Last week marked 141 years since Alexander Graham Bell (fellow Scot and Edinburgh born scientist) made his first telephone call in America.
Little would he have considered that we might still be using his invention all these years later, but we’d be having a heated discussion about its use in business and in this case sales.
I know which side I am on when it comes to the cold calling V social selling debate so let me explain and show you how I arrive at this conclusion through my thirteen years of experience in the world of sales;
Hello, Gary speaking, how can I help you?
It’s 2004. I do well in as pilot project selling deposit accounts for Scottish Widows Bank.
This is my first exposure to the world of sales (although I only found out what sales really was 3 years later).
The three-month project goes so well, that the Sales Manager from the mortgage department notices and invites me to join the team.
The role has a steep learning curve as I…
A – have to learn about mortgages
B – have to sell them!
We have everything you’d expect from a bank with that stature (now owned by Lloyds TSB group). We have sales boards, bonuses, call stats, sales training almost daily, external sales courses, team bonding sessions, awards, progression and so on. Something that I’ve probably never had since. The paradox being that this was the least ‘sales’ type of role I’d had.
The role was essentially taking around forty calls per day to professionals looking for a 125% mortgage. The phones would be ringing off the hook and a warmer lead, you could not get. We did not meet these people in person.
The monthly numbers coming in were always seven figures. Bonuses were paid in three figures, but that was fine. The job was pretty easy and the winning salesperson at the end of each month was the person that took most calls (or landed a very expensive mortgage loan, but that would be due to luck of the draw and not skill).
So, this being my first sales job gave me a great grounding in sales methodology (via the training), but it didn’t open me up to the sometimes hard, stressful world that is sales…
The number one way this role functioned was by utilising Alexander Graham Bell’s device.
My first real sales job – outbound calling.
In ‘07, the credit crunch hit – and I had to make a move out of Financial Services.
I took my transferrable skills and applied them to a self-employed role selling websites and basic SEO / PPC marketing packages.
My appointments were set for me by a telesales team. Again, the call still very much playing a central role.
I would do four appointments per day, and that resulted in me learning the phrase ‘’Let me think about that and get back to you’’.
This role was 50% split by cold calling and field sales. No Social Media / Social Selling or online networking techniques were used and this was circa 2008 / 2009.
Proper cold calling
From there, my career moved into Business Development in the world of digital.
Within BD and in small agencies you have to do the full 360 sales role. This means, picking up the phone and phoning people – COLD or, such as my time at Groupon, walking in cold.
Linked In was just starting to get going (for me at least), in 2008. Back then it was simply a place to connect, for me. My mindset (and that of others) hadn’t evolved yet, as to see it as a proper platform to build relationships.
Cold calling, at that point, for me – was very cold. It would be a case of finding your target market and contacting them.
As Linked In evolved and research could be carried out as to who your prospects were, the call became easier. It became ‘warm’. There would still be a call but that would happen slightly later in the process.
In my opinion, if you don’t get a semi-friendly ‘Oh, Hello Gary’ when you call someone now, you haven’t done your job properly.
I’ve not had a single job where the telephone has not played a vital part in the sales process.
Social Selling V Cold Calling
Simply put, this should read ‘’Social Selling & Cold Calling’’.
In fact, let’s make that even better, “Social Selling & Warm Calling’’ or as Art Sobczak explains here in a Salesman Red podcast ‘The Smart Call’
Like the phone is still the phone, sales is still sales. It has just become easier (at least at the prospecting stage).
You still have to have a great product or service and you still have to sell this / find the right fit for your buyer.
Social Selling is merely the new name attributed to the new approach we should all be taking in our sales journey.
In Conclusion / Take Aways
The phone should be a key part of your sales strategy. (subject to who your target market is).
If someone tells you the cold call is dead or dying, I’d tend to agree. That’s because the warm smart call has been born.
To get the most out of social selling you need to understand it fully and learn how to leverage the power of the internet.
It’s a must today.
If you are interested in learning more about social selling, then be sure to sign up to my colleague Jack Kosakowski’s 12 week Social Selling 101 course.
Gary Farmer is the Social Sales Executive at The Creation Agency. Gary’s role is to help clients use social selling and find new ways to optimise their processes. Outside of work, Gary likes to socialise and watch slapstick comedy films, his favourite is Napoleon Dynamite.