Why Your Cold Calling Day Won’t Save You From Your Slow Demise into Irrelevance

August 12, 2019

by Tim Hughes | @Timothy_Hughes | LinkedIn

Many years ago I used to organise cold calling days. There would be a big fanfare, bacon and vegan butties in the office and we would pitch the various sales teams against each other.

The whole process was gamified. That is, we would score the teams, 250 points for a meeting with somebody you don’t know, 100 points for a meeting with a partner / reseller, 150 points for a meeting with an existing customer. We would change the points each month depending if we want to focus on moving existing pipe down the pipeline or focus on new meetings. We also wanted to mix things up to stop the salespeople scamming the system too much.

We got salesperson to compete with sales person, team against team and Sales Director against Director, the program was rolled out across Europe.

That was 6 years ago.

This was the year that Daft Punk feat. Pharrell Williams had a number one with Get Lucky, One Direction had a number one with One Way or Another (Teenage Kicks) and the iPhone 5s was unveiled. It doesn’t seem like a long time ago, but in the world of digital it’s a lifetime ago.

There are a number of problems with cold calling.

If you think about a cold call, you will get one of 5 responses:-

  1. Voice mail.
  2. I purchased one of those 3 months ago and you missed out.
  3. Call me back in 6 months.
  4. Sod off and take me off your calling list.
  5. You have just called me at the right time, where do I sign?

The problem with cold calling is, the likelihood of you getting a strike with number 5 is so small. The other problem is that you have to make so many calls, “spray and pray” it’s often called to get that strike rate.

With social selling, you can hit a home run and in fact be “touching” I think the cold calling term is on all 5 points. Let’s take them one at a time.

  1. Voice mail – There is no voice mail on social, if you build a relationship with somebody, they will of course take your message.
  2. When people purchase today they go online and search and find alternatives and then come up with a short list. They approach those companies (called inbound) and then make a decision. If you are not getting inbound then you need to talk with your Sales Leaders and Marketing Leaders as they are not creating the right content that buyers are finding insightful and educational. Anyway, you should be scooping up all these deals.
  3. Linkedin is the best nurturing platform in the world and if you are writing and posting insightful content then these “give me a call back in six months” will contact you (as inbound) in due course. The trick is to create content directed at them and this will accelerate these deals, to less than six months.
  4. With Social Selling, if you have built relationships with people, then you don’t get told to sod off. In fact we show people how to write their profiles to qualify prospects that are doing their research. Me, like everybody cannot get on with everybody so why not filter out the people I won’t get on with and then I don’t need to waste my time on them.
  5. With social selling, as you are the one with the relationship, the person likes you, likes your content can see that you have relevance not only to the clients business issues but the industry issues, then you are going to be the person they call. 

Whose doing this? We are. We are a social organisation and we do no outbound marketing. We do no advertising, we do no cold calling, we do no unsolicited emails, we deleted our email list because of GDPR and we don’t attend events. But we get 3 pieces of inbound every day.

The great things about inbound is its fully BANT – When people come to you, they already know you, they will have budget, authority, need and timescale, your job as a salesperson is not to close but to empower to buy.

So where as in the past, you as a salesperson you spent all your time running around working on leads that went nowhere, with social selling you just focus on what can close.

There are also some things things to mention about how things have moved on from a demand generation point of view.

  1. Social Media Listening – There are tools like Microsoft Social Engagement (MSE) which are designed to listen to social media for “buying signals”. The great thing about MSE is that it’s on 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Your prospecting is therefore on 24 hours a day.
  2. Cold Calling is Feast and Famine Demand Generation – The problem with cold calling is that it’s either on or off, you have to block time out in your diary and you can only do it during the day. With Social Selling it’s on all the time, you can prospect any time of the day, or night. You are also prospecting, nurturing and accelerating your deals through the pipeline with the same single action.
  3. Cold calling isn’t as efficient as social selling. According to research from Tony Hughes (no relation) social selling is twice as efficient as cold calling. Put it another way, for every 100 leads you will have created with social selling you will have created 50 with cold calling. Or put it another way, you are falling behind.
  4. It’s a Legacy Way to Prospect – If you think about it, we used to cold call when we were desperate for leads. You know that, I know that, the prospects know that. Everybody knows you’re desperate. Why would you advertise your desperation by calling people up and “telling” them that?
  5. Following on from that cold calling pisses people off, you are doing your brand damage by even thinking about it.
  6. You probably see yourself as a forward looking company with exciting technology, but you are using 1980s “technology” to sell it. Is that really the brand image you want to portray?
  7. The 7th reason is actually one of thinking strategically about your marketing. If you think about you and your competitors. You probably know how many sales people they have and how much they spend on marketing. If not you can make a guess. These are your two levers with sales and marketing to do better than the competition. Spend more money on marketing or recruit more sales people. But there is a third, now most sales and marketing won’t choose this and will stick to the other two. The third option is to disrupt. Do something different. I’ll leave that with you to ponder.

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