Cold calling. Is it dead or alive and well? Many have debated this question over the last few years. It may still be a sales method for many organizations, but statistics show that it’s closer to being irrelevant than to being a lead generator. Keller Research Center at Baylor University reports that, on average, only 28% of prospects who answer a cold call engage in a conversation and 1% of cold calls convert to a meeting. And considering that 90% of decision makers are not the ones answering or responding to a cold call, says Kevin Scott, LinkedIn’s head of sales, eliminating inefficient engagements can result in both time and money saved for both salesperson and potential customer.
Regardless of cold calling’s inefficiencies, the fact remains that salespeople are still highly focused on addressing the challenge of profitable connections with prospects. Today, customers expect a relationship with consultants before buying. According to digital strategist Ross Simmonds, 98% of the top sales professionals say relationships are “the most important part of generating new business.”
Let’s not forget to take in to account that technology has changed the way that consumers buy. The Internet has put the control of the sales cycle in the hands of buyers. According to Adweek, 81% of consumers conduct online research before making a purchase, and the Corporate Executive Board reports that 57% of the selling process is completed for consumers before a company even has a chance to interact with them.
So with technology changing the way buyers and sellers communicate and make purchases, statistics proving the inefficiencies of cold calling, and relationships being seen as necessary to generate sales, what methods do salespeople turn to now if they’re not cold calling?
You’re probably already familiar with the phrase “social selling.” Although there are many explanations for how to successfully implement social selling, it all boils down to connecting, building relationships, providing thought leadership, and influencing others via online engagement and content sharing.
With social media and online forums, people are sharing their personal and/or professional content publicly. Having access to a target audience’s perspectives, needs, and desires that are publicly available helps to decrease the guesswork for sales reps, which is a common challenge that cold callers face. And because people are increasingly willing to share through social media, it’s easier for sales reps to identify relevant conversations, join those conversations, learn about their target audience or customer, and gradually build relationships and trust before ever picking up a phone. Social selling is the new way to build relationships and, as I mentioned earlier, customers expect to have a relationship before being sold to.
Companies such as General Motors have already seen success with social selling. GM generated 15,000 new sales leads by engaging customers in social channels, and service representatives communicate with 5,000 customers on social media each month.
Additionally, stats show the following:
It’s undeniable that both the company and its sales force will need to change their selling approach to that of the evolving technology and preferred communication methods. Clearly, the return on investment of social selling outweighs that of cold calling. Successful social selling should not solely rest on the shoulders of an organization’s sales force but rather be an organization-wide initiative in which marketers, customer service, human resources, and product development can provide ideas for content to craft and share.
Learn more about social selling and how it can benefit your sales numbers.