Back on August 16th, I posted a piece on SalesBlogcast Mindshare, a great blog I contribute to regularly; the post was titled Texting as a Form of Cold Calling!, which based on a comment I heard by a CMO. He had stated clearly that one way to approach him, given his busy schedule and mobility, was by SMS/text.
When you read the piece you’ll see that rather than passing an opinion or judgement on the practice, instead I made what I believe were sound arguments as to why sales people should explore and consider all method.
As you can imagine the reaction was largely negative, while no one got personal, the concept was called all things between immoral and illegal. The reaction was most pronounced by people who read and reacted to the post in the various LinkedIn groups it appeared in. (See below)
Based on the reaction, I decided to deal with the subject by running a contest. Go to It’s The Message Not the Medium Contest!, read the premise, the background and RULES. Then enter to win. Again, you can find all the details and related posts at It’s The Message Not the Medium Contest! Enter now, enter often, have fun, and good luck.
What’s in Your Pipeline?
A sampling of reaction to Texting as a Form of Cold Calling!
Ben Ice • No f*in way!!! That’s just flat wrong. I have no interest in receiving sales calls on my phone in any form unless I start the process.
Raquel Hirsch • Are you kidding me (us), Tibor?!
Ben Ice • Raquel, having sat in on a couple of your webinars (really like what you guys are doing) I’d be curious of your opinion. It seems very slimy to me…sorry to use such a strong word but the first ones that came to mind were cruder and much more vulgar….and unneeded in this discussion.
Tibor Shanto • But the reality is, people are doing it, in feedback in another group, a person from the UK stated that it was common practice there. Generally speaking wireless trends are years ahead in Europe. If it does become a trend here, there will be ample technology to help the potential targets block unwanted messages, but you will find a number of people who will see it as appropriate.
I understand the initial reaction, but simply ladling it “slimy” does not take away from the potential of the concept. You know no one objects to commercials on TV or even satellite radio, so who is to say that this can’t evolve as a means of subsidizing wireless for some users. Who knows?
Raquel Hirsch • Ben, thank you for the kind words (I am blushing :>)
Tibor, just because it is common practice anywhere else it means nothing.
Outside North America, texting itself has been a common practice for many years, long before texting was even making any impact with teens here (and long before Tiger Woods reinvented the medium). This was mostly due to their technology allowing for sending and receiving texts across networks (this only changed relatively recently in North America).
Outside NA, people accept commercial messages on their mobile devices either because they have signed up for discounted rates and receiving text ads is part of the deal, or because they have opted in.
(In NA, the only reason is opting in; the closed network prevents text spam. I signed up to get text messages from a restaurant I like but opted out after a few weeks because, well, there are only so many times I want to receive an offer that says “Come in before 6 pm and get a free appetizer.”)
Regardless, you are referring to “cold texts” – so no opt-in option.
It would seem to me that the reaction brands would get from cold texts would be similar to what companies got when they started sending “cold faxes” (remember fax?). Didn’t last long, did it? My personal reaction is revulsion.
Having said that, let’s see if we can find a case study where someone has done cold-texts and seen measurable success. I am open to that (small) possibility if there is data to support it.
Tibor Shanto • So to your point, that is one of the things that we will be looking for, is this viable or not? We will be doing a search, and keep you posted.
Raquel Hirsch • Yes, it is all about data and not hype. Please keep us posted!
Ben Ice • Tibor it depends on your definition of viable. It’s not viable in any form to me. I don’t want cold calls on my cell and shut them down immediately when they do…I certainly don’t want commercial message spam either and I am not alone. That doesn’t mean that others will have the same aversion, but I’d imagine more would relate to my “slimy” term than you think. Raquel used the term “revulsion.” I’d say hers was more eloquent, but fits well with mine. Either way, you may consider yourself a pioneer…my word would be much less flattering.
Raquel Hirsch • Ben, Tibor – results speak for themselves (but only as long as you are measuring)
Personally, I would not recommend cold-texts to any client, ever. (Just a new term for spam)
Tibor Shanto • Ben,
With all due respect, you need to read what I am writing.
I do not see myself as a pioneer, for the third time, I am not saying it is an idea whose time has come. I am reporting on the fact that a REAL EXECUTIVE in a public forum said that it is a way “sellers can get to him”. So while you and I can pontificate, and you can jump up and down playing word games about how it make you feel, the reality is that while you and Raquel are ‘repulsed”, I am skeptical, there is a sales person out there who will get a sale texting the executive in question.
So while the three of us may not be turned out by this, there is someone who is, who has money, and who buys products. So if your company sells, would you not want to have your reps explore ALL possibilities. If yes, then my piece speaks to you, if not, then this is one sale you and your team will not get, your choice.
The only thing novel, or pioneering about my piece is that I am open to learning and sharing, which is another attributer some in sales need to adopt.
Ben Ice • Tibor, if I am pontificating move over and give me a podium. I read your piece. The CMO admitted to being at the point of the spear as you put it. I’d say he would be in a very small percentage…and the rest of those you attempted to reach in that manner would burn you (or said salesperson) at the stake.
In today’s marketplace it is too easy to get burned with questionable tactics. That same CMO would just as likely “opt-in” to text messaging, but it goes back to exactly what I said the first time…it needs to be initiated by (me)(the person being texted) or it will be as Raquel put it just another form of spam. And you know how good Congress is at fixing things like that.
One last thing. As a former sales person and now marketer I abhor the practice at all costs as a cold calling technique. This is not wordsmithing. This is not word games. This is real life. People have too many intrusions in their lives as it is. Hence the immense rise in the use of DVRs, spam killing software programs etc. As a marketer it can be frustrating, but it is necessary to respect people’s need for some modicum of privacy.
I’ll be interested in any measurement you or someone else can provide. From a cost standpoint it might be cheap, similar to email. But then again there are a lot of amateurs mucking it up in the email industry as well. I just can’t imagine having every wannabe marketer and sales person thinking he/she is being clever and pouring “cold texts” down our collective throat. It would quickly be just as bad as email.
Gary Honegger • Since Europe was mentioned I thought I should add a comment to this rather small group. But first of all I like to tell you that it is Asia that is way ahead when it comes to communication. The youngsters in Korea (where I lived for four years) where all using very small mobiles when it was still a luxury good in Europe. On cold text messages so was there a time in Europe, maybe five years ago, when some providers started to send a text message when you crossed the border and your phone changed to their network. It lasted only half a year and they had to stop this because everybody complained. After this no one ever dared to send an unsolicited text message. Even when you change your payment plan with a telephone provider and this is confirmed with a text message they will tell you before that you will get a message. I think opt-in is the key to use this marketing channel. Everything else will not work yet.
To be fair there were positive responses as well:
Enjoyed your views on “it’s the message, not the medium.” I especially resonate with what you said about effective, enticing and engaging – these principles are the essence of developing social capital and when it comes to sales, effective leaders in this space are fully aware of the value of growing and adapting to leverage whatever media is available to them.
To the thinkers go the spoils. If prospecting is being done within the bounds of those three principles: effective, enticing and engaging, it’s highly unlikely that anyone is going to object. If not, then that is not a problem with the medium, it’s a problem with the message. Yeah?
Don F Perkins
And some at least gave me some credit.
Cristina E Lockhart • Honestly, even though I don’t agree with the texting as a way of cold calling I do have to give you a virtual “high five” to commend you on your out of the box way of thinking Mr. Shanto. That’s what it’s all about.
To make a trail, someone has to walk through the brush at some point…..
True trailblazer attitude. You’ll go far if you keep it up.