This post is a bit of a continuation from last week’s post. In that post I did some math.
The math was about the conversion rates of cold calling based on data I have collected over the last few years from others and my own sales team.
This post is going to be about math too but this time I want to focus on prospecting using a social selling approach or what I call “social calling”.
Some background math
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, there’s a professor of psychology at Oxford University called Robin Dunbar and he did some research on how many relationships we all have. He figured out that we have about 150 relationships we can maintain (this number should be higher for sales people.)
If you know 150 people and each of your connections (“first degree connections”) know 150 people then you can be referred to 150 x 150 people = 22,500 people!
Don’t be a plonker
So the average person can get a referral to 22,500 people. Now as you know if you’ve been in sales at all, referrals work way more effectively than cold calls.
This is because of trust. When a friend tells me that I should speak to you I usually do. I do it because my friend is vouching for you. If I don’t do it, then I risk meeting my friend at the next social get-together and having my friend asking how I got on with you. If I say I didn’t take your call, I risk making my friend think I am a serious plonker.
So when you use a referral, even if it’s from your aunt, the buyer has skin in the game. Hence the conversion ratio is drastically different to cold calling where the prospect does not treat you as another real human.
Back to the math
The clearest way to take a “social calling” approach is to use Linkedin to look up who my friends know that I want to connect with.
Here’s some data from my experience doing this:
- Time taken to research my contacts’ contacts to find someone I would like to speak to (“2nd degree connections” in Linkedin speak), 20 minutes
- Time taken to write an email to my friend to make the intro, 10 minutes
- Time taken to follow up for the intro when friend forgets about it etc., 16 minutes (4 emails at 4 minutes each—easy emails to write)
Here’s some conversion data based on my experience of doing this:
- 50% of the time on Linkedin my friends actually know the people they are linked to (50% of the time they connected with someone and have no real relationship)
- 50% of the time with the follow-up above I get an appointment with the target person (yes, referrals really are that effective, see “plonker” above.)
Doing some math
- Total time invested to follow up for an appointment with each identified contact = 45 minutes (46 minutes actually but that makes the next part messy, so 45)
- Conversion rate to appointment 50% * 50% = 25%
- Total time to get an appointment 45 minutes times 4 (1/25%) = 3 hours
So using a social calling approach most people will take 3 hours to get an appointment with someone in the 22,500 people they can reach.
I’m leaving it here for today but you know there’s more to come…Chime in if you fancy with any experience or data you have.
Arash Sayadi says
I love where you’re going with this. The whole cost / benefit analysis is interesting.
I’m curious if we’re going to take a different answer than “social selling is a lot less effort and much more effective.”
I’m looking forward to the next one.