I am considering applying to LEK. However, I have heard that they force you to do a lot of cold calls. Is it true? Why don't they outsource this part to a research firm?
LEK - Cold calling
smaller firms obviously don't have the scale to operate a large body of support services. Hence one of the distinguishing preferences of Tier 2 and Tier 3 firms from MBB is indeed the share of "transactional" work that needs to be covered by junior consultants. This covers all sorts of research as well as field studies and surveys.
If you mean reaching out to consultants to get a referral - every Top, 2nd Tier company has that option. Unfortunately, the number of good candidates is much more than the companies can accept in the US.