Cold Calling…New Realities


‘Cold calling, in the U.S. has evolved on many levels, over its multi-decade existence. One being personal annoyances, and another being aggressive persistence of caller’s tone and language.  To the chagrin of many in the U.S., adverse behaviors-actions, in this instance, those stemming from ‘cold calling’, often must rise to some level of public intolerance before legislative oversight is enacted.

Cold calling, in terms of a general definition, most befitting the ‘landline  era, is frequently characterized as indiscriminate, telephonic solicitations, presumably by sales representatives, on behalf of a business or services firm to individuals with whom neither the recipient nor caller have had prior contact or relationship. Remember the latter, i.e., contact and relationship, as they will take on a special – new relevance as technology evolves to transform the conventional practice associated with the ‘land line’ era.

In the ‘land line’ era, receiving cold calls from sales representatives, were, it’s reasonable to say, routinely perceived by recipients as bothersome and irritating. In no small way, that bothersome irritation was, at least in part, due to (a.) their ‘dinner hour’ occurrence, coupled with (b.) the reality that answering a land line phone required one to walk to wherever the phone had been installed in the home. Then too, the timing of ‘cold calls’ (during the dinner – early even hours) was not especially scientific, rather it merely, for large percentages of people, was time periods people were home, at a single phone number, to answer their land-line fixed phone.

The notion of referring to these actions as a ‘cold’ call, lies in the view that within the sales profession, it’s important to distinguish – assess the interest a party has – conveys about the product-service being pitched. This process is often characterized in terms of ambient temperature, i.e., a ‘hot’ prospect conveys actual interest in the product or service being pitched and could – may be ready to negotiate-close a deal. Whereas a “warm” lead would reflect one who needs the product or service pitched, but the caller has not previously spoken to directly. A ‘cold call’ on the other hand, occurs when the caller has never spoken to and knows little, if anything about the recipient other than personal contact information which may also include occupation, age, residence, and other pertinent information, but ‘cold’ in the context there is no knowledge of interest being expressed.

Cold calls for generating leads…

Preferably, of course, a ‘cold call’ will produce what has often been referred to in the sales sector, as cold, warm, or hot leads for the caller and preferably bring them closer to a potential sale. Numerous studies, quite unequivocally find the act of ‘cold calling’ is less likely to produce a sale compared to calling (contacting) specific individuals a caller knows beforehand, is interested. Equally interesting, ‘cold calling’ as a verb, predates the advent of the telephone when the verb ‘call’ could also mean a personal visit. (Adapted by Michael D. Moberly from

Traditionally, cold calling constitutes an early stage of a selling process. However, conventional ‘cold calling’ has transformed substantially as (a.) reliance on conventional ‘land lines’ has diminished due to wireless ‘always on’ alternatives, and (b.) rising percentage of comfortable and undemanding shopping experiences originating and easily executed through the growing numbers of global online product – service rich (specialty) options.

Interestingly, an even more aggressive form of ‘cold calling’ applied in recent years, includes artless, face-to-face, unannounced encounter at a business, obviously without an appointment, endeavoring to make quick sales for specific and relevant products. This is sometimes referred to as ‘guerilla marketing’ tactics.

When placing a conventional cold call, the caller is the initiator and presumably obliged to adhere to a specially crafted script relevant to the interaction that includes training to mitigate recipients’ hesitation and/or reluctance and to extend the call length to increase probability of achieving a desirable conclusion. Today however, a conventional sales script has become variously obsolete due, in part, to high definition – digitalization of voice scripts assembled-edited in advance coupled with contact automation and integrated with machine intelligence that distinguishes the human voice.

Not all ‘cold calls’ are random…

Notably, not all ‘cold calls’ are random. Some are generated via a list of genuine leads that are pre-researched or acquired by specialty (data acquisition, compilation, and analysis) firms which sell their product to the sales agent’s firm.

