Friday, September 4, 2009

Pick Up The Phone Already!

The new sales formula combines social networking with old-fashioned phone calls.

Although it might seem contrary to many, cold calling and social networking are a perfect blend of old and new tools that, when used in conjunction with each other, can really boost your sales.

Take the first step by getting involved in social networking to expand your contact base. This will provide the context and contacts for the cold calls you're going to make. The fact is, as our ability to communicate has expanded, we have become a global community. We can reach out to people around the world in ways we never dreamed of, using sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and LinkedIn. People craving community and connection, coming together to be seen, heard and understood, are changing how we do business.

This is the age of joint ventures and affiliate partnerships. We no longer have to struggle alone to grow our businesses; the trend is to move forward with partners. Why compete when we can collaborate?

As an entrepreneur, you are ideally situated to ride the wave by taking advantage of this new movement toward community. It's not only the internet driving us to be more social, it's a predictable trend in human nature. And it's this bigger human trend that is turning the internet into a social contact machine the likes of which we've never seen.

Here are some ways you can tap into this emerging trend to grow your business:

Think about whom you can partner with and how you can help each other to expand your reach for mutual benefit.

Investigate new ways to collaborate with individuals who are in similar industries or who were once your competitors. (There's even a name for this because it happens a lot. It's called "co-opetition," the combination of cooperation and competition).

Be creative and reach out with the intention of helping each other in the process. This is the key as we move into this new marketplace.

Learn about Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other networking sites through free online tutorials; learn how businesses are benefiting from social networking.

But don't stop there. Take this tool one step further to build valuable relationships and create strategic alliances that can propel you forward in ways you never imagined.

The Lost Art of The Cold Call

Remember AT&T's iconic slogan, "Reach out and touch someone"? It's more important now than ever. Social networking via the internet is amazing, but what if you took it another step? What if you picked up the phone and made a more lasting connection? This is the magic way to turn social networking into something that will differentiate you from others and boost sales.

Recently on Facebook, I found a college friend I hadn't spoken to in 20 years. I sent her a message to reconnect and then went to her info page and noticed that she works in advertising sales for a major corporation. It was fun to connect via message, but it was even more fun to pick up the phone, exchange stories about our lives over the past 20 years and ask for a referral to her vice president of sales. I'm a corporate sales trainer, so this turned out to be a really great lead for me.

Your first step might be to become friends with people online, but don't stop there. Make real connections with people and pick up the phone. If you can't find phone numbers, company names or e-mail addresses on their profile, send them a message and book an appointment to speak on the phone. Cold calls aren't really cold anymore. At worst they are "warm calls" because you've already discovered mutual interests and started building a relationship online. As social beings we tend to have a predisposition to like people who like what we like. So use the similarity of interests you've already discovered to build rapport.

One stumbling block is determining whom to call. Creating your list isn't as hard as you might think. In fact, you can use the social networking and business networking sites to create a comprehensive list of people and places to contact. You can use the sites to conduct searches for individuals and companies in your target market. LinkedIn, in particular, has an excellent advanced search tool.

Social media give us the opportunity to work together in new ways. Now's the time to work collaboratively in teams rather than as individuals. Take full advantage of all the tools available, both new and old. The internet and the phone are a match made in heaven.

For more information on how you can feel comfortable and easily pick up the phone, reach out to me: