Episode 39: Nancy Calabrese – How We Can Turn “Cold Calling” to Social Selling
In this episode, the Social Sales Link team are joined by Nancy Calabrese, founder and CEO of One of a Kind Sales. Listen as they talk about matching your tone and voice to that of the person you’re speaking to when starting conversations on LinkedIn.
Tune in as Nancy shares how creating curiosity during cold calls can lead to more sales conversations.
Nancy Calabrese 0:00
When I think of sales, I think it’s all related to social, you know, social, the first thing that comes to me is social media. Okay, and that probably comes too many, but when I really thought through it, it’s the ability to connect with a stranger, and start developing relationships via LinkedIn, via Facebook, and also via the phone. It’s all about human conversation.
Intro (Bob Woods) 0:35
Welcome to the Making Sales Social podcast, featuring the top voices in sales and marketing. Join hosts: Brynne Tillman and Bill McCormick, as they discuss the best tips and strategies they are teaching their clients. So you can leverage them for your own virtual and social selling. You can also listen to us on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, and Google Play. Visit our website socialsaleslink.com for more information.
Bill McCormick 1:13
Hey everyone! Welcome to Making Sales Social. I’m Bill McCormick.
Brynne Tillman 1:20
I’m Brynne Tillman.
Bill McCormick 1:13
So Brynne, who’s joining us today?
Brynne Tillman 1:20
I’m excited, we have Nancy Calabrese who I think is probably one of the top inside sales management consultants. I have been following her for years and years, we’ve been connected for about two or three years on LinkedIn. But we finally really connected and got to know each other, and Bill, I think you’ve known her even longer than I have. Oh, and we’re both a part of Women Sales Pro. So, Nancy, welcome to the show.
Nancy Calabrese 1:47
Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am so excited, having just had a podcast with the two of you, and now I get to do it again. So thanks for inviting me, happy to be here.
Brynne Tillman 2:01
We’re thrilled! Tell us a little bit about you and your business.
Nancy Calabrese 2:04
So, One of a Kind Sales is our company, and what we do is we do the work that almost everyone hates doing, which is, we love cold calling, and you know, typically, when we work with our clients, it’s because they’re frustrated, they don’t have enough leads in your pipeline. They hate picking up the phone, so it typically doesn’t get done, and then finally, you know, anyone in sales, we’re always worried about, if we’re gonna hit our goals. So we come in as that, inside sales engine, if you would, we do everything from data management, to launching the campaign, to developing and nurturing relationships with prospects, so that at the right time, we convert them, so yep, we love cold calling, and I’ll stick to it.
Bill McCormick 2:58
Four words that you’ll probably never ever hear on Making Sales Social ever again. You’ve heard them here, we love cold calling. So this is going to be a great, great episode. So we start every podcast by asking the same question every guest, Nancy, what does making sales social mean to you?
Nancy Calabrese 3:19
You know, it was interesting, I was thinking about that, and when I think of sales, I think it’s all related to social, you know, social, the first thing that comes to me is social media. Okay, and that probably comes in too many, but when I really thought through it, it’s the ability to connect with a stranger, and start developing relationships via LinkedIn, via Facebook, and also via the phone. It’s all about human conversation, so if you connect socially, you’re doing it in email form, right, or text form, said, and if you connect the way we do it, it’s just you know, using a tool to engage in a conversation. So I don’t know if that answered your question, right.
Bill McCormick 4:14
Yeah, it is. It’s great. I’m curious. How can cold calling be social?
Brynne Tillman 4:21
Yeah, great question.
Nancy Calabrese 4:22
Oh, I love it. You know, I’m just shocked that people are so reluctant. Look at the three of us right now, we’re having fun, right? If I had you on the phone, why couldn’t I have a similar conversation and what you do is in for us, we have to really pay attention to our tonality or vocality, and make sure that we are expressing what we need to say in a professional way, to get that person to respond to us, I mean, and that’s all developing a social relationship, right? You speak with, if you go to a networking event, you’re shaking somebody’s hand, right, and then you start engaging in a conversation. When you reach out on LinkedIn, you’re looking for an opportunity to connect, and initially, it starts with, you know, the texting back and forth, and then it ultimately goes to be human conversation, you know.
