We recently attended the first ever Edinburgh-based event hosted by the Institute of Sales Management
The inaugural Scotland Event showcased the dramatic change in the sales environment, as businesses spanning all industries accelerate digital transformation through cloud technologies.
Businesses today are meeting the challenge of servicing a new breed of B2C customers and B2B clients who have ever-increasing expectations and demands on sellers. This is the age of the professional consumer.
Throughout the evening, one main question was raised…
Is cold calling dying out as an introductory technique for selling?
Selling and outreach are constantly shape-shifting. With the rise in intelligent, data-driven technology and machine learning, social media platforms are intuitively becoming the go-to place for content placement and customer contact. Cold calling has become a much less popular and effective method of interaction.
In its place, social selling has become a key part of an organisation’s customer engagement strategy. Why cold call when you can outreach to a warmed prospect, and make use of insights that make the nurture and sales process easier for salespeople, marketers and business owners?
What is social selling? And do traditional salespeople need to adapt?
Short answer, yes.
Social selling is a modern approach to identifying and engaging with a custom-built audience based on your business’s target market and a great way to establish rapport, connect and verify the legitimacy of the relationship between seller and prospect. Post-purchase by Microsoft, LinkedIn is proving itself one of the most valuable sales and marketing tools for social selling, with 96% of B2B buyers seeking to read content and engage with industry leaders (Demand Gen report, 2017). Other channels also have validity, and it’s worth pointing out that the fundamentals of social selling translate well to offline relationship building.
So is cold calling dead?
Technology is driving behavioural change in buyers and sellers and it’s essential that sellers keep pace in terms of expertise and personal learning, to avoid becoming redundant. That doesn’t mean there isn’t still a place for a cold call, however where engaged, meaningful contact can be achieved easily, why reduce your chances with your prospects?
Not only does social selling give you a 360-degree view of prospects, it allows you to tailor your approach to current customers and meet their needs at the right time. The social selling model supports account-based selling and allows you to deliver hyper-relevant messaging and content that speaks their language.
Social selling for operational efficiencies
According to a recent survey by CSO Insights and Seismic, one in three B2B sales professionals said that not only was social selling increasing the number of leads they had to work with, but also the depth of the relationships they had with existing and prospective clients. Building relationships rather than leading with the hard sell allows salespeople to maximise their own efficiency by reducing the prospect research time, having a positive impact on the sales cycle.
Transactional vs Strategic Sales
Cold calling is usually a game of chance with decision makers within a company out of reach for the average cold sales call. Social selling converts the sales process from transactional and functional, to a strategic plan that provides hard ROI, produces serious wins and enhances customer experience and satisfaction.
Companies are being left behind because they’re yet to acknowledge that the buying process has changed. It’s no longer a one-way system made up of cold calls, qualifying leads and sales demos. 84% of vice president and C-level executives use online and digital media channels to influence their purchasing decisions.