Social Sales | Taking the Chill Out Of Cold Calling

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True cold calling in B2B selling is probably fairly close to being a lost art. If not, it should be. I’m talking about finding a street and then knocking on every office door one-by-one without the slightest idea of what might lie behind that wooden, metal, or glass barrier. The same can be said of “smiling and dialing”.

Why is this traditional part of selling dying out? Probably because most of us who were trained this way are already dead or dying ourselves. The rest of us always hated cold calling so badly that we wished we were dead rather than to have to do it. On top of that, it certainly is not the most efficient way to find new business. It never was but, back in the day, it was about the only way other than referrals and call-ins.

However, cold calling could actually be at least somewhat effective on a number of levels …

  • You might just walk in and get to meet the decision maker right then and there. If not, you could generally secure their name and card which you could then use in calling them back later
  • You got a chance to look around for clues pertaining to potential needs for your services
  • There was always a chance that there could be an immediate need for your product or service
  • Perhaps there was even an opportunity to create the deal before they began looking around

At the beginning of my career (1977), I was expected to make 30 in-person cold calls daily. On the phone you could make a ton more calls but that was not something that I did very often. Wore my arm out cranking that phone :) As much as I hated cold calling, at least I could see who I was talking to and I was also able to glean whatever other information that their surroundings might present to my darting eyes.

What makes cold calling such a painful experience? How about these seven reasons?

  1. You are arriving at a destination unannounced and unexpected
  2. You have no idea about who to even talk to
  3. You know nothing about the business or the person who you will be speaking with
  4. You have no relationships with … anybody
  5. You don’t have the faintest idea as to if they are even remotely qualified to use, let alone need, your product or service
  6. It’s very time consuming and you have to make a planned effort to do it
  7. The statistics are terrible! I might find one person in ten who is even willing to talk to me!

Spring forward to today. Much of the information that I would hope to gather by cold calling is now at my fingertips and, even better, I have these tidbits at my disposal before making any call! This can potentially turn any cold call into at the very least a warm call and that is a huge difference!

Now let’s take our seven painful cold calling scenarios and warm those up via social sales …

  1. You are now expected! Because you have already engaged via social media, you were able to ask for, and to secure, an appointment. Better yet, they also know why you are meeting. This removes another layer of discomfort as you no longer have to pick the appropriate time to bring up the nasty “business” aspect. Of course, establishing rapport remains a critical part of any call!
  2. You know who to talk to. You did your research via the social networks and the web. By utilizing LinkedIn profiles and company pages, you were able to discover connections, gain introductions, and pinpoint decision makers within the organization. In many cases, you were able to leverage these connections and receive a personalized referral or at least an introduction. This isn’t cold. It’s not even warm. It’s HOT!
  3. You have completed social discovery on both the person and on the business. By monitoring and engaging with them on their social networks of choice, you were able to learn much about them both personally and professionally. You are no longer distracted by the frantic search for common ground that you used to experience when you met them for the first time. And speaking of common ground, you both participate actively in several groups on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. You can now start the conversation with a topic that you already know is of interest to them. You have done your homework as you know these efforts will pay you huge dividends in the form of increased commissions.
  4. You have already begun the development of a relationship prior to going in. Your relationship may have begun online but, you have both taken the steps to escalate that and today’s meeting is the culmination of those efforts. It began by following each other on Twitter. Soon you were exchanging rt’s and @ messages. Direct messages and emails followed and last week you had a hangout on Google+. Hell, you’re practically best buds and you have yet to meet in real life!
  5. You are aware of their current status, pain points, and of their potential need for your services. Your keyword searches have turned up conversations on the networks where prospective clients are expressing their needs, asking others for their opinions and recommendations and, in many cases; they are expressing their dissatisfaction with their current services and with your competitors. The chances that your competitors are monitoring these same channels, let alone their own brand mentions, are slimmer than you might expect. And, if this is already YOUR client? You are there to lend assistance if needed or to recommend new products and services where they are warranted.
  6. Warm calling is a natural part of your daily routine and can be done from anywhere. You are mobile and so are your customers. Our phones have become our multi-channel communication centers and it is only natural that we deploy them in our prospecting efforts. We no longer have to jump in the car and head for that building to call on. We create opportunities throughout the day as we participate, and engage, on the social networks.
  7. Warm calling will always yield higher results, statistically, than cold calling could ever hope for!

And please remember that, no matter how you might spin it, cold calling is the absolute epitome of interruption marketing. Social sales (social media) is based on attraction, not interruption. You attract others by providing value and that does include your expertise. Then it becomes the right message, at the right time, and via the right channel. Practice these simple principles and the rest will take care of itself!

Please share with others your experiences with prospecting via social by leaving a comment below!

Craig Jamieson
Craig M. Jamieson contributes a monthly column on Social Selling. Craig has been in B2B sales since 1977 and during that time has served in a variety of positions including; sales manager, division sales manager, national sales manager, district manager, and as a business owner. He is the managing partner of Adaptive Business Services in Boise, Idaho which owns and operates NetWorks! Boise Valley B2B Networking Groups, is a Nimble Social CRM & HootSuite Solution Partner, a TTI Performance Systems VAA, and Craig also conducts workshops and seminars relating to sales and social business applications. +Craig Jamieson
Craig Jamieson

@CraigMJamieson

Social Sales Trainer and Author Helping Businesses To Increase Their Revenues, Nimble SCRM Solution Partner, TTI VAA, Own & Operate B2B Networking Groups
Sales For Life 3 Ways Not To “Pitch” When Social Selling http://t.co/XWte1Nl7Xo - 27 mins ago
Craig Jamieson
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Comments

  1. says

    As far back I can remember every opportunity that has come my way been through relationships – offline or online. On the flip side I can’t ever remember having any success with cold calling. So it’s no surprise that I’m a strong believer of developing and nurturing relationships. As far as Social Media – seems like opportunities come every way possible – via friends of friends, direct, master mind groups. I still however believe in the old fashioned way – get out and meet someone in real life.

    • says

      Thanks, Gary and thanks for the follow on Twitter! Yes, we must take our relationships to “real life”. Seems like too many people today are hiding behind that glowing box that sits on their desktop :)

  2. says

    Great post Craig, with clear and actionable examples of how sales people and business owners can use social media and online networks to attract prospects and to find people who are likely to be more receptive. Traditional methods still apply, but they can be enhanced through online techniques, for some people and some sales steps. And Qualifying and Selling ‘The Next Step’ are important too.

    • says

      Thanks, Mark and I could not agree more! This is part of my new series for Neal and “qualifying” is definitely on the list. My favorite topic :) BTW … read the Nimble blog tomorrow. They must have been caught short on contributors so went to the bottom of the barrel (me) in desperation. LOL

  3. says

    Completely agree with you, Craig, and thanks for the mention of my piece about cold calling. There’s rarely an excuse for cold calling today when so many possibilities for warming up one’s contacts exist. And yes, people need to step out from behind the glowing box and meet their prospects!

  4. says

    Thanks, C.J.! I scour for articles and only cite the best :) You know, it’s amazing to me how few salespeople are truly taking advantage of this bounty of resources. This internet thingy is great for discovering and nurturing relationships but will never take the place of “nose to nose and toes to toes” :)

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