According to Joanne Black, author of Pick Up the Damn Phone, too many sellers are hiding behind their computers, expecting to get business. After hearing that bold statement, I knew I needed to share her thinking with you. Check out my interview below.
(Note: Click here to download two free chapters of this excellent new book.)
JILL: Wow. Pick Up the Damn Phone: How People, Not Technology Seal the Deal is quite a book title. Sounds like it's a pet peeve of yours. Do you have something against technology?
Joanne Black: Technology addiction is taking over our personal and business lives. Everyone is too busy conversing online to have real, meaningful conversations with the people right in front of them.
Technology can be a great tool; salespeople can begin their relationships and connections on social media. The not so good news is that too many salespeople think technology can do their jobs for them, and that they don't have to talk to anyone.
Let's focus in on social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, blogs, and Facebook. You don't think they're worthless -- or do you?
Joanne Black: Social-selling tools are great for research, identifying trigger events, and finding mutual connections.
But even if you gather all the social intelligence available on a prospect, that information isn’t going to give you much of an advantage over your competitors, who have access to the same tools and information.
What will differentiate you from the rest and get you in front of the decision-maker hasn't changed a bit; it's still a personal connection and a referral from someone the client trusts.
And you don't think that social media is good for getting referrals?
Joanne Black: No. It’s not the place to ask for referrals. Once you’ve identified a common connection to a prospect, reach out to your contact and have a real conversation. Find out how they know the person you want to meet and ask for an introduction.
It's not social intelligence we need; it's relationship intelligence.
Use technology, but don't rely on it to make sales. Pick up the damn phone and talk to your prospects and clients! If you don’t, someone else will.
You define “cold calling” as reaching out to someone who doesn't know you and isn't expecting your call. How has that definition changed in the days of social media?
Joanne Black: The definition hasn’t changed. Unless you know the prospect or have a referral introduction from someone that person knows and trusts, you’re cold calling.
What has changed is the way salespeople now delude themselves. With social media, there’s a new version of what I call the “warm call fantasy.” It goes something like this:
You’ve done your research about your prospects on social media and maybe even identified a common LinkedIn connection or two. Then you send emails making the business case for why your prospects should talk to you. You really believe you’re not cold calling, because you know all about your prospects and ”know” the same people. Your outreach isn't cold, right?
Wrong! There’s no such thing as a warm email, a warm phone call, or even a warm knock on the door. Unless you have a referral introduction, you’re cold calling. And cold prospects really don't want to hear from you.
In Pick Up the Damn Phone!, you stress the importance of face-to-face communication. What counts as face-to-face?
Joanne Black: Any connection you make when you're not typing. You can pick up the phone, use your webcam, or (gulp) actually meet in person. Drive your car, take a train, or get on an airplane—whatever it takes to make connections that count.
Get face-to-face with every major client or prospect, and you won’t have to worry about making quota anymore. You’ll have a rich referral network that keeps your pipeline full of qualified leads.
Bottom line: People do business with people, not with technology. And that isn’t going to change anytime soon.
What advice would you give to senior marketing and sales executives for the coming months?
Joanne Black: I'd first say that they need to avoid pounding their team with numbers, numbers, numbers. Everyone can sense desperation. And they should do these things as well:
- Stop the cold emails and cold calls—mindless activities that don't build relationships or close deals.
- Make sure your sales teams know how to have executive-level conversations. Don't just give them a phone, a list, and a password and have them go at it.
- Focus on the activities that matter. Don't get sucked into the digital snake-oil universe. Make connections that count.
Recently Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, told the 2012 graduating class of Boston University: "Take one hour a day and turn that thing off. Take your eyes off that screen and look into the eyes of the person you love. Have a conversation, a real conversation."
I challenge all salespeople to do the same.
Do you have any final words of wisdom?
Joanne Black: Never stop nurturing your referral network. Referral selling is the only business-development strategy that converts prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time. So keep in touch, keep those relationships strong, and ask for referrals. Bottom line: If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Thanks a million, Joanne. And, readers: Click here to read a preview of Pick Up the Damn Phone!. Or, you can go right to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to get a paperback or digital (Kindle or Nook) version of this book.
About Joanne Black
Joanne Black is America’s leading authority on referral selling—the only business-development strategy proven to convert prospects into clients more than 50 percent of the time.
Joanne helps salespeople and business owners build their referral networks, attract more business and ace out the competition. She's the author of NO MORE COLD CALLING™ and Pick Up the Damn Phone!
To learn more, visit www.NoMoreColdCalling.comhttp://www.nomorecoldcalling.com/ or call 415-461-8763.