Cold calling gets a lot of flak these days, with people saying that it no longer works, that salespeople should abandon it in their sales strategy, and even that it’s flat out dead. These abrupt phrases are confirmed by chilling and stark statistics, like “only 1% of cold calls actually result in meetings” (HubSpot, 2016).
The truth is, however, that it does work ‒ you’re just doing it wrong. Like most things in life, (peanut butter and jelly, for example), cold calling works better if you couple it with something else, and, here, that something is called social selling. Let us explain...
Cold calling: Calling a prospect, who in most cases has no idea who you are or what your brand is, to try to sell to them.
Social selling: Promoting your product and engaging with prospects on social media to make them aware of your brand in order to sell to them.
Why you can’t sell with cold calling alone
When you’re selling to a prospect, you have to think about how far along the buying funnel they are. If they’re right at the top, they won’t know anything about your brand, and the further down they travel, the more they’ll know.
Every salesperson would have faced the gruelling task of selling to someone who doesn’t even know that their company exists. This is cold calling, and the people you’re selling to quite often don’t have a clue what you’re talking about and why they should trust you - making it almost impossible to ever close the deal.
This is where social selling comes in. It’s all about building relationships with people near the top of the funnel through online engagement, so that over time they learn about your brand and become familiar with your products and services. Then, when you do call them (which will be timed absolutely perfectly, by the way), you’ll be in a much stronger position as they’ll already know who you are.
Isn’t social selling the same as social media marketing?
Whilst both techniques certainly share a core similarity ‒ utilising social media ‒ it’s not quite the same thing. For one, those who carry out social selling are salespeople, whereas marketers traditionally handle social media marketing.
The content being shared by social marketers is usually more catered to the bottom of the funnel ‒ where the buyers are close to making a purchase, and marketers at this stage send messages with consultations and phone call offerings.
Social selling, on the other hand, is more about securing buyers through manually moving prospects from the top of the funnel to the bottom and assisting them along the buyer journey. This is one of the reasons it’s so important for social sellers not to simply bombard prospects with unpersonalised messages ‒ the content being sent out must always be targeted and valuable.
Since salespeople speak to customers so regularly, they’ll be the best people to do this as they’ll have the opportunity to share personalised messages that speak to particular types of buyers.
How to kick-start your new selling strategy
In order to smash your sales targets, you’ll need to combine both social selling and cold calling. You can get started relatively quickly ‒ here we break it down into simple steps:
1. Create buyer personas
Whatever you do, do not skip this step. You need to know who you’re actually selling to and that will involve more than just a vague age range or job title. You need specifics: what do they do on a daily basis; how often are they online; what platforms do they engage with the most; and what are their challenges?
2. Stalk your prospects online
Okay, it’s actually called smart research. Once you’ve narrowed down your personas, you need to go and find them online. This will allow you to match what you think you know about your buyers to who they actually are in the real world.
3. Build up your professional profile
Nobody is going to want to connect with you if your LinkedIn profile is bare, or worse, has nothing but a picture of your pupper in 2006. Spruce up your profile with description of who are you are, what you do and back up your business message. This, in turn, will raise your Social Selling Index (SSI) on LinkedIn ‒ allowing you to more accurately measure your success.
4. Get active
You don’t need to be a social media ninja straight off the bat, but sharing posts and engaging with your industry is a good way to get you and your business known. Sharing relevant content that will actually help your prospects is a great way to build relationships, as they’ll be interested in what you have to say and you’ll come across as a thought leader.
5. Use the right tools
There are a bunch of nifty tools out there that will accelerate your online sales game. You’ll be a dummy not to utilise them ‒ read our blog on the top 3 social selling tools you should be using right now.
6. Aim and engage
Once you’ve built up your profile, and began sharing some useful content, it’s time to begin engaging with your prospects. This can be subtle, for example liking something they’ve themselves shared or commenting on a post. Eventually, when the timing is right (for example during a trigger event) you can send them a message or a connection request.
7. Make your warm call
You’ve put in the grafting, established a relationship online and now you can finally bite the bullet by calling your prospect. You can message them on LinkedIn and schedule a chat so they already expect it. Now, instead of going in cold and trying to scavenge for a stranger’s interest, you’ll be carrying on a conversation that’s started ‒ giving you a massive head start over your competitors.
We appreciate that this is quite a simplistic explanation of how to combine social selling and cold calling. Of course, in reality, there’s so much more you can and should be doing. It’ll involve great content, lead nurturing and smart analytics. That’s why we’ve written this spectacular guide: