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When we say “sales is broken,” we are talking about outdated sales approaches. More sales organizations practice a legacy approach than a modern approach, even though new sales strategies provide better results. It’s difficult to adapt your B2B sales process or adopt a new B2B sales methodology, and many teams struggle to make the crucial pivot. Prospecting is one area where sales teams are on a level playing field, regardless of their approach.

In a recent conversation on LinkedIn, one commenter provided a link to a person offering to teach B2B salespeople his prospecting strategy. First, he downloads the contact’s profile on LinkedIn. Next, he uses ChatGPT to write a cold outreach message, making note of something personal from the contact’s LinkedIn.

Many sales reps jumped at the chance to cheat the sales prospecting process. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word sincerity means “The character, quality, or state of being sincere.” It also describes it as “Freedom from dissimulation [which means concealment] or duplicity; honesty, straightforwardness.”

Instead of scaling personalization in sales prospecting, the person using this ChatGPT approach is scaling insincerity. This approach is false, duplicitous. Even worse, now that this idea has found its way to a social platform, this approach will be weaponized by the techno-brutes. You can expect some young, enterprising savage with no moral grounding to automate scraping LinkedIn profiles. They’ll feed the information to generative AI to create “personalized” outreach. Let’s call this approach what it is: degenerative AI, something that will be writ large in other areas of our lives.

As decision-makers receive their third personalized email noting the same personal detail, they will recognize the messaging is false and hollow. Someone who might have been a potential customer will do what they do with all emails from sales professionals. If they don’t move the email to their spam folder, they’ll delete it on the first contact (like you do).

For those who believe a cold call is immoral, how do you think potential buyers feel about receiving hundreds of emails? The average knowledge worker receives 140 emails a day and sends something close to 40.


What the Future Holds for Sales Prospecting

The techno-brutes will continue their pursuit of selling without having to sell. It is in their nature to cheat their way to success. Instead of trying to do better work, they rely on a strategy of increasing volume. Automated sales prospecting, which is transactional, not consultative, will speed this shift.

More is not better than better. However, sending a flood of empty communications is mistakenly called “sales efficiency.” When something is high volume and low yield, it is inefficient. But email is practically free, easy to use, and scalable, so people often ignore the costs of boosting email outreach. This segment of B2B selling will dominate inboxes because some people are too lazy to do the work of real prospecting. Instead, they are interested only in selling their products and services without real effort.

This is only one side of B2B selling today. There are plenty of salespeople who have no interest in automating cold outreach, especially if it means they would have to lie. Instead, these salespeople have little trouble researching their prospective clients and their companies. They do not struggle to make cold calls for a meeting when they are prepared to use the only vehicle for creating value, the sales conversation.

Selling is a craft, it’s a set of skills that a B2B salesperson masters over time by gaining knowledge and experience. The craft allows these consultative salespeople to help their clients improve some strategic outcome for success. On this side, you find salespeople who prefer face-to-face meetings with a strong sales meeting agenda.

If you didn’t go out to search for a way to trick buyers into believing you care about them, it means you are on the side of selling as a craft. Instead of trying to create interest in your product, you are interested in the contact, their company, their challenges and pain points, and their opportunities. Because you are other-oriented in a sales environment that is increasingly self-oriented and transactional, you will always have an advantage. Caring is a superpower in sales and human relationships.

The Questions We Need to Answer

In the future, those of us on this side must create best practices for cold emailing in sales prospecting. To do this, we can’t rely on doing more. Instead, we must insist on creating better, more relevant, and more timely sales communications. We will need to create a successful sales prospecting strategy that breaks through the noise. It needs to be all signal and no noise.

My contribution to prospecting strategy is found in The Lost Art of Closing: Winning the 10 Commitments That Drive Sales, with a rule I call the Trading Value Rule. It requires salespeople to trade something of value for their prospects’ time. We need new rules that build on this approach. We also need better cold calling scripts to improve prospecting results in B2B sales.

When social selling was all the rage, I was a skeptic, so much so that a few of my friends and I started a conference called OutBound. We saw that sales organizations believed that they no longer needed to do outbound sales.

The first rule of social selling was, and still should be, Don’t sell. We need to rethink the role of social platforms in boosting sales prospecting efforts and turning them into first meetings. There has been little improvement in social selling in the last decade, and most InMails are straight pitches.

We already see approaches combining inbound and outbound strategies to improve sales prospecting results, and this will increase in the future. These two approaches need to merge into a more coordinated and choreographed B2B sales experience for buyers and decision-makers. When pursuing large clients and enterprise-level deals, we must continue to improve targeted account-based marketing strategies.

Your prospecting sequences will need to provide more insights and less repetitive, traditional messages. It’s time to get rid of the same tired cold calls and emails that provide no hint of value for your prospective clients. Sales automation tools don’t seem to create efficiency and when used poorly, they do more harm than good, but there are ways to use automation without losing your soul.

Integrity over Efficiency

You and I must always choose integrity over efficiency, putting character over fast results. Over time, those who try to cheat the Gods of Sales are always punished by losing to people who let their integrity lead them.


Post by Anthony Iannarino on April 19, 2023

Written and edited by human brains and human hands.

Anthony Iannarino
Anthony Iannarino is a writer, an international speaker, and an entrepreneur. He is the author of four books on the modern sales approach, one book on sales leadership, and his latest book called The Negativity Fast releases on 10.31.23. Anthony posts daily content here at TheSalesBlog.com.
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