Cold Calling and Social Selling: The Duo You Need to Know About

Cold Calling and Social Selling
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David Chevalier
by David Chevalier

2 Min. Read

Thelma and Louise. 

Patrick and Spongebob. 

Shaggy and Scooby-Doo. 

Cold calling and social selling. 

All iconic pairs. 

That’s right – we’re not going to run through the same old ‘cold calling vs social selling’ debate. Really, it shouldn’t be a debate in the first place. 

Cold calling – where sales pros give prospects a call that they weren’t expecting to start a conversation – and social selling – where sales pros interact with prospects over social media – work best as a pair. 

Think of social selling as the precursor to a successful cold call. You could make the call without social selling, but it’s like jumping into a workout without doing mobility first (you’re going to end up performing poorly and feeling sore afterwards, in case we need to spell it out). 

On the other hand, amplify your brand and interact with your prospect over social first and you’re putting yourself in a far better position to nail your cold call. 

Think of doing both as part of your multi-touch, multi-channel sales strategy. Combining channels gives you more of an opportunity to get in front of your prospects – and convince them that your product is the answer to all their problems. 

Put your goggles on – we’re getting ready for a deep dive: 

Without further ado:

The benefits of cold calling 

Simply put, you should be running towards cold calling with open arms. The benefits are huge: 75% are willing to make an appointment or attend an event based on cold outreach alone. And 70% of sellers cite it as a way to book meetings with buyers. 

Cold calling is simple to do, cost-effective, and straightforward: you get immediate feedback on how close to (or far off from) the mark you are. No more waiting around for a response to your email, or trying to figure out exactly what your prospect meant in their response. 

It’s also the easiest way to understand your clients. If the conversation is successful, you’ll be able to quickly learn what pain points they have – which is so, so valuable for your subsequent conversations over all channels. 

Cold calling is also a real driver of your development as a sales professional: you learn to think on your feet, handle objections and develop resilience. Getting told no over the phone may feel stressful and embarrassing at first, but you soon learn to lean into it and will quickly find yourself getting better. 

The power of social selling 

Social selling is a seriously powerful weapon in your arsenal. 78% of sales reps engaged in social selling outsell their peers. 

In a nutshell, social selling is using social media to sell to your prospects. No, this doesn’t mean trying to conduct the entire sale in the LinkedIn comments section – but it does mean using social media to build your brand and engage with your prospects. It might look like: 

  • Posting to your own accounts about common pain points you see and how you can help 
  • Thoughtful comments on your prospect’s personal posts 
  • Engaging with a business you want to sell to’s content 
  • Interacting via LinkedIn InMail or DM 

Think of social selling as relationship building and you can’t go too far wrong. From a prospect’s perspective, interacting with you over social media feels pretty low-stakes – giving you plenty of opportunity to generate higher quality leads and to better understand your customer’s needs. 

Social selling can increase win rates by up to 5% and deals by 35% in size. Not to be sniffed at! 


Why combining cold calling with social selling works 

Social selling is a fantastic precursor to a cold call. It gives you a chance to find out more about your prospects and find an angle to approach your cold call from. 

From their perspective, if you’re already connected on LinkedIn and have maybe had an interesting conversation or two online they’re not going to feel like they’re getting a call from a total stranger.

 Instead, they have a sense of who you are and what you do – which is taking half the work out of the cold call and giving you more time to dig deeper into the virtues and strengths of your product. 

Tom Slocum, Founder and CEO of The SD Lab, explains the relationship between the two: 

“Calling people out of the blue…it’s not dying, but it is evolving…what we’re seeing now is this transition into a modern-day version of selling. Social selling is blowing up – you can amplify yourself to hundreds of folks”. 

“[Today], you’re seeing people take a quality over quantity approach, trying to find warmer leads.” 

In other words – combining cold calling and social selling is the future of the sales role. Now, here’s how to actually put it into practice.

social selling and cold calling

Steps to integrating cold calling and social selling

Let’s run through your plan, step-by-step: 

  1. Research and preparation: first things first, you want to use social media to gather as much information about prospects before calling. This includes the basic stuff – their career background, their current role, where they sit in the org structure – and the stuff they might be struggling with at the moment (which, shock, your product can help with). You’re likely to find this by having a quick snoop through the type of content they’re interacting with and posting themselves. 
  2. Engage on social media: next it’s time to extend the digital hand of friendship over social. Connect with them, engage with their content, and join in conversations. Note that generic comments like ‘Great post!!’ aren’t going to get you anywhere – be thoughtful and precise. You might want to try sending them a DM or two too, and seeing if you can get a look-in that way. 
  3. Personalise your calls: now you’ve gathered the information you need on social, it’s time to tailor your cold calls. Had a great interaction in the LinkedIn comment section? Reference it! Noticed that your prospect seems to be enjoying a competitor’s content? Use this info to prep common objections and explain why your product is actually the better one. 
  4. Follow up: whether your cold call goes well or not, make sure you maintain contact through social media to nurture the relationship. 

