LinkedIn Vs. Cold Calling: The Uncomfortable But Effective Truth
Reading Time: 18 minutes
Has LinkedIn completely replaced the cold call and changed sales life as we know it? Is cold calling dead? Who or what killed it? We’ll explore the answers to these questions and if it even matters herein.
Let’s talk about it:
Is Cold Calling Dead?
Here ‘s the thing. In all honesty, I don’t think that’s the question people really want answered. It’s not a question that will do anyone any good. By now, we’ve all discovered the precise way to resurrect any dead sales or marketing idea, just do another search.
For every person that says rock music or hip hop is dead, another person is shouting about how we’re in a new golden age. Marketing is no different. People want to defend their fiefdoms and comfort zones.
I get it.
I don’t really have a dog in this fight.
But the question we really want answered is,
“Do I really have to cold call?”
And that has two tracks of thought:
The first track asks, “Is this something you’re willing to do for the next 10 years?”
Because as one of my mentors is fond of saying,
“If that’s what it costs to get it in the air, that’s what it takes to keep it there.”
So let’s not delude ourselves that we only have to do this extreme growth activity for a short while before avoiding it completely.
If you’re committed to building the appropriate lists of sales leads or prospects, creating the correct sales scripts and calling people up in order to determine their needs and persuade them to take the next step with you, preferably the next sales meeting, then by all means…
If you’re not sold on committing yourself to the demanding actions required for cold calling, then don’t pretend you are, as time will prove you a liar.
After that first track of thought, the second one asks,
“Is it effective for selling my product or service with my sales process?”
If your business requires you to attend a free webinar as the first step in your sales process, then cold calling ideal prospects is not likely in your best interest.
I don’t see how calling someone on the phone and then asking them to relocate to their office in order to sign-up for your webinar makes sense.
In opposition, if your prospect is expected to commit to a sales meeting as the first part of your sales process, a cold call might help.
So, problem solved, right? Cold call away?
Not so fast. Here’s the other thing about cold calling, it’s not done in a vacuum, societal changes and changes in communication alter its effectiveness.
I remember, when I worked in traditional selling and cold calling was king — and then people started using call blockers. Overnight much of our lists turned out to be obsolete.
We had to contend with what was happening.
Salespeople and owners don’t get to live on the edge of society, beholden to no one, like some rogue space cowboy in some sci-fi western mashup (my bad, I really need coffee). Quite the opposite, we have to contend with the ups and downs of communication trends and opportunities.
Right now, the biggest trends in communications includes the takeover of automated calling software, collectively referred to as robocallers.
My concern about cold calling is that it has taken an often-ignored blow, in modern times, from robocallers.
At last count, robocallers are making over 5 billion calls each month! Nothing to sneeze at. That’s enough for the average person to be hit-up several times a day with irrelevant messaging and off-color sales pitches.
In closing, about cold calling, the reasoning behind whether it is or isn’t dead comes down to the uncomfortable reality that most people don’t like doing it or dealing with it.
Case in point, a sales expert with nearly a decade’s experience I work alongside relies on cold calling in order to get the butter for his bread. Most of the day he spends his time speaking excitedly into his phone while pacing up and down the sidewalk.
One day, in the middle of a particularly busy work session, he received a call. I saw his face sour and knew immediately that it must have been a cold sales call. He verbally shooed the salesperson off the phone as quickly as he could.
After noticing the change in him, I asked, “Got a sales call you didn’t like? Was it bad?”
“No,” he began, “no one likes sales calls,” he replied, without missing a beat.
With all else being equal, the human brain will avoid the uncomfortable and unrewarding.
The excitement around prospecting online is the rest of us searching for a better way. LinkedIn lead generation or LinkedIn prospecting is an effective one.
How To Prospect On LinkedIn
For this exercise, there’s no need to use LinkedIn Sales Navigator, instead, you can use your free basic LinkedIn. Here are the steps for prospecting on LinkedIn :
- Choose your best approach.
- Start by searching for people by title.
- Narrow searches by relevant qualities.
- Click on profiles of interest.
- Find commonalities and include them in a connection note.
