When was the last time you paid attention to a sales executive cold calling you to get your buy-in for products and services? Can’t remember? Well, you’re not alone! Blame the sales executive for not being graduated in Sales 2.0 and the company for not understanding the power of Sales 2.0 in consultative and solution selling.
Today, countless sales executives no longer want to make cold calls because they believe it’s ineffective. You can find countless statistics about cold calling on the web that would be anything but an eye opener for the sales chief. The best case scenario of cold calling is that 1 in 10 calls will result in talking to a live person and 1 in 10 will result in an appointment. That means that getting an appointment from 1 out of 100 calls would be ideal. In sum, it could take anywhere between 1000 to 2000 calls to close a deal (from best case to worst case scenario). This is only one side of the story, the downside of cold calling. The other side is that sales costs become uncontrollable and inefficient, as you have to keep hiring sales executives to meet the numbers.
Though it may seem this way so far, this blog is not an overall indictment against cold calling. Rather it is a reminder that we should rethink our calling strategies and utilize existing methods to make our calling time more efficient. I think it’s time to switch to “smart calling” using the Sales 2.0 tools already out there.
The way we communicate with family, friends and business associates has changed drastically; we email and call far less than we did in previous years. Today, our preference is to use Facebook to leave messages at our leisure and to share news, videos and pictures. Our professional profiles on LinkedIn describe our past work experience, current company and organizational roles. Key influencers, powerhouses and decision makers are Tweeting about new product usages and services on Twitter. Those working in similar industries “like” comments on Facebook and “retweet” thoughts as nods of approval. Professionals and companies are putting detailed information about their preferences and dislikes online now more than ever before. It is no longer uncommon to collect sales intelligence about a company and their needs.
For example, suppose you are a sales executive for IT products and services who seeks to pitch one to a particular industry. You have segmented the market and downloaded the suspects into your CRM system. Then you perform a company search on LinkedIn and find a lot of clues about their pain points and business challenges before even reaching out to the company. You ask how? By viewing the IT manager’s profile of the company, which tells you what IT systems the company is currently using. This offers great insight when pitching your products and determining if your product has a competitive advantage. Imagine the odds of winning this deal versus cold calling the list.
Now suppose that you are a sales executive of a cloud computing company. You came across a Tweet asking the benefits of using email, document storage, etc. in the cloud and the Tweet also mentions some outages and costs brought on by their on-premise system. Wouldn’t the Tweet clue you into the fact that this company has some challenges with their current mail and document sharing systems and is looking for alternative solutions? Imagine the chances of winning this deal if you mentioned that the cost of email document sharing in the cloud is $10 per user per month versus $40 per user with traditional on-premise solutions, which comes with the usual headaches of system maintenance and upgrades.
Well, this is all great, but isn’t the sales executive now spending unproductive time researching profiles on LinkedIn and searching for key Tweets? Yes, you are absolutely right about this and here is why: you should be using a CRM system that is enabled with 2.0 of marketing, sales and services. These CRM systems come with built-in search links for LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter from the account and contact screens- at minimum. I would love the CRM system to gather and aggregate sales intelligence based on the preset business rules and present it to the sales executive. This is what I mean by Sales 2.0 enabled CRM systems. There are Sales 2.0 tools that do everything that I mentioned if your CRM system doesn’t. You may want to ask the Sales 2.0 tools vendor if there is integration available with your current CRM system. If not, toss your current useless CRM system away and buy a CRM system that provides essential sales 2.0 tools. Trust me- you have to act fast before you lose your sales force to competition that provides Sales 2.0 tools. We all know that a quality sales executive is never content collecting a paycheck but big fat sales commissions instead; they quit if they can’t sell. Ensure that this vicious cycle doesn’t impact your company.