The first post I wrote in defense of cold calling was July 17, 2009. If that post was a child, it would be in 1st grade right now. It’s closing in on its 6th birthday. The post was titled “The Anti-Cold Calling Crowd Are Charlatans. Period.” That post is as true today as it was the day I wrote it.
In 2009, the idea that social selling and inbound marketing was going to replace the telephone was gathering steam. The people who sold social selling and inbound tools and services set up cold calling as a straw man, knowing that a large portion of salespeople hated cold calling. They offered social selling as the replacement, suggesting that no one should dare interrupt another human being, that it was rude, and that it was no longer effective. Not only did salespeople buy this, big companies bought it, too.
The tools at the time were Twitter and LinkedIn Groups. Twitter was where you were supposed to go to listen to your prospective clients. LinkedIn Groups was where you were supposed to go to comment on your dream client’s posts and questions as a way to warm them up before trying to move them to engage in real life. Neither Twitter or LinkedIn groups are known for their massive engagement potential with B2B buyers of goods and services now. Instead, it’s Instagram and SnapChat.
In 2010, I won a $1,000,000 account using LinkedIn to connect with the prospect and to ask for an appointment. It was a simple, direct InMail. That year, I also booked multiple speaking gigs, a few of them International, after the people who hired me followed a link on Twitter back to my site. This is because social tools benefit content creators most of all, and don’t do nearly so much for the content consumer, the content curator, or the quota-carrying sales rep.
Over the last few years, you’ve heard voices in the social selling and inbound spaces beginning to speak honestly about the need to make outbound cold calls, including the very same organizations that created graphics that suggested to connect and engage, and never cold call. The voices that suggest that you should never pick up the phone are growing increasingly rare. What were once loud, confident, aggressive voices disparaging the phone are all but a whisper, with the exception of a few who discovered social selling in the last year or two and believe the party is still in full swing.
For almost 8 years, a few of us have been in the wilderness eating locusts and honey. A few of us have strongly admonished salespeople to continue to use the phone as their primary tool, suggesting that the social tools were important, but by themselves not enough for non-content creators to succeed.
The Charlatans post, inspired by Mark Hunter, marked the beginning of this period in sales, and this post will mark its end. And so will this post by my friend, Tony Hughes.