This is a re-post of an article that I originally wrote for LinkedIn Publisher on July 1st, 2014 but has been modified.
I was recently made aware that some people are still making actual “cold calls”.
Some people are still using lists composed of people or businesses that they know little to nothing about and placing phone calls to them on a regular basis…without taking any time to learn about them. Some are even still using a script.
Is it just me, or is this shocking to others also?
It just seems as though there really isn’t a need for what used to be known as “cold” calling any longer, when there is in fact SO MUCH information available online. Whether it’s through Google, social media platforms, or even a prospect’s own website, there’s a wealth of information available for those that want to even do a cursory search for it.
It’s all part of the bigger Social Selling picture. If you’re in sales, and you HAVEN’T heard that term yet, or you have heard it and haven’t learned more about it, then you need to do so. I would recommend checking out content from some of the BEST Social Sellers:
Whenever this discussion arises, the main questions that follow from sales people are “why?” and “how?” Allow me to explain what I think are key components a bit further.
1) Your competition is definitely doing it: The new era of sales absolutely includes an online, social media research component. If you think your competition is not savvy enough to include this ability in their sales approach, ask yourself if they’re savvy enough to bring in people who ALREADY ARE.
2) You’re wasting your own time by NOT doing it: Isn’t it better to approach a prospect armed with information that gives you the upper hand? Isn’t it better to make 10 really solid, well-researched prospecting calls than to make 30 and hope the percentages work out?? Take as much of the unknown out of the call as possible, and give yourself an actual CHANCE.
3) You’re offending and losing potential customers by NOT doing it: It’s not just sales people who are aware of all this available information, those businesses are aware also. Put yourself in their shoes. Say you are a business owner or decision maker and you receive a call from a wanna-be vendor. Within 10-20 seconds its become painfully evident that they know next to nothing about your company, even though you have a website, a company Facebook page and Twitter account, and a blog.
You have left a trail through the online wilderness for anyone to follow that consists of not just crumbs…but full loaves of bread, and this sales person is blindly strolling past each and every one of them.
How fast would you end the call? Would it even last a full minute?
Of course not. You would be off the phone immediately, as soon as you recognized that there was little to no effort put forth towards any research about what solution you may actually need.
So all of that will be obvious to some, make sense to others, and be totally idiotic to the rest. Here’s some answers to the biggest questions I get from sales people…
Here’s an example: There’s a company you’re looking to make headway with but you don’t know anyone there (that you know of). You do a quick search on LinkedIn and discover that you ARE in fact connected with someone there, but you don’t know them personally. You click further and see that you have a mutual friend/connection, and you reach out to that friend to request an introduction, which of course they’re willing to do because they have known you forever and done business with you already. You just had an introduction made on your behalf…WITHOUT HAVING TO MAKE THAT “COLD CALL”.
What about if you are NOT connected through someone else? Did you know that if you are in the same LinkedIn Group as someone else, it doesn’t matter if you are connected or not…you are STILL allowed to send them a request with a personalized message? And that’s just for being in the same group, without ever having had any interaction whatsoever previously!
“BUT I DON’T USE TWITTER, DON’T HAVE AN ACCOUNT, AND DON’T WANT ONE.”
I’m not here to convince you to set up an account on Twitter (you would benefit from having an account, but you don’t have to have one to do some of the research basics). I’m here to tell you that the real-time information available on that platform is something to behold, especially as a sales person.
How valuable would it be to be at the same party as your prospect, and you overhear one of their employees talking about how unhappy the company is with the vendor/partner that provides the same service that you do? Any sales person would kill for that nugget of info, right?
Well guess what people talk about on Twitter. (Here’s a hint: it’s not all positive!)
Without having your own account, you can still look up all kinds of information, and for free…
- Who tweeted TO a specific company?
- What tweets were sent out within a specific radius?
- What tweets contained the company name and had a negative connotation to them?
- What tweets went to your prospect and asked a question?
Would any of these pieces of information be valuable when making your first “cold” call to a business? (Find how to do these types of advanced searches here)
So after all of this, what do you tried-and-true cold callers think? Would you ever think about changing up your techniques to include some of these tactics?