Persistence or Precision? Why Social Selling is Now Favored Over Relentless Cold Outreach

Here’s all the proof and guidance you need to retire costly cold outreach that fails in favor of modern selling that works.

December 18, 2017

The enduring argument in favor of cold calling and mass sales outreach maintains that as long as your reps stay tenacious and follow proven conventional sales practices, they’ll hit their quotas. If your sellers are persistently clicking send and dialing numbers, they’re bound to eventually get enough bites.

However, that outdated approach wastes so much time and energy that sales teams still following it are doing themselves a disservice. It’s no wonder organizations that embrace social selling are achieving better results by spending more time targeting, researching, and qualifying prospects. When every call and email counts, you can make a fraction of them, and feel better about yourself to boot.

Cold Outreach Finds a Chilly Response

In a study by the Keller Center at Baylor University, 50 real estate agents placed 6,624 calls using a carefully crafted script, and yielded only 19 appointments. That’s a measly 0.3 percent success rate. According to an HBR article, connecting with a prospect now takes 18 or more phone calls, callback rates are below 1 percent, and only 24 percent of outbound sales emails are ever opened.

In fact, InsideView states that more than 90 percent of executives never respond to cold calls or unsolicited emails. We’re not surprised: the State of Sales report shows that 64 percent of B2B decision-makers won’t engage with a salesperson if the communication isn’t personalized.

With such low receptivity to cold calls and emails, sales professionals need to be incredibly persistent to accomplish much against those odds. And the sheer amount of rejection inherent to this method isn’t exactly great for morale.

Social Selling Enables a Precision-Based Approach

It’s not that emails and calls have no place in today’s sales toolbox; it’s that an undisciplined, lazy approach to those tactics yields dismal results. In other words, you get out what you put in.

Contrast this with modern sales organizations that methodically close more deals and drive higher revenues by investing time upfront to learn about and engage prospective buyers before trying to pitch them on a product or service. According to research from Sales for Life, social sellers gain 57 percent higher return on investment compared to a 23 percent return using traditional tactics. In fact, several industries generate more than 50 percent of their revenues from social selling.

Start with the Right Targets

When it comes to prospecting, effective sellers begin by narrowing down their target list. Rather than casting a wide net and sifting to find the best of the catch, they are very discriminating about which prospective customers to pursue.

Working from your organization’s ideal customer profile, your reps can set filters by industry, roles, and skills to search for the most fitting LinkedIn members. To narrow down the list even further, they can use parameters such as titles and geographic locations. With LinkedIn Sales Navigator, they can apply even more filters, including company sizes and seniority level. The result is a highly targeted list that helps focus prospecting on the most promising candidates.

Glean Insights that Pave the Way for Connecting

Buyers now expect sales professionals to have a grasp of who they are when they reach out. And they’re right to expect this; considering the amount of information and the variety of tools available online, there’s no excuse for not coming with customized insights. Plus, it pays off: CSO Insights found that those spending more time on contact and company research achieve higher conversion rates from leads to first calls.

The most successful social sellers tailor their initial outreach to coincide with each prospect’s professional objectives and personal interests. They do so by reviewing LinkedIn profiles and activities, tracing their connections, visiting their company’s website, and conducting a Google search to unearth priorities and initiatives.

It’s these types of insights that make it possible to engage with prospects on a deeper level than simply asking if they’re in the market for your solution. By understanding how to research, your reps will be able to confidently share ideas and recommendations that can help prospects achieve their goals.

Qualify by Engaging Online

By demonstrating interest in buyers and their priorities, your reps can get a jump start in establishing trusted relationships with prospective customers. Along the way, they may see a prospect say something that clearly indicates the time isn’t right for a solution like yours. By the same token, their engagement online can also reveal when it’s the perfect time to reach out and take discussions further down the purchase path. By that time, your reps will have plenty of information and insights for crafting a relevant, response-provoking message.

Combined, the practice of carefully targeting prospects, researching to uncover connection opportunities, and qualifying yields far better results than traditional outbound sales tactics. The numbers do not lie.

Isn’t it well worth your team’s time (and dignity) to expend prospecting efforts in a way that is proven to drive strong outcomes than to keep hopelessly persisting with cold outreach?  

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