Social media provides terrific research, but it doesn’t warm your calls. In the end, cold is still cold.

More and more, sales professionals use social media as an indispensable sales and prospecting tool. It provides valuable insight into prospects and decision makers. The impact that social media has had on prospecting prompts some sales pros to wonder if cold calling is dead and whether it’s being replaced by “smart” calling.

Hence, the question on one top social community site: “What are the top three to five ways that inside sales reps can turn cold calling into smart calling, and what are the benefits of doing so?” And it continued, “High-quality answers may be included in an upcoming report on inside sales.”

My answer to this question is that some sales professionals refer to “smart calling” because they diligently research the sales prospect, identify trigger events, discover similar group or educational affiliations and believe that when they reach out they are smart calling.

Do not be deluded. There are only two kinds of calls: cold calls and hot calls. A rep makes a cold call to a prospect when the information he collects is a name, background and contact information.

Referrals are your best research

A hot call occurs when a rep receives a referral introduction. The rep still has the relevant details from his research, but now the sales prospect knows the rep and offers to have a conversation.

Working from referrals, sales reps can get the meeting at the level that counts, shorten the sales process and convert a sales prospect into a client more than 50 percent of the time.

There’s no such thing as a “warm call” or a “smart call.” Only cold calls and hot calls exist. Which would you rather make?

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Joanne Black is a professional sales speaker, sales webinar leader, and author of “No More Cold Calling: The Breakthrough System That Will Leave Your Competition in the Dust” from Warner Business Books. Visit www.nomorecoldcalling.com. (C) Copyright 2011 Joanne S. Black. All rights reserved.