But wait Jeb! The experts suggest that getting people to call me is much easier than cold calling. That’s the hard way. It’s so old school.
They say that only fools and morons call people anymore. They say that instead of cold calling I should use inbound marketing schemes, write articles, blog, produce videos and podcasts, and leverage social selling to attract prospects.
Since prospects will call me I won’t ever have to interrupt them again and I can just sit back and collect commission checks while all of the “old school” sales chumps burn themselves out calling prospects. Besides, cold calling is demoralizing. Yep, so is being broke!
Here’s my answer: Good luck with that.
No Easy Way Out of Interrupting Someone’s Day
Trust me on this. There is no easy way out. Like the old Russian proverb states, the only free cheese is in the mousetrap.
If you want to maximize your sales and your income you’ve got to pull every lever to fill your sales pipe: inbound prospecting, social selling, referrals, networking, email, trade shows, and interrupting people by phone and sometimes in person.
If you never want to interrupt someone’s day again (cold call), I suggest you get a sales job where prospects come to you like an inbound call center or a retail sales center.
Otherwise, if you don’t want to starve to death, you are going to have to learn to interrupt the day of a prospect to ask for something you want.
You Must Call People To Keep Your Pipe Full
First, you’ll never be able to blog enough or social media or video enough or inbound marketing enough to opportunities to keep your pipeline full. For example, Hubspot, (one of my vendors) the clear leader in inbound marketing, makes outbound calls to prospects.
How do I know? I am a client because Chad, one of their reps, interrupted my day and asked for a demo appointment. They have to call people to fill the pipe.
In my business, we have a huge social content platform. Blogging, social media, videos, podcasts, landing pages, white papers, reports, web forms, newsletters, webinars, and we relentlessly leverage this platform to get people to call us.
We use multiple tools to monitor social media feeds and the internet for opportunities and leads. This has required me to invest a significant amount of money in tools (like Hubspot) and people to accomplish this task.
You Will Always Need To Pick Up The Phone
It is awesome when we get people to call us – those are our best leads. But even with all of our investment in inbound marketing, social media, content marketing, social selling, and traditional advertising we have been unable to eliminate the need to reach out and interrupt people.
The reality is, we generate more than 50% of our sales from what the experts tell you not to do— cold calls. The brutal fact is, if we relied on getting people to call us alone, we would not stay in business long and none of my salespeople would be employed.
And, by the way, all of the leads that come in via web forms have to be called and that, my friend, requires interrupting somebody’s day.
Sharing great content is a great way to strengthen and expand your audience. Leveraged the right way, it has the potential to motivate prospects to engage you – to ask you questions or even to ask for an appointment. This is why social media is a core part of every company’s inbound marketing efforts.
How Inbound Marketing and Social Selling Are Alike
Inbound marketing is focused on producing and sharing great content to pull potential customers in rather than broadcasting to them through traditional advertising channels.
The goal is to get prospects to either purchase on the spot, request more information or contact from the company, or download content that is relevant to them like ebooks and white papers, thereby creating an immediate lead or a future lead that can be nurtured via email outreach.
If you consider the definition of inbound marketing for a moment you’ll quickly see how social selling and inbound marketing are similar and in fact intrinsically connected. Smart companies, in fact, have become adept at leveraging their sales organization’s social selling efforts to amplify the overall marketing effort. Although it is a somewhat over simplification, social selling is like building your own little inbound marketing machine.
It’s More Difficult Than Ever To Get Noticed
As you’ve already heard me say many times over, there are an endless stream of “experts” who will tell you that inbound is enough. Focus all of your attention on social selling and you’ll be set. The leads and inquiries will stream in and the pipeline will fill up and stay full. It’s that easy they say.
The problem you face is in the ocean of content flooding the social channel it is getting more and more difficult to stand out and get noticed. If you are starting from the ground up with no followers or a small audience on established social platforms like LinkedIn it can take from six months to two years to create enough gravity to pull prospects in to you.
And with platforms like Facebook paving the way for pay to play – your content doesn’t get seen unless you buy advertising (ironic how social is morphing into a traditional advertising channel) – it will become even harder in the future to get attention without a budget.
Getting The Most ROI Out Of Social Selling
That does not mean that a targeted and narrow focused social selling strategy can’t be effective in the changing social media landscape. It just means that it will require more and more effort and money to get a reasonable return on your investment.
This is why even Hubspot, the granddaddy of the inbound marketing movement, and LinkedIn, the grand poobah of the social selling movement, combine inbound marketing & social selling with traditional outbound marketing and sales tactics.
Otherwise they, like most of my clients, cannot produce enough leads to keep the pipeline full and produce enough sales meet their sales and profit targets.
Outbound Prospecting and Social Selling go together like mashed potatoes and gravy. Social selling impacts the familiarity factor, is awesome for research, trigger event awareness, and it will generate inbound leads.
It is a long-term, passive strategy though that requires patience, nuance and is unlikely to produce immediate results or to ever scale to a size that generates enough inbound leads to allow you to reach your sales and income goals. When it does deliver prospects to my doorstep I consider that Sales Gravy.
What Makes Social Selling Different From Outbound Efforts?
Outbound prospecting on the other hand is an active approach to filling the pipe. With outbound efforts you reach out and engage prospects in-person, by phone, email, or text. It is the art of interrupting your prospect’s day and engaging them in a conversation that either allows you to move them immediately into the sales process and close the deal, set an initial discovery appointment, or gather information that further qualifies the prospect.
Become Unstoppable By Combining Social and Outbound
Combined with social selling, outbound becomes enormously powerful.
The combined benefits include:
- Amplifying the familiarity factor which increase the probability that your prospect will engage
- More targeted prospecting lists focused on the highest qualified prospects and individual buyers
- Leveraging trigger events to open or walk through buying windows at just the right time
- Nurturing and educating prospects ahead of expected or projected buying windows
- Research to gain contact information, Buyer-Influencer-Coach (BIC) mapping, qualifying, and refining your outbound prospecting message
Once again it comes back to balance. Balancing your prospecting channels, methodologies, and techniques to be efficient and effective with your prospecting efforts.
In the most comprehensive book ever written about sales prospecting, Jeb Blount reveals the real secret to improving sales productivity and growing your income fast. Download the Fanatical Prospecting Book Club Guide here.