How to Use LinkedIn to Make Smarter Sales Calls

Does cold calling still work?

It depends how you define it. The original definition of cold calling was reaching out to people you don’t know anything about and trying to sell them something.

“Anybody who does that these days is an idiot,” says Ken Krogue, founder and president of XANT.

Earlier this month, Krogue teamed up with Steve Richard from Vorsight to dispel some popular myths about cold calling in a live webinar.

The two well-known sales leaders pointed out that “cold calling” is an outdated term.

Richard said successful sales reps no longer make “cold calls.” Instead, they make “unexpected sales calls,” which still work quite well.

DiscoverOrg surveyed more than 1,000 senior executives to determine the effectiveness of unexpected sales calls or emails, and the results were astonishing. According to Richard, 75 percent of those executives said that they have taken an appointment or attended an event that came from a so-called cold call or email.

Watch the webinar, “The Science of Using LinkedIn, Technology & Social Selling for Cold Calling” in the YouTube video below. The presenters included the phrase “cold calling” in the title because that’s still the term that most salespeople use.

Watch the webinar here:

Cold Calling Is Dead: The Birth of Unexpected Sales Calls

The key is not to “cold call” in the original sense of the term. The act of calling people you know nothing about has given cold calling a bad name and is no longer necessary.

Now, salespeople have the resources to make a connection with a prospect or at least find out something meaningful about that person before making the call.

“Warm up the conversation with research,” Krogue said. “LinkedIn is the single most powerful tool on the planet for that and for tapping into those relationships that exist, the introductions that are already there.”

The key difference between unexpected sales calling and cold calling is how the salesperson utilizes tools, such as LinkedIn.

LinkedIn should not be used for spamming or for connecting with a mass number of prospects you have no other connection to. It should be used for making warm introductions.

“The title of this webinar probably should have been ‘The Science of Using LinkedIn, Technology, & Social Selling So You Don’t Need to Cold Call’,” Krogue said.

Join LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn groups are a wonderful venue to engage in meaningful conversations with those who have similar interests. Groups allow professionals to understand what the hot topics are in their area, socialize with colleagues, ask questions and give helpful answers.

“Do NOT join groups to spam them and just share your content. You have to be engaged in the dialogue,” Richard said.

You are 70 percent more likely to get an appointment with someone on an “unexpected sales call” if you are in a common LinkedIn group than if you aren’t.

This was tested at a call center in Tampa, Florida. Richard says they first used a typical cold call strategy on 1,000 numbers. On the second 1,000 dials, they started the conversation with, “I understand we share a common LinkedIn group.” Just using that simple statement increased the number of appointments set by 70 percent.

The Secret Tool: Second-Degree Connections and TeamLink

Vorsight found that if a salesperson contacts someone who is not at least a second-degree LinkedIn connection, there is a 32 percent conversion rate to an appointment set. However, if there is a second-degree connection, the conversion rate rises to 50 percent.

TeamLink is one of LinkedIn’s premium features.

“I personally believe that the biggest, unleveraged ability for sales professionals to meet their numbers is mining second-degree LinkedIn connections and then using a tool LinkedIn has called TeamLink,” Richard said. “I’ve been hearing preliminary success stories from clients, and they are pretty remarkable.”

TeamLink instantaneously connects users with their co-workers. For example, AT&T is a big enough company that it would be seemingly impossible for an employee to be connected with everyone who works for AT&T.

TeamLink makes it so that anytime you do a search, you will see if that person is connected to you or to anyone at your company.

The idea is that rather than contacting the prospect, you contact the connection, who is a co-worker. Your co-worker can introduce you to the prospect, eliminating the need for cold calling.

Send LinkedIn Messages

XANT conducted a study that found a 700 percent increase in response ratios to messages sent through LinkedIn over email with the exact same content.

“If you send an email, cut and paste that exact same information and send it through a LinkedIn message. You’ll get a 700 percent higher response rate,” Krogue said. “If you’re trying to reach out to someone, you’ve got to have that premium service, especially high-end executives.”

LinkedIn Job Change Alerts

There is a free tool called Job Change Alerts: “If you’re a salesperson, and you don’t do this, I think you’re crazy. You are losing out on hundreds of thousands of dollars,” Richard said.

Old clients at a new company as a lead source convert at 30 percent. They have used your product. That referral is incredibly valuable.

So, what does Job Change Alerts do?

When you sign up, Job Change Alerts links with your LinkedIn account. Every day you get one daily digest email of all the people you’re connected with on LinkedIn who change jobs.

Connect with your customers, and connect with your prospects when you have a reason to.

This does not mean to send out blind connections to people you’ve never met. That’s unacceptable. But, for example, if you talked to someone at a trade show or have a second-degree connection, it is OK to send an invite that says, “Hi, the reason I’m contacting you is you and I share a connection with Ken Krogue” or “Hi, the reason I’m contacting you is we talked at Dreamforce about the rapid growth of the inside sales industry.”

Then, when a customer leaves a company for another, you know about it and have a valuable lead source at your fingertips.

LinkedIn Do’s and Don’ts

  • DO use LinkedIn for warm introductions and connections.
  • DO use LinkedIn to make your conversation relevant to the prospect.
  • DO engage in meaningful conversations on LinkedIn.
  • DO use LinkedIn to find out information about your prospect that sparks their curiosity: “How does this person know so much about me?” or “Why do we have that common connection?”
  • DO send LinkedIn messages
  • DO connect with customers
  • DO utilize Job Change Alerts
  • DO NOT spam LinkedIn groups
  • DO NOT try to add people you do not know unless you have at least a second-degree connection
  • DO NOT spam your connections

The Future of Sales

Cold calling is dead, thanks to tools such as LinkedIn. However, contacting people you don’t already know is still essential to sales. Richard said, “Ultimately if you look at how commerce is done globally these days, a lot of it happens between people who don’t originally know each other.”

Fortunately, the initial connection doesn’t have to be cold anymore. Use social selling tools to make a connection before the call. Make sure your product would actually benefit your prospect. Have someone introduce you. Doing this changes the sales process. It takes the cold out of cold calling.

How do you feel about cold calling? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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