point of viewCold Calling IsStone Cold Dead Authored by Jeffrey BakerProfessional salespeople and sales managers react Today, however, it’s more challenging than ever to findpassionately to this provocative headline, easily joining in those high-quality prospects. Buyers now want to knowthe debate. The meteoric rise of Web 2.0, the explosion individual salespeople and their company before buyersof social media tools, and marketers rapidly adopting will make contact with them. Buyers at all levels of anthese tools to drive lead generation are offered by many organization use search engines and other informationas evidence for the demise of cold calling. On the other tools to find and evaluate possible suppliers well beforehand, many sales veterans and some younger salespeople they talk with them directly.stubbornly insist that only through the time-tested According to a 2009 Forbes/Google study, the internetdiscipline of a cold calling strategy supported by dogged is the C-suite’s top information resource, with six out ofdetermination and thorough preparation can salespeople ten executives conducting more than six searches a daygenerate a sufficient flow of new customer opportunities. (“The Rise of the Digital C-Suite: How Executives LocateForum sees this is as a false choice, diverting sales and Filter Business Information”). Moreover, the entireprofessionals’ attention from more profitable lines of social media world, alive with an exchange of ideas,thought. Our client experience tells us that the need for perspectives, and potential solutions for every possiblesalespeople to initiate contact with prospective buyers need, is a constant source of education to potentialwill not end in the foreseeable future—at least not for buyers, who are increasingly online via many differentsalespeople who have responsibility to generate new methods, communicating with others who share theircustomer business. These salespeople must still get to business interests.their prospective buyer at the opportune moment to offer a Prior to purchase buyers took the following actions:compelling value proposition against a probable need. Therequirement to make contact effectively is nothing new. 48 percent followed industry conversations on their topicThe question is: How? 44 percent conducted anonymous research on a select group of suppliersTraditional cold calling has always been terribly inefficient,often requiring a salesperson to initiate hundreds of 37 percent posted questions on a social networking sitecontacts to find a dozen leads that might be worth looking for suggestions/feedbackdeveloping into strong prospects. Books on selling cite a >20 percent connected directly with potential solutionformula that borders on religious conviction: that is, any providers via social networking channelssalesperson in any given industry must make a set number After a purchase, 59 percent of buyers shared theirof cold calls to yield a set percentage of qualified leads research and buying process with others via:to advance to a percentage of proposals that result in a One-on-one discussionspercentage of successful closes. Increase the number ofcold calls, and the formula will invariably yield higher win Blog postingsrates, or so the belief goes. But many sales professionals Participation in discussion forumsand researchers, including the highly regarded Neil Tweeting about their experienceRackham (see interview in Entrepreneur.com), argue “Inside the Mind of the B2B Buyer,” a 2010 study by Thethat the prospecting “numbers game” is a myth and DemandGen Report (www.demandgenreport.com)recommend that smart salespeople shift their focus fromsheer volume to focused high quality.
point of viewOn the plus side, as more buyers use social media, 1. Every salesperson crafts and keeps current asalespeople have the opportunity to find and listen to them professional profile online. Any number of socialas they exchange information in cyber space, revealing media sites can serve this purpose, including LinkedIn,their business and organizational challenges, interests, Facebook, Baidu Space, and Orkut. Your profileand needs. Listening online to well-qualified prospects enables customers to check you out before they talkenables sellers to see “trigger events” as they unfold— with you. It can also be the platform from which youany significant change to the status quo; for example, it expand your presence in the market through blogging,could be something big, such as an acquisition of another links to useful sites and discussion groups, links tocompany or consolidation of divisions; or something useful papers published by your company and others,smaller, such as the individual buyer taking on new and so forth.responsibilities or the emergence of a new competitor 2. Salespeople follow target customers or target marketsto the buying organization. Any event or change in online. Listen and learn what is top of mind andcircumstances that compels a buyer to respond is a trigger trending for prospective customers. Follow anyfor the seller to call on that buyer to explore needs and postings that target customers make, such as a blogpotentially offer services. Sometimes, smart salespeople or tweet. Follow industry or trade group sites andcan see how an event might impact the buyer before the discussion groups that are relevant to your prospects.buyer understands what is happening. This is a wonderfulopportunity to bring insight to a buyer to help him or her 3. Participate appropriately in sites prospectiveshape an effective response to changing circumstances. customers frequent. Build personal presence and professional credibility by interacting with others onAs social media causes the hunters to become the hunted the sites. Pitching products in discussion groupscompanies must have an online presence, so buyers and community of interest sites is a major no-no.can find them and they can find buyers. Marketing Many find it repulsive, and it destroys the credibility departments are generally of whoever is pitching. Contribute value by offering“... the hunters tasked with handling this. useful information. Answer a question, offer a link to a Less obvious is the newbecome the competitive requirement for credible resource, and offer referrals to others. Asking a thought-provoking question in a discussion group to individual salespeople tohunted ...” create a personal presence stimulate new thinking is another way to add value. online as a way to increase 4. Keep learning and growing. Experiment with differentthe likelihood that potential buyers will find them, and approaches, share best practices with colleagues. Theas a way to establish credibility and to differentiate from technology continues to advance. Savvy users havecompetitors. to continue to evolve, too.Professional presence on the web is anything but static.It is not a digital yellow pages ad with your name and In online dating, it iscompany capabilities on it. It is a regular, dynamicinteraction with others, giving and receiving points of advised that to find theview and relevant information. Your presence, generated perfect mate, be the perfectthrough frequent, purposeful interaction, enables you tonurture and cultivate relationships with the contacts you mate so that your belovedhave targeted. In doing so, you increase the likelihood thatwhen a contact has a need you can address they will either may find you. Similarly, inreach out to you or will be open to receiving your call tothem (when you notice the trigger event). selling today, to find yourHigh-performing business developers must now devotesome amount of regular time to using social media just as ideal customer, establishthey have always done with the telephone. At a minimum,salespeople and sales executives should ensure: yourself online as an ideal supplier so your customer may find you. 2