Those that believe cold calling isn’t dead often say that salespeople need more training on it. They suggest that there is a problem with sales people, not cold calling. There may be some truth to this – after all, I’m sure that my rusty cold calling skills could use a little shine.
However, as accurate as the suggestion may be, it deceptively ignores the reality that 90% to 97% cold calls don’t work. Sorry Mr. & Ms. Cold Calling Guru: B2B buyers just aren’t waiting for our phone calls.
So, in essence, we are really arguing over 3% (up to 10%) of the cold calls that do. But what’s woefully ignored is why we’re cold calling in the first place. I’m hoping it’s because we’d like to talk to prospective buyers. From that angle, Mr. & Ms. Cold Calling Guru, why aren’t you teaching me how to get more people on the phone?
Thanks for teaching me what to do once someone is on the phone, I appreciate it, but how do I get them on the phone in the first place?
Here’s the answer: you can’t. No one can. The buyer has changed forever. They’re not waiting for us by the phone.
Then we have people that just hate this debate altogether. Is cold calling dead? Isn’t it? Is social selling here to replace everything?
And then we tumble down into the zone of utter obviousness (and ridiculousness) with just a poor lack of understanding. In this zone, you’ll hear questions and statements like:
No one ever signed a PO on LinkedIn.
You can’t have a sales meeting over Twitter.
My buyer isn’t on LinkedIn, but they sure do have a phone!
It’s time to stop the madness!
Is there any wonder why there is so much confusion around this topic? All of us have different agendas and levels of understanding. I want to dispel some of the myths here and focus on practical ways you can use social selling to better your cold calling rates.
1. Don’t Go in Blind
If you’re still in the camp that calling someone blind, without any research, adds to your machismo and swag, you’re in trouble. How much trouble? The amount that one of my former sales managers got into. He was fired. No joke.
At our company we recently hired someone. He was so well researched about us – he knew us as people, the company, our business model, our clients, and he was able to express his opinions about this in a professional manner.
As you’re looking to build a relationship with someone today, why not use publicly available information to do research about them? There are company websites, but social platforms offer a great way to get to know the buyer better.
Here’s a quick example using Google Alerts. If you’re not yet using this tool, ask yourself why.
Once you do research about them, you may have more insights that will help get the call into the decision maker (even past the gatekeeper). But, you may not be comfortable doing that just yet.
Some of us prefer to break the ice first. How do you do that if you’ve never met the person?
2. Engage with Prospects Online
This is a great way to break the ice. As you uncover champions in the account, visit them on their social media profiles like LinkedIn and Twitter.
If they’ve shared, said or done something, it’s time to engage them. Like, comment, share, favorite, retweet – take your pick but do it. Don’t wait for permission from anyone. This is public.
Here is an example.
Notice how I engaged with the prospect and started asking questions and mixing things up. I’m focused entirely at this stage in breaking the ice, building rapport and earning the right to have a conversation.
3. Don’t Be Single-Threaded…Ever!
If the individual above, Brian, was my only prospect in the account, paint me in trouble. As a sales professional, it’s the astute move to ensure we have multiple targets in the account. CEB says that the buying committee is 5.4 people – just round it out to 6 to be safe.
LinkedIn Advanced Search is an incredible ally to find these potential people.
Brian is in sales. But I could very well sell to my other target market which is in marketing.
Here’s what I’ve just found: 3 potential buyers that I can also research and then engage with. All three are going in my CRM before I forget!
I can now rinse and repeat the simple exercise above with these three individuals.
I’m going to focus on Jose since he’s the Director of the group. And this time, I’m going to see what he’s doing on Twitter.
Notice how I’m directly participating in a conversation with him, albeit in a small sound bite. While this may not work, I’d do this repeatedly over the next few weeks in order to make my name more known to this prospect.
It’s like the movie Inception. You can plant an idea and navigate the buyer’s own thought process.
4. Share Insights & Educate
By now you’ve guessed how I am a fan of leading with insights and education. I’m not a fan by coincidence, though. The data says I’m doing the right thing. You see, I’m trying to ensure that I differentiate myself from the hoards of salespeople in the market by getting away from the sales pitch.
“But Amar, you’re in sales!”
I am in sales. But the first step is to build a relationship and there’s no way I can do that if I don’t empathize with what matters to the buyer. This is serious stuff. I’d never expect to stop a random stranger on the street and pitch them, so then why do it in my profession?
This screenshot demonstrates how I’ve now found other potential champions in the account.
The Bottom Line
As you pick up the phone to call someone, wouldn’t it be nice to have already engaged with them in some capacity? Social can help you achieve this. Mountains of publicly available information awaits!
Are you currently engaging with prospects like this online? If not, what’s stopping you?