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B2B cold-calling vs. social selling. Which strategy wins?

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Technological advances have provided marketers with numerous new opportunities to reach prospective customers. Primarily driven by the internet, these new methods have raised questions about the effectiveness of more traditional sales techniques.

Cold calling, in particular, has been at the center of an unending debate. On the one side, proponents of cold calling argue that it is a true and tested sales technique that is here to stay. On the other hand, opponents have gone as far as declaring cold calling’ dead.’ In its place, they advocate for the use of social calling, an internet-driven technique that allows marketers to generate more valuable leads.

But between cold calling and social selling, which strategy gives better results? The truth is that this debate is unlikely to end, as both sales techniques can offer value if leveraged appropriately. This article discusses each concept in-depth, including what it entails and how marketers can use it to stay ahead of the competition.

What does cold calling entail, and how can marketers leverage it?

Cold calling is an outbound sales technique in which a marketer reaches out to prospects without any prior arrangement. More specifically, this involves calling customers to interest them in a product or service, even though they have shown no interest, and neither have they asked to be contacted.

Although this sales technique was highly successful before the advent of the internet, it has faced numerous challenges since. For starters, calling unsuspecting people and trying to sell them something over the phone is now considered intrusive. More importantly, unlike the 1990s, customers do not sit around waiting for salespeople to approach them about a product or service. Statistics show that 81% of today’s shoppers conduct online research on a product or service before making a purchase.

What are the advantages of cold calling?

Contrary to what opponents say, cold calling remains relevant in today’s marketing landscape. 51% of company owners confirm that they prefer to hear from sales reps via the phone, compared to other means. Similarly, 41% of sales agents report that the telephone remains their most valuable tool for work. Cold calling has some distinct advantages such as:

It offers a direct human connection– Research shows that, on average, a sales rep has to make five or six calls to have a successful cold call. Although this rate may sound low, cold calling offers a human connection that no other method can offer when one eventually reaches a prospect. When you have a prospective customer on the phone, it is easy to answer their questions, read how they feel about the offering, and get an immediate reaction. For instance, in email marketing, a prospect may choose to ignore the email or fail to respond as expected.

It helps sales reps to perfect their pitch– As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Cold calling gives sales reps a perfect chance to work on their sales pitch and adjust it to meet customer expectations as they go along. The more aligned to a customer’s need a sales pitch is, the better the call will go.

 It helps reach new customers– After conducting some research to identify the relevant market for a particular product, marketers can rely on cold calling to reach new prospects who may not know anything about the company or product in question.

How can marketers leverage cold calling?

Even with these advantages, some dynamics of cold calling have changed, and to be successful, marketers must embrace these changes. In the past, sales reps would conduct what is known as ‘spray and pray’, basically make as many phone calls as possible in the hope that some would be successful.

Today’s marketers can take advantage of technology to research their target market before making cold calls. This research can be done on company websites and social media accounts like LinkedIn and Twitter. By doing this kind of research, marketers can better understand their target market’s needs, challenges, and pain points. They can then present their product/service as a solution during the cold call, increasing their chance of success.

What does social selling entail, and how can marketers leverage it?

Social calling is a sales strategy that utilizes social media platforms to find, connect with and understand prospects in the hope of nurturing sales leads. This sales method is long-term and involves building relationships with future customers by positioning yourself in a helpful way. Social selling can take place on company websites, blogs, social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Some of the ways a business can carry out social selling are by posting helpful blog articles, videos, white papers, offering seminars, product reviews, and answering customer questions.

What are the advantages of social selling?

If you have not incorporated social selling into your sales strategy, then you are missing out. Statistics show that 78% of marketers who use social selling outdo their peers. Some of the benefits of social selling include:

It helps you build relationships with prospects– A significant component of social calling is identifying prospects who are already interested in your product or service. This makes it easier to reach out to them to create meaningful relationships that lead to future sales.

Your customers are already on social media– As we mentioned earlier, a large number of customers conduct their research online before they make any purchase. This means that your prospective customers are already online, and all you have to do is employ the right strategies to nurture them into leads.

Your competition uses social media- If your marketing team is still on the fence about social selling, you should know that your competition is already out there, nurturing leads. Research shows that over 90% of salespeople use social selling tools, which is particularly true for millennial sales reps.

How can marketers leverage social selling?

Sales reps can take advantage of social selling by offering value to prospects. Buyers can quickly get turned off by salespeople who sound too ‘salesy’, or those who try to push a sale at every turn. To avoid this, sales reps can offer genuinely helpful information in blogs, product demos, or how-to videos. By doing this, they demonstrate to prospects that they are not only in it for the sales but that they genuinely care. Most buyers will remember this when making a purchase.


We started by saying that the debate on which sales technique wins between cold calling and social selling will not end in the foreseeable future. The reason for this is that both sales techniques are useful when leveraged correctly. In addition, each brings unique benefits to the table. Businesses should evaluate both to see which one works best based on their needs and goals

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