Cold Calling Vs. Social Selling – Why Not Both?

This issue is one of those debates that nearly feels talked to death. The amount of spilled digital ink on the subject could fill out about a hundred blogs, and there would still be some opinions left over.

Marketer doing cold calling and social selling

For some, the rift between cold calling and social selling proponents is generational in nature, with cold calling representing the old, intrusive and no-longer effective form of selling, while social selling is the new and improved way of connecting with prospects. To others, social selling is just an ineffective “preaching to the choir” that connects you with people but doesn’t actually make a sale.

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? But most importantly, who has considered that the false dichotomy here might be the biggest part of the problem? In this article, let’s consider cold calling and social selling not as mutually exclusive, but as two separate tools that sales teams can use to diversify and strengthen their efforts.

Cold Calling

Cold calling is important for the buyer that doesn’t know they need your product. A prospect might have pain points that are perfectly addressed by your product, but they don’t know it because they’ve never engaged with your product, at least not meaningfully. In this case, the phone is a powerful tool – it doesn’t wait for the prospect to find you in the wild. You come to them to demonstrate value.

Of course, one of the common complaints about this model is that it can be inefficient. It takes time for reps to choose leads to cold call, and even then there’s no guarantee they are calling the best possible lead. But that problem has been completely addressed: a great sales engagement platform can easily drive more sales with cold calling software that automates the process and prioritizes reps’ queues.

Social Selling

Social selling is also important, as it reaches decision-makers who are averse to cold outreach. These decision-makers would rather have a low-key discussion about the product than be placed in a scenario where they feel pushed to buy.

Social selling is often described as a longer game, one where you can reinforce your brand, build awareness, display value and even be a little humorous, all without appearing too pushy. If you’ll permit the analogy, it’s a little like meeting someone over a dating app vs. being asked out in the produce aisle. Many people, millennials especially, prefer this less pressure-filled environment.

Diversifying Your Efforts

What gets lost in pitting these two efforts against one another is that they can actually benefit each other. Used together (and with email as well) they form a more robust approach. Social selling offers buyers a low-pressure way to get to know the product and ask relevant questions, which can warm a cold call right up. By the time a salesperson gets on the phone, they are in a prime position to uncover the prospect’s pain points and continue selling the product.

Next time you hear someone bring up the old “cold calling vs. social selling” debate, remind them that these two great approaches are not mutually exclusive.


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