Brynne Tillman 5:32
I want to build on this, because I think it’s so interesting. When you’re cold calling, it’s a little bit different than LinkedIn, for example, if you connect with someone on LinkedIn or engage, they can vet you first before responding, they can look at your profile, they can learn about you and make a decision on whether or not they want to respond, right? How do you get, if you get someone that answers a call, I asked both questions, that picks up the phone and the voicemail. What can you do that gets them curious or interested enough to want to socialize, to want to have that conversation in the making sales social kinda way?
Nancy Calabrese 6:13
Yeah, that’s a great question, and my advice is, always be different. If you know, we have a preconceived notion of how sales people conduct their business, what will they expect you to say? So if I go in, and I asked for you, and I go in and say: “Hi, Brynne, my name is Nancy Calabrese. So I’m the founder of One of a Kind Sales”, what happens? As soon as you hear that, what’s going up?
Brynne Tillman 6:45
I’m like, I’m sorry, I don’t have the time right now.
Nancy Calabrese 6:48
Right, it’s the sales wall, right, and they’re thinking Brynne, you’re thinking, and Bill, you’re thinking, how can I get this one off the phone? How quickly,(Brynne) right,(Nancy) so when you deliberately open a conversation, by saying something that they don’t expect, they’re gonna say, “Huh?”, so my goal is: “Hi, Nancy Calabrese, Brynne, we don’t know each other”, and that is an icebreaker in and of itself, (Bill) calling the elephant out in the room.(Nancy) Yeah, okay, yeah. So that’s how it works, and then, by continuing to, you know, again, we use our tone and our voice, we’ve got to match the tone and voice of the person that we’re speaking with, they’re listening to themselves. So there’s a lot of psychology involved in this, which really makes it interesting.
Brynne Tillman 7:43
What do you do on the voicemail that gets them to return a call?
Nancy Calabrese 7:47
Well, we don’t do an information dump, that’s for sure, and it’s funny, great question. Because I–and I’m sure all of us here, have gotten voicemail messages that tell you everything, this is what we do, this is why you should buy from us, blah, blah, blah, and when I get one of those, I forward it to my team, and I say: “Why won’t I return their call?”, and you know, they all know, you want to be curious, right? “Brynne, Nancy Calabrese, your name came up in a conversation that motivated me to give you a call, here’s my number”. Now, you’re gonna call back, and Bill you’ll call back, and they’ll say: “Well, who gave you my name?”, it could be me, it could be Tim, you know, I mean, not many people do that, but you want to get them to call back.
Brynne Tillman 8:41
That’s actually some of our text on LinkedIn, like almost exactly your name.
Bill McCormick 8:48
She, you know, creates curiosity, get the pump till you get the pump. We talked about content, having to resonate, create curiosity, teach them something new, think differently, and raise your hand and ask for more. So the curiosity definitely is there. The: “Hey, your name came up in a conversation” authentically being able to say that, of course, you just don’t want it. Because here’s what I can see, as salespeople, we’re always looking for the easy off, and so people are just: “Oh, I’ll just start saying that to every voicemail I leave”. No, don’t do that, unless it’s actually happened. Right,(Brynne) right. (Bill) Yeah, so that’s important because then people call back like, I want to know, who are you talking to about me, and what did they say?
Nancy Calabrese 9:29
Yeah, yeah, we never want to lie. (Brynne) Right, right. (Nancy) Don’t lie, and, you know, sometimes, my callers might know one caller in particular, he’ll say: “Hi, my name is Ed, this is a cold call. If you’d like to hang up at this point, that’s fine, and if not, can you give me 30 seconds? I’ll let you know why I’m calling boom, boom, boom”, he gets very few hang-ups, as a matter of fact, they laugh.
Bill McCormick 9:55
I had a great article on LinkedIn, and did really well, because I’ve talked about how I was a victim of cold calling, and this guy cold-called me from Texas. But he called it out, I mean, right in the beginning, and he said, but he knew what he wanted to say, he was the CEO of the company. So it was kind of a different situation, but he had done his research, he knew some things, he gave extreme value upfront. So it sounds like social selling and what you’re doing in cold calling, there are some real congruences here. Yeah, how do you provide value in a cold call, so you don’t get that hang up right away, and so you’re not information dumping?
Nancy Calabrese 10:32
A cold call is a discovery, our goal, two goals, is to make sure we’re speaking with the right person, the decision-maker, and if so, our approach is to learn, are they experiencing any of the problems or if they have any pain as it relates to the services we can provide them with. Okay, so for instance, you know, if they’re frustrated that they don’t have enough qualified leads in your pipeline, it’s all about them, we go into zero cell mode.
