linkedin marketing versus cold calling

Times, they are a changin’. Nowhere is this more true and visible than online. If you know my story or have heard my appearances on some top podcasts, you know that I’ve literally made millions of dollars by abandoning cold calling and putting my efforts into LinkedIn marketing.

Yet organizations today still push their sales reps to make more calls. Some business owners feel like they need to spend more time and energy than ever making cold calls. Sorry to be blunt here, but…

Cold calling is definitely not the best way to spend your companies time, money and resources!

I’m not just speaking from experience here – research shows that it took an average of 3.68 cold call attempts to reach a prospect in 2007. Today? It takes 8+ attempts. The big question is, where will it be in 5 years?

The reason is simple => Today’s buyers including businesses, owners and executives have access to more information than ever before. They want to feel comfortable with people and organizations before doing business with them.

Nearly half of all LinkedIn users are key decision makers – so you’re in the right place to get results. But history and past results may be tugging you back toward old school cold calling, rather than the “unknown” of LinkedIn marketing. Let me share with you why I think this is a huge mistake.

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I am a big fan of USA Wrestling and the UFC.  So allow me to set up an epic battle here between LinkedIn and cold calling. Does LinkedIn really stand up to the time-tested value of cold calling? It comes down to several critical “rounds”:

Round 1: Identifying Prospects

linkedin advanced searchBack in the day, your method of identifying prospects was a thick book with lots of pages – that’s right, the phone book. I’m sure someone, somewhere is still using a phone book (poor guy), but most sales reps are probably using its Internet-age replacement: The Google Search. Googling “XYZ Company CEO” can often find you a name, or even a phone number. Technically, that’s all you need to make a cold call, right?

With LinkedIn’s Advanced Search, you can pinpoint exact decision makers and influencers you need to be speaking with and then gather detailed sales intelligence on them before ever speaking with them. In the 80’s and 90’s, if you were lucky enough to work for a national or global organization, your company may have subscribed to a service that provided some of the information that is now available for free — and instantly — on LinkedIn. Some of the criteria you can use in your search includes: keyword, title, seniority, geography, industry, company size, past company and much, much more. If you’re a premium member, you have access to even more search criteria (with a few premium levels to choose from, it is a wise investment that can produce significant ROI). Just type in your criteria, hit search and LinkedIn will present you with a list highly targeted sales leads.

Winner: LinkedIn

Round 2: Email

linkedin messageWhen it comes to sales, it’s a numbers game, right? Make 100 calls, get a few to answer. Make 200, get even more. Send out 50 prospecting emails, get a handful of responses. Keep sending, get more responses.

It’s a simple formula or is it?

How many emails do you get every day? A recent study shows that the average person sends/receivers 100+ emails per day! Drives you nuts, right? Imagine if you’re a key decision maker at one of your target companies and you’re being hit with potentially dozens of prospecting emails every day. Definitely not the best way for you to stand out, right?

Odds are your prospecting emails are getting deleted (honestly is like ripping off a band-aid sometimes – it hurts at first, but it has to be done…your emails are getting deleted). Once you’ve connected with your prospects on LinkedIn, you can send them direct messages through LinkedIn. Instead of 100’s of emails per day, most people only receive a handful of LinkedIn messages. In this instance, LinkedIn gives you the opportunity to truly stand out from the crowd.

Winner: LinkedIn

Round 3: Education

linkedin marketing pulse bloggingYour product or service is great and you know it. As a sales rep, a big part of your job is educating your prospects on just how great that product or service is and how it can help them improve their own businesses.

The problem is that most people just don’t want to listen, let alone learn from sales reps.

Sometimes you can entice prospects on a cold call to visit your office for a tour or seminar (if you provide free food), but the time and cost investment is high and turnout is often low. The conversion rate is typically even lower.

With LinkedIn’s publishing feature, you can position yourself as an authority/expert by sharing or write content that is automatically distributed to your entire network of clients and prospects. You spend a few minutes crafting the post or article, and LinkedIn does the rest. Rather than invade your clients’ and prospects’ space with a sales pitch, you’re providing value to them in a non-salesy way. You’re making their lives easier, by providing value versus interrupting or pitching them.

But how will you know if your content is making an impact? LinkedIn’s analytics features are increasingly robust, so if you’re writing a Pulse post (LinkedIn’s “blog” feature that allows you to write and publish blogs within LinkedIn), you can actually see the name and profile of every person who interacts with your post. For your everyday posts (the status-type updates you see in your feed when you first login to LinkedIn), you can also click to see who has liked, shared or commented on your post.

Added bonus: When your connections interact with your content, it is then broadcast to their connections, so you will often find people interacting with your posts who you’re not connected with yet – aka warms leads. Once you know which connections have found value in your post, you can and should follow up with reply or LinkedIn message to keep the conversation moving.

Winner: LinkedIn

Okay, you probably could see where this was headed, but LinkedIn marketing most definitely wins in a landslide. It truly arms you with the tools and information needed to maximize your results. Focusing your efforts on a powerful LinkedIn marketing campaign versus “smiling and dialing” is much more likely to provide a significant return on your investment.

Now that you know LinkedIn can get you better results than cold calling, it’s time to get to work.

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Dennis Brown
“Stop the madness. There’s a better way!”
LinkedIn Marketing & Social Selling Consultant, Trainer, Speaker

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