Time often brings a great deal of change, and some ideas don’t survive the passage of time; though there are people who don’t believe it’s true, even with social selling, cold calling is not dead.
Aaron Abodeely has a passion for helping sales reps and small business owners distribute their messages, and he noticed along the way that the industry was lagging behind in digital trends like social selling. Evolution is hard because we get into a bubble and a routine of doing things a certain way. We build processes around certain tasks but unless we’re out in the space learning from other people, we can’t learn how to evolve.
Typically, cold calling involves calling, emailing, or nurturing leads that are cold outreach, meaning that these contacts haven’t had much, if any, contact with our business or our value proposition. You’re going in cold. We often have sales development reps in enterprise IT designated to contact these leads.
Email came on the scene in the early 1990s, and it joined the landscape of cold calling and door-to-door selling and networking events.
When social selling came on the scene, we learned that we needed to connect with specific contacts within specific organizations. We needed to find those people on social media and engage with them. Some of those connections would be senior connections while others would be peer-to-peer.
Social selling is the back end of social engagement, which is simply making friends and introducing ourselves to people in the space. It’s exhibiting genuine curiosity. The selling comes much later, which is why companies often struggle with this concept.
I reached out to Aaron on Instagram, but he noted that he isn’t particularly active there, as Linked In is his preferred method of contact. I sent him a message that I loved his content and loved what he was doing and I invited him to have a conversation with me. He explained that my invitation caught him off guard because I used specific details to affirm his work and explain the relevance of our messages.
I sent him an audio message that was tailored to him, but it didn’t seek to sell him anything. We can’t pitch people right out of the gate because they don’t even know us yet.
Although it makes sense that you meet someone, pitch to them, and then they buy, the truth is that if everyone in sales uses this same technique, no one will stand out.
Many people believe that because we’re in the age of social selling, it’s foolish to invest in cold calling, but Aaron is on a mission to revive the concept. When he was an inside sales manager at his last company, he wasn’t doing much cold calling, but now, in his role as a consultant for clients, he’s effectively using email and cold calling to connect with an audience.
He was trying to drive attendance to an event earlier this year, and many of those who took part said they discovered the information via email or LinkedIn or Twitter. Because he connected with them on social media, when he contacted them via email, they remembered him.
The point is that we shouldn’t rely solely on any single method of outreach. It’s the mix of approaches that helps sellers get in front of the audience.
When we discover that a contact is excited to talk to us because we’ve made connections with him, that’s a psychological win. Instead of cold calling, it becomes warm calling because we’ve used advanced strategies to warm that conversation.
By warming them up via social media and sharing relevant content, you’re engaging your audience. That way, when you do call, your name is familiar to them.
There are automated ways to spam people on social media but consider the cost of a lead in your industry. The industry average for a trade show is $800 but for social media, it’s like $300. Do your own research, but considering that it takes only a few hours of your time to get in front of someone who might take an interest in your product, that’s big.
The challenge for executives and sales managers is that they don’t know how to measure these results. As a result, people spam on social media because they think they don’t have time to nurture this person.
Many reps, in an attempt to save their jobs and meet their metrics, schedule a bunch of spam so they can reflect their efforts.
Part of the argument for why cold calling and email aren’t dead is the reality that if we spend 80 percent of our time on cold calling and email and we hit our targets, we’re coming pretty close.
Track how much time you’re spending on these ventures and then track your success rates from those efforts. As you begin to see success from these efforts, you can increase the amount of time you invest in them.
It can be difficult to make time for this kind of outreach, but consider investing an hour over breakfast or in the afternoon with a beer. Connect with 20 of your key buyers together and practice developing messaging that encourages relationships. Convey that your prospect is doing interesting stuff and you’d like to engage with him.
A lot of companies are forward-leaning in this area because their buyers are people who are very active on social media.
Aaron recently had eight days to drive attendance to a technical workshop. He started by taking over the presenter’s LinkedIn profile and creating explainer videos of him sharing why folks might want to attend this event.
They deployed the video on LinkedIn and also one-on-one to specific people who might find the information relevant. They also employed cold calling as a follow up to LinkedIn and email messages.
You can be aggressive with it but you must think long-term about the results.
Some type of two-way engagement is very good. For example, you’ve liked their post or left a comment and they responded. That’s a good sign and a healthy indicator. You can also send a thoughtful connection request. You simply have to adjust to who your buyer is.
Make videos or launch a blog where you share thoughts about the industry.
Begin by learning the language of the industry you’re pursuing. Go to technical meetups and learn to use the language your prospects use.
Read magazines. Use meetups or YouTube. You may sound dumb trying to talk the way buyers talk, but it isn’t a sleazy thing. It’s your attempt at learning to communicate the way they do. Imagine going to a foreign country where people speak a different language. You may sound clumsy but you’re attempting to speak their language.
It’s human nature to modulate how you speak to people.
Some executives are scared to create content or speak broadly into the space, so start small.
If you’re apprehensive about this, take screenshots and find time to sit with your sales leaders. Show this stuff to them in a one-on-one meeting. Demonstrate how you can get in front of C-level buyers. Make sure you’re hitting your baseline goals with calls and emails in order to get the leadership to adopt these concepts.
Connect with me at email@example.com.
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Donald is the host of the popular sales podcast,"The Sales Evangelist". He is the founder of The Sales Evangelist Consulting Firm where he helps small companies develop killer sales process to scale their business and increase growth. Donald is also an award-winning speaker, sales trainer, and coach. He's a big fan of traveling, South Florida staycations and high-quality family time. Donald has a belief that “anyone” can sell if they have the desire and receives the proper training.