Can you imagine what would happen if you told your sales manager that you absolutely refuse to make cold calls? Thinking back to my days as a sales account executive, I know that my boss would have thought I was being insubordinate if I walked into his office and boldly made the proclamation, “I refuse to make cold calls ever again!” He is a great guy and an incredible sales manager, so I’m sure he would have given me a short window of opportunity to explain my proclamation and then an even shorter window to “prove” my new lead generation tactic successful.
So, how do you get attention and establish credibility prior to a cold call? Simple, you call people who already know you or know of you. Get a referral from a friend, client, colleague, neighbor, or relative. Expand your network by getting involved in your community by joining clubs, groups or philanthropic organizations. Use social media to expand your professional network, become a thought leader and engage in professional conversations with your connections… ALL of your connections, even your friends! Yes, your friends too!
The idea of getting referrals or expanding your network by getting involved in your community is not new. We’ve been talking about those tactics and practicing them for decades. Both means are proven tactics for warming up cold calls and seamlessly securing first appointments. In addition, I think most of us are comfortable (or are getting comfortable) with social media for lead generation in our professional “inner circle.” But the truth is it’s also a legitimate platform to begin a professional relationship with your friends and personal acquaintances.
Here’s the deal, times have changed. The days of phonebooks, rolodexes, and driving all over God’s green earth to drop-in for a “chance” meeting are gone. Technology has happened to all of us… whether we like it or not. And as the saying goes, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” …in this case you might as well jump on the technology bandwagon because it’s getting stronger and more powerful every day. Plus, all your friends are doing it. And while I wouldn’t always recommend “doing it just because your friends do,” in this particular social media situation I say, jump on!
Social media tools like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Branch Out, etc. are incredible lead generation tools. They provide an appropriate environment and extremely simple way to socialize with your personal inner circle about their professional passions, talents, skills, and expertise. This means that it’s also a legitimate platform for you to reveal your professional passions, talents, skills and expertise. I don’t know about you, but I don’t typically get in-depth about my skills or my career when I’m interacting with my friends (or their friends) at little league games, couples date night, movie night, vacations, school events, etc. There is a time and place for everything, and frankly no one wants to cannibalize their personal time with an in-depth professional conversation, including me.
However, given a valid business reason, I would welcome the opportunity to work with my friends (or their friends), past colleagues, acquaintances, fellow group members or board members, etc. The point is, until social media I didn’t know exactly what the people in my personal inner circle really do professionally, how incredibly talented they are, their skills, expertise, vast education, professional honors and awards, etc. Most of my friends are pretty humble, and I’ve never asked any of them for their resume. And likewise, they have never asked me for mine. That would just be weird!
Instead of being “weird,” let social media technology platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, etc. be a tool to help you get to know your “personal inner circle” professionally… in a “normal” way – this will benefit both of you. By engaging through one of these platforms you will be able to naturally collaborate and share ideas, experiences, resources, etc. You will be able to “think together” and “interact” in a way that you probably would have never otherwise had the opportunity or reason to.
Social media has indeed created an appropriate “time and place” to have in-depth professional conversations with your personal inner circle. And, if you fish for leads in a pond where you have consistent interaction with people that already know you and respect you, the likelihood of getting that first meeting is greatly enhanced… especially if you have a valid business reason!
Get to know your friends in a whole new way. Use social media to learn more about them and reveal your professional talents, skills and expertise in a legitimate and appropriate environment. Continue to warm up your cold calls by getting referrals and expanding your professional network. Refuse to make cold calls; honestly in today’s world there is simply no reason to make getting that first appointment so difficult.
Demrie Henry is a Performance Consultant at The Center for Sales Strategy.