If you want to hit a nerve, tell insurance people that cold calling is dead.
And that’s exactly what Andrew Jenkins did back in 2014 when he was interviewed by Insurance Business Magazine about changes happening in the industry.
He’s wasn’t alone in his assertions.“Cold calling is old fashioned,” says Dave Roberts, UNC Kenan Flagler Business School professor “Aim for hot calling,” he says.“Learn enough to position your approach towards the needs of the industry or the customer.”
But when Jenkins shared his professional opinion about social media and cold calling, there was some backlash.
“That “Cold calling is dead” is untrue and is a fabrication of the truth in order to satisfy stakeholder interests.”
“The reason that social media is popular is that it is a lot easier to do than to cold call. No one likes to cold call, I realize that. However it works and always will.”
“Cold calling is another name for effectively targeting the type of business you want to pursue. You go to it, you find it, it does not come to you…Twitter is great, a tool to be used by the meek.”
“You asked how much longer cold calling works. I will turn that around and ask how do we know in 3 years time that many of the social media outlets won’t be in the toilet.”
Change is hard and scary; the resistance to social media years ago from the insurance industry was understandable. But from this perspective, social media has made it virtually impossible to have a cold call. There is so much information online about businesses and the people within them. In fact, someone reached out to me via email referencing a tweet I sent earlier in the month. Even though they reached out cold (I didn’t know them from a hole in the wall) they used information I had shared to start a conversation. It immediately broke down the walls that go up when you think someone is trying to connect just to sell. (I mean, they were totally trying to sell me something, but it wasn’t as annoying as having someone just call me out of the blue!)
Cold Calling – as in phoning people without knowing anything about them, is dead. But reaching out to leads, that’s different.
91% of people have gone into a store because of an online experience. (Source: Marketing Land)
89% of consumers conduct their research using search engines. (Source: PR Newswire)
62% of consumers end up making a purchase in-store after researching it online. (Source: Marketing Land)
72% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. (Source:Search Engine Journal)
78% of consumers say that the posts made by companies on social media influence their purchases. (Source: Forbes)
Social media allows us to communicate is easier, faster and more economically. Who wouldn’t want to sit in front of a computer screen, cherry-picking clients rather than flipping through the phone book, buying lists or even randomly surfing the internet for prospects? It’s a dangerous assumption to believe that traditional methods will always work. When CASL was introduced, it changed how businesses could conduct their business online. We know how much this legislation affects how sales people and marketers pursue new business.
Sales people should work on mastering social media sites that their ideal client uses. The next generation of money-makers, spenders and decision makers grew up with technology and social media; they’re “tech-dependent” as Jason Dorsey would say and they want you to bring them value.
Now don’t mistake this insistence on integrating social media into sales practices as a lack of respect for men and women who have spent years building their businesses without it. Sales isn’t for the faint at heart – it takes business intelligence, patience, resolve and an insane amount of confidence. But I encourage sales people to actively listen, learn and engage with potential clients through means that’ve never been available to before.
Cold calling is not the most effective way to target the type of business you want to pursue. But using social media networking sites like LinkedIn can be very effective. It’s the largest professional networking site available with 330 million people. As Ken Krogue wrote in a Forbes article last summer, “LinkedIn is the single most powerful sales information tool on the planet. It makes it so you don’t have to cold call … ever!”
No one knows how long LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc., will be around. But as long as they continue to evolve, adapt and remain relevant, they’ll probably stick around. Social Media has provided sales people with the opportunity to build and nurture relationships in an entirely new way. Take a chance on it and let me know how you make out!