At trade shows and business seminars I am asked what types of businesses are most successful with outsourcing their sales calls.  The answer is two-fold, and they are mutually exclusive of one another.

Hands down, widgets get more appointments than a  deeply embedded esoteric intangible service. Unless…you are a service that is defined in the name.  Click2Mortar, http://www.click2mortar.com/ for instance, is the best known media system that delivers the web customer to a local store.  Interweb retail people that I pitch finally get it.  It didn’t happen overnight, so lets throw a third-fold into the mix….timing, and that’s not new.

Don’t get me wrong.  Anything can be done, it’s just that coming to us with exactly the right tools will be the difference between an OK campaign and a killer campaign.

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When sending new business introduction letters that request an appointment (phone or in person) you might consider accompanying the letter with a fax back reply form. Faxing is easy for them and immediate for all concerned.   I find faxing a little refreshing with all the glitzy technology methods that everyone’s using these days.

It was a quiet day today with most people just back from the holiday break, but I reached ten people in an attempt to schedule new business appointments.    Two of the prospects said no thank you, and eight people said they’d be interested in receiving more information before scheduling to meet.    Mind you, the requests came after some good back and forth dialog, and reviewing the web site.

The prospects, I believed, were truly interested in holding our paper in their hands, adding it to a file, and/or easily sharing the information with colleagues.   The request for more info is offering us another opportunity to tell them about our services.  If you told them on your conversation that you will explain further how your services will improve their business – then tell them how!  Don’t make it a generic letter.

If you do an electronic communication attach a simple power point presentation using real data with the prospects name & logo.  Show them you care about them by taking time to care about what you’re sending them.  If you don’t care, why should they?

Cold Call + request for information = the possibility of pulling them in closer for another dance

Up until now the “send me something” was interpreted as an excuse to get off the phone.   Consider this for a moment…prospects receive dozens of sales calls daily, talking to everyone is impossible, and that out of their day, they took some time to speak to you, acknowledging that they are familiar with what you are talking about, and would likely be able to use the service soon or in the near future – send them information.

In the current b2b climate, I would consider the request for more information to be similar, and quite possibly, as good as a face-to-face introduction.   One adds an appropriate personal note to the document being mailed, building another layer to the new relationship.  If you are from the same city or state, or even familiar with the same part of the country, reference a coffee shop or current hot spot and you’re practically best buds.

Consider the times, and know that a meeting might not be necessary to generate and nurture every potential partner.

 

Go On – Say Something

It’s time to expose ourselves.  Let it all hang out.   Wrap your business focus into today’s hot topic or headline, give it a stir, and post it somewhere.  Use the right words, back links, tags, metawhatsit, video, and before you know it, you are viral.  Social media is something that comes instinctively to those who were born with computers and mobile phones.  To those of us who get that we are now in the future, we are learning,  or we’ve decided to leave the room.  We don’t have to love it, but we do have to learn it.  The future is now.  (Although I’m still waiting for my personal jet pack).  You can ignore it (though why would you?), but from a business position –  Embrace it or write your epitaph.

Lead generators can thank LinkedIn for providing a great tool for uncovering names of the folks who hold the titles we need.  Reaching them is still left to the art of the sales person.  I now enjoy finding many brand managers names who forever sat unreachable in their nice cushy offices.  I guess as the younger set move into key positions in the Fortune 500 they won’t mind getting their identity out there – all those responsible for Huggies, and Pantene.   Although I doubt we’ll ever penetrate deeply into the name vault at Pfizer or Merck.  (But that’s a whole other beef) Transparency is a word that comes to mind when I think about all the social outlets that I communicate on.  At any given time if someone wants to comment on something I did or said.  Comment at will, please.  I wonder if 9/11 has anything to do with our openness now.  Wanting to be exposed so that people don’t question our identity.

Social Media is huge – it is hard to wrap our arms around it, but try it, you’ll like it.   For business purposes, have lots of meetings, set your goals on what it is you want to try to accomplish with a social outreach, and jump.  You’ll never even have to mention what it is you are selling, in fact, don’t do that.  Don’t sell from social. We need to think.  We can now participate in conversations with some of the great thinkers and writers in the world today.

Kicking and screaming is how I am bringing my clients to the world of social media, but at least most are stepping up.  I’m very proud of them.  This stuff’s hard.

 

 

 

 

This is more of an update than a post. Summer business is actually booming. Certainly much better than Q2 when if I’d called my mother she would have declined. So at this moment in time, I’m happy to report that prospects are now meeting with my client companies. Next hopefully business will be signed. Now if only I could get someone to buy my son’s 2001 Ford Focus that has ceased to work. Gggrrr.

I was totally unprepared for the physical effects of cold calling.

If you’re even slightly like me, stress is a trigger, that makes me eat.   Don’t get me wrong. I don’t munch away whilst on my calls, but if I’m on a call for a long time, and I begin to lose focus, I get stressed, and think about food. Years ago, I’ll admit it, I was a smoker, and although that demon is long gone, that same Tasmanian devil now propels me to the kitchen. When I began in the B2B lead generating business, I was unaware of what can happen if someone says 1) “sign me up,” or 2) “not interested.” And, it’s always one or the other. What’d I do? I headed straight for the fridge. Bear in mind, I work from my home office – so my all access pass had me at my stainless steel top-of-the-line, French-door Goddess of the Goodies –  A LOT! Whatever was there, as long as it was bite-sized, I’d grab it. Believe me, it took me quite a while to realize that it mattered not what I reached for – See’s chocolates, pieces of cheese, or pieces of raw veggies. I was either feeling happy that I had succeeded at my mission or crummy because I (not really) was turned down. One day, there I was, staring into the light of the fridge, reaching for something I had no desire to eat, that I realized that I’d gone and developed a Jones. At first, I said to myself that at