- When people connect, wait and pitch.
Choose your best approach
Before you start with LinkedIn lead generation, you need to know the specific social selling strategy that you plan to use. In my experience, there are a number of ways to get in touch with strangers via LinkedIn, just use your imagination, a few examples include
- Cold messaging
- Blind pitching (via the connection message)
- Visible visits then connecting (and pitching)
This all depends on the goal you would like to achieve. So getting your LinkedIn lead generation goal nailed down along with your preferred route for getting there is paramount to success with this social selling strategy.
For more ideas, you can go here.
Start by searching for people by title
When you’re initially looking for new prospects to connect with via LinkedIn, they will be pretty much invisible to you. Really.
LinkedIn does not want you to easily find people outside of your network. It’s supposed to be a measure to cut down on the random people that can reach out to you at any given time.
That means searching by name or company name is typically a ‘no-go.’
When starting to search, I recommend using the desired title as the first search. Go into your notes on your ideal prospect or sales lead and determine the positions this person typically takes.
If you determine that the person you would like to connect with is a “vice president of marketing,” I would start by searching that exact phrase in LinkedIn’s search bar.
Narrow searches by relevant qualities
At the top of your search results, click “people” to filter your results to the people who match your search query.
You will now see a list of people that you can start connecting with. But don’t do anything yet.
Take a beat.
Here is your opportunity to start winnowing things down to the people who would absolutely make the best sales leads for your organization.
You want to start narrowing down the search results by specific qualities that matter most to your process. These include
- Level of connection: I recommend “2nd”
- Geographic location
- Current company: If you have a specific one in mind
One thing to note here: In the event, your specific business is hyper-local, meaning your business ‘defends’ its territory in a small region in a specific city, I would not recommend LinkedIn as your main place for finding sales leads.
You can easily end up limiting yourself to an inadequate amount of leads if you get too specific about your geographic location.
Click on profiles of interest
When you find profiles that appear to be made for your business, you’ll want to click on those profiles and check them out.
Spend some time there, as it will help you with the next steps of social selling.
Find commonalities and include them in a connection note
On their profile, look for specific qualities that you have in common with this potential sales leads such as
- Shared fields
- Common degrees
- Similar work experience
- Shared connections
And include this information in a succinct connection message (you can add this when you click “connect” then “add note” on someone’s profile).
Note for mobile users: LinkedIn’s mobile experience is slightly different here. If you click “connect” on mobile, that’s it. The connection will send sans note. You don’t want that.
So, to add a note on mobile, you’ll want to click the three dots next the “connect” or “follow” button then select “personalized invite” Don’t make my mistake of accidentally inviting strangers to connect without any explanation.
When people connect, wait and pitch
Congratulations! Someone connected with you! That was easy.
Now play it cool.
When people actually connect with you on LinkedIn, there is a little bit of a rush that you get. It feels good. And you may want to further your relationship immediately via some pitch or whatnot.
Don’t do it.
I’ve found the best thing you can do with new connections is give them a bit of breathing space. I recommend waiting 2 days before sending anything else.
You need to set yourself apart from the bozos using the automated software that auto-replies to connections with a pre-prepared script (can you say spam?).
How to pitch correctly
When it comes time to pitch these new connections, I generally recommend keeping it as short as possible. It is easier to keep messages short with warm leads or people with whom you have some sort of history–but it is good protocol nonetheless.
For cold pitches, I recommend the 3 part perfect pitch:
Mention something personally relevant or interesting about the prospect or their recent LinkedIn activity.
Say what you’re about
This is where you give your elevator pitch to sales leads and quickly explain why they should care.
Seal the deal
Ask for the thing you wanted to ask for, be it a sales meeting or to register for your free webinar.
OR better yet pitch via video (highly recommended)
Pitch with video whenever possible, really.
Video has already shown itself to be such a powerful communication tool for our time, as you can see…
Real Cold LinkedIn Sales Message Example
Sometimes it’s helpful to work off a real-life example so you can see how the whole thing works together. Here goes. I’ve obviously changed a few details to show respect for peoples’ privacy:
- Lisa, I’d recently connected with Pavi A. And Michael B. (of our 6 mutual contacts) when I noticed your profile: you’re a fellow Tech Pro and Exec. I’m a Salesforce Pro looking to build new connections in the industry. Hope to connect on LinkedIn.
