When it comes to marketing and sales—in particular, cold calling—one of the most attractive modern opportunities has to be the culture of connectivity, says Daniel Frances in an article that he wrote called “Twitter vs. the Telephone: Can Social Media Optimize Cold Calling?”
Why? Because everyone, it seems, is online. You have a world of digitized sales opportunities right at your fingertips. Whole occupations have been transformed, and some times eliminated because of the mass use of the Internet. For example, remember when you would call or actually visit a travel agent to book your vacations? Today nobody does that anymore. Everyone is booking their trips online.
Well, the Internet can and should be used to connect with clients, as well. Let’s be clear about one thing, though: using social media to connect with potential clients is not a replacement for cold calling. It’s a means to an end. (OK, so is cold calling, but bear with me for a minute.)
When all is said and done, there is still nothing more effective than face-to-face human interaction. This is especially the case when it comes to high-end products or services. In that situation, you need a face-to-face meeting. That’s because people buy from people. Business transactions don’t just happen in a vacuum. Like any form of new life, they are the product of a win-win relationship.
So, the rise of social media as a highly effective cold-calling tool is not just a sidebar in a sales manual. It’s actually incredibly good news for businesses that depend on cold calling to generate new sales.
Here’s some food for thought: connectivity not only allows you to leverage your time more effectively and “see” more clients, but it also allows you to intelligently manage your public image and that of the company you represent.
Using social media properly to gather information, prepare for conversations, and open doors automatically eliminates some of the most common mistakes that salespeople make.
Some common mistakes:
Not Knowing Whom to Speak To.
Being unprepared will make you look unprofessional and leave you feeling embarrassed. Imagine being in the shoes of a switchboard operator or department head. Operator: “Certainly! Who would you like to speak to?” You: “Um. I don’t really know.” Avoid this by doing your homework. Aim high. Find out who the decision makers are and work your magic from there.
How does this apply to mortgage? Sometimes people go after their “friend” or acquaintances, but they are not the decision makers. So, now your sales person has spent valuable time talking to the wrong person. If that same sales person used social media to find out who the right person to talk to actually is, that sale has a better chance of closing.
Not Knowing about the Target.
This doesn’t mean stalking their Facebook profile to find out whether they enjoy fishing on the weekend. It means learning how their business functions. Knowing their goals, objectives, and who their competitors are will score you huge points, establish personal rapport, and shift their interest toward your offers.
Too often people in the mortgage industry stick to a script that contains all the latest buzzwords. It’s like the sales person has a checklist to make sure that they hit all the latest acronyms. Well, if the buzzwords don’t mean anything to the client, just saying that you offer a Software as a Service model, for example, won’t get you the sale. You have to know what the client needs.
Sales is about talking with someone, not at them. Nothing induces boredom faster than an obviously scripted phone call. Blurting out a generic script, parrot-fashion is not going to captivate your audience. So, calm down, ask intelligent questions, and listen to the answers so that your feedback can steer the conversation.
Cold calling is like arranging a first date. You have to make the person like you before you can ask them out.
I know you’re thinking: How do I use social media to improve cold calling?
A proper strategy entails some very simple steps. Invest time in planning; it will pay handsome dividends down the line. And prospect carefully. Remember that without the right clients, you have no business. So, be smart with your research, and invite the right prospects.
Here’s a simple checklist that will catapult you into the cold calling golden circle:
Step 1: Start from scratch.
Create and set up attractive social media accounts. The four fundamental platforms you need to have profiles on are Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Write a clear company bio that includes images and key phrases that are smart, professional, and entertaining. Lure them in with a combination of eye-catching design and great copy. This is your opportunity to shine so don’t waste it. Don’t just rush through to get your social media presence live, think it through.
Step 2: Invite prospects to Like or follow you.
Activity equals popularity. So, inviting potential clients to Like your Facebook page or follow your LinkedIn profile is the fundamental stage of publically launching your business online. Where do your prospects live on the Internet? Introduce them to the possibilities of what you have to offer. Remember, the more followers you have, the more credible you’ll appear to future targets. In other words, network online. Start conversations. Follow industry thought leaders. You never know where a conversation, online or otherwise, will take you.
Step 3: Establish an online presence.
Generate content to expand your online presence. This means posting, commenting on, or sharing relevant information that may be of interest to these prospects. Emphasize the services you have to offer (without being too blatant), and target whatever your prospective clients are searching for. Clients won’t believe in your business if your Twitter feed is lonely. Have something to offer. Some companies find this hard to do. They have trouble coming up with a steady flow of good content. Fortunately, there are companies out there like NexLevel Advisors that can help in this area.
Step 4: Generate trust.
It’s difficult to establish trust when your customers don’t know whether you’re a time-scheduled drone mechanically posting away or a real person behind the keyboard. Commenting on posts and replying to clients’ responses will reassure them that you’re knowledgeable and trustworthy. Make your business likeable and personable.
This, folks, is attraction marketing. We’ve already established that people prefer buying from other people. More than that, they overwhelmingly buy from people they know and trust.
The truth is bad cold calling is as bad as email spam. That means you have to do two things: establish some kind of recognizable relationship, and make it appear as though it’s perfectly natural to ask for a meeting. In other words, start a social media dialogue and make “friends.” People trust their friends and look to their friends to provide good advice. If you become a trusted advisor, you’ll be able to set up that cold call and actually have something meaningful to tell that client instead of reading from a script.
By doing that, you’ve pre-framed the client’s perception of you. In other words, you’ve asserted your personality without your prospect even being aware of it. Developing healthy trust before the date has even been arranged will benefit you in many ways.
So, once again, social media hasn’t replaced the necessity for cold calling. But it’s safe to say that if you’re not using social media intelligently as part of your business, you’re missing out on one of the most powerful tools in your strategic sales kit.
About The Author
Michael Hammond is chief strategy officer at PROGRESS in Lending Association and is the founder and president of NexLevel Advisors. They provide solutions in business development, strategic selling, marketing, public relations and social media. He has close to two decades of leadership, management, marketing, sales and technical product experience. Michael held prior executive positions such as CEO, CMO, VP of Business Strategy, Director of Sales and Marketing and Director of Marketing for a number of leading companies. He is also only one of about 60 individuals to earn the Certified Mortgage Technologist (CMT) designation. Michael can be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.