I’m in sales. You’re in sales. Everyone’s in sales. Products. Services. Ideas. Philosophies. Ourselves. We’re all selling something all the time.
Some of us sell for a living, but I think everyone who is employed is in sales, or should be. If you’re not at least an ambassador for your organization, an evangelist who spreads the word on how your brand is the greatest thing since Kanye, you should probably do yourself and your company a favor and work for someone else.
Let’s look at the top of the proverbial funnel. There are only two types of business: New business with new clients and more business from existing clients. While new business from your existing customer base is what you should be focusing on, that’s another (upcoming) topic. Today, we’re focusing on the much sexier, and for most, much harder to win, new business acquisition.
There are two ways to generate new business: push and pull. The push strategy involves taking the product or service directly to the customer, while pull marketing involves bringing the customer to you. Pull marketing is certainly more sophisticated and complicated, but many companies, especially smaller ones, lack the foundation, brand or culture to successfully utilize it, so they resort to the hunt/kill push method. Any process in which your potential clients are compared to prey is certainly not the ideal.
One of the most common push sales strategy techniques is direct sales involving cold calling. It’s also on the most archaic and least effective sales methods. Does it work? Yes, depending on the demand of your offering, and if carried out properly, but it’s certainly not the most effective use of a salesperson’s time and energy. Cold calling is a numbers game: the more cold calls you make, the more sales you’ll get, but as time and energy are limited, it’s not scalable, unless an organization has an army of salespeople.
Here’s where I go on record and say any world class brand should NOT cold call. Ever. I don’t do it, and you shouldn’t either.
But I know you’re gonna do it anyway, so here are some tips that will improve your results.
5) Soften The Beachhead
If you contact me and try to sell me something out of the blue, it helps if I’ve heard of you and have a positive emotive response to your company brand that you’re reppin’, or better yet, I already respect your personal brand. There’s a sliding scale, or bell curve, between how I feel about you or your brand and my interest in your offer. In other words, the more I respect you or your brand, the more likely I’ll listen to your spiel, and therefore consider taking the next steps. I, like many, have a fairly extensive local network that I consult when needed. Do they have positive or negative things to say about you, or have they even heard of you at all? One of the most powerful things you can do is do great work for your current clients, who may be associates of mine, and be out there, online or in the real world, generating positive awareness. Just like I’m doing right now, with this incredibly helpful article.
4) Be Real, and Real Intriguing
Don’t ever, ever, try to trick me. Don’t use misleading headlines or messages that make me think you’re looking to hire my company, or any other bait and switch hogwash. If you want me to read your amazing offer on how your widget is going to change my life or your silver-bullet service will make me richer and younger, you’d better have an interesting or compelling headline. Wow me. Make me think. Make me laugh. But don’t ever click-bait me.
3) Know Your Stuff
On the off chance your cold call email headline was interesting enough to compel me to open your message or your opening compelling enough to read your offer. You’d better be prepared to put your money where your mouth is, or I’m gonna put my proverbial foot where your proverbial ass is and kick it out of my potential vendor network. Forever.
The other day I received a cold call on LinkedIn that interested me enough to open and read it. A guy was offering a service that I was interested in but was already receiving from another provider. I actually replied, asking him to simply state why his service was better than the one I was currently paying for. Instead of answering my question, I received a phone call from one of his underlings. That call lasted about 10 seconds and resulted in no less than a little disappointment. Not mine. So close, but so far. And close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. Better luck next time.
2) Know My Stuff
Do your research. Before you even think about calling on me, you better know who you’re dealing with. Know my stuff. And why your stuff can improve my life is some meaningful way.
With today’s resources there’s no excuse not to know what makes me, as your prospect, tick. With social media, and today’s atmosphere of publicly airing favorite meals, family events, frequented venues, liked businesses, there is no excuse not to try to get some insight to my personality, wants and needs. And just like having a crush on someone, there’s a fine line between doing your research and stalking me. Research good, stalking bad.
1) Kiss Me First
Business development is similar to dating, and cold calling is tantamount to walking up to every member of your preferred gender, and the first thing that comes out of your mouth is “I’m Bob. Would you like to be my girlfriend?” Ninety nine percent of the time, you’re going to get turned down. Flat. Or slapped. Or stabbed. Or the recipient of a shiny new restraining order.
I’ve been cold called thousands of times, via email, phone, and on LinkedIn. With the exception of the previously mentioned instance, I never respond. Not even if their brand looked reputable, their service interesting, and the need intact. Why? Because it’s obvious that all you want is my business. You rogue. You rake. You rounder. You philanderer. Before we can consummate our relationship and close the deal, I need to know you have the long-term relationship in mind.
Want my business? Show interest in my business. Read and comment on my blog. Follow me on social. Want to go steady? Catch my eye. Let’s grab dinner. And have my favorite bourbon ready. And make it a double, but you already knew that. Want to get to second base? Kiss me first.