Some companies’ strategies rely, on a higher or lower level, on cold calling. Isn’t cold calling, real-time calling?
The problem: How many prospects listened to your sales rep finish the pitch and hopefully understood the value of your product or service? We know, very few.
This is not a post against cold calls. I’m not even suggesting that you drop it. Stay with me.
First step: strategic content
Sales representatives know very well their product/service and its benefits. They also know about their competitors.
- Create “listening stations” and give them training on how to track relevant conversations online about your brand, type products/services, competitors (Google alerts, Technorati, Twitter search, etc).
- Also train them on business blogging, selected networks, content creation and how should they interact with prospects and customer in real time. Finally, have half your sales force follow the activities mentioned (listening, writing blog posts, making videos, uploading photos, engaging, etc) while the other half makes the calls. Rotate them every week. Not sure about it? Then, start with a smaller percentage of your reps.
The goal: To have a strategic team crafting a quality inbound sales channel and building a stronger reputation while conducting real time conversations with your audience.
This is a phenomenal opportunity as well for the Sales & Marketing Departments to work together as a team (finally!), coordinating blog topics and pipeline.
Second step: Real-time interaction
Have a group of them continuously monitoring specific conversations. Customer service issues could also be sales opportunities. Please avoid thinking “that’s X Department’s job“.
Third step: Build a strong network
Give all your sales reps also a strategic LinkedIn training. Focus on interaction and long term relationships within the network, rather than teaching them how to send sales pitches through inmails. That will never work. Combine prospecting and follow up with the activity on the phone. With social media, you will also be transforming more and more “cold calls” into “warm calls” based on the strategic information that you can gain from prospects / stakeholders before hand.
This will take time, but if you mix the above activities with offline business networking (especially in B2B), you’ll be surprised at the quality of the network your Sales Department could build.
Fouth step: Include a social signature
We send emails everyday. Why not provide relevant touch points in each message without having to even think about it? Use wisestamp.com or similar so all emails sent by the sales team provide social proof, helping customers and prospects make a decision.
The big picture
Again, this is about building a quality inbound channel while talking to your customers in real time.
All this valuable content (educational posts, videos and photos) that your team is publishing will be slowly attracting a community interested in the topic in your different social networks (this part needs to be harnessed with proactive online networking), also getting indexed by Google and found by even more people. Finally, those interested in your type of product/service will choose voluntarily to knock on your door and listen to you to learn more. This is a total different approach from pure cold calling, which means “hunting leads and forcing them to listen”.
This activity should prove very interesting and rewarding if it’s done right. It will deliver quality, medium to long term results and it should also empower and motivate many of your sales reps. You’re still on time for a positive change 🙂
Have you ever implemented this split strategy? Will you try it?