Is Cold Calling or Emailing Better for Sales Prospecting?

20 July 2021

Sales prospecting is a fickle game. 

Conflicting information can make it difficult to determine the best outbound method to use. 

Should you cold call? Send a cold email? Crack open a cold beer? 

Hey, no judgment here.

The truth is, there are pros and cons to both cold calling and email templates. The question isn’t, which is better — because they can both work. 

The real wizardry happens when you combine these sales prospecting efforts. 

Put those outbound sales tactics together with a sales and marketing team that collaborates to generate more quality leads, and you’ve got one badass strategy. 

b2b cold call email how

I know. It’s easier said than done. 

To help you turn those leads into customers, we’re going to give you tips that will increase your cold call response and email open rate. 

First, let’s take a brief look at integrating the sales and marketing process to improve your prospecting efforts. 

Note: Ready to build a pipeline of more qualified leads and start closing deals faster? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days.

Sales and marketing can and should be working together

Before you can cold call or email, you need a lead.

Marketing generates the leads that get passed along to the sales team — but, this is where things get tricky.

Marketing and sales often have two different answers for what qualifies as a lead.

A 2018 inbound marketing study from HubSpot found that only seven percent of salespeople receive high quality leads from marketing.

b2b cold call email lead quality

Misalignment between sales and marketing can muddy the pipeline. Both departments must be in agreement to ensure a successful hand-off.

So, how do you get everyone on the same page?

Just as with your personal relationships, open and transparent communication is critical. 

To begin integrating the workflows: 

  • Map out requirements for what constitutes a marketing qualified lead (MQL) and a sales qualified lead (SQL). 

  • Develop a lead scoring system to determine a value for each potential prospect. It helps with the sales hand-off.

  • Clearly define the point at which a lead is ready to move from marketing to a salesperson. This can vary among businesses.

Cold calling isn’t dead

When I think about cold calling, I picture my father in a smoke-filled room with a glass of scotch, a call sheet, spinning his digits around a rotary phone.

In short, it’s “old-school.”

But does cold calling still work today?

Yes — when done right.

Sure, some think that cold calling is dead.

Some people also think pineapple belongs on pizza and french fries and ice cream are a tasty pair. 

Don’t trust these people. 

Decision-makers still prefer to be contacted by phone. A 2018 benchmark study from the RAIN Group confirms this, showing more than half of high-level buyers prefer a cold call

b2b cold call email cold calling

See? Old-school doesn’t always mean outdated. However, if you find yourself leaving voicemails instead of connecting, it’s time to revisit your strategy. 

b2b cold call vs email challenge

How to improve your cold calling response rate

1.  Narrow down your target audience 

No one wants to make hundreds of calls a day to prospects who likely won’t close the deal. It’s an inefficient use of your time. 

On average, sales reps will spend seven minutes on each prospect phone call. Don’t waste those minutes on leads with no swaying power. 

Get strategic with your cold communications and use a tool like Leadfeeder to preheat your otherwise cold calls.

The idea is to use your list of leads generated from anonymous website traffic as a starting point for email. Research those leads thoroughly and craft an intro full of relevant content and links.

For those who open or click on your emails, give them a call to address their interests more specifically and personally.

2. Nail your timing 

Picture this: You’re dining at a restaurant, salivating at the thought of that first bite into your carefully selected dish.

But, as soon as you’ve shoveled the food into your mouth, your waiter stops by to check-in. 

You’re now in full chubby bunny mode, unable to respond, and forced to give an awkward thumbs-up. 

Is it just me, or do restaurant waiters have the worst timing?

Often, in prospecting, sales reps are just like the waiter with poor timing. 

Don’t get sent to voicemail. According to a 2018 study from PhoneBurner, the best time to call is either mid-morning or mid-afternoon. 

b2b cold call email averages

3. Thaw the ice 

Unsolicited phone calls are the worst. No one likes them. 

Are they aggressive? Yes. 

Are they effective? Also yes. 

So, when a prospect takes the time to press “accept” instead of “decline,” don’t blow it by using a stuffy sales pitch. 

You can tell within seconds whether or not a salesperson has done their research. It’s disappointing at best. 

As a salesperson, your first touchpoint should focus on the value you can provide in solving a problem the prospect’s company hasn’t currently addressed. 

