I love social media more than the average sales professional. I love to blog and tweet and Facebook and connect on LinkedIn. I even have a secret affinity to Pinterest and Instagram – not typical for insurance sales guys.
But having been involved in social media for this long simply confirms my belief that cold calling is not dead.
If you want to make hay in higher stakes selling, then you must pick up the phone and make calls. Just like the most beautiful cheerleader wasn’t running around searching for dates, your most coveted future client isn’t trolling LinkedIn to find a service provider.
That client already has someone who that client assumes is doing a good job. Further, fewer individuals are on LinkedIn and Twitter than we imagine, especially when it comes to key contacts in targeted firms. These contacts didn’t rise in the rinks because they were spending all their time on social media.
Cold Calling, Defined
Much current sales literature might malign cold calling by redefining cold calling as blindly taking a list of prospects and powering through dial after dial.
That is a version of cold calling.
These days, most of us can do a little research and relationship-building online or through other venues. I would include making calls based on basic research as cold calling. Unless you’ve gained specific permission to call, then it’s a call that is unexpected.
At the very least, you should be clear on the type of firm or client you can best serve before you start dialing.
Current social selling proponents might call well-researched calling ‘warm calling’, but when most new sale pros have any leeway NOT to make calls, even well-researched calls, they will not, citing that ‘it doesn’t work’ or ‘nobody takes calls’ or some other excuse.
A cold call for our purposes here: Any call you make during a specified prospecting session to a company or individual who is not expecting a call from you, for the purpose of building a business relationship.
Why Cold Calling Is Not Dead
There are a bunch of reasons why cold calling is not dead. Even when you hear your favorite online or sales trainer gurus tell you that it’s an ineffective method of prospecting, please do not believe that person. Find that trainer or online resource (I suggest Anthony Iannarino or Paul Castain as places to start) who are active on social and blog regularly, while still encouraging using prospecting calls as part of your relationship-opening arsenal.
5 Reasons Why Cold Calling Isn’t Dead
Your key client isn’t looking for you
I touched on this above, but the client you want to work with – that whale, isn’t always looking for a new provider of goods and services. You might need to start adding value. But before you do, that client needs to know you exist. Making a telephone call is a very effective way of doing so.
Your key client might need you, but doesn’t know where to find you
I’ve run into this scenario a few times. I call a prospect from a general, but targeted list, and gotten the response, “You sell insurance specifically to nonprofits? Oh good. We need you. We’ve had a hard time finding an insurance agent that gets us.” If you niche out well, then your future clients desperately need you, but they don’t know where you are.
Your key client isn’t actually on Twitter or LinkedIn
Again, we touched on this above. My whole C-Suite at my current employer’s office is not active on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook. You would never get in with my firm as a service provider by trolling social media. You might gain a little information about us, but you’d never directly connect to a decision-maker.
Cold calling requires clarity about your value proposition
Cold calling requires that you lead with value, not relationship. The person on the other end of the line does not know, like, or trust you yet, and one of the only ways to gain traction is by a quick hit of value. Consequently, making effective cold calls requires that you mine the value that you create for others. This makes cold calling relevant because it requires that you define your own relevance to your prospects. As a by-product, this practice will make your social media efforts even more compelling.
Cold calling requires that you gain commitments
This reason might sound more like a skill you have to acquire vs. a reason why cold calling isn’t dead. In truth, all sales is a practice in gaining commitments. All sales requires some measure of boldness. Cold calling is an effective way of learning how to ask for the next commitment from your prospective client and why they should commit to your process in the first place. Social selling often is an endless circle of likes, reposts, and favorites, never requiring someone to ask for a commitment, thus, never resulting in sales.
Bonus Reason: Cold calling allows you to tell people about your content and social marketing efforts
Your social efforts could, possibly, make your cold calling more relevant by giving you a very tiny, simple commitment to gain from your prospect. Use the call to connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, or to point the individual to your stellar blog content.
Do You Still Make Prospecting Calls?
Do you still find success making calls? Do you have a regular weekly or daily practice of picking up the phone and calling individuals who aren’t expecting your call?
Let me know in the comments what works for you – or if you’ve punted the practice, and why