Cold calling has never been super easy but these days it has become a lot harder.
Before the internet all salespeople had was cold calling, whether that be via the phone or door knocking, and it was usually an immediate hard sell. Because of that people learned to do everything they could to avoid a salesperson, people would stop opening doors and receptionists were told not to put sales calls through. These days the receptionist is highly trained and it can take a salesperson up to eight calls to get past him or her, if they do get past then they have to convince the prospect to listen to them. When a salesperson has to deal with so many barriers and rejections they can sound tense and desperate when they do finally get to speak to someone; this jeopardises any potentiality of a sale.
What is social selling?
Linkedin claims that 78% of people who are social selling are more successful than others who are sticking to the traditional cold calling methods.
So, what is social selling?
Social selling is exactly that, it’s selling a product or a service whilst being social and it’s done online via social media. Social selling focuses a lot on targeting, prospecting and building relationships. Because time is invested in building relationships, social selling is a lot more meaningful than cold calling. What social selling does is to enable people to buy from you, they no longer feel like they’re being sold at. For example, a salesperson may create a guide on “ how to make your business secure” and list the ten best ways, the prospect can read this guide at their leisure. The prospect is happy to receive the guide because they’ve been chatting with the salesperson on Twitter about business, football and dogs and the prospect feels like he/she really knows the salesperson. There’s a call to action on the guide and that CTA is a link to the salesperson’s landing page which is in place to convert prospects. When the prospect is ready to buy they’re happy to click through to the landing page. That’s just a basic outline of how social selling can and does work. Today’s salesperson knows that the research period before buying could be months, so during that time, the salesperson builds a strong relationship by chatting, educating, signposting, giving information and more.
Back to the question, should you swap cold calling for social selling?
Sometimes cold calling can still work if the odds are working for you. For that to happen a salesperson needs to get through the barriers, get to the prospect, and the prospect to be at that moment in time looking for a solution just like the one the salesperson has to offer. Sometimes that can happen and sometimes the prospect might say that they’re not quite ready to buy now but will be in a few months, so what happens then? Does the salesperson keep calling the prospect to see if they’re ready to buy yet? That usually makes the prospect end up hating them and all the barriers go back up, the salesperson will be handed back to the receptionist to deal with.
Cold calling can still work when luck is on your side however social selling gives the salesperson much better chances to get a deal/sale/contract.
When people are considering buying anything they go online and research. A buying decision can take months, understanding that then the salesperson can drip feed their prospect everything they need, so when the time comes to buy they wouldn’t dream of buying it from anywhere else. Social selling also helps salespeople to become educators/advisors/an industry GO-TO person, they’re no longer just seen as a pushy salesperson. Going back to the prospect that gets the cold call and who says they’re not quite ready to buy, then social selling keeps that prospect engaged without them ever feeling harassed. Instead of the constant calls, the salesperson can signpost to industry-related news, wish them a good weekend, happy birthday, invite them to a webinar, like their pictures of the hiking weekend and so on.
These days smile before you dial is more likely to be replaced with a share and a smiley face.