It is 2020, there is a global pandemic, everyone is working from home or furloughed; so why the hell would you make archaic cold calls to strangers? Phoning someone up out of the blue and trying to sell them your goods and services, surely there is a better, more modern, tech savvy way to approach people?
Let us go back a few years, to a time we could go down the pub, visit our friends and family, eat only three times a day and have a conversation with the person next to us on the sofa without using Zoom.
I’ve been with my amazing partner Jennie for five years now, we have a house, a dog called Eric and (before lockdown) spent our weekends walking in the country, going to pubs and planning our future together. Sickening isn’t it? When did my life turn into this stereotype of marital, middle age bliss? I’m a cliché!
Well, five years ago I turned to tech and social to help me with the biggest sale there is – love. I went on dates from online dating sites: date my mate, match.com, eHarmony, even Plenty of Fish (not for the faint hearted). Then came a long a game changer, Tinder. It literally was a game changer, it turned looking for love into an online game that you played in the pub with your friends, swiping left and right in a judgemental flick that could seal your future and that of a stranger who’d added a dodgy picture or talked about their eight cats.
Fate struck and I matched with my now partner after seeing her profile picture. She was in Halloween fancy dress without a single fish pout or Dorito-orange glow to her, and her self-composed description demonstrated that she didn’t take herself too seriously. So, there we had it, my phone pinged, her phone pinged, and we began to chat by sending messages to each other on the App. I took my usual bold and simple approach to messages, the same approach I use when making prospecting calls. After a short time, we exchanged phone numbers, moved to WhatsApp and so it carried on. We would message each other through the day, every day, slowly building rapport, understanding each other, and growing closer. As cold as it sounds, we were moving through the sales process.
This sale had started through the dating equivalent of social media marketing. I was on an app, I boldly put myself out there with my USPs and quirky content (and possibly some outdated, mildly miss leading photographs of the product) and hooked in a prospect. I gently nurtured this buyer’s interest and moved them forward through my sales funnel (oo er!).
We got on great, slowly sharing more and more about our lives and interests, increasing how often we messaged each other and being less and less formal. This carried on for a few ‘weeks’ and we’d gotten closer and closer. What we hadn’t done was spoken to each other or met. We were halfway down the sales funnel – and about to stall!
So, I took action and messaged that we should meet for coffee. We swapped numerous messages to find a good time and date we were both available and eventually agreed on meeting for a meal near to where Jennie lived. The evening came and I offered to pick Jennie up from her house to go to the restaurant. I was excited, I felt like I knew her so well as we had been speaking (messaging) for weeks. As I entered the housing estate in my car there was a labyrinth of side roads, cul-de-sacs and crescents. All the house numbers appeared void of any logical order and I had to pull over in the car park of Spar to call Jennie and ask for directions. As the phone rang it dawned on me, I didn’t know what she sounded like; we’d never spoken. Did she have a strong accent? Did she speak quickly or slowly? Did she sound like her pictures? (if that makes sense). Was she 20 older than she’d made out and I’d been catfished?!
She answered, and for the first time ever we spoke with each other. After 6 weeks of online messages, texts, WhatsApp’s and sending memes, we were of course unaware that five years on we’d still be speaking, travelling the world together and sharing our lives. I sat in the car park as we chatted away for fifteen minutes, laughing and joking, forgetting I’d called for directions and was now late for our restaurant booking. That was it – one call and a new relationship started, a new chapter in our lives with adventures and highs and lows and a dog. One call and everything changed.
The internet has revolutionised how we start relationships, how we put ourselves out their and attract our tribe. From small businesses writing blogs to Elon Musk launching a new electric vehicle on the world via YouTube. Statuses, comments, likes and shares to blogs, vlogs and webinars, the pressure for businesses to be on every social media outlet, create content, be a video star, professional writer and comedian while avoiding giving offence or sharing inappropriate content can be immense.
If I’d stuck to social media and text messages for love, Jennie would have at some point moved on, bored of back and forth platitudes online, swiping right on someone else who may have speeded up the sales process and kept it exciting. She might now be sat with them and not me in a sliding doors world where I’m now alone, with just my Apps and no dog.
We live in a world of globalised human connection, where we can tweet our every thought for the world to see, snap pictures of every meal to show a distant audience and desperately seek attention on Facebook, feeling a victory when we receive a ‘you ok hun’? Don’t get me wrong, social media is amazing, it connects people and opens free access for businesses to global marketing opportunities. It levels playing fields across the commercial landscape and allows you to market yourself from the comfort of your armchair. But that’s what it is – it’s marketing. It’s heavily filtered profile pictures, a hyperbolic reflection of reality and a false sense of true connection. Likes don’t pay bills and comments feed your ego not your family. If you want to ‘sell’, speed up the sales process and find out whether your prospect is a good fit or not, at some point you must pick up the phone and say hello. Learn to love talking to people, using spoken language and listening to your prospect’s needs. Create real human connections and develop your resilience to the inevitable rejection of your quest for a new relationship. The phone is still the most powerful tool in a sales professional’s armoury. It saves time, gives you immediate feedback and when mastered creates genuine, two-way human connections with your customers. Do not ignore social media but remember its marketing and it’s easy to misread success by measuring likes instead of revenue.
If you want a great relationship, faster results and a future to look forward to – give them a call, it might all turn out happily ever after.