Cold-calling. It’s what every salesperson dreads most of all. It tends to feel like a thankless, onerous process that never results in any sales. What? You know someone with an anecdote about how a cold call turned into the best sale of his or her life? People get hit by lightning, too, but that doesn’t mean you should count on it happening to you. It’s generally felt that in 2019, cold calling is a thing of the past (if it was ever a thing at all).

“If you still think that cold calling is a good way to generate new leads, then you need to have a wake-up call,” wrote Teresa Jenkins for CBT Automotive Network. “Cold calling is seen as something that negatively impacts your brand and its successes.”

How can it negatively affect the brand? If people see your store as pestering them or trying to make a sale for something they don’t need, don’t want or can’t afford, your efforts will create a negative association in their mind with your brand. In the days of social media, people enjoy sharing their negative brand stories with others. In fact, in the “Age of Rage,” it’s practically a national pastime.

So what’s the alternative to cold calling? Warm calling, according to Jenkins.

“Try to focus your energies on ‘warm calling,’ which basically just means that you do your research for the initial call,” she wrote. “After that, you work on inbound leads that want to talk to you. You then provide them with helpful insights before you engage.”

There’s an adage in the telemarketing industry that inbound calling or contacts should always directly feed outbound calling, and this is true. Many lead management solutions on the market today can automate the process, screen-popping a warm lead to a sales professional within minutes of the prospect requesting information. Lead management solutions often connect to the store CRM solution to make things a bit easier and fill in the blanks of information that may exist. This doesn’t make the process a whole lot easier than cold calling, however, and it’s important not to assume too much, according to Michael Pedone writing for Sales Buzz.

“Warms leads don’t equal ‘I want to buy your stuff right now.’ They are only a few degrees (for the most part) above a cold call,” wrote Pedone. “There is some interest, but they may not even be able at this stage to articulate that interest or understand the exact problem they should solve nor realize yet the full benefits they would gain as a result of buying a solution such as yours.”

For this reason, it’s important to build a good listening strategy before you call warm leads so you can learn about and understand what it is the warm lead is looking for. If you go in with all guns blazing, you’re likely to wind up cooling down your warm lead very quickly.