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The Cure For The Common Cold Call Is Social Selling

The Cure For The Common Cold Call Is Social Selling

August 27, 2015
4 min read

Are you coughing up excuses why you missed your sales quota? Are you working at a feverish pace to get through your call list with no luck? Or, are you feeling depressed and alone since your calls and emails go unanswered? If you are experiencing these symptoms which prevent you from making a successful connection with a new sales prospect, then you have a case of the common bad cold call.

The Common Cold Call Is an Epidemic Problem

Face it, the impact of the common cold is an epidemic issue in sales organizations, since it costs too much and doesn’t work, as noted in the below statistics!

  • Cold calling does not work 90.9% of the time according to Harvard Business Review
  • Cold calling costs at least 60% more per lead than other methods, like social selling, per HubSpot, The State of Inbound Marketing
  • Less than 2% of cold calls result in a meeting reported by Leap Job

With statistics like this, how can sales leadership not be adopting social-selling techniques as a cure to this malaise of missed opportunities? How do you cure the common cold call with a not-so-intrusive or disturbing regimen of social selling?

1. Assess Your Brand Appeal

Before you start selling yourself, work on your personal brand’s curbside appeal and tune up your underperforming LinkedIn profile. With 49.5% of profiles incomplete, you can start by getting your profile up to All-star status and then move on to making it be MVP status. Once you have a complete refreshed profile, you will be more findable and you’ll have taken your first step to cure the common cold call.

2. Prove Your Expertise to Your Community

No one wants to answer a phone call or email from someone who is going to sell them. However, if you have the expert- reputation in your field as someone who can help, then customers will be knocking on YOUR door. Turn your LinkedIn and Twitter accounts into your reputation destination by regularly curating content:

  • Tweet 10 times a day with links to smart and helpful early- and mid-funnel-related content
  • Update your LinkedIn status 3-5 times daily to start by posting links to articles, research graphics, SlideShare presentations, and video paired with a question to facilitate discussion with your network
  • Blog 1-2 times weekly

Keep your curated content limited to early-funnel conversations (e.g., what is mobility vs. how your company can help solve a mobility problem) to establish your reputation and help you with your common cold calling. 89% of buyers say vendor-provided educational content is acceptable on social networks, says IDG, so using social media to distribute this content to build your reputation is a solid cure to the common cold call.

3. Listen Before You Prescribe (Advise)

When I began my career in sales selling copiers for Kodak in the 1980’s my mother used to say look 5 times before you contact your customer. Listen to business, contact, industry and category triggers. Use this to tailor your customer pre touches and eventual 1-1 connections. This way you will be more informed, relevant and successful. Set up your social selling and listening command center to get started today!

4. Make Smart & Efficient Pre-Touches

I remember my chiropractor touching my back and observing my posture before he started talking about what ailed me. These touches facilitated a more relevant discussion , than if he just jumped right into the assessment with standard questions. Ysing effective social media touches before a 1-1 touch, you will have a greater likelihood to connect with the customer with success – better timing, not intrusive. Here are smart social media pre-touches to get on your prospects radar to turn a cold call into a warm call:

  • Follow your customer on Twitter
  • Retweet, Favorite or Mention your customer in a tweet
  • Place your customer in a public Twitter list like “Retail Thought Leaders”
  • Comment on their blog
  • Contribute to a conversation in a shared LinkedIn Group
  • Like a comment made on a shared contact’s post
  • Pass on links to 3rd-party content via LinkedIn Groups, tweets, daily LinkedIn updates (they likely will see if you share contacts)

5. Ask a Question on X or LinkedIn

It’s OK to ask a relevant question or post a relevant link directly to your contact to make a positive first impression before you have had a phone conversation. For example, send a thoughtful ‘mention or reply’ on Twitter (e.g., @GerryMoran do you see the importance of content growing at your business?) to incite a response. You can similarly connect with a customer via a message sent from a shared LinkedIn group.

After a few pre touches, reach out and get LinkedIn to your contact, using a relevant and contextual invitation. Never send a stock invite directly from LinkedIn and NEVER send it from a mobile device, since you cannot customize your invitation.

6. Use Warm Referrals to Cure Cold Calling

Just a cup or warm tea can help cure the common cold, a warm referral can cure the common cold call. When a shared and trusted contact brokers a meeting, you will have an increased chance for success. By increasing the size of your network with past and current coworkers, you can increase the pool from which you can pull to make these warm referrals.

There is no quick cure to the common cold call. You need to spend some time working on your social selling health by tuning up your personal brand, increasing your reputation, and establishing your credibility. By nurturing your health, you can avoid the common cold call and make more contacts successful warm ones.

Do you have a personal social selling remedy to the common cold call? Tweet at me on X!

2 thoughts on “The Cure For The Common Cold Call Is Social Selling

  1. Dan McDade

    In my opinion generic advice like this is dangerous because it applies to one end of the market (low-end, commodity products or solutions) and does not at all apply to enterprise, strategic deals. I read these same statistics in other blogs and I suggest that writers start to qualify there advice so as not to mislead marketers who are supporting more strategic solutions and products. For one thing, the more senior executives don’t give up “digital body language” and are not as apt to engage in dialog over social media as are their more junior counter-parts. That is not just my opinion, it is a fact backed up by a number of recent client experiments that resulted in deal size shrinking and pipeline disappearing. Again, my opinion, but responsible journalists don’t throw around stats based on Hubspot (as an example) simply because their market is not representative of all of the selling opportunities out there.

  2. Brian Badillo


    Though your executive comment is valid, more strategic sales still require engaging multiple buyers. These are tactics that help in creating engagement with many buyers and maybe more so about creating “authority” to position yourself as an expert. It’s less about the action and more about the content.

    I would say that these are relevant in most any space and something most salespeople have yet to leverage. As far as being for commodity products and services, positioning is the only thing that can change that perception. We all sell commodities until a salesperson can convince a prospect that there is a problem they can solve.

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Michael Brenner is an international keynote speaker, author of "Mean People Suck" and "The Content Formula", and Founder of Marketing Insider Group. Recognized as a Top Content Marketing expert and Digital Marketing Leader, Michael leverages his experience from roles in sales and marketing for global brands like SAP and Nielsen, as well as his leadership in leading teams and driving growth for thriving startups. Today, Michael delivers empowering keynotes on marketing and leadership, and facilitates actionable workshops on content marketing strategy. Connect with Michael today.

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