Is Social Selling Or Cold Calling Better For Generating Leads?

In this social selling vs cold calling debate, have you wondered which is more effective in generating leads? Let’s find out!
Picture of Shivani Goyal
Shivani Goyal
Reading time: 5 minutes

Lead generation is still the number one challenge for many businesses, and that’s because everyone’s fighting for a customer’s attention. 😩

That said, businesses are constantly finding different ways to generate more leads — and today we’ll be focusing on social selling and cold calling. 

Read on to find out more about the effectiveness of each, how well each one of them works, and which you should use for your business!


What is social selling?

While the term cold calling is commonly known and almost over-used, social selling might leave you scratching your head.

Social selling involves using a company’s social media to connect, engage, and interact with potential customers. This is all in hopes to reach one specific goal: to sell your product or service. 

This means that social selling involves much more than just sending a connection request and dropping a message — it’s about modern relationship-building and forming deeper connections with your prospects. 

It’s also good for educating, building brand awareness, informing consumers, and developing brand affinity

How well does each of them work?

Let’s take a look at some categories and compare how well social selling and cold calling works in each category.

1. Conversions

Cold calls

According to statistics, B2B businesses that don’t cold call experience 42% less growth than those that do. Hubspot also found that the average cold call conversion rate is 28%.

Social selling

According to social selling statistics, social selling programs can deliver 48% larger leads, bring in a 2X pipeline, and 16% better win rates. 

Also, social sellers have a larger volume of new customers (65%) and better customer conversion (46%) as compared to non-social sellers. Businesses have gained 66% higher attainment of quota through social selling than their counterparts who employ conventional marketing methods. 

2. Value addition

Cold calling

Executive buyers state that 70% of cold calling sales reps aren’t able to give answers to the questions put up by them. This means only 30% of salespeople are well-prepared to handle objections

To add on, three out of four buyers say that sales reps aren’t equipped with relevant case studies or examples to share. 87% of prospects feel that these reps don’t understand their needs. 

Social selling

Unlike with the case of cold calling, 74% of buyers are able to find a sales rep who can add value and insights through social selling. This not only results in increased chances of sales, but also in a higher appreciation for those sales professionals who were able to help them. 

Furthermore, 31% of B2B sales professionals said that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their customers.

3. Decision-making process

Cold calling

51% of company owners say they would rather hear from sales reps via phone as compared to emails, drop-in visits, or other forms of media and channels.

To add to that, 57% of C-level prospects still prefer to be contacted via phone, and 60% of IT decision-makers want cold calls.

Social selling

75% of B2B top-level decision-makers take the aid of social media regularly in their decision-making process. Buyers who use social media allocate 84% bigger funds than their counterparts who don’t use social media. 

4. Revenue-generation

Cold calling

As cold calling requires more effort, has a lower conversion rate, and is generally not as well-received compared to social selling, only 1% of cold calls ultimately convert into appointments.

Social selling

63% of businesses employing social selling report an increase in their bottom line, whereas only 41% of their non-social selling counterparts do so. In 14 common industries, including healthcare, computer software, and advertising social selling accounts for half of the revenue generated.

From these numbers, it’s evident that while cold calling still works, social selling far outdoes cold calling in conversion rates and revenue generation.

Why does social selling work?

1. Easy identification of target audience

Unlike cold calling, social selling lets salespeople easily identify their target audience. If you miss this, you’ll be wasting your time with unqualified leads. 

Social selling simplifies the identification of your target audience by letting you know your prospects at a more personal level. You get to understand their problems, lifestyle, preferences, and so on.

This helps you determine whether or not they’re the right fit for your company.

2. Easy engagement

Social selling provides sales professionals with a simple way to engage their audience. So, this serves as an ideal replacement for cold calling that many B2B decision-makers ignore responding to anymore. 

By employing social selling, you can easily identify and interact with those people who are already talking about your niche, business, or competitors.

3. Continual engagement

Social selling offers you an open channel to continue engaging with customers even after they’ve made a purchase with you. 

You can do this by rendering excellent great customer service through social media which can serve as a good customer retention strategy. 

Additionally, marketing statistics show that providing exemplary customer service also serves as yet another marketing technique as other people over these networks are watching the effort you put into making your customers happy.

4. Tracking your prospects’ activities

Social selling has made it quite easy to ‘spy’ on your target audience. 

By monitoring their responses, you can easily determine what issues they’re facing, what they think of your brand and your competitors, what communication channel they prefer, and more. 

This in turn facilitates you to engage with them and quickly resolve issues. 

So is cold calling completely outdated?

Even though many SDRs dread cold calling and many also think it’s dead, the answer is no.

Cold calling is still effective and here are some reasons why some businesses still practice it today:

1. You learn more about the prospect directly

Once on the phone, you can learn more about your prospect’s business needs and how you can solve their problem.

There is only so much you can find out through your preliminary research. However brief the conversation, you can gain more information about what’s important to the prospect by asking relevant questions.

You can use this information to tailor a sales pitch that acknowledges the particular pain points and offer a value proposition that is difficult to resist.

By showing genuine interest in the prospects and their businesses right from the outset of the call, you allow business conversations to flow naturally without pressuring them to commit to buying your product.

2. Receive instant feedback

Cold calling is also a great way to receive instant feedback from your prospects.

As you’re engaging with your prospect, you can ask them more about what they feel about your product or service.

Do they think that there’s a great product or service fit? Do they think that the price range is acceptable? Do they prefer free trials or will live demos suffice?

The feedback you collect from these conversations can then be used to tailor your product or service to better match the needs and wants of your target group. You can even use the feedback to bolster your social selling efforts.

3. Conduct sales remotely

Cold calls can be made from anywhere in the world. You can easily make local and international calls at an affordable price, especially if you invest in a cold calling tool with an autodialer.

This lets you expand your business across borders more easily, call without expensive international fees, and do it from the comfort of your own home and country!

So which is better?

So in this social selling vs cold calling debate, which is better for your business?

The answer is: it depends

This probably isn’t the answer you were expecting, but it really does depend on your business and how you plan to use these strategies. Both strategies are equally effective and capable of generating leads. 

Cold calling still works, but it works best in an integrated approach — send an initial outreach email before the call, drop a message through social media, then give your prospect a call. 

However, we feel that using a combination of both approaches can give you desirable results. Dropping them a cold call, chatting more through the call, then connecting with them through their social networks and building the relationship from there.

Whichever you decide to choose, we hope that this article has helped you in terms of deciding which is better for you!

For tips on cold calling and sales strategies, check out our blog!

Picture of Shivani Goyal
Shivani Goyal

Shivani is a content writer at InviteReferrals, which provides referral software that allows businesses to attract new customers through referral campaigns.

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