But, you have to research your prospects first.  Get familiar with their industry, look through their business history, read reviews, and scroll through social media.  

Having this information in your arsenal, along with your defined list of leads, will allow you to control the flow of the conversation and fire back at any objections. 

Email templates are the favorite child

All parents have a favorite child. 

Of course, you love them all. I’m talking about the child who you give a little extra attention. 

Don’t worry; your secret is safe with me. 

In sales prospecting, email templates are the “favorite child” and what most reps focus on. 

They’re scalable, convenient, and less threatening for both you and the prospect. Not to mention the fact that they’re a good return on investment. 

2019 research from DMA Marketer Email Tracker shows that for every $1 spent on email marketing, there’s an expected return of $42

At this point, you might be wondering why salespeople ever opt for cold calling. Hear me out. 

Inboxes are cluttered. You probably have hundreds of promotional emails sitting in your inbox right now. As of 2020, DMR reports the average office worker receives 121 emails a day

There are benefits and disadvantages to both strategies. 

How to level up your cold email prospecting

1. Personalize. Personalize. Personalize. 

You spent hours crafting the perfect email (or so you thought), and you just know it will turn that cold lead into a warm prospect. You hit send, and then wait…and wait… 

No response. 

So, what gives? 

If you didn’t personalize your email, you can almost guarantee it went straight to the trash folder.  

b2b cold call email personalization deliverability

Woodpecker analyzed over 20 million cold emails and found that using advanced personalization created a 17 percent response rate

Compare this to the seven percent response rate for emails with no customization. 

Digitally-savvy buyers today have more expectations from salespeople. Your run of the mill email template isn’t going to cut it. 

2. Don’t skimp on the subject line

Think of subject lines as gatekeepers. Those words are the first thing your prospect will see when your email hits their inbox. 

Making a good first impression isn’t an option; it’s necessary. 

Put the same effort into the subject line as you put into your message’s content — from the catchy tagline down to the number of characters. 

3. Avoid spam filters

Despite your best cold email prospecting efforts, there’s still a chance your message will never make it to the intended inbox. 

Even with recipients’ expressed permission, a 2018 study from Validity found that six percent of sales and marketing emails get blocked by spam filters globally

b2b cold call email smash

Darn you, spam filters! 

To avoid getting blocked, I recommend implementing these tips: 

  • Don’t use sales-y language. Words such as “buy now” and “call now” can trigger spam. 

  • Send test emails to ensure sure they are delivering. 

  • Always provide the option to opt-out. 

  • Take advantage of merge tags to personalize the email. 

  • Tone down the image use. When you include too many images, inbox providers have a hard time crawling the information. For the images used, always include ALT text

Cold calls vs. email templates for sales prospecting? Use both

If both strategies work, why choose one over the other? Don’t limit yourself. 

Cold calling + email templates = more chances to reach your prospects. 

In action, this might look like sending cold emails to get referred to the right person — then scheduling a phone call.

Use both outbound sales tactics to your advantage to improve your cold calling response rate and cold email prospecting. 

Regardless of the medium, the goal of sales prospecting is to create a genuine connection. 

Final thoughts: Sales prospecting - cold calls vs. email templates

Prospecting is often the hardest part of a salesperson’s job. It requires time, effort, and the ability to stare rejection in its face. 

When it comes to sales prospecting, both cold calling and email templates work when done correctly. But, the best approach is to use both tactics to increase your touchpoints.

Just remember, do your research and personalize your strategy for each buyer type. 

With sales and marketing on the same page, the entire process improves. Implement the tips above, and you’re on your way to better response rates and closing more deals. 

Note: Ready to build a pipeline of more qualified leads and start closing deals faster? Try Leadfeeder free for 14 days.

Now that you're here

Leadfeeder is a tool that shows you companies that visit your website. Leadfeeder generates new leads, offers insight on your customers and can help you increase your marketing ROI.

If you liked this blog post, you'll probably love Leadfeeder, too.

Sign up

Leadfeeder knows the companies visiting your website

Install today to start identifying new business opportunities.

See for yourself

Free trial. No credit card required.

As seen in

  • Forbes
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Fox
  • Mashable
  • Social Media Examiner