Have you heard that cold calling is back from the dead? It turns out that cold calling is a bit like Mark Twain: Reports of its death have been greatly exaggerated.

Cold calling in sales is all about reaching out with confidence to someone you don’t know. Contact has to be established somehow, and many B2B sales teams still utilize cold calling within their existing sales strategy. However, 97% of cold calls are ineffective according to IBM Buyer Preference Study. So how do you even start a conversation? The elemental truth is that Social Selling and cold calling are not polar opposites, but merely complementary pathways for establishing the kind of relationships that lead to sales.

Successful sales leaders take advantage of all the tools in their triage kits to get the job done. For some sales professionals, cold calling can be a challenging way to reach buyers. However, you need to be able to support your team under any circumstances.

Here are five good ways to resuscitate the effectiveness of the common cold call by applying Social Selling techniques.

1. Search before you dial

Ralf VonSosen, VP of Nitro and formerly on LinkedIn’s marketing team, told MIT’s Sloane Management Review that Social Selling “moves our contact from a traditional cold call to either a warm introduction or at least a warm conversation.” Prioritize the order of your cold calls by performing research on the prospect using social media before the call. Check out the prospect’s latest tweets and posts to see what motivates or frustrates them. By addressing your your prospect’s latest social activity, you’ll be able to respond with relevance.

2. Prepare to be Googled during the call

While you’re on the call, it’s highly likely that your prospect is stalling to search your online reputation and make sure you are legit. What will the prospect find? Get your online pressence in order with your LinkedIn and Twitter profile as well as your company’s website in pristine shape. Top social sellers told The Sales Conservatory that buyers want to know who they are buying from, not just listen to a disembodied voice.

3. Follow up after you hang up

The post-call phase is the most important one for success. The average sales person only makes 2 attempts to reach a prospect according to SiriusDecisions. The Marketing Donut reported that 80 percent of sales require five follow-up phone calls. Those contacts help the buyer commit to the relationship. Reach out using social media–and in person, when possible–to keep them as repeat buyers and sources for ongoing referrals.

4. Open up more response channels

It’s not the early bird that catches the worm — it’s the bird with the most active contact channels. Buyers that you contact through a cold call might prefer to communicate with you over the phone, a Direct Message on Twitter or a LinkedIn InMail. InsideSales.com reported that 35 to 50 percent of sales go to the first salesperson who responds to a query. Keep your digital ears open to close more deals.

5. Go deeper into the organization before you move on

Gartner identified five different buyer types, which could mean five individuals, involved in the typical B2B purchase. Make your call to the right one and approach the others through social media. You want to create a culture of positivity and foster an internal brand champion of the purchase. This can be a long process that requires special sales training, ongoing emails and commenting on company blogs, but it starts with a cold call.

Social Selling hasn’t replaced the sales techniques of the past. Think of it as an effective adaptation to today’s technology. Social Selling techniques can be the life-savers that establish rapport faster and shorten your sales cycle. At the same time, your team will need the right sales education to move the purchase along and close the sale. A phone call, no matter how cold, could be just what the doctor ordered.

Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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