You might be wondering what the differences are between Cold Calling & Social Selling so I took the time to list some pros and cons for you to consider. I’m not going tell you how to sell. I don’t know your industry, product, sales process, or your crazy boss. Or how your crazy boss expects you to sell for that matter. I simply don’t have enough detail to say. What I can do/will do in this quick post, I’ll give it to you straight. What are the pros and cons between Social Selling and Cold Calling? I’ll lay it out so you can make an informed decision on where to invest your time, money, and sweat in sales. And if you’re looking for empirical evidence to support your own Social Selling efforts (cause that’s what all this is really about), look here.
Sales For Life is a Social Selling training company, each of our team members has come-up through the ranks and fully understands the two different sales strategies (new vs old) in great depth. We also have many friends in the sales enablement community that teach all forms of sales strategies from cold calling, appointment setting, landing the whale, etc… Finally, after more than a decade pounding the phones myself I believe I’m in good standing to draw from my own experience on this one. So here are the goods:
Social Selling Pros:
- Go Solo - you don’t necessarily need the assistance of the marketing department you may or may not have access to. In social selling you can become your own micro marketer curating other expert’s opinions and/or you can voice your own opinion on industry’s issues to operate as a trusted expert.
- Go Around The Clock - selling is now 24/7, as is the new buying process. Buyers are researching beyond the typical business hours for information. You’re peak selling time just increased by about 130 hours/week. You want to know what keeps a social salesperson awake at night? Hot prospects! Fortunately like the Internet, social never sleeps. Seek out automation.
- Go Ahead - anyone can be a Social Seller. You don’t need any special courses or certain degree’s to be good at Social Selling. All you need is to make the decision to start researching how to begin, tweeting, messaging, and joining in on social conversations. It takes 30-60 minutes a day to be better than most of your competitors.
- Go Free - you can start doing the basic social selling strategies for FREE. Of course once you are hooked you will want to expand further into paid versions of some very cool and powerful tools like; LinkedIn (a paid subscription unlocks more powerful features), same goes for my personal favorites like Hootsuite,TimeTrade, StoryQuest etc…
- Go Direct - avoid gatekeepers and reach your exact buyer directly. With social selling you can join in on the same conversations that your direct buyer is having in a social setting. This will help eliminate the need to start with gatekeepers and will put you on the fast track to your first meeting.
- Go viral – with the right strategies and strong content your social selling efforts can pay dividends for months/years to come. By sharing valuable insights your information will get shared and passed around your buying community providing value over-and-over again.
- Go Big – a social lead generation engine, once up and running, will produce volumes of results rather than the onesie/twosie that comes from phone work or constant emailing. Everything is magnified online, # of connections, # of conversations, # of sales meetings, # of deals. You effectively flip the inbound model on its head. Never in my entire career have I had to follow up on as many leads as are being generated for me right now. It can be overwhelming.
Social Selling Cons:
- Go Slow – selling with social takes time. Months to build your engine, often many more months building a reputation and personal brand online (regardless of your past network or experience). It’s also something that needs constant tweaking, repairing, modifying, and improving. It is a true process and requires a “Turtle Vs. Hare” balance to be optimal. Slow and steady wins the race, can be difficult to get Gunslingers to adopt.
- Go Back To School - How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. For most reps, these new tips, tricks, and techniques do present a fairly large learning curve. For those towards the end of their careers some actions may seem trivial, irrelevant, or counter intuitive. You must continue to learn and continue to persist. It is like building a net new territory. But online.
- Go Back to Work – as is the case with cold calling, social requires a fair bit of heavy lifting. Specifically if you posses some common salesperson personality traits, you will find the countless hours at your computer a challenge. For me, as much as I enjoy writing, it still takes me far too much effort to write a blog post. Same as most things in life, the harder you work the luckier you get. Again it takes discipline and persistence.
- Go Home – you’re simply not good enough. Social is risky, you are fully exposed. Don’t have your profile up to snuff, not participating in the community, not sharing valuable content, running your business with little vision or loose morals? You are at risk of blowing the whole operation, so be mindful not to misstep. There is room for error, but not ignorance.
Cold Calling Pros:
- Go Solo – truly all you really need to be successful with cold calling is a phone, a directory, a pad of paper, and a pen. The “Kings” of cold calling are still holding on and rely on very few external resources for assistance. Marketing? Oh ya, that might help too (hence the age old divide).
- Go Around The Clock – not quite as universal as social selling, but I have been known to work multiple shifts in multiple time zones in the past. A Pro yes, but I’ve not found it to be sustainable over any length of time. It can be gruelling; more often than not burning the candle at both ends lasts me a few weeks at a time.
- Go Ahead – again, there’s 0 barrier to entry to the cold calling game. See Go Solo, you are 100% prepared if you have a phone, some numbers, and can talk. Now just try to get someone live, and then make sure you say exactly the right things to exactly the right people. A percentage of the time you will convert a result.
- Go Free – I have had years where my phone/cell phone bills were more than my mortgage. Cold calling can be costly yes, but for years it has also been the root source of my income and primary strategy for revenue generation. It can be highly profitable.
- Go Fast – a definite positive with the cold call is the periodic win, the breakthrough, and the lifeline. The one last call you make where you end up in Procurement. Yes, we’ve all had a few of these. Yes, this is ultimately the “High” many salespeople are after in the first place. Yes, this still happens today. Could happen on your first call. It’s your gamble.
Cold Calling Cons (an oxymoron perhaps):
- Go Away – our customers are annoyed and ignoring your advances. Large consulting firms continue to post research that clearly outlines why we lose business. The majority of the time it’s because salespeople are far too aggressive, call too much, and offer little value. I personally blame the cold call for such stigma. It is as bad as it is good, so to speak. The smoking gun in the killer’s hand.
- Go Fishing – we see diminishing returns while using the phone channel for lead generation. Salespeople are going home frustrated having invested their days working the phone only ever connecting with a fraction of the people they had hoped. I too can attest to the many 100 call days where I would get through to less than a handful of executives. It can be a major fishing expedition and colossal waste of time.
- Go All In – understanding the diminishing rate of return on this low probability task, you put yourself at risk if you are not supporting call campaigns with other initiatives. 40% of salespeople will miss their numbers in 2013, many will unfortunately do so on the telephone having not realized the shift in buying behaviour online. You must diversify your approach.
- Go Home – you’re not big enough to play here. Fact is, cold calling is incredibly limited. Why would I make 20 calls to talk to 3 people when I can write a blog post that 120 people will read? Why spend an entire day sifting through phone numbers when you can run a webinar where hundreds of segmented prospects attend? The phone can simply no longer compete. Not to say it doesn’t have its place in sales, it does. Cold calling however, social selling is the new cold call.
The Bottom Line:
Laying out your pros and cons with both social selling and cold calling for lead generation is a good exercise to conduct when you are planning your business development. For me personally, it validates that social selling is a bona fide practice and that, to be a hands down top performer, you need to take a blended approach where your phone work supports your efforts online. Not the other way around. Check out this eBook, Where Does Social Selling Fit In The Buyer's Journey to learn how social impacts every stage in your buyer's journey.