In 2013, Forbes declared: cold calling is dead. That statement polarizes the topic and it is a stunning conversation starter, but is it the truth? As we crossed our collective fingers and watched inbound marketing emerge, we saw how marketing started to play a more integral part of the sales process.
A year later, Salesforce.com weighed in, pointing out the possibility that inbound marketing is simply the pendulum swinging widely in one direction and cold calling is not actually dead, but modified.
Why is that? Sales people and their marketing counterparts know intuitively that, no matter how you approach B2B sales, there is a portion of the process that requires a conversation where none existed previously. When I meet with partners at various events, an increasing number say that social media and inbound marketing has helped to reinvent cold calling in a digital world.
Our digital savvy channel partners say it is clear that social media can be a powerful networking tool and word of mouth referral system, but most importantly they say, social allows sales people to prospect more, in less time.
Prospecting on Social
Finding prospects online is possible. However, like an elusive secret, the how is missing from most online conversations, leaving them wondering where to start.
LinkedIn and Twitter are the two platforms most popular in B2B. Last year, LinkedIn inched past Twitter (by a small margin) as winner of the most preferred B2B Social Media Platform. For prospecting and lead generation, partners say both are immensely helpful in warming up those cold calls and even better when used together.
Eight steps for prospecting on LinkedIn
It makes sense to me that LinkedIn is the B2B social media winner because it looks like the platforms most of us cut our social teeth on. News feeds, inboxes, posts on walls, comments and thumbs-up, plus intentional, reciprocal connections. All familiar. Here are eights steps that channel partners tell me work for them and help find where their prospects are, what interests them, and how to can engage with them on LinkedIn:
- Look at your current client list.
- Identify the buyer persona of your ideal prospect
- What industry are they in?
- Where are they located?
- What are their job titles?
- Connect with current clients and analyze their profiles, look for shared contacts, groups they belong to, companies and people they follow.
- Join the industry related groups they belong to.
- Listen to the activity in the groups, participate in conversations, make connections, be helpful and express your knowledge.
- Use the information you gather to create content that answers your prospect’s questions.
- Post your targeted content on blogs and social media to start conversations. If you have been granted access to LinkedIn’s publishing platform start there*
- Make a daily habit of reviewing your newsfeed and “like”, “share” and comment on the content posted by your connections.
Eight steps for prospecting on Twitter
Twitter has two distinct opportunities for prospecting. Both involve #hashtags. Again, most partners start by making a list of their ideal buyer’s persona, connect with their current clients and then follow these eight steps:
- Analyze their Tweets, pay close attention to the #hashtags they use when posting professional content.
- Use the search function to view all tweets by those #hashtags.
- Identify other prospects using the same #hashtags and follow them – so for example if your buyer is involved in Healthcare IT, search #MedicalTech or #HealthCareIT.
- Identify a list of many #Hashtags related to your buyer and monitor them regularly to uncover relevant conversations.
- Use free Twitter chat directories such as Tweet Reports or Chat Salad to find scheduled times that Twitter users discuss predetermined topics using #hashtags.
- Once they have identified dates and times for relevant chats, it is just a matter of searching for the associated #hashtag at the specified time.
- Watch as people tweet questions and comments in 140 character snippets about that topic.
- Jump in when you having value to add to the conversation.
Combining Twitter and LinkedIn for prospecting
Crossing social platforms amplifies these prospecting techniques. LinkedIn can help identify new users to follow on Twitter, and Twitter helps identify new LinkedIn connections and groups where more involved conversations naturally occur. Monitoring both platforms on a regular basis and interacting is how social media is transforming cold calling.
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*LinkedIn is gradually rolling out their publishing platform, so not all users have this capability. More Info: https://help.linkedin.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/47445/ft/eng