Cold Calling, Cold Emailing, or Hybrid Approach?


Let me offer you the briefest of histories of cold calling and cold emailing.

Cold calling dates back to the 1800s. Originally, it meant an unscheduled and unsolicited visit from a door-to-door salesperson. With the invention of telephone, salespeople got to thinking and naturally discovered that they can use the phone to do their business. So, cold calling also refers to an unsolicited phone call. Finally, with the invention of the Internet, emails happened. As a digitalized version of cold calling, emails are now used by salespeople to connect with potential customers.


As you well know, cold calling and cold emailing are used for outreach in particular. In the modern business world, there is an ongoing debate about the benefits and drawbacks of each.

Today, it seems that cold calling is barely alive and kicking while cold emailing reigns supreme.

How come?


Cold Calling vs. Cold Emailing – the Prospects’ Perspective

Well, using cold calling in the traditional sense, for outreach, simply doesn’t work any more. Why? Simply because cold calling is a waaay too personal approach to reach out to a prospect.

As simple as that.

The fact is, we simply don’t like complete strangers on our phone, no matter what the purpose of their call is. Just think of how you feel when a completely unknown person tries to convince you a certain product is just what you need. You don’t know them so you don’t trust them and you will certainly not give them money for something they tell you is worth it.

We, the potential customers, seem to hate cold calling since forever. This is how we greeted solicitors in the olden days:

This happens today as well, the equivalent of getting killed and eaten being hanging up or making up excuses. When I get a cold call, I pretend I am a minor and tell them my parents aren’t home.

In B2B business world, you cannot use that excuse. But you will pretend you don’t have time, or delegate the call to your secretary or an assistant; and you will use a lot of ‘maybes’ and ‘I’ll get back to yous’.

I know I’m harsh, but that’s just the way things are, and I know you probably think the same. Here are some stats taken from HubSpot that back that up:

  • only 2% of cold calls result in a meeting;
  • only 2% of people opt for cold calling, 77% prefer email marketing;
  • 80% of potential buyers will not make a decision to buy over the phone.

The situation is quite different when it comes to cold emailing. Hanging up the phone is translated into spam filters and junk mail, the courtesy of Google, to protect us from the unsolicited offers. When Gmail and other email services do the protecting, we, the outreachers, are bound to create valuable and relevant emails. And we, the prospects, receive mostly valuable and relevant content. And everybody is happy.

Cold emailing seems to be the favorite means of outreach in the business world simply because, and I cannot emphasize this enough (you have it in my two previous posts as well), emailing allows you to be professional and personal, distanced and friendly at the same time.

There exists a necessary barrier between the outreacher and the lead that simply isn’t present over the phone.

As for me personally, I really have to like you to talk to you over the phone. And I like my immediate family and my best friend, and that is about it. Harsh, I know, but a lot of people are like that. So outreach via email wins over outreach via phone any day.

Just look at the stats from Campaign Monitor:

  • 72% of people choose email to do business > 17% choose social media > 11% chooses other channels (cold calling included);
  • 90,9% of population will have an email address by 2019;

The main difference between cold calling and cold emailing is the level of intrusion they exert upon the prospects. It’s a matter of psychology, people are protective of their personal space in both private and business life.

And cold calling seems to violate that much more than cold emailing.

Cold calling 0, cold emailing 1.


Cold Calling vs. Cold Emailing – the Outreach Perspective

Let’s briefly take a look at the psychological impact cold calling has on us, the outreach people.

As a cold caller, you are faced with all the negativity and lack of trust described above. You dial the numbers over and over again, just to hear more excuses, and bear abrupt hang ups. And when a prospect happens to respond, it’s nothing short of a miracle.

How does that impact your sense of self, your ego, your career? Not well, and that’s a euphemism. Yes, you get an immediate response, but at what cost?

As a cold emailer, you have to craft a good email. Or hire a copywriter to do that. Then, with a little help from different automatization tools, you send it to a lot of email addresses in a matter of minutes.

Then, you wait. If you don’t get a response, it doesn’t affect you as much as when a prospect hangs up on you. And, you can always follow up with your leads, to try and get a response.

No hurt feelings, no bruised egos, just business 🙂

Yep, cold calling 0, cold emailing 2.


Cold Calling vs. Cold Emailing – Practical Issues

Money-wise, cold calling loses to cold emailing once again. Take a look at the stats:

  • cold calling costs 60% more per lead (than emailing and social media)
  • cold emailing generates 3800% ROI (Yep, for every dollar spent, you get 38 dollars in return!)

A phone call requires one-on-one communication, and is time consuming for both the outreacher and the prospect. It takes time to explain the reason for the call, and to respond (if you want them to respond and not hang up).

Cold emailing allows the one-too-many approach. The quick send and reply save time and energy on both sides. And, if time is money, it is evident who makes it here 😀

This is getting predictable. Cold calling 0, cold emailing 3.


I think I’ve pretty much nailed the coffin for our dearly beloved cold calling.

But is it really dead? Is it really the question of either/or?

You’ve guessed it, NO.


The Hybrid Approach: Cold Emailing for Outreach, Cold Calling Further Down the Funnel

If you ask me, hybridity wins anytime, anyplace. Let me show you how.

I think it’s pretty clear from all stated above that cold emailing is one of the most profitable and cherished means of outreach. It lets you establish a relationship with the prospect without violating their personal space, which is crucial for the first meeting. But, once the connection is there, you can approach them on a more personal level. That is where a phone call beats an email any time.

And the underdog wins.

As a personal means of communication, phone calls let the prospects get to know the people in the company. It helps build trust and a firmer relationship between the seller and the lead. When rapport is built, the sale is much more likely to happen. Apart from making relationships firmer, you can use phone calls to further discuss the details or make a sale.
Phone calls are the closest to face-to-face conversation which means that more information can be exchanged.

For example, if your prospect doesn’t understand some features and needs further clarification, you can suggest a phone call. They can also be used for arranging a sale, or even getting feedback after the prospect has become the customer.

The possibilities really seem endless.

Of course, we are no longer talking about cold calling, but warm calling. Because, you are not doing the outreach; you use calling further down the funnel, to follow up, or close the deal.

The idea of mixing and matching cold emailing and cold calling (turned warm) has been perfected by Aaron Ross. He called this hybrid approach  Cold Calling 2.0. Ross explains, in the book Predictable Revenue, how to organize your sales team so as to maximize conversion rates with the help of warm calling. If you are interested, you can read more about it here.


In the end, all I can say is I’m looking forward to hearing from you, so feel free to comment 🙂

Cheers to the underdog, and to hybridity!

Author: Jovana Petrovic

I'm a researcher and writer at Etools – a toolkit that lets you find the exact contact details of any business.

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