Cold Warm Calling in the Social Selling Era
Sales, and in particular B2B sales, has always been social. For decades, the cold call was the initial step to building that relationship. Following the cold call are a series of social and relationship building interactions – lunches, conferences, meetings, coffee, emails, etc. These interactions will always exist, but the dawn of the social selling era has armed sellers (and buyers) with new insights that were previously unknown. The growth of twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook has made it easier to identify prospect companies and target buyers by simply researching on the web. With a couple clicks of the mouse, you can find out information on decision makers and initiate a conversation without ever talking with them.
Old School Cold Calling Doesn’t Work Anymore
Old school cold calls involve lists with names and phone numbers. Up until about 8 to 10 years ago, the chances to get the attention of a potential buyer with a cold call were much better. Not anymore. Buyers In the social selling era are bombarded with calls, emails, messages, and ads; all of them reduce the effectiveness of a blind cold call. Solely relying on cold calling as a form of lead generation is an archaic and ineffective use of sales resources. It’s not uncommon to see a sales person make 100 cold call dials, leave 95 voicemails, and maybe talk with a handful of prospects, let alone schedule a meeting. This is simply not a productive way for a sales person to spend eight hours in the working day.
What does this all mean for the cold call? There has been a lot of talk about the role of the cold call and how social selling is changing the way B2B companies sell products and services. Although old school cold calling may not work, the cold call still has a role as we entrench ourselves in the social selling era. When used with an effective inbound marketing program and social selling tactics, the cold call starts to look more like a “warm call”.
Leverage social selling to change a cold call to a warm call
Marketers and sellers are always looking for ways to support sales at different stages. In the social selling era, the prospecting stage is supported by social media, blog posts, videos, infographics, webinars, and various types of content. In this scenario, target audiences are drawn to the content via search and social channels. The prospect might read an article, comment on it, share it with a peer, or tweet it because it was interesting. They are interacting with your brand and having conversations without interacting with YOU directly.
Technology is a blessing. Sellers sitting on the sidelines can see the type of activities that target audiences are engaged in – downloads, web analytics, follows, mentions, and comments. Not all prospects will buy, not all prospects who download a paper or attend a webinar will call you. However, at some point in the prospecting stage, the seller needs to get off the sidelines and into the game – i.e. pick up the phone and make a call.
In today’s selling environment, sellers can reference a LinkedIn profile, a download, a tweet, a blog post, a comment, an email, competitive advantages (knowledge of prospects’ vendors is easy to obtain), and much more. This is a warm call. Warm calling works in the social selling era for three reasons:
- Social selling provides more insights to sellers (and buyers); this allows the seller to personalize the message. More personalized messages increases the effectiveness of the seller to schedule an initial discovery meeting.
- Voicemail is not such a bad thing for warm calls. Sellers can leave personalized messages referencing social activity. Most decision makers check voicemail. Whether you talked with them directly or not, it’s more likely that warm calls/messages will resonate with the decision maker. This increases the chances to book a meeting.
- Sometimes timing is everything. Chances to engage a buyer are greatly increased after they have done something (i.e. download a whitepaper) on the social web in relation to your company. Catching them at the right time with the right message makes that first call much, much warmer.
In contrast to a cold call, a warm call sounds more like…
“Hi Mr. Buyer, I saw you followed our company on twitter and downloaded our whitepaper (insert other activity), are you researching solutions to fix (insert pain/problem)? What resonated with you in the white paper? This sounds interesting, are you available next Tuesday or Thursday to talk in more detail about ways we can (insert solution – time savings, cost savings, productivity, etc.)?”
Warm calls are personalized, less salesy, and a continuation of the social interactions already happening. Reaching the decision makers with an initial phone call will continue to be an issue for sellers. At the very least, sellers can leverage these new social insights t0 get the message to resonate with these potential buyers.