fluke. I believe these people are doing this on purpose to prevent others from being able to leave messages.

Cold Outreach Using Email

You can be certain your email will reach your prospective client. However, you can also be certain that it is likely to be deleted before the contact reads it. If you were the only salesperson to send the client a personalized sales email, you might have a chance of getting it read. But you have little chance of breaking through the noise that plagues every person’s inbox.

The combination of data and automation used for sequences makes your email suspect. If only one sales organization used this approach, it would not be a problem. But because so many sales organizations use these tools, they make it less likely any salesperson will get their message through to their prospective clients.

Cometh the Age of AI and the End of Cold Outreach

Think of the phone and email as a small hand grenade and AI as a nuclear bomb. On the first day ChatGPT was released, at least one enterprising salesperson connected it to LinkedIn to send emails and InMails, with AI customizing the messages. I don’t consider this to be personalization because no person was directly involved.

We are just at the beginning of the weaponization of fully automated sequences, followed by automating the responses should the contact read the email or, soon, text messages. There is already an overwhelm in cold outreach and AI-driven sales prospecting, and the addition of AI for prospecting will only cause leaders, decision makers, and others who are frustrated with so much incoming.

If you believe cold outreach is tough now, just wait until the techno brutes turn up the speed in an attempt to get meetings without any human hand or human brains.

The Future of Warm Outreach

When cold outreach blows up, those who are paying attention will start working on warm outreach. Those who manage and nurture their networks will have an advantage when it comes to being able to make and receive introductions. Platforms like LinkedIn will see more people communicating with each other to trade introductions and work together. There will be other groups that work on sharing information and their contacts.

We are not quite there yet, but if AI’s adoption is any hint, things will speed up. Because our political class doesn’t seem interested in keeping our data safe, you can expect cold outreach to evolve into something warmer.

Leaving this article, you should look at your data, including how many people open your emails and how many calls you need to make to book a single first meeting with a prospective client using effective sales strategies. You might want to start working on new strategies for gaining a meeting. Finally, you may want to reach out to friends who are not selling what you sell to trade contacts where it makes sense.

You might also start developing other strategies to introduce and be introduced to people you believe that your client might need to know. I don’t know how soon we will see the end of cold outreach as we know it, but the future will not be the same. If you are paying attention, you will already notice the changes in your clients' behaviors.


Sales 2024
Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 26, 2024

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino

Anthony Iannarino is an American writer. He has published daily at thesalesblog.com for more than 14 years, amassing over 5,300 articles and making this platform a destination for salespeople and sales leaders. Anthony is also the author of four best-selling books documenting modern sales methodologies and a fifth book for sales leaders seeking revenue growth. His latest book for an even wider audience is titled, The Negativity Fast: Proven Techniques to Increase Positivity, Reduce Fear, and Boost Success.

Anthony speaks to sales organizations worldwide, delivering cutting-edge sales strategies and tactics that work in this ever-evolving B2B landscape. He also provides workshops and seminars. You can reach Anthony at thesalesblog.com or email Beth@b2bsalescoach.com.

Connect with Anthony on LinkedIn, X or Youtube. You can email Anthony at iannarino@gmail.com

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