Let’s cut to the chase: Cold calling as it has been done over the last 20+ years is dead. But calling prospects and customers is still a valid way to move a sale forward. Experts can argue all they want over the semantics, but the phone and in-person conversations are what bring in revenue.
Social media helps move a call from cold to warm. It warms up a relationship or a gets a conversation started, but I have yet to have a business to business (B2B) sale happen solely via email or Twitter or Facebook or my website. People like to talk real-time to the people they do business with. In some cases, if you sell software or consumer packaged goods, they will buy from your site directly no call needed. But many other items, services, products demand a little extra love…
This post is largely based on my own experience of thousands of outbound calls over many years, usually to leads that I’ve heavily and painstakingly researched before calling. I can honestly say that I’ve never considered a call a cold call because I’ve spent hours preparing before dialing. Now, the recipient of that call might have considered it cold. Many of them moved out of the fridge into the oven quite quickly.
So, if cold calling as we have known it is dead, how do you use social media to sell when it appears to be completely taboo? Well, you follow the advice that the experts so willingly give out: You build a relationship.
The reality? It does not have to be a deep relationship. It simply has to be one based on trust and value. How do you do that? I spend hours curating good content. I share links, PDFs, downloads, white papers, infographics and a host of other content with my fans, followers, readers, prospects, and customers. Most of those individuals are one in the same; it just depends on where we found one another.
I share a lot of information; some of it my own. Most of it from somewhere else. But here’s the most important thing I do on a daily basis: I listen. I monitor. I search for pain points in my streams. And if the timing is right, I’ll share a solution (sometimes it is my offer, most times it is not) to be helpful. Most of the time, the person will respond with a note of thanks (tweet, update, comment, etc.). Quite often, I have started a conversation because I was genuinely interested in what they were talking about. I’ve done this before I ever try to sell and indeed my entire sales method is less about selling and more about learning what they are doing and softly talking about what I’m doing. Almost always, I will suggest we talk by phone some time to see where we might be of use to one another. I could fill my day with calls like this, warm calls.
The reality is this: Every social media and sales expert I know says you have to listen, you have to monitor, and you have to participate and get involved, answer questions. Yada yada. The beautiful thing is that very few people do it and therein lays the opportunity for selling via social media. Have you listened to your fans, followers, and prospects today?
If you’ve listened well, then you’ve earned the right to pick up the phone and keep that conversation going. Once that conversation starts, there may be an opportunity to move it to the next stage, to nurture it as they say in marketing and sales. But all that really means is you have earned some respect, built some trust, and listened well enough that the person on the other end believes you care about their problem. Is this as fast as dialing the phone like the old days? Not even close, but it is a lot easier and a lot more fun building a real conversation and a real relationship via social media and then taking it into real life via phone or in person. Sometimes you even make a sale.