Extremely handy tip: did you know that a tool exists that can help you manage both? No way! It’s called Surfe (nice to meet you) – and it’s here to help you cut down admin time and get all the information you need. 

Once you’ve downloaded Surfe, you can use it to find the contact data of any contact you choose on LinkedIn. It aggregates the best email address and phone number finders to make sure you’re delivered accurate results every time. All the data is automatically synced with your CRM of choice, and updated when Surfe spots there’s been a change. You can do this per contact or per Sales Navigator list – sweet. 

Plus, it keeps track of all the interactions you have over DM or InMail with your prospects. You can use it to analyse your messages and find out what’s working, as well as share successful templates with your teammates. Plus, any interaction is automatically shared with your CRM – so when it comes to making that cold call, you have all the information you need at your fingertips. 

Speaking of cold calling, it also has an integration with Aircall which means you can call people without leaving their LinkedIn profile. Obviously, we made sure that this interaction will be logged in your CRM too. 

Speeding up your combination approach? Yes please! 

Common challenges and how to overcome them 

We’re sure you’re sold (and we didn’t even need to message you on LinkedIn or call you – ha). But we do recognise these things can be easier said than done. Here are some common challenges to keep an eye out for: 

Time management: when you’ve got a lot of touchpoints to hit, it’s vital that you keep things efficient. We find it’s best to timeblock and spend a designated chunk of time on each tactic a day. There’s a great example in this Clevenio article showing how to divide up your time. 

Plus, use tools like Surfe to make sure you’re automating what you can and not wasting time on pointless admin tasks. 

Balancing tasks: maybe you love smashing the phones, or maybe you’re a natural LinkedIn influencer. Most people have a preference for some tasks over others. Just make sure that you’re giving the right amount of attention to both. 

It’s also worth noting that social selling is a longer game, and does require a bit of persistence upfront before you start seeing results. Luckily for you, you’ve already got persistence in spades – so that shouldn’t be a problem. 

Temptation to take shortcuts: as we said before, spammy behaviour on social or really obviously AI-generated content isn’t going to cut it with your prospects (AI can be helpful when you use it well, but at least take the time to learn how to prompt it properly). There’s no point half-doing something like social selling – it’s just a waste of your time.

Similarly, don’t get impatient and cold call prematurely – you’re just giving yourself less of a chance to succeed. 

Fortunately, there are tools to help you speed things up: Clevenio recommends getting familiar with LinkedIn Sales Navigator, AuthoredUp and SocialPilot for social selling, for example. 

Let’s wrap it up!

The cold calling vs social selling debate is dead. Instead, the sales reps that think about how to use the two together are the ones that are going to get ahead. Use social selling as your warm up set and the cold call to do the heavy lifting, and you’ll be smashing it out the park in no time. We’ll try to keep up.

Surfe is trusted

What makes cold calling and social selling even better?

Easy answer to that one: Surfe! Speed up your outbound admin and you’ll be laughing in no time. Try it on us – we’re generous like that.

FAQs about combining cold calling and social selling

Is cold calling banned under GDPR? 

Cold calling is not banned under GDPR in the UK, but your company has to have a legitimate reason for calling – that is, a reason to believe that they would want to hear from you. You must also make sure that it’s easy for your prospect to opt out if they don’t want to hear from you. If they say stop calling, you must listen. 

How do you convert cold calls to sales?

A  great way to convert cold calls to sales is to use social selling to improve your chances of success. By warming up your leads over social media, you are going into your cold call better informed about their pain points and what they might want to hear. This is a two-way street: people are more receptive if they already recognise your name and have had a few interactions with you. 

Is cold calling one of the steps of selling? 

Yes, cold calling is an outbound methodology usually conducted in the prospecting stage of selling. It is not the only way to bring leads in, but is an effective way of reaching potential customers fast and getting direct feedback on whether your product might be helpful for them. 

How do you cold call and sell?

The purpose of a cold call is to turn the prospect from a cold lead into a warm lead. If you have effectively engaged in social selling beforehand, you should have more control over the phonecall and use it to understand what you next need to do to move the prospect along the process. A successful cold call often leads to a discovery call as a next step, where the sales professional will perform a more detailed analysis to see if there might be a fit.