More connections, meetings and potential new business are being scheduled now as a result of social media use. Said another way, salespeople are getting better at using LinkedIn and email while companies are generating more interest from their websites, blogs and newsletters. But be warned, the appeal of 10 times more leads and the simplicity of connecting with someone you want to do business with has its drawbacks too.
All those new leads? They are very different from the leads of yesteryear; bingo cards from magazines, call-ins, and brochure requests. Today your brochures live on or as with websites, call-ins went the way of the typewriter. And the closest thing to a bingo card are the inbound leads requesting samples, white papers and free trials. It's so easy to become somebody else's lead today because it's so easy to click for instant gratification. More leads = smaller percentage of good leads.
And the extremely easy ability to connect with your targets? Just because they have accepted your invitation to become part of each other's network does not mean they want to talk with you, meet with you or buy from you. There's a false sense of security there.
And most of all, just like being part of a referral group where you have zero control over whether or not a member ever makes a valuable introduction to you, similarly, you have no control over whether your LinkedIn network will ever produce fruit.
The lesson here is that these new sources of potential business are simply that - sources of potential business - that you can't control. That's one of the primary reasons that so many companies are complaining that there aren't enough new business opportunities in the pipeline. Salespeople can't control these sources and at the same time, many have stopped making calls!
When salespeople do make calls, they quickly learn that prospects no longer answer or return calls from salespeople. Salespeople give up on prospects without realizing that today it requires as many as 10-15 attempts to either reach or get a call back from a prospect. Then, when they finally do reach a prospect, their messaging, scripts, approach, sound and calls-to-action are so bad, they convert very few calls to meetings. That's why people say that cold calls don't work. It's not that cold calls don't work; it's that salespeople truly suck at making cold calls!
Finally, what can you learn from commercial real estate firms and business machine companies? Don't you still get calls from them? How about insurance and investment professionals? They still call, don't they? They may all be lousy at getting through to you, getting your attention, and compelling you to talk or meet with them again, but they are calling. Don't let your salespeople off the hook. If you need them to bring in more new business and it's not working, you'll need to do at least two of the following:
- Hire a firm like Kurlan & Associates to get them trained on how to be really effective at getting call-backs, attention, engagement and commitments;
- Require more phone activity;
- Hire a firm like ConnectLeader to help your salespeople be more productive on the phone;
- Hire a firm like Objective Management Group to help you identify and select true hunters.