- Lisa is now a connection
- Thanks Lisa, Just noticed your post on your cable journey and improving the customer experience. Good points. Always good to connect with a fellow Tech Pro and Exec.
I promise I haven’t just connected with you increase my connections on LinkedIn. [Although it’s never a bad thing:)] I run Cosmic Cloud Consulting.
We help companies do training, simplify customer engagement, data, and make marketing reliable with Salesforce tools and other providers.
Here is an example video (at 59 secs): http://bit.ly/cosmiccloudvideo
Would it make sense to have a quick phone chat when it works for you?
- Hi Bertrand – sure I have time this week. Send a calendar invite to email@example.com. -Lisa
Cold LinkedIn Sales Message Templates
Below you will find cold LinkedIn sales message templates that you might helpful.
Basic pitch message template
Thanks [First Name]. Just noticed your shared post: on [Shared Post Details] – and that you’ve been a successful industry leader for years. Good stuff. Always good to connect with a fellow [Industry] Pro and Exec.
I promise I haven’t just connected to increase my connections on LinkedIn. [Although it’s never a bad thing:)] I run [Business Name].
We help[ Specific Types Of People Or Companies] [Specific Benefits These People Get]. For example, we’ve [Specific Example Or Stat Of Success].
You can see an example here: [Insert Link Here]
Would it make sense for us to have a quick chat when it works for you?
Market research/networking messaging templates
- Hi [First Name]! I’d just connected with [Mutual Connection First Names] (2 out of 4 of our mutual contacts) when I noticed your profile and that you’re also a [Thing You Share In Common]. I just [Relevant Situation To Why You’re Reaching Out] and am looking to build new connections. Hope to connect on LI.
- [First Name]. Thanks for connecting. Good to connect with a fellow [thing you have in common]. A bit about me: [Your Quick Story And Problem] but am unsure how to best help [People You Want To Serve] in the area. That’s why I’m glad to chat with a seasoned pro like yourself.
Would it be alright to ask you a few questions?
- Thanks for being helpful [First Name]. I think I could learn a lot from your experience. And typically when I find someone like that, whether a business mentor or fellow [Your Professional Role], I invite them out to coffee.
Would you be open to grab a coffee for 30 mins?
And hopefully I could share some insights I’ve learned from [Your Target Industry] leaders like yourself. It would be really helpful.
LinkedIn Cold Outreach Best Practices
After following the tips and tricks recommended here, remember to stay in your lane as far as LinkedIn cold outreach best practices are concerned. Here’s how you can best do that.
Don’t use InMail
InMail is not effective. Plain and simple. The best thing you can do is connect with an actual prospect before trying to sell them on anything. In fact, a failure to connect might just mean they aren’t interested in talking with you any further.
There! You saved a (useless) InMail credit.
Stop with the multiple followups
There is no message I find more ironic on LinkedIn than the spammer who declares they are “circling back” with me or “following up” on their last message.
You can’t follow-up if we never even had a conversation, bud!
Outside of being annoying and getting labeled as a spammer, multiple LinkedIn messages don’t look good from the sales lead’s perspective. They might have responded but then they see a message pane full of messages from you that never got a response.
Doesn’t take a crystal ball to figure out what they will think about you then. You’re another person to ignore.
Unlike a phone call, LinkedIn leads have a quick and clear history of how many times you’ve messaged them via their message pane.
So, it’s not a good look to message them without a response over and over.
Take the conversation elsewhere if you can
In the world of human relationships, if you can not see a person outside of a single setting, there is little chance things will get serious between you.
Likewise, if you are going to get sales leads committed to your offering, you need to get them onto another platform. If you can’t accomplish this, there is no chance in heck they are likely to do business with you (or further connect).
Remember, sales may happen because of LinkedIn but not on LinkedIn.
If you’re having a good conversation with a new sale, try inviting them to continue the conversation via email, in order to set up a sales call or so you share more information.
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