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I came across this graphic today in Forbes – and if you click this link, you can read the whole article by Jim Keenan

But let me share a key point made by Jim :

Communication has changed selling and the way we sell for years. Mail ended the carnival pitchman and catalogues were created. The phone put an end to the door-to-door sales, and cold calling was born. Now, social media is changing communication and how sales are made – yet again.

I disagree – “the phone put an end to door-to-door sales – and cold calling was born” …. really ? You mean all those door to door sales people weren’t cold calling ? Cold calling has been around forever and while generally it is associated with telephone calling – the fact is – anyone who approaches a prospect who was not expecting such an interaction – is being approached ‘cold’.

YOU – the sales person might well have researched and discovered all about that person in advance so that when you do cold cal that person – you know enough to be able to engage quickly – and personably – but the initial connect is COLD. Because the person you are connecting to is not expecting the call – regardless of how well prepared you are.

Even the example that the article opens up with – demonstrating the power of social media – and how twitter can be used to accelerate the conversation etc – does not get away with the fact that the initial call that when David first approached Sydney – Twitter or no – the call – as described on this article was ‘cold’.

So no – cold calling is not dead. True it is not as used as much in these modern times – but it can work – and still does – witness the example in the article !!!

Social allows you the seller – and you the buyer to be better informed, to know more. It increases the chances that you can know the person on the other side of the table – before they get to the other side of the table.

But – it does NOT remove the importance and occasional necessity of the cold call.

Tomorrow – I am going to drill into that graphic a little – because it doesn’t make sense either !

UPDATE 10th Feb – check out this post from Jeff Mayernik

Please understand, if you haven’t interacted with them before and they don’t know you – It’s still a cold call even if you know their dog’s birthday.

15 thoughts on “Cold Calling and Social Sales

  1. I have done MANY cold calls…and even though I always made sure that we would both get value out of the experience, people are distrusting. As they should be. Not everyone wants to provide value. A tough skin is required. I cannot ever see a time when cold calling will be obsolete even with social media.

  2. I agree, cold calling is still necessary, especially in B2B sales. It’s just not as easy, people are so busy, they don’t answer the phones like they used to.

    • but cold ‘contacting’ doesn’t have to be a phone …. it is the ‘cold’ bit i have the problem with – cold is from the prospects point of view – whatever mechanism you use – if sales approaches prospect and prospect is not expecting it / not set up / not introduced …. then the contact is cold – whichever way you look at it.

  3. Social Networking is the Cold Call at times. Many use the SocNets to make the first initial connection which is like a cold call.

  4. A quote from the original article “However, according to a recent study by InsideView over 90% of
    CEO’s said they NEVER respond to cold emails or calls. The return on
    cold calling is drastically decreasing.”

    Maybe this is because
    management is using numbers to the exclusion of logic when setting
    goals. Someone who doesn’t spend their day working directly with
    customers and prospects is defining what a ‘successful’ sales person
    does (‘X’ calls per week) and sales people are so desperate to hit those
    elusive “KPI’s” that they are making calls to unqualified prospects
    when they should be spending that time better understanding what makes a
    prospect qualified.

    • good point Jeff – three bullet points I use around measurement – regularly

      if you don’t measure – you don’t know where you are.

      just because you can measure – doesn’t mean you should.

      what you measure will shape the behaviour of the measured.

  5. “but the initial connect is COLD. Because the person you are connecting to is not expecting the call – regardless of how well prepared you are.” That sounds exactly like something that I would say…. The people who care most about this subject are the people selling training courses to ‘Transform your sales’ and ‘get your organization on track for Sales 2.0’ or other mumbo jumbo designed to mask the fact that a lot of salespeople are actually just order takers.

  6. Having read only the quote, and not looking at the original story, I think the author might have been listening to Video Killed the Radio Star as inspiration. But, this isn’t MTV. I also think there seems to be some cross-over between marketing and sales in this quote. It’s odd that e-mail marketing and cold e-mailing aren’t raised, but direct mail is. I don’t see any correlation between the carnival pitchman of yesteryear and catalogs. Catalogs aren’t sales. They’re part of direct mail marketing campaigns, which still do exist (at least last I checked my mailbox, I was still receiving junk mail). However, I would believe that direct e-mail campaigns have surpassed direct mail in volume. Back in the old old days, stores did offer catalogs, but they didn’t have telephones. Brands relied more heavily on their door-to-door sales force to get product to customers. What about trade shows, exhibits and shows? Is this article suggesting that there has been a drop in the number of these events or attendance? I can attest that’s not the case – at least here in California. So, can we say that the carnival pitchman is gone, when businesses sell their wares at county fairs, state fairs, exhibits, shows and trade shows in increasing numbers every year?

    The fact is that businesses still rely on cold-calling, direct mail, e-mail marketing, cold e-mail, trade shows, and a multitude of advertising platforms, along with social media marketing campaigns to reach and engage with customers.

    Social media replaces nothing in the big picture. Place all of these methods on pie charts, and they will look different for every organization. Some may rely more heavily on e-mail marketing, while others on social media. Some don’t even have Facebook pages, yet they flourish. SoMe is not a stand-alone method. It can be, but it’s best to use a variety of methods to reach customers.

    That brings me back to my original point – none of these replaced or put an end to another. They are all current, viable and effective methods for marketing, advertising and sales of product. I’m surprised that Forbes would see it any other way.

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