Social selling vs cold calling is a tale as old as time in B2B businesses. Many sales professionals have asked which one is better.

The answer relies on the nuances of each activity. Social selling and cold calling have similarities but they will attempt to achieve different things.

You can learn more about these differences in this article.

What is Social Selling?

B2B social selling is the use of social media platforms, mostly LinkedIn, to connect with prospects and build relationships. It leverages the large audience of these platforms to create content, engage in discourse, and reach out to people.

The goal of social selling is to create meaningful partnerships with clients through purposeful interactions. According to 2024 data, 31% of B2B professionals stated that social selling allowed them to build deeper relationships with their clients

There are two ways to do social selling, namely, inbound and outbound selling:

  • Inbound Social Selling: It’s an approach that focuses on making content like posts and customer testimonials to attract potential buyers to your business.
  • Outbound Social Selling: This is a proactive method that focuses on reaching your ideal customer via direct messaging.

What is Cold Calling?

Cold calling is a sales technique where you contact someone who has not expressed a prior interest in your product offer. The people you call are within your target market like business owners and sales directors.

The goal of cold calling can either be to qualify if the prospect is interested or to book a meeting or demo with them. 70% of sellers have stated they’ve connected and booked meetings with buyers over calls.

Booked Meeting Differences of Social Selling and Cold Calling

When performing outreach, cold calling is best for short-term quotas. On the other hand, social selling is a slow and often long-term approach to building relationships with prospects.

The sample graph shows how social selling yields results over a longer period as opposed to cold calling. You can book meetings through cold calling immediately due to its straightforward approach.

According to 2022 data from the RAIN Group, 82% of buyers accept meetings with sellers who proactively reach out to them. Moreover, social selling data has shown that sales reps are 66% more likely to reach quota than those using traditional prospecting techniques.

There’s no hard and fast rule in how much cold calling and social selling you need to do to achieve maximum results. Here’s an example daily activity sheet of a sales rep:

3hCold calling
2hCold emailing
2h 30minSocial selling
30minAdministrative tasks

Sales Cycle Differences of Social Selling and Cold Calling

The B2B sales cycle refers to the process customers go through to sell their products or services. It accounts for the time between initial contact and the closing of the sale.

Cold calling has a relatively short sales cycle because you can directly interact and follow up with prospective buyers. However, social selling provides a slower and more consistent flow of sales because of scalability.

Social selling is a low-cost way of reaching out to prospects. Cold calling, on the other hand, is time-intensive and can be potentially draining for sales reps. According to LinkedIn data, 63% of sellers state cold calling is the worst part of their job.

Target Audience Differences between Social Selling and Cold Calling

Both social selling and cold calling have their merits in reaching prospects. You need to develop an ideal customer profile (ICP) for both methods to work effectively.

Social Selling Audience

The typical social selling audience is mostly mid-level management. These people have some power in decision-making that can influence their purchasing decisions.

With social selling, sales reps can increase win rates by 5% and deals by 35% in size. You can reach out to these people via direct messaging.

Cold Calling Audience

Since cold calling takes more time to navigate, it’s best to go for C-level business leaders. According to Crunchbase data, 57% of C-level buyers prefer to be contacted via phone. These people can usually make decisions on the subject matter. 

Best Social Selling Tools

LinkedIn Sales Navigator

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a subscription-based platform designed for sales professionals to find and engage with leads on LinkedIn. This is a great tool for social selling because it gives you access to powerful tools to find your ICP.


AuthoredUp is a comprehensive content and analytics tool tailored for social selling. Its platform enables users to create compelling content for LinkedIn. It also has a Google Chrome extension for seamless accessibility.


SocialPilot is a social media management tool that allows users to manage multiple social media accounts, schedule posts, and analyze performance. You can schedule posts and curate content to streamline your tasks.

Best Cold Calling Tools


PhoneBurner is an outbound dialer that can help simplify your calling process. It can do so by organizing your contact list. Moreover, it can also automate your calls by switching between them which increases your productivity.


Clevenio is a sales engagement tool that provides you with automated follow-ups, multi-channel outreach, and real-time analytics. It can help you create sales cadences by organizing your prospects by different segments.

Dialpad AI

Dialpad AI is a cloud-based business phone system that offers voice calling, video conferencing, and messaging capabilities. It’s designed to provide you with a platform that can connect you with other business tools and streamline workflows.

Which is Better, Social Selling or Cold Calling?

The best way to approach sales engagement is to combine social selling and cold-calling activities for maximum success. You can reach more prospects via a multichannel approach. 

Furthermore, to achieve the best results it’s usually best to build an SDR team that’s solely focused on activities like cold calling and social selling, to build a pipeline for your sales reps., There’s no clear answer on which one is better because they each have their merit.

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