Does Social Media Mean You’ll Never Have to Cold Call Again?

no cold calling

That’s a question not a statement. Here’s what I think, but I’d love to hear your perspective in the comments.

Any good sales or PR person will tell you, what they do all about the relationships. You build solid relationships and that equals respect and trust which leads to referrals. Whether those referrals are for sales or knowledge gathering depends on the situation. If they do cold call it’s only the first step in building the relationship.

When was the last time you asked a cold caller for their opinion or a reference? Never?

When was the last time you asked someone in your personal network (online or off) for advice? In the last hour? Day?

When you have a conversation with someone about something you are passionate about–whether it’s sports, business or your kids–it creates an affinity with that person. When you ask them about a subject they are passionate about, you tell them you actually care what they think and you respect their opinion. Even if you don’t agree with it. A few of these conversations adds up to a relationship. With social media networks you have a world of opportunities to reach out and create relationships with people who actually want to talk with you. They share their interests freely, allowing you entrée to that first conversation quite easily. Touch someone once and they might notice you. Touch them 10 times with real questions and information and you’re top of mind. At least for that moment.

When I coach a client about social media I build my relationship with them so I can understand where they are coming from, and this takes a lot more than “fill in this questionnaire, here’s your social media strategy”. Ask any of my clients and they’ll tell you that not only am I passionate about my business, I’m passionate about theirs too. That’s how my extended network of relationships works to bring me over 90% of my business. I rarely advertise, and only then for special programs, webinars or classes.

People develop relationships with me on Twitter, Facebook, Quora, LinkedIn, my blog and slew of other places before we talk on the phone or meet in person, and we develop trust. Then we do business.

So when somebody sends me a link to a class for “Cold Calling Success!” I don’t open it. Cold calling is the most painful process I can imagine and I just won’t do it. Do you? Tell me why it works for you.

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  • To me, asking if social media can replace cold calling is kind of like asking if dung beetles can replace cockroaches. The telephone and social media are both communication channels. Each can save lives; each can be horribly abused.

    To my mind, as an IT Director who is a prime target of the cold callers, cold calling is strictly dung beetle behavior; the social media analogy is the five tweets I get from VOIP vendors that I've never heard of when their keyword twitter search finds “VOIP” in one of my tweets.

    But just as the abusive use is easy to analogize, so is the healthy marketing. I do think that social media offers a better platform for the types of companies that I will do business with: ones that are either recommended by my peers, or have otherwise impressed me that they're worthwhile by their behavior. I'm more likely to hire a consultant who has some impressive and effective slideshows up on Slideshare than one I know nothing about. I'll hire a vendor that is active in my community (NPTech) in healthy, generous ways. I'll follow a vendor on Twitter if their tweetstream is authentic and interesting, not strictly self-promotional (e.g. spammy). In other words, vendors, you get my business by publicizing your expertise, ethics and value to my community/peers, not simply by relating your high opinion of yourself and your ability to figure out how to contact me (not a challenge).

    But a special circle in hell has to be reserved for the local integrator who, within about 120 seconds, cold-called me at work; left an email on my personal website; and tried to connect to me on LinkedIn (as a supposed colleague) a few months ago. All three messages explained that they were reaching out because they were clearly the best tech company in the SF Bay Area, so I should hire them. I say, the best tech companies in the Bay Area don't act like whores banging on my virtual car window, begging for a date.

    You get the idea here that I don't care for cold callers, right? 😉

  • Oh well said Peter! “a special circle in hell has to be reserved for the local integrator who, within about 120 seconds, cold-called me at work; left an email on my personal website; and tried to connect to me on LinkedIn”.

    “”Using” social media with the same techniques they used for cold-calling is just as annoying and ineffective.
    BUT if they do use social media as a way to communicate and develop the relationships first I think they'll come out with something real to build on.

  • Though I understand the foundation of your point, I don't completely agree. I personally wish it was the case that social media allows for cold calling and similar strategies to completely fade into darkness. The problem, as I've experienced it, however, is that many C-Level executives, business owners, and managers are not involved in any form of social media. Without an online touch-point to begin a relationship with through casual conversation and sharing of information, traditional tactics must be brought back into play.

    With no one-to-one connection available within a personal network, and knowledge that a product or services would be beneficial to a prospect, typically, a cold-call is the only realistic solution. Sure, one could go out of their way to come up with some extravagant marketing strategy to get that prospects attention and get them to call, but that's no guarantee for success.

    To be clear, though, I don't advocate the “annoying” cold-calling tactics that so many employ and that so many companies instill in their sales reps. I prefer a warm-up cold-call. This is where I find a way to reach out without being overly invasive or pushy, instead working to provide an educational resource or provide some other object of value to the prospect, then follow-up with a call. It's still technically a “cold-call” but I've de-thawed the ice a bit.

    If the prospect has no interest, I leave it be. There are plenty of prospects to approach, so I feel no pressure to try and convince someone that clearly is not interested. I think one of the reasons “cold-callers” get such a negative rep is because they simply do not seem to understand when someone flat-out does not want more information or to purchase. Those that reach out, offer some information, ask if the buyer is interested in learning more, and if not, leaves them alone aren't so bad to deal with.

  • There's no question it's a challenge if you aren't connected to someone on a one to one basis and you just have to talk to them. Generally I can find a connection through my extended network, but if not, I look for other ways to connect to that person without cold calling.

    Creating a presence on social networks positioning the company as a resource, answering questions etc reaching out to particular individuals, can attract the potential connections you need.
    Of course it could just be “cold calling angst” that keps me from those calls!!
    ( :

  • If I have to market my business with the people outside of my network, say out of my website subscriptions, twitter followers or Facebook connections, then definitely my sales team should have to bear about cold calling process. Although, I don't do such business, it becomes a must to many businesses to go for a cold calling. Wouldn't you agree that?

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