I just don’t know why cold calling is necessary. I don’t understand why you would make a phone call to someone you don’t know, who isn’t expecting your call, and expect to advance a sale as a result.
I know it works…if you believe a response rate of one percent “works.”
First, my definition of cold calling: When you call through a phone list of (unqualified) leads, and they don’t know you, and have no idea who you are or why you are calling (other than to harass them and try to potentially sell them something).
I thank my lucky Gods that I have never had to cold call in my work. Because I wouldn’t do it. I’d prefer inserting toothpicks into my eyes.
But there is opportunity in those lists of leads. Here is how I would hack the cold-calling process:
1. Get the list of leads. Whatever the list. Whether you are responsible for procurring the list, or whether your sales manager gives you a list, perhaps marketing provides them, or maybe you have to bribe the boss to get the Glengarry leads. I don’t care. Get your hands on your list.
2. Google them. Find out what you can. In my mind, you are looking for a few things. Find their LinkedIn profile. See if they are on Facebook. Are they on Twitter? And most importantly, see if they have a website and/or blog. And keep an eye open for anything else interesting, such as your lead being quoted in an article somewhere.
3. Set up a Google Alert. This is especially true for any leads that look promising. This way, you can capture any online mention of these people, and from this, you might find a bit of information that you can use to your advantage, as well as simply getting to learn more about them. Finding an excuse to contact someone is much easier than the traditional cold call, such as reaching out to comment on their mention in a news article.
4. If they are active on Twitter, set up a Twitter Search query. Here is how to do this. Monitor the Twitter stream of the people on your list. What are they tweeting? What films are they seeing? Where are they going to dinner? Where are they going on vacation? Here are 14 ways to strike up a conversation on Twitter.
5. Find common interests on Facebook. Facebook is trickier, since the person must give you permission to formally connect. And it also depends on your security settings. But when I search a lot of people that are not my “friends” on Facebook, their profiles still provide me with a lot of information about who this person is by providing the list of people and organizations they are fans of. You can very likely find some sort of common interest by reviewing these lists. File this away, it will be helpful later.
6. See where they engage on LinkedIn. LinkedIn, like Facebook, requires this person to formally agree to connect with you. But most likely, you are able to review their profile and can look for bits on their resume that can be helpful, or more importantly, show you what LinkedIn groups they are active in. Here, you can also join those groups and look for a way to connect.
7. Yes, you can even use Foursquare to your advantage. What? Really? Yes really. See if any of the names on your list have Foursquare profiles. If they do, they are probably also active on Twitter, and you can likely see where they check-in on either their Foursquare profile or on Twitter. Why does this matter? Because if you monitor their stream, you can strike up a conversation. How? Well, if they check into a bookstore on Foursquare, in addition to now knowing they like to read, you can also reach out and ask what book they got, and did they like it. You have just started conversation, and also a new relationship.
8. Do they have a blog? If they do, this is the best news yet. You can get a peek into their mind, their thought process, their interests. And you can read their posts, and comment on them! This is the best way to connect with someone. They will appreciate you taking the time to comment on their blog, and this will do more to advance your relationship that virtually anything else.
9. ENGAGE! This is obviously the most important step. After the preliminary work you have done with steps one through eight, you now have knowledge. You have details. You have data. You can now make strategic moves to connect with this once unknown name on a list. They are no longer a name. They are now a person with a history. You have things in common (most likely). The GREAT thing about the social web is that it is accepted to reach out to people and connect and dialog.
No, people don’t like to be cold called. But they don’t mind you reaching out on Twitter. Take advantage of this phenomenon.
You see, in the film clip from Glengarry Glen Ross above, the lead sales guy talks about AIDA (Attention, Interest, Decision, Action). Think how much easier this process would be if you could do a little advance work using social media to connect with those leads? Using the internet to get to know these people a bit more, see what they are interested in, seeing what they write, seeing how they work.
Can you now see how much easier it would be to gain attention and interest, using the tactics described above? You have the beginnings of a relationship now.
With your new friendship, you can suggest a quiet cup of coffee. Or make arrangements to chat by phone to discuss common interests. And the miserable existence that is cold-calling will soon become a distant memory…
What do you think? What are some other ways to hack cold-calling that I missed?