Let’s consider a wedding exposition, often held during the late fall or winter at large venues serving a metropolitan area whereby myriad of service vendors associated with wedding organizing. Consistently, eager exposition attendees are asked – required as a prelude to entry to provide personal contact information in a ‘guestbook’ in lieu of a registration fee. Each ‘guestbook registrant’ then becomes a prospect and/or ‘warm’ lead as organizers presume each registrant has some interest in weddings and the associated accoutrements, and may, at some point become a buyer – client of one or more of the services available, and therefore could legitimately constitute a ‘warm’ vs. ‘cold call’ recipient.

21st century cold calling…

In a significant percentage of instances today, a lead (clue-indicator) prompting a targeted – message specific communication, ala 21st century cold calling…is gleaned from ever expanding and specialized categories of ‘big data’. The ‘big data’ is pared to distinct categories of predictive analytics (receptive to scanning and analysis), i.e., age groups, property-automobile owners, hobbies, needs, leisure time, etc., from which to develop highly specialized contact lists aligned with – receptive to particular-product – service offerings.

Of course, technology mediums and platforms which now permit instantaneous – at will communication with online shoppers and therefore, prospective consumers, has evolved to include tracking consumer searches attached to rapid audio, video, and/or photos of products – services searched, i.e., eyes on. Thus, the once prolific ‘cold calling’ has drifted away from the traditional ‘dinner hour’ to connect to – coordinate with consumer specific online searches in ‘anytime – anyplace’ formats. These, and other technological advances have, among other things, paved the way for a substantial ‘role reversal’ in terms of solicitation strategies. In other words, why engage in low percentage outcome, inefficient, and time consuming ‘cold calling’ when technologies permit tracking of millions of shoppers’ (simultaneously) online, i.e., their product-service searches, capture their search data and all-of-its specifics, then format accordingly as repetitive online follow-up’s. This utterly changes the time-honored dynamics between the caller and recipient.

Thus, cold calling today, has expanded to reflect-accommodate the myriad ways, technologies, and platforms that distinguish the conventional unsolicited vs. today’s presumably solicited contact and communication with ‘known’ prospective buyers, i.e., through emails, texts, screen pop-ups, and myriad of professional networking platforms, etc. In other words, individual online shoppers can be contacted and/or connected by-virtue-of their (online) ‘eyes on – click on’ a specific product or service. Too, a recipients’ ‘expectation – anticipation’ of a subsequent-forthcoming solicitation (follow-up) constitutes a noun, i.e., intangible. Also, it manifests as a reversal of onus, giving legitimacy to a sales representatives’ entrée to claim a relationship and engage in active and shopper specific solicitation.

For clarity, an obvious consequence is that conventional lead generation through cold calling has changed dramatically from direct to indirect modes. Rapid and shopper specific online (screen) advertisements have produced an entirely new regime for lead development. One way this occurs is when prospective (online) customers ‘click on’ a specific product-service as part of their ‘scan and shop’ (online) experience. These, of course, are technologically enhanced – AI (artificial intelligence) versions of ‘cold calling’. The ‘cold call’ today manifests quite differently, by repetitively presenting the item(s) an online shopper ‘clicks on’ and is translated by machine intelligence, as constituting a personal (shopper specific) interest, i.e., lead generation which, no doubt, will become increasingly proficient, targeted, and product specific.

Example…A requisite, now routinely integrated with online searches, for example, automobiles, only minimal information is provided on-screen. Interested parties wishing additional information, will, as a requisite to obtaining specifics, i.e., pricing, location, model variation, and accoutrement availability, etc., must input their name, phone number, and perhaps an email address. For them, inputting personal identifier information, once again, serves as an entrée to receive a ‘warm’ follow-up, presumably from an automobile dealership.

This is another example of ‘expectation intangible’. Obviously, this process differentiates – distinguishes the conventional ‘cold call’, in large part, because the prospective buyer’s online actions translate as an active initiator who expects a follow-up, hence, a new version of a ‘personal intangible’.

