Why social selling needs to hang up on cold calls

It’s not that cold calling is completely dead or even irrelevant, it just that it has been swamped by scammers and a plethora of nuisance callers. And it’s not just the consumer that falls prey to these antics, it’s businesses as well. The government’s clampdown on these organisations does nothing to address the challenge increasingly faced by legitimate sales organisations trying to market their products in either a business-to-business or consumer environment.

The deafening noise of scam and nuisance have now rendered cold calling a virtual taboo and while in the past it worked fairly effectively, that was before such privileged direct access became corrupted, rendering any unsolicited call almost pointless.

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The receiver would inevitably not allow the seller to get beyond the establish rapport part of the call and the dead give-away of ‘hello Peter how are you today?’ to which most of us sub-vocally say you’ve got about three seconds to interest me. In fact, even in its heyday, cold calling only had about a 3% chance of going to the next stage and was always the poor relation to the marketing generated lead often referred to as the ‘bluebird’ flying in through the window by the old school sales hacks.

So with the old dial spin method gone what is replacing it and how do legitimate organisations contact buyers in a way that doesn’t result in the door being slammed in their face? In the consumer world it’s generally about buyers making the decision in advance, using reviews and reputation scores to decide on the product and then checking with comparison sites to obtain the best price. In the B2B world it’s a little more complex.

Selling is a science and not an art. That doesn’t mean to say that the salesman with a good line in patter and active listening skills isn’t always going to win through, it’s simply that he or she won’t get through the door in the first place.

B2B selling has gone through so many changes over the years largely dependent on the technology available. Gartner even goes as far as to say that by 2020 80% of IT spend will be under the control of non-IT functions in the business.

Without doubt, recent developments have been rapid because of the Internet. Even as recently as ten years ago the selling sequence went as follows: buy a list of companies; cold call to set up appointments; carry out a sales pitch and demonstration; close the deal. Then emerged the ‘connected buyer’ using the web to explore and become educated, put a value on the change, proactively engage sellers, choose from options and finally, negotiate terms.

In the latter scenario there seems no access route for the proactive sales person but the latest generation of sales people have figured out a way to add value to the connected buyer.

They are known as Social Sellers and use tools that ‘listen’ to the enormity of data and noise on the web and social media to establish who they might sell to. By using social listening tools the social seller can make the approach relevant by having a critical piece of knowledge that instantly renders them ‘value add’ to the connected buyer.

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They become seen as an information source. In a recent survey conducted by Artesian 96% of buyers said they saw sales people as useful information sources, with three quarters of respondents stating that customer-relevant knowledge was the most important factor in gaining the attention of a buyer.

It’s not that cold calling is dead, it’s that ill-informed, irrelevant contact is simply outdated and no longer economical.

The same survey revealed most sales organisations know they need to use ‘social’ in the sales tool mix but don’t know how because they still believe that social networks are the preserve of someone else, and LinkedIn is simply a glorified Yellow Pages. Several organisations have created the tools and methods to make it possible to take control of the selling process rather than depending solely on the marketing department and leaving the windows open in the hope of seeing the blue birds.

Sourced from Andrew Yates, CEO and co-founder, Artesian Solutions

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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