Freddie Marryat, Marketing Manager, EngageIQ

It’s the question every SDR wants to know the answer to “Is it better to cold call or cold email?”

While we hate to sit on the fence, they are both perfectly good sales tactics on the own. Used together, however, they can be ridiculously effective. 

See, it’s not a question of choosing between cold calling and cold emailing. It’s a question of choosing the right outreach method for each prospect at the right time. Here’s what you need to know about cold calling and cold emailing to succeed. 

The Pros and Cons of Cold Calls and Cold Emails

Cold Calling Pros and Cons

Sales leader Zach Barney believes that the phone is still your most effective weapon. We’re inclined to agree.

There’s a lot to love about cold calling. Talking directly to your prospect is the best way to learn about their concerns and pain points. It’s also the best way to build rapport, deliver your pitch and explain how you can help. 

You get a lot more detail when speaking over the phone, too. Even if it’s a no this time, you should be able to use what your prospect has said to overcome their objection in the future. 

At the same time, there’s a lot that people hate about cold calling. Now, you shouldn’t be in sales if you aren’t willing to pick up the phone. But even if you have no problem calling dozens of prospects each day it’s hard to scale cold calling. Getting through to prospects can also be difficult. Switchboards and gatekeepers are hard to navigate. Mobile numbers are hard to get. When you finally do get through, most prospects want to get rid of you before hearing your pitch.

Cold Email Pros and Cons

UberEATS sales manager Evan Kirshner believes that email is “one of the most valuable tools in sales if used correctly.” If you can’t get through to someone on the phone, you’ll almost certainly be able to reach their inbox. There are no gatekeepers to deal with, either. Plus, you can use software to send hundreds of personalised emails each day. Best of all, you can measure, test and optimise your outreach efforts.

The problem is that it’s much easier to ignore an email than a call. It’s harder to stand out, too. If you think your prospects get a lot of phone calls, take a peek at their inbox. Statistics show that the average office worker receives 121 emails per day! Email isn’t as instant a medium as the phone, either. It can take days to say something over email that can be said in two minutes on the phone. 

When Should You Call and When Should You Email?

Both strategies have their upsides and downsides. The key is to identify when to pick up the phone and when to hit send.

Cold call when…

We think cold calling is almost always the best outreach strategy. But there are a couple of times it works particularly well. The first is if you have a mobile number for your prospect. You’re much more likely to get your pitch heard if you can call someone’s mobile.

Calling is also best when you have an existing relationship with a prospect. It’s much easier to have a conversation with a prospect over the phone — especially if you want to close them. 

Jeff Hoffman, the founder of SellHoffman, recommends basing your outreach strategy on whether you have a strong or weak objective. If it’s a strong objective — like booking a meeting — he suggests picking up the phone. “Since these asks require more from the prospect, salespeople need to employ their closing skills to secure a “yes.” And it’s far easier to persuade on a phone call — when a rep can respond to and smooth over objections in real-time.”

The further someone is down your funnel, the more appropriate a phone call becomes. While we have closed people through email and Linkedin, we’ve closed loads more people through calls. 

Since these asks require more from the prospect, salespeople need to employ their closing skills to secure a “yes.” And it’s far easier to persuade on a phone call — when a rep can respond to and smooth over objections in real-time.

Cold email when…

Cold calling is great, but it doesn’t work every time. During the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve been struggling to contact prospects for whom we don’t have a mobile number.

Cold email has been a lifesaver in terms of initial outreach. It’s the perfect solution if you can’t get through to your prospects any other way. But it’s also a great way to raise brand awareness through content syndication efforts or as a touchpoint in your sales cadence.

Dale Dupree, Founder of Sales Rebellion, predicts that email will be incredibly effective in 2020, but also incredibly noisy. That’s why you should only cold email if you can commit to being creative enough to get noticed. 

Personalisation is key when it comes to getting your emails read, says marketing consultant Anna Crowe. “To stand out, you need to write personalized cold emails that have the warmth to allow a genuine human connection to be made.”

Combine Both in Your Sales Cadence For Success

The secret to consistently closing prospects is to reach out using a range of different channels. Phone calls, emails, and social media should all form part of your outreach approach. 

If you include at least three different mediums, you give yourself the best chance of success. That’s according to research by Gabe Larsen of InsideSales.com Labs, who found that:

  • One channel gave a 9.5% success rate
  • Two channels gave a 22.5% success rate
  • Three channels gave a 25.1% success rate.

We’d recommend choosing either cold calls or email to be your main form of outreach in your cadence. Which is best will depend on who you’re trying to contact and why you’re trying to speak to them. 

Your data may also force your hand. If you’re reaching out to prospects you met at a conference, it’s possible you only have their email address. Email and Linkedin will have to make up the bulk of your outreach efforts until you get a number from them.  

Having either email or cold calling as your initial and ongoing contact method can help to structure your sales cadence and give it focus. But you don’t have to stick with that channel forever. It will almost certainly be necessary to switch up your outreach approach if you want to succeed. 

Use the advice above combined with your intuition to decide whether you should start your cadence with an email or a phone call. Whichever you choose, make sure you plan out your entire cadence in advance and add it to a tool like Salesloft. This will make your outreach efforts much easier to track, and help you stay on top of who to contact and how to reach out to them.

Test The Effectiveness For Yourself

We think picking up the phone and calling a prospect will always be the best way for SDRs to book appointments. But what works for us won’t necessarily work for you.

That’s why experimenting and measuring your results in so important in our line of work. Before the coronavirus pandemic, we never spent time emailing prospects. But we were forced to try it out, and it’s worked surprisingly well. So much so that it’s definitely going to be a core part of our cadences going forward.

We would never have discovered how to make it work if we didn’t commit to testing, however. So don’t just take our word for it, experiment with your own call and email cadences and see what works for yourself. 

Make sure you test your messaging as well, especially when you’ve got a good amount of data to base decisions on. The more you test and refine your email, the more successful it will prove going forward, says entrepreneur John Rampton.

Have an opinion? Found a cadence that works for you? Let us know in the comments!

Images by: Andrea Piacquadio, Suzy Hazelwood