Cold calling is often thought of as a lost art. In the age of email and social media communications, voice contact seems an outdated method to gather sales leads.

But unlike online platforms, the phone call adds a personal touch that lets prospects know an engaged individual is taking the time to speak with them and discover their product needs.

Since the purpose of the cold call is not to sell but to lay the groundwork with a potential new client, that personal touch is essential. Far from being outdated, the cold call helps establish long-term relationships. Keep these benefits of cold calling in mind when planning your sales strategy.

Establish Direct Contact

Online communication is quick and easy, which means consumers are often bombarded with emails, tweets and other social media messages. Often, people simply tune them out, deleting any contact that looks like a product pitch. Sales agents don’t even have the opportunity to get their message out.

But a phone call is much more difficult to ignore. People tend to pick up their cell phones or office lines, even if the number is unfamiliar. That gives you a prime opportunity to start the conversation on your terms without having to wait for a response. Since the average cold call should only be about three minutes, you shouldn’t cause too much inconvenience.

If you’ve done your job right, you’ve already “warmed” the call with previous online contact, even if a response wasn’t forthcoming. If your contact has only scanned an email you sent, she will still probably recognize your name or that of your company when you introduce yourself on the phone.

Learn More About the Customer

Once on the phone, you can learn more about your contact’s business needs. There is only so much you can find out through your preliminary research, so even this brief conversation allows you to gain necessary information about what’s important to the prospect.

You can use this information to tailor a sales pitch at a later point that acknowledges her particular pain points, offering a value proposition that may be difficult to resist. By showing interest in the contact from the outset of the call, asking questions about her business, you give her the opportunity to talk about herself without needing to commit to buying your product.

Launch the Charm Offensive

Since the sales pitch will come later, you want your contact to end the call with a positive impression of you. Unlike online communications, cold calling offers the distinct advantage of allowing you to use your voice to make the interaction informative and pleasant.

Even on the phone, the smile on your face will come through. If you are feeling tense or nervous, your contact will pick that up. If you have a basic script and create a comfortable place to make your cold call, the conversation should be easier. You can focus more on developing a rapport with the client while still getting the information you need to sell her a product at a later time.

Cold Calling Gives You an Edge

Cold calling takes more time than other forms of sales lead generation, but the response rate is often higher than other forms of contact. As sales agents become more accustomed to striking up conversations with potential clients, the process will become easier and more successful. Combined with other marketing efforts, cold calling can have a real impact on revenue generation for your company.