Brynne Tillman 11:09
It’s interesting, because we believe you have to earn the right to get that answer, or you do to build enough credibility that they’re willing to answer that for you.
Nancy Calabrese 11:17
Again, it goes back to the use of our voice, and we ask permission, by the way, you know, can you give me 30 seconds, I’ll let you know why I’m calling if it makes sense, we’ll continue, is that okay?
Brynne Tillman 11:31
It’s weird that I would ever even say cold calling is aligned with our social selling philosophy.
Nancy Calabrese 11:37
You know, the only difference is when you do social selling, you’re not face-to-face, an email, it’s content, and if they blow you off, they blow you off. Not everybody is going to be a customer, right?
Brynne Tillman 11:57
But we love the permission-based, we’re permission-based on social too.
Nancy Calabrese 11:54
Are you sure that we’re working in different businesses?
Brynne Tillman 11:57
Funny, no, it’s funny. So but I cannot, if I could just get like kind of one more thing on the voicemail. Because most everything, especially today, when people are on their cell phones, many, many calls are going into voicemail more than ever before. What’s one tip you could give someone leaving a voicemail that gets a response, that gets them to call back?
Nancy Calabrese 12:20
Yeah, again, well, what we do is, you know, you can expect one voicemail, you’re going to get a response, you know, that’s not human nature, and it typically just generally takes 8 to 12 touches, for somebody a C suite person to pay attention to you. So our messages are, we have a four-week cadence, and so in a four-week time, they’re going to get at least four voice messages. But the last one typically will trigger a response one way or the other, and we go in with: “Look, we don’t want to be a pest. Obviously, ABC is not important to you, here’s our contact information, we might embed some collateral, and we won’t be in touch for a while”, and the fact that we’re telling them, we’re going away, politely, we’re not going to bother them, very often it gets a return call, so I don’t know if that helps.
Brynne Tillman 13:18
Yeah, why don’t you send collateral, what about providing insights, do you provide any value to them? So that they get to test drive, what is it that you do a little bit before? Because that’s a big piece of what we do, and I’m just curious, if that translates into a cold outreach.
Nancy Calabrese 13:34
When you say test drive, basically a free trial?
Brynne Tillman 13:38
An ebook, no, no, something where they get to experience us.
Nancy Calabrese 13:42
Yes, actually, I’m going to be publishing a book shortly that we will include in that, but we do attach links to articles that we know, you know, nobody likes cold calling, but yet it’s a function in the sales role. It has to be done, it’s another channel, right? To a complete sales plan, if you would, and so the information that we share our tools, that how to. Okay, you’re not interested in speaking with us right now, I get it. But here’s something that might help you in your journey to get you and your team to be more productive,(Brynne) and you do that through email? (Nancy) We do it through the email, through our CRM, correct.
Nancy Calabrese 14:41
Yeah, so there’s a call and an email follow-up,(Nancy) correct,(Brynne) do you bring social into it at all, connecting in touch of some of those 8 to 10, 12 touches on LinkedIn?
Nancy Calabrese 14:41
Absolutely, yeah, I absolutely, like for instance, a general rule of thumb, and I’m sure you’re with me on this. If I have any appointments scheduled, I connect with them on LinkedIn, appreciate, you know, look forward to our time, and yeah, it’s just another channel. You know, in prospecting, there’s so much available to us these days, right, from a technology point of view, and still the phone, you know, I still say it’s tried and true, and like any other medium, if you will, it takes time to develop a relationship.
Bill McCormick 15:21
It doesn’t, it doesn’t happen overnight, and I think it’s so good, because so many people that are listening and watching this are in sales roles, and they have a, they’re in a sales process where they have to call, you know, it’s part of their evaluation, like, are you doing 80 to 100 dials a week, or a day, or however, whatever that looks like. So I think that this is so good, it gives some really good framework around that. I’m curious about numbers about percentages, because you hear all kinds of things. The last thing I saw was, I think the response rate for cold calling is like .3%. I don’t know where that came from, I’m curious what kind of response rates you’re seeing, and follow-up question, if you’ve seen it change since the pandemic hit last year?
