Come in from the cold. All you are going to catch out there is a chill. Cold calling, cold emails, email blasts, door-to-door sales, etc., are going away for good. Traditional tactics like these may have been the defining features of sales for as long as you can remember, but society is finally getting ready to retire them.
Cold calling techniques worked in a world where information was expensive. Customers didn't know what their options were or where to turn to find solutions. In that world, a small but reliable percentage of prospects were relieved to talk to a sales person who could answer their questions and fix their problems. Now, buyers have information that is freely available through search engines, social networks, review sites, blogs, etc. The average buyer now knows everything the salesperson knows, plus everything about the competition.
That's the main reason why cold calls have gone the way of phone books. As buyers complete more of their research online, sales professionals have to add value in new ways. They need new digital strategies using social networks, marketing alignment and an understanding of the buyer's journey.
Here are 16 statistics that describe the reality of the modern buyer and the demise of calling:
1. Poor Conversion
Only 1% of cold calls ultimately convert into appointments, according to a study by the Keller Research Center at Baylor University.
2. Conversation Engagement
Only 28% of those cold called engage in conversations, the Keller Research Center estimates.
3. Sales Archetypes
Forrester identified four seller archetypes in their B2B Go-To-Customer Strategy Matrix: Order Takers, Explainers, Navigators and Consultants. 37 percent of Order Takers and 27 percent of Explainers will be displaced by e-commerce websites and various other digital channels.
4. Jobs Obsolete
Close to one million sales professionals will lose their jobs to self-service e-commerce within the next four years, unless they start building relationships with buyers, according to estimates by Forrester.
5. Adding Value To The Buying Process
B2B e-commerce will top $1.1 trillion and account for 12.1 percent of all B2B sales in the US by 2020, according to another report by Forrester. Only the salespeople who add value to the buying process will be able to access this vast and growing market.
6. Buying Decision
5.4 people are now involved in the average B2B buying decision, according to the CEB. Winning the sale in a modern organization takes a more nuanced team selling approach.
7. No Responses
Around nine out of 10 of top-level B2B decision-makers simply do not respond to cold outreach anymore, reported LinkedIn's Head of Sales Kevin Scott.
8. Social Media Impacts Decision-Making Process
LinkedIn's Scott also pointed out that 75 percent of these B2B leaders say that they regularly use social media in their decision-making process.
9. First To Add Value
Salesforce reported that 74 percent buyers choose the salesperson who was first to add value and insight. This is a combination of both increasing time pressure and greater appreciation of those who were able to help them.
10. Greater Engagement With Buyers
Few sales people fall in the value-added category, reported Salesforce. Buyers say that only 20 percent of salespeople add value to the transaction. On the positive side, sales reps who were able to add value saw five times greater engagement with their potential buyers.
11. Referrals Lead To Sales
84 percent of B2B leaders start their individual buying journeys with referrals, according to OpenView Labs. Cold calling cannot reach the vast majority of B2B decision makers.
Nearly three out of four business execs says that they prefer to work with sales professionals who were referred by someone they know. As communication technology becomes easier, people need to rely more on their networks and who they trust.
12. Personal Connections
Sales people are 4.2 times more likely to gain an appointment if they already have a personal connection with the buyer. Sales people need to be constantly establishing connections through networks like LinkedIn lay the groundwork for future sales.
13. Unprepared To Answer Questions
70 percent of exec-level buyers say that sales people are not prepared for the questions they ask, reported Forrester. A buyer relationship builds over time. There's no way a sales person on a cold call can be as prepared as a social seller.
14. The Need For Case Studies
More than three out of four execs say that sales people don't have relevant examples or case studies to share. This is important in a later stage of the buyer's journey. By the time the buyer is at this stage in the process, the sales person should be able to access a vast amount of data about the buyer and what they need to close the sale.
15. Account-Based Marketing
Around 90 percent of marketing professionals said account-based marketing (ABM) is "extremely" or "very" important for success, according to Marketing Profs. Only 20 percent of companies surveyed have an active ABM approach to aligning their sales and marketing efforts.
In the absence of ABM and sales/marketing alignment, 50 percent of Sales's time is wasted on unproductive prospecting in a report from Marketo.
16. Multiple Touchpoints
Sirius Decisions estimates that the average salesperson makes only two attempts to reach a prospect. That's not how the world works anymore. Success in social selling requires many touchpoints through a variety of channels.
Social sellers today don't sell features or benefits. What they sell is trust. The goal of sales and marketing today is no longer just to post revenue but going beyond that, to build an ongoing relationship of repeat business and referrals.