Establishing the ‘Do Not Call Registry’
In the U.S. the act of cold calling is often considered an annoyance to recipients, particularly the level of persistence exhibited by the caller, will rely on – refer to a prescribed spiel beyond the recipients conveyed patience and/or willingness to listen.

In June 27, 2003, when the Federal Trade Commission launched the National Do Not Call Registry, 13 million Americans signed up for the service on its first weekend. The National Do Not Call Registry is a database maintained by the United States federal government, listing the telephone numbers of individuals and families who have requested that telemarketers not contact them.[1] Certain callers are required by federal law to respect this request.

Separate laws and regulations apply to robocalls in the United States…
On June 27, 2003, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) opened the National Do Not Call Registry to comply with the Do-Not-Call Implementation Act of 2003 (Pub.L. 108–10, was H.R. 395, and codified at 15 U.S.C. § 6101 et. seq.). The legislation was sponsored by Representatives Billy Tauzin and John Dingell and signed into law by President George W. Bush on March 11, 2003.

Registration for the ‘do-not-call list began on June 27, 2003, and enforcement started on October 1, 2003. Since January 1, 2005, telemarketers covered by the registry have up to 31 days (initially the period was 90 days) from the date a number is registered to cease calling that number. Originally, phone numbers remained on the registry for a period of five years, but are now permanent because of the Do-Not-Call Improvement Act of 2007, effective February 2008.[2]

The proposed legislation, at the time, permitted consumers to add both landline and cellular phone numbers to the registry. Too, the regulation prohibited telemarketers from calling a cellular phone number with an automatic dialer, i.e., robo calls, with, or course, some exceptions. In 2005, a rumor began circulating via e-mail that cell phone providers were planning on making their number directories available to telemarketers.

Federal Trade Commission

The FTC responded by clarifying that cell phones cannot be called by telemarketers.[5] Similarly, fax numbers do not need to be included in the registry due to existing federal laws and regulations that prohibit the sending of unsolicited faxes.

If a person does not want to register a number on the national registry, he or she can still prohibit individual telemarketers from calling by asking the caller to put the called number on the company’s do-not-call list.

To be sure, there were numerous challenges to this legislation. Initially, the do-not-call list was to take effect on October 1, 2003. However, two federal district court decisions, variously challenging FTC’s jurisdiction to enact such broad sweeping legislation which would regulate commercial speech. The bill authorizing the ‘no-call list’ was ultimately signed by President George W. Bush in September 2003 and subsequently upheld (constitutionally) by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit in February 2004.

Obvious outcomes of the pre-legislation public hearings organized by the FCC and ultimate passage of Congressional legislation aptly named the ‘National Do Not Call Registry’. As is often the case, as public’s awareness, concern, and proposed counters elevates about certain issues, particularly, how many retailing and financial services sector firms respectively, who held client specific information became variously receptive to selling that information to the broader sales sector without assuming responsibility to notify the information owners. Thus, such transactions were occurring at the ‘expense’ of the owner in the form of revenues generated by the seller and to the buyer-user-exploiter of the personal information purchased.

Council of Economic Advisors

Interestingly, according to a report prepared-issued by the Council of Economic Advisers, i.e., 2009 Economic Report of the President, the ‘Do Not Call Registry’ program has proved quite popular. For example, as of 2007, according to one survey, 72 percent of Americans had registered on the ‘no call list’ and 77 percent of those (who registered) claim the registry made a significant difference in the number of telemarketing calls that they received. Another survey, conducted in 2004 regarding the effects of the ‘Do Not Call list’ found that registrants experienced a reduction in telemarketing calls from an average of 30 calls per month to an average of 6 per month. This obviously limits the effectiveness of conventional cold calling.

In some industries such as securities, there are specific rules about time and place of contact, as mandated by the federal government. Securities sales agents are also required to identify themselves and their firm fully and to completely state the investment they are selling.

Michael D. Moberly and Alan Joseph Arellano

Divi Real Estate Agent | Luxury Properties


1234 Divi St. #1000, San Francisco, CA 94220

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