Nancy Calabrese 16:09
Yeah, so here’s my issue with how cold calling gets a bad rap. See, in cold calling, you’re way more efficient, you’re gonna make way more dials, more attempts, and yet they look at: “Oh, but it only yielded XYZ appointments, and the percentages are low”. I used the analogy for salespeople and everybody listening. Have you ever counted how many hands you’d have to shake until a prospect converts to a first-time appointment? It’s the same except we were able to do it more. I’m very targeted, so I say you look at the quality of the appointments, and whether or not these appointments are leading to new business versus the quantity, and it will vary from industry-to-industry, and that’s a fact. You know, I’m often asked: “Well, are you going to guarantee me? How many will I see?”. I have no idea until we get into their world and start communicating with their prospects, and you know, the first go around, the first conversation isn’t new business, it’s probably the steps to building and nurturing a relationship, and having that system in place throughout the year, will allow you to be in front of these folks. They’ll remember you and convert, so in a roundabout way, I’m trying to answer your question. It does work, I know it for a fact, and anybody that is not doing this is leaving money on the table, because somebody is out there picking up the phone, getting in front of the same organization. As it relates to the pandemic, you know, initially when it hit, I had a couple of clients that were like a deer in front of headlights, and I, my approach was, no, this is not the time to stall, you have to go into it forward-thinking, yeah, and you have to make some changes, right? We’ve all had to adapt during this time, there was the big objection, you’re not going to be able to reach anyone, the study shows that executives, even if their voicemail was not forwarded to their mobile or to their house, they check their voicemail nine times a day. So we had no reduction in the amount or our ability to set appointments throughout this year. It just didn’t impact it, not the way they thought, and you know, frankly, in the early days, people were relieved to speak to other people, you know, we were all in this together, right, so it didn’t impact it.
Bill McCormick 18:54
Wow, so that’s eye-opening, so I’m learning some stuff for sure today, and so this has been really, really good. So as we’re kind of winding down, Nancy, let’s talk practicality, one of the things we ask a lot of our guests is around this idea of consistency, and what do you recommend that a sales rep that’s listening to this do, that a tactic or strategy, that if they do it on a regular basis, consistently, will create more opportunities, new opportunities and new conversation?
Nancy Calabrese 19:30
First and foremost, you should have an activity plan, or we call it here a cookbook, and you set activity goals, and you want to live and die by that. I mean that will get you to where you want to go and you know, cold calling is one of those activities. I recommend carving out time each day, and you know, something that I learned is do the things you hate doing when you have the most energy, right? So yeah, and for me, that is the morning, right in the afternoon, I get draggy, and, but I love having new business calls, because I come to life, I love doing that. Okay, so that’s one, two, you have to have a CRM that will allow you to do the follow up, right? So you don’t have to think about it, and three, you have to have a recycle plan, meaning how many times a year do you want to be in front of this organization? And in my opinion, you never stop touching them until they become a client, right? But it’s the way in which you–(Brynne) or put out a restraining order.(Nancy) Yeah, right. Yeah, you know, they, you know, and by the way, in B2B, there’s a you cannot be on a Do Not Call list, that I’m aware of in I think almost all of the states, but they tried to intimidate people: “Get away, I’m gonna report you to this and that”, what, its business. This is how we all go about, you know, getting business, so my recommendation is to develop a strategy individually, and then within the organization, and hold each other accountable to hitting–yeah, hold each other accountable. One way, you know what we do here, and you know, look, cold calling is a No business, but we look at No as: “Wow, we’re getting closer to where, yes. So we share, we have a group feed, and we post on it every day, stupid sales stuff. You know, GIFs if somebody has an appointment, we keep the positivity level really high here. So they don’t feel like they’re in a silo, you know.
Brynne Tillman 21:42
That’s important today for sure.
Bill McCormick 21:44
Yeah, very, very important. Wow, this was fantastic, very valuable for our listeners, as I’m sure many of them in sales roles have to do some type of calling, and so I think this is very, very helpful. So Nancy, just as we wrap up, how can folks be in touch with you, connect with you, and see what it is that you offer?
Nancy Calabrese 22:07
You can find me on LinkedIn, Nancy Calabrese, C-A-L-A-B-R-E-S-E, our website is oneofakindsales.com, and we have a media page. So take a listen to some of my fabulous podcasts, Bill and Brynne will appear soon. Also blogs where we share a lot of information and we have some free downloads. You know, one in particular ditch the script, which may seem contrary to what we’re all about, but you can find me there. My direct dial 908-879-1322.
Bill McCormick 22:49
Fantastic, and we’ll put links to all of those resources in the resource page, so that everyone can download. So thanks everyone for listening, Nancy, thank you so much for being with us for Making Sales Social, we’ll see you next week.