“I had a cold caller to my front door.”

Strange it may not be for some, but for me, as our dwelling is on the back end of a small town and could be classed as semi-rural, it’s not something that happens. In the ten years we have lived there, we have had less than half a dozen cold callers; it may have something to do with the sticker in the window; ‘No uninvited Sales People’ in reality, it is unlikely.

But as I am just about to celebrate six years of working from home, I don’t believe I have missed many cold callers.

Over the years, I have embraced an interest in the history of door-to-door sales.

 

My grandmother, as a resident of a London district for many years from 1936 to 1970, had a constant flow of door-to-door salespeople, from Cleaning supplies, Vacuum cleaners, Brushes of all occasions, Fizzy drinks bottles and of course the, Milk, Bread and food sundries.

I may have missed a few; please feel free to drop me a line of any I have missed.

My early sales cold calling was to b2b, and I have never been interested in doing b2c, although I was offered the opportunity several times. Like many sales activities in the UK, we have needed to legislate to control those untrustworthy people.

In my endeavours to sell my products in the B2B market in the early days over the first six years, I only received one piece of verbal abuse, a long story, but ultimately the lady became a customer. B2B businesses accept that it goes with the territory; let’s not forget they must also sell to others to survive.

Gatekeepers that ask “Do you have an appointment?” or a notice reading ‘Representatives by appointment only, and my personal best an open reception with a phone with a notice that reads ‘Press *0* and someone will come to reception. This last one often left me wondering if it would result in a person appearing to see who I was. On a few occasions, after several minutes of waiting, 8-10 minutes, no one came, so I left.

As we turned the clock on the century, the 2000s brought the growth of the internet, and as marketing departments started to put down their colours pens and embrace all those new toys, its been a fascinating twenty-plus year, with so many new tools and gadgets to attract and cultivate business.

Without dought the cost of cold calling face2face is high, understandably, businesses started to transition to internally based sales teams, creating the role of SRD, the dominant measurement being the number of dials.

The legislation gap between b2c and b2b is not that significant; however, in my experience, the b2b sector is s more tolerant of cold calling.

Both sectors form the body of two opposing camps; one camp creates tools, gadgets, and apps to defend against cold callers. The opposing camp makes their living from facilitating the possibility of a conversation by selling cold call lists, automated dialling programmes, sales training, and business directors.

In 2002 social media joined the array. Linked In arrived in 2002, quickly followed in 2004 by FaceBook; the battle for dominance amounts to the search engines seems to have settled.

A lot has changed in the last twenty years; it’s at this point that the sales guys start to call out with passion, ‘prospecting doesn’t work like that use too’, and the marketing chaps admit that they have locked into a spin of constantly looking for new variations of tool to create the Know, Like and Trust that at the core of all marketing activities their only boundary being the size of their budget.

This battleground for the potential conversation has resulted in the marketing of the Know, Like, and Trust camp versus the clubhouse of: “We have six competitors all selling the same as we do, so unless we can talk were lost.

Solo entrepreneur and a private resident, It’s easy to get lost in ‘do I differ’ that much from the rest of the population. Standing out in some situations can be beneficial, especially if you are involved with selling to others. Still, there are always occasions when it’s better to get lost within the masses.

Some of my personal spending realities as a solo entrepreneur and a private resident.

  • Recently we needed to find a new window cleaner; we found one via the local community Facebook page.
  • 100% of our snail mail that comes through the letterbox goes straight to the recycling box with little more than a three-second glance.
  • The food shopping comes on a van to our door once a week.
  • Empty retail outlets dominate our local Town centre we now only visit it less than once in twice in three months.
  • 95% plus of purchases, business or private, come in a van to our door.
  • My local businesses meeting happen in hotel meeting areas and coffee shops.
  • All other business meetings happen on Zoom or Teams.
  • My business line is a mobile number; the phone has a spam filter reading ‘Suspected Spam or Potential Fraud’ and a one-click feature to Block the number.
  • I get hit up on Linked In regularly; if the new connection starts straight immediately pitch to me, I delete them.

Am I so different from others? After many decades of selling to others and much of it by cold calling on b2b, I often self-debate what’s been the influencing factors that have brought me to this point, lack of time, life choices or just frustration of poor selling, or am I just becoming my version of Victor Meldrew.

If you have read this far, you may be wondering what the cold caller to my front door was selling?

Answer: TV and the internet packages from one of the top three providers; how when or if his employer expects an ROI on his endeavours or has created a budget to facilitate the activity for a period. With an average order value of less than £400 PA and a contract commitment of only eighteen months.

With my cold caller admitting that his order rate was three to four weekly orders, it’s hard to see a viable ROI on the cold calling. Interesting, within two days, I received a generic ‘To the occupier’s piece of postal snail mail threw the letter box.

The Banking industry may benefit from consumer apathy. Still, subscription services do not receive the same apathy advantages as Banking; as a consumer and business owner, I am not experiencing or seeing the same determination and commitment to marketing activity from the Banking sector.

Predictably my cold caller opening sales pitch line was: ‘We can save you money.’ Instantly aligning his company products and services as now different from his competitors.

Whilst writing this piece, I checked in with an old colleague based in the Manchester area. His home is in a more traditional location than my semi-rural home. He offered that he receives more cold calls to his door than I do, approximately two per month; his cold callers are split between those looking for charitable donations and those others like my cold caller selling subscription services.

My final thought is ‘WHY’ go back to cold calling door to door?

Possible answer:

Our lifestyles have changed so much in the last few decades and with the overuse and the constant flow of poor and inadequately thought about use by sales and marketing much of sales outreach and marketing tools have resulted in them often becoming little more than background white noise,

What’s left other than to turn the clock back.