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Death of the Cold Call...Maybe
If you sell something B2B these days I suggest SLOWING DOWN a tad and doing something I know will be anathema to fast flying fighter pilot sales people - RESEARCH. *There is no excuse for calling me (or any prospect) COLD and reading a script EVER. *

I had a hardworking bulldog of a sales guy call me today from and, to his credit, he tossed the script and LISTENED at least enough to have a conversation. 

Insightera looks interesting. As my regular readers know I'm convinced web 3.0 will be a much more dynamic ecosystem capable of conversion levels we only dream of now. Why? 

The promise of all of these social signals matched with predictive analytics firing in real time means the future will convert better. The email Insighter sent intrigued me enough to NOT delete it (a rarity). 

How much better and more impressed could I have been if the sales person had taken ten minutes to:

* Send me a Linkedin Request. 
* Or REVIEW my Linkedin profile. 
* LinkedIn Gives you my Twitter and Blog so FOLLOW BOTH. 
* LinedIn also provides my background, so NO SCRIPTS. 
* LinkedIn also provides my causes - curing cancer, so KNOW THIS. 

If you are selling something COLD, good luck with that. You start with several strikes against you. I understand markets have to be made, but there is so much information out there about anybody why not USE IT to become interested in your prospect BEFORE your cold call? 

I used to sell for P&G and I'm sure they have a training program that helps their sales people be proactive and engaged on social media. What did I do after the cold call? I found the sales person and sent them a LI request. I also studied his LinkedIn profile and went to his twitter page - all steps he should have done.

Here are other tests I did after speaking to Insightera's representative:

* I followed @Insightera on Twitter.
* I reported a broken link (their Facebook icon) via Twitter. 
* I clicked on every social link including their blog. 
* I followed them on Pinterest.
* I looked at several pages on their website. 
* I wrote this post. 

All of these actions are mini-tests. At the very least my +Marketo  score should be high enough now where they can afford to invest a little more in knowing me. If that sounds backwards it is because it is. 

I shouldn't be doing these things THEY SHOULD because they are selling me something, something I would be willing and able to share across a growing social network. Once ADVOCACY starts it requires CARE and FUEL. 

If my social connections are returned advocacy will continue. As I write this I have 3,322 Twitter followers (most of my followers are the kind of Internet marketers Insightera needs).@Insightera has 344 followers. This follower disparity means they should have already followed me back. 

TIME is part of the B2B evaluation process. As time ticks buy and my attempt at connection remains unsupported I will move from mildly interested to questioning their tool's legitimacy. If you B2B company can't quickly return a follow then YOUR ENTIRE PROPOSITION is in question. 

+John Lane gave a great presentation +Digital Marketing for Business conference where he had a MONSTER slide that says 60% of the sale is OVER before you get on the phone. I agree and that means when you do get on the phone BE CAREFUL and know me. Also, be tuned in enough to know and reward advocacy immediately since to do anything else DESTROYS CREDIBILITY. 

And the wrecking ball doesn't stop at this sale, the sale you are working on NOW. The wrecking ball extends to sales controlled by my three networks: Inner circle (friends and family), outer circle (professional connections) and the third circle of Friends of Friends. See how one little tiny mistake can be multiplied 10x in the time it took to read this? 

Always Follow First
Just that simple proactive step of following first shows so much. By following me (@ScentTrail) first @Insightera shows respect and a desire for collaboration instead of just attempting to ram something down my throat (and good luck with that btw :). 

If you sell something B2B recognize everything you do is a TEST. 

Every interaction is full of collaboration and connection potential IF you understand you are playing the connection and collaboration game. If you think you are in the "SELL THINGS" game someone more socially powerful than you will reduce your prospects to rubble in less time than it took to write this post. 

Be respective, so always FOLLOW FIRST. Be kind and know your prospects before you engage. To do anything else invites TROUBLE. Social disrespect is such a fine Kabuki to be unaware is to LOSE, to be CAREFUL and to show respect is appreciated and rewarded. 

Will Insightera pass their tests? Stay tuned. If anyone in my social nets knows Insightera please share your use of the tool or evaluations of the team. Thanks, M 
David Allen's profile photoBrian Yanish's profile photoMartin W. Smith's profile photoSerge A.'s profile photo
Interesting post...Any insight/Tips in the B2C arena?
+David Allen Yes I spent 7 years as a Director of Ecommerce and am a merchant at hear still. The B2C Social Sales Kabuki is different. 

B2C Social Sales Kabuki
* Compete collaboratively. 
* Curate 90% and Create 10% of your content.
* LISTEN more than you talk. 
* Promote your stuff, but do so with STORIES.
* Stuck, have a contest and ask for help.
* Gamify, Gamify and Gamify

When I say, "curate" 90% I am not talking about how you promote or don't. You can curate a promotion of yours from Facebook, or your blogs, but understand that authority comes from sharing information about your business vertical. 

When a competitor does something great give credit. When you take the "Miracle on 34th Street" approach you are competing collaboratively and so establishing YOUR authority (especially if your competitors don't emulate your course). 

Great sources of curated content include:
* Your current offers and promotions.
* Your most recent blog posts.
* News Feeds that tie to your core competence. 
* REVIEWS - nothing beats the voice of the customer.
* Customer Comments.
* Customer Retweets, Rescoops, Likes and Shares. 
* Customer social media feeds. 
* Employee and team social feeds.
* Guru and expert social feeds. 
* Q&A "knowledge centers". 
* Competitor news releases (always be supportive and connect to related material on your digital assets). 

Put an emphasis on VISUAL content. Visual content (pictures or videos) help SELL and visual doesn't feel as "sales-y" as text or headlines. 

Make sure you have consistency across curated and created content. Argyle Social did a study that said 50% / 50% mix of promotion vs. teaching content is best. This comment doesn't argue that ratio. 

This comment is about HOW you promote or teach. I believe 90% curation works best with the COPE method we should all be using now. COPE stands for Create Once and Publish Everywhere. 

If your current promotion is Free Shipping at a $50 trigger curate the graphic with Twit pic and find ways to tell that story so it isn't so BORING. Create a series of Tweets of excuses for NOT making the free shipping trigger. 

Excuses from one spouse to another explaining their epic failure could be a funny reminder of your promotion and much more engaging than Free Shipping $50 or More Ends Friday :). 

Find many more ecommerce B2C tips on ScentTrail Marketing ( Hope these "social selling" ideas off the top of my head help. I would highly recommend including a "people who like also like" where I see the social avatars of people who've liked your product or service. 

You can see this "social share" widget on the left side of my blog. Seeing people creates the LIKE ME connection every B2C Ecommerce person needs to develop. I also suggest creating content with personas and segments. Personas are about THEM. Segments are about YOU. 
Very detailed and fantastic +Martin W. Smith . Thanks for your knowledge.

One question. Do you think it's worth for those b2b cold callers to really do a research? Do you know of researches that has compared ROI of cold calling to more researched calling?
+Sergey Andrianov I think the ROI of cold calling, when a P&L is fully loaded, is zero. Cold calling in the old way does at least as much brand and social connection damage as good. 

P&L's and attribution can be very tricky these socially connected days. What is the cost of reduced advocacy or fewer LIKES, SHARES and LINKS? These kinds of damage, damage the cold calling wrecking ball can create, are difficult to achieve an accurate accounting or attribution of and for.

Only the most sophisticated understand direct attribution, indirect attribution on metrics like these is all but unheard of. We lucky few Interent marketers know how deep the roots of all actions go now.

Back in the day there was an illusion. We believed in the illusion of "no damage". In a connected, FLAT and FAST time there are no more neutral marketing or sales actions. Actions either BUILD reputation and connection or they tear it down.

Cold calling is a neutral activity. HOW a company spins up neutral activities is what creates reputation and reputation has overt and covert layers. Most marketers understand part of the overt layers such as cost per lead, but few know the new metrics associated with our new sales kabuki.

Sales kabuki, this highly ritualized (for how new all of this is) connected social economy demands real presence and attention to new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) such as:

* Growth of direct and indirect ecosystem (see below).
* Value of slowing down and researching more (fully loaded).
* Reputation metrics such as Klout.
* Alignment to social connection kabuki (things like immediately following big dogs, being present in real time, answering @tweets, etc).

Understanding Sales Kabuki Ecosystem
The other night I wanted to bench mark my personal branding's reach (will share in a photo in a moment). By looking across all social nets and thinking of followers as a block new sales metrics emerge such as:

* Sales by Follower.
* Sales by Follower / the trend. 
* Value of a follower (gross sales / followers).
* Follower growth needed to attain goals (gross sales / followers = x, sales goal / x). 

You can see the trend. Instead of continuing a zombie tactic, cold calling in the old wrecking ball way, better to redesign a "social sales" process because the chance "social sales" swinging a wrecking ball recklessly is MUCH less. The chance for "social sales" building brand power, content authority and increasingly valuable sales reach over time is much GREATER. 

While I appreciate your ROI question it is so easy to be misled by surface attribution that it would take a sophisticated approach and some of the best quants I know to truly connect any company's top and bottom of the social sales funnel in order to know the model's real value.

We are Internet marketers and that means, among other things, we must create and act on some models long before their numerical clarity is without question. In this case an entrenched and supportive group BELIEVES cold calling is working as strongly as I believe they swing a brand and sales wrecking ball with each "old style" cold call. 

The future always converts better (eventually) because we get smarter. Heisenberg's uncertainty means we probably can't KNOW or accurately compare Kabuki Sales to Old Style Cold Calling. No matter what the data I could make an argument either way equally well.

In these situations it is best to proceed based on values and beliefs. Obviously the company who called me today believes in a dog with a bone approach to sales. If that solipsistic stance extends to advocacy (or the lack of picking up on the social clues I've left), then my values say they've created too much dissonance.

Dissonance on this level, ignoring social collaboration, is an important pointer (for those who are sensitive to it). Vendors who sell tools tend to think the magic is in the tool. We lucky few Internet marketers know the magic is always in the people and the collaboration we create.

This is the "tool creators" trap and many, many software and web developers fall headlong into it. Note how the home page of the website who cold called me HAS NO PEOPLE.

Even their About page is all text, again NO PEOPLE. I've been selling one thing or another since I was 18 (or so) and without exception all sales begin and end with PEOPLE. What is clear is there is a new sheriff in the sales town and few understand her new kabuki theater rules :). M 
As always a fantastic post Marty.

I think salespeople have it easier today than ever before. 

Example a company looking to sell me a social media tool can easily find out what I currently use and how I use it. 

The problem is MOST salespeople do not look at the long term value of a customer. Just the quick sale and move on. 

Retention of a customer or an employee takes caring enough to listen to them.

Companies have automated themselves out of caring and customers feel it.
+Brian Yanish Agree Brian. Selling attracts a run and gun type A personality and that may be as it should be. I have hope because sales is nothing if not Darwinian. When something WORKS it gets adopted and trained. Let's hope "social selling" and taking the time to really care and listen becomes the characteristics that stick :). 
+Martin W. Smith what a fantastic answer. I had plain curiosity about ROI but in return you convinced me that ROI in the world of people pretty much does not exist because of our current inability to measure feelings. Thanks Marty!
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