Theresa Merrill: Cold-calling is thriving —thanks in part to social media.
The parallels are impressive. Effective cold calling is about engaging the prospect with a valid business reason. Social media is about brands trying to make meaningful connections with consumers. All contact with a new business prospects is cold whether it’s via social media, networking, email or the phone.
Even with Inbound Marketing, there is always going to be a need for prospecting to develop new customers. When properly executed cold calling is an integral part of any seller’s repertoire. Leverage social media sites to support the most important aspect of cold calling—targeting and preparation.
Choose your prospects wisely. Quality of prospects equals quality of return.
Only proceed when you’ve uncovered a need/problem for which you can provide a benefit/solution.
Intelligence gathering is available across many platforms. Set-up Google alerts for target accounts. Identify news blogs/apps that cover their industry. The benefit of this is two-fold. You can warm the prospect up by sending an email mentioning something relevant to their business, while gaining knowledge on what’s key to their success. Don’t just visit their website, but immerse yourself in the blogs and press releases. Blogs are open windows into the philosophy and focus of the company. Comment on them. Share them on other social media/network sites. “Like” their company Facebook page. Follow them on Twitter. If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, set one up immediately. LinkedIn suffers from an identity crisis—it’s not just for job seekers. It’s an invaluable source of information on individuals and their companies. Build your connections, but even without many connections there’s much to gain. Join LinkedIn Groups—there’s a group for every type of business and business concept. Don’t limit yourself to ones in your industry, but join ones that your target accounts might belong to. Ask engaging questions and use this as an opportunity to showcase your business expertise.
Remember social media is about “giving to get.” Share your beliefs and people that value them will connect. Follow companies on LinkedIn. You’ll see who in your network is connected to them and gain access to activity updates that provide valuable information about internal and strategic moves. Follow individuals, you’ve targeted.
Once armed with the knowledge as to what benefit you can provide this prospect, send an InMail or ask a mutual connection to introduce you. InMail is an under-utilized tool on LinkedIn, due to a fear of intruding on someone’s privacy (cold calling).
With all the talk about Social media being the new cold calling, one thing holds true for both—executed poorly they can be a enormous waste of time. By doing your homework, proceeding with a plan and integrating the two platforms into your total marketing mix they will help you, and your sellers, achieve your new business goals.