December 18 by Sian Killingsworth
Social media is totally killing it these days. No, really; social media is heating up the
sales and marketing world and there may be some casualties. Cold calling may be
headed the way of the dinosaurs.
Cold calling has always been a tricky proposition, beginning with the fact that most
people hate getting sales calls and hang up before the rep can finish his opening
sentence. Sales reps know this; they experience it daily. Those that have been doing
it for any period of time know what it takes to be successful. According to veterans of
cold calling, there are three things required to hook a prospect:
• preparedness on the part of the salesperson
• product differentiation in a crowded market
• value offered
With an adverse audience, a cold list, and a canned script to read from, success can
be hard to come by. Beyond that, your audience is already getting bombarded on a
daily basis with ads and promotions via TV, radio, phone, web, and mobile – and there
are proliferating ways available to avoid them. We’ve got caller ID, spam filtering, ad
blockers, Tivo, and paid ad-free radio services. Outbound marketing in general is
having a hard time.
But why does social media herald more temperate calling?
Social media is not outbound marketing. It pulls prospects in with attractive content and
actively engaged communities that serve a real purpose and meet real needs. It does
not intrude on your dinner hour or clog your inbox. It relies on the development and
warming of the client relationship over time.
In terms of hooking a prospect, social media meets those three requirements handily.
1. Social media is a rich, dynamic environment that allows salespeople to prepare
extensively on not only the product they’re selling, not only the list of prospects,
but also what’s being said about the product in various circles.
The salesperson can answer questions and create rebuttals to any argument the
prospect may have because he knows in advance what’s likely to be said. When you
reach out to prospects via social media, you’re accessing a rich, dynamic, real-time list,
not some stale list culled from a variety of sources and confusing data overlays.
2. With social media you’re able to read the list within a context: let’s use skiing as
our example. With social media, you know that group A is people discussing
cross-country skiing, group B is people who hate moguls, and group C is people
who want to learn to snowboard. With cold call lists, all you know is that the
people have at some point thought about going skiing. With this information
you can cherry-pick leads and custom-tailor your messages for maximum
3. With social media, the value proposition is trust. You know within the framework
of temporal and subjective context what the customer’s concerns are, and you
can enter into a dialog with them; indeed, you join the community. As a part of
a real-time community, interactions with prospects and customers lose some of
the “sales-y” quality. Social media marketers can offer valuable content, help,
information and guidance that further build trust and loyalty.
None of those things are really possible on a cold call.
Finally, further heating up the sales environment, social media marketing is a lot
more cost effective. Companies spend 62% less per lead on inbound marketing than
with traditional sales methods. It’s no surprise that inbound marketing budgets have
increased the past two years running, and are likely to continue that way.
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