Cold calling can be difficult, nobody said it was easy. You’ve been there, I’ve been there, but there’s a way to provide better value to your prospects without dialing a single digit. Don’t believe me? Well let me give you the inside scoop on how I booked a meeting with a Fortune 50 VP of Sales without even picking up the phone.

There was a fortune 50 VP in my lead-flow I had been trying to reach via phone & email for about 2 weeks. I didn’t get him live, nor did he return any of my voicemails or emails.

How many of your sales pros have found themselves in this situation?

Let’s be real, no matter how positive of an attitude a person can have, ineffective cold calling sucks. Regardless of how skilled, trained, tenured, or motivated your reps are, pure cold calling is going to eventually wear them down.

As a sales professional and ongoing student of Social Selling, I found myself looking for ways to reach out and build relationships through social. Here’s the process I developed and implemented to land myself this opportunity, and many others like it.

While ramping up my Social Selling efforts, I noticed the prospect was highly active on social. I began to engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter. After 2 weeks of nurturing, he emailed me his personal assistant’s contact info, and told me to reach out to get a conversation booked into the calendar.

Given it’s nearly 2016, how can you improve the effectiveness of your sales team with Social Selling?


Why should you encourage your team to use social to engage with prospects?

Interruptive direct selling strategies like traditional cold-calling don’t always allow your reps to begin a meaningful dialogue with a prospect. Your buyer’s phone is ringing all day from stone-age salespeople trying to make a buck, so why would they ever pick up a cold-call from one of your reps?

While the buyer is neglecting the phone, they are simultaneously voluntarily engaged in social media for hours each day. According to Forrester, 74% of B2B buyers today complete at least half of their buying process online before making a purchase decision. So why not try to catch their attention in the places they go to learn about solutions to their problems?

When is it worth engaging a prospect on social?

Social Selling is a manual activity, if you want to treat it like an automated email campaign, you won’t have any luck. It’s about quality not quantity, nobody on social media wants to be spammed with templated messages. You want to engage prospects that are active on social, where they are posting articles, sharing third-party content, and engaging other people’s content

When is it worth engaging on LinkedIn?

Start by viewing the ‘latest activity’ on somebody’s profile so you can see how active they are on LinkedIn. If you follow them, their activity will also appear in the feed on your homepage.

LinkedIn Social Activities

When is it worth engaging on Twitter?

Using Twitter web client:

1. Lookup their Twitter handle, look at their last post date. If it was 2 years ago, move on.

2. Click on ‘Tweets and Replies,’ if there are just shortened article post links at the same times each day, and no replies, there’s a good chance that individual just auto schedules posts from an RSS feed. Move on!

Using Riffle – Free chrome extension:

1. Lookup Twitter handle, and you’ll have to look at 3 things.

2. Check out their activity breakdown, you’ll be able to see what percentage of their activity is retweeting and replying:

Riffle for Social Selling

Looking at my activity breakdown, I post tweets 72.5% of the time, and retweet & reply 27.5% of the time. If you were looking to engage me, based on the fact that 27.5% of my twitter is reactionary activity, there’s a good chance I’d engage you back.

How do you begin to interact with the prospect?

1. Assuming the prospect is active on both LinkedIn & Twitter, start off by following them on both platforms.

2. Add them to a private Twitter list, I title mine “Prospects”, and then visit that list a few times a day to see what they are sharing.

3. On LinkedIn, you can add them to Newsle so when they publish something, you’ll get a notification. You can also tag your contacts and set reminders to periodically visit your prospect’s ‘recent activity’ section on their profile.

4. Once you’ve found something relevant they have shared, you need to reply or comment on their post to share your insight. That can come in the form of sharing your opinion, asking a question, or posting a link to a related article you think they should check out.

5. The key to succeeding here is leading with thought-provoking insight, to ‘reframe’ a situation and position yourself as a subject matter expert.

What do you do when the prospect engages you back?

1. Engagement can come in the form of a like, favorite, reply, follow, connection request, retweet or profile view.

2. When the prospect engages you back, the first thing to note: do NOT sell or pitch anything, you need to be gentle.

3. Simply thank them for the engagement, and ask them a thought-provoking question. For example: What did you think of that article on how XYZ Inc. is growing their pipeline by 30% with Social Selling? OR What about company XYZ Inc.’s initiative on inbound marketing did you find the most innovative?

4. Along with asking a question, think about sharing another piece of content that’s relevant to the conversation.

5. It also helps to invite the prospect to use you as a resource on your specific solution. For example: Prospect, feel free to use me as a resource for Social Selling.”

What if the prospect doesn’t engage you back?

1. This is easy, just nurture with content. According to a DemandGen Report, on average nurtured leads produce 20% more sales opportunities than non-nurtured leads.

2. Try to share at least one piece of engaging content a week with the prospect.

3. Monitor your prospects with Twitter lists and by visiting their LinkedIn recent activity, when they share something that is somehow relevant to your solution, share insight and ask a question immediately.

4. If the prospect is active on social and they don’t engage you back after a month, it either means they aren’t in the market for your solution or you have yet to share something intriguing or ask a thought-provoking question.

When and how do you ask for a meeting?

1. When a prospect responds to one of your questions or comments on a piece of content you’ve shared, it’s evident that there’s a curiosity.

2. Simply ask for a meeting: “Hey prospect, seems like there’s some interested around X, let’s have a quick conversation around X best practices.”

3. Remember to include two specific dates & times you are available to chat.

4. Utilizing tools like TimeTrade or Sidekick’s meeting function also allows prospects to book meetings right into your calendar.

The Bottom Line:

Without getting serious about Social Selling, you and your team will be left in the dust. Stop being complacent and get your salespeople engaged in Social. They will have more meaningful conversations with more prospects, and as a result create more opportunities.

How are your sales reps creating new opportunities with Social? Share your thoughts with me on Twitter @TheNealeDeal or connect with me on LinkedIn.


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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