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What is Cold Canvassing?

Malcolm Tatum
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Also known as cold calling, cold canvassing is a sales tool that is used to locate consumers who may be interested in purchasing goods and services sold by a given business. In most cases, the process of cold canvassing does not involve any type of advance preparation as far as qualifying the contact. This means that whether the canvassing takes the form of a cold visit to the business, or an introductory telephone call, the degree of interest of the contact is not known until the interchange is completed.

One of the defining characteristics of cold canvassing is that the contact is not expecting any type of visit or phone call from the salesperson. The main purpose of this first contact is to introduce the contact to the company and its products, and extend the opportunity to learn more about what the company has to offer. Assuming that the contact responds positively to the encounter, arrangements are then made to meet with the contact at a mutually convenient time, and discuss the products in more detail.

Many companies focus on cold canvassing in the form of telephone calls. The company may establish a telemarketing department, which has the responsibility of cold calling possible customers and determining if they do in fact have need of the products offered by the company, and if they would like to know more. When this is the case, the telemarketer passes the information on to a member of the sales team, who then makes the follow-up contact and pursues the sale.

It is not unusual for a business to outsource the cold canvassing effort to an independent telemarketing firm. Doing so can save the business a great deal of time and money. The need to employ full-time telemarketing professionals is eliminated, saving the business money on salaries, wages, and employee benefits. At the same time, salespeople can focus on qualified leads in their pursuit of business, instead of spending part of their day making cold calls. This can shorten the sales cycle and result in a greater number of new sales to new customers.

The process of cold canvassing can also be used as a tool in crafting a business deal. For example, if a land developer wishes to acquire property in an area of town that is projected to be reworked into an industrial site, he or she may visit each of the current property owners in the area, and assess their willingness to sell their real estate. Assuming that the developer can convince the current owners to sell now, then hold on to the property until other businesses express an interest in building facilities on the land, the potential for earning profit is significant.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Malcolm Tatum
By Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing to become a full-time freelance writer. He has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including WiseGeek, and his work has also been featured in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and newspapers. When not writing, Malcolm enjoys collecting vinyl records, following minor league baseball, and cycling.
Discussion Comments
By Phaedrus — On Mar 30, 2014

I've only said "yes" to one cold canvasser in my life. I had just inherited some money and I was thinking about investing some of it. That same afternoon, a cold caller from an investment firm asked if I might be interested in a high yield/high risk commodities deal. I decided to take a risk, since it was really "found money" anyway. A few months later, I doubled that investment.

By Ruggercat68 — On Mar 29, 2014

I don't think I could every do cold canvassing for a living. I keep imagining how I'd feel if someone called me out of the blue and tried to sell me something. I'd probably hang up right away or say something very rude. The chances of me saying "yes" to a cold caller would be very slim.

But I suppose some people might actually have an interest in a product or service and a cold caller would be in luck. When I worked as a telemarketer, my boss said getting one or two orders a day was doing well for a beginner. I just couldn't stand making all of those other cold calls in order to get those few orders.

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum, a former teleconferencing industry professional, followed his passion for trivia, research, and writing...
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