Reading this post by Business 2 Community about the death of traditional lead generation brought back fond (ish) memories of when I was fresh out of uni, employed by a technology provider to carry out B2B cold calling to sales reps. I'll never forget the slight feeling of trepidation as I dialled each time and waited for the response. In general, the sales reps were really positive, but there were a few occasions when the person receiving the call answered with some very fruity language!

Today all has changed though. Traditionally, marketing focused on pushing out corporate messages through outbound campaigns but digital transformation and the social media explosion means that customers now heavily research companies and their products before even contacting the company. B2B buying behaviour has changed significantly and organisations need to ensure their marketing campaigns are aligned to this shift in order to be competitive. 

Forrester research confirms this shift with statistics such as 59% of customers don't want to interact with a sales rep and a huge 57% of the decision making journey is already complete before even reaching out to a vendor. This demonstrates clearly that traditional selling methods don't work anymore in our highly digitalised world. Only 2% of cold calls result in an appointment so we need to find new ways of reaching decision makers. In 2007 it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect. Today it takes 8 attempts which speaks volumes. We need to accept that there are new rules for sales and act accordingly - but how?

We need to shift our efforts from traditional outbound marketing techniques (direct emails, telemarketing, adverts) to INBOUND marketing, focusing on techniques such as positive word of mouth, blogging, SEO, customer-centric stories, and blogs for example. Customers want relationships with real people, not corporate logos. 

We need to talk less about 'us' as a company and more about 'YOU' the customer, focusing on the new buyer journey and overall customer experience. Customers want relationships with real people, not corporate logos. Over 67% of buyers prefer a digital journey so it's important to build your digital presence and ensure your prospects have a positive experience at every stage. Leads need to be nurtured and digitally-driven buyers have to be engaged online right from start.

If organisations invest their time and budget appropriately in modern inbound marketing techniques and focus on nurturing customer relationships they can benefit from the huge shift in buying behaviour. Personally I won't be engaging in cold calling ever again!