When Social Sellers Resort to Cold Calling

March 12, 2014

cold calling - LinkedIn

I have a confession to make. I, Mac Witmer, being of social selling mind and body – made 40 cold calls on Friday February 21st.

Why would I do this you ask?

Well, I volunteered to.

I volunteered two hours of my time to call nonprofits and give away free Skilled Volunteer and Board Member Position job postings. LinkedIn recently launched our Volunteer Marketplace which connects members looking to donate their time to nonprofits with open positions.

It’s a phenomenal new feature of LinkedIn and it was our goal to spread the word by handing out free job postings.

When I was first asked to participate, I scoffed – “You want me to cold call?” I was then corrected that we weren’t selling anything, we were giving things away.

I received my list of phone numbers and hesitantly picked up the phone. Did I look at their LinkedIn profile first? Nope. Did I look for common connections or social insight to use? Nope. Did I look at their Organization’s Company Page to learn more about their business? Nope.

I just smiled and dialed.

After about 9 calls, someone finally picked up. I’d read statistics about how if you make something like 100 calls, you’ll be lucky to have three conversations. This is not because people are rude and hang up on you (though that does happen), it’s because no one answers their phone!

When I at last caught a human on the other line – I realized I had about 5 seconds to spit out who I was and why I was calling them. It was a mess. I’m not into football, but it was like when the ball is being thrown to the running man and he’s got it in his hands for a split second and then fumbles into a messy disaster.

The poor HR Director on the other end stopped and said, “Sorry I can’t understand you – who are you?” I finally spat out my purpose in a coherent manner. She then explained that they don’t have volunteer positions, all of their positions are paid and asked if I was familiar with their organization.


I hadn’t done any research on this organization. With my tail tucked between my legs, I apologized for the misunderstanding and hung up. I took a deep breath and tried another organization.

Overall, it wasn’t a terrible experience. After pushing through the list, I did connect with a few folks who were thrilled to receive our donation. Those few conversations made it worth my time.

What I realized though is that I am darn lucky to have a role in our Social Selling business. I’m a rotten cold caller.

Cold Calling takes some serious practice and talent – and what a shame it is to get trained in something that has a 3% success rate.

I think I’ll stick to using social insight and warm introductions to get to my prospects. It may take a few more minutes than a cold call, but it is definitely more enjoyable and … it works.