There are many alternatives to cold calling. Most companies have already discovered that their customers are spending their time online in some social network like LinkedIn, Twitter or forum. Customers are asking questions and getting recommendations for products and services from their friends, peers and field experts. InsideView customers that have adopted social selling into their sales process have reported a slow but steady decrease in the number of “cold calls” their sales team makes on a daily basis. Even though there was a bit of a controversy over the post Cold Calling is the Bottom of the Barrel, it appears that sales leaders are beginning to leverage social media more for initial outreach to prospects and using the phone for cold calling less. [tweetmeme source= “insideview” only_single=false]
Alternatives to Cold Calling
I’m not trying to dig up the debate on cold calling, using the phone to talk to prospects will be a constant staple in the sales profession. That is until video conferencing and other tools take over. Tools like Skype are not just being used for internal chats, I connect and have short conversations through chat and video with Skype all the time with people interested in Social Selling University and InsideView. I was also introduced to an up and coming technology called iMeet that takes video conferencing to a different level by allowing you to see the social profiles for the people in the virtual meeting room with you.
InsideView is being leveraged by sales people to build territories, create watch lists for trigger events and identify social networks that their prospects and customers and active in. Using sales intelligence applications will not only identify hundreds of new prospects, it will also show you how these prospects are related to you and who in your network might serve as an introduction eliminating the “cold” and making it a warm call. All of this research can be done in a matter of seconds at a total cost of zero. Instead of making 50 cold calls in a day, a good salesperson can make a thousand warm calls in under an hour. If that’s not efficiency, then I don’t know what is.
What’s holding sales people back?
When it comes to doing pre-call research and getting some background on a prospect or company you are calling into, there is a lot of information gathered by just doing a Google search. The problem with this is there is very little context around the results. You can spend an hour digging through search results and other resources to get an idea of who the person is and what challenges their company is facing but you’re busy too and can’t justify a large amount of time to research to make a call that may only take 10-15 minutes. “Typically, there is a lot of knowledge out there,” says John Aiello, CEO of SAVO, in a video interview with Selling Power magazine publisher Gerhard Gschwandtner. “The gap is that people can’t find it.”
Another obstacle facing sales teams from reducing cold calls is that sales leaders are still afraid of social media as a tool. Sure they see the value as a research tool but having an entire sales team making connections and getting introductions online while their phones collect dust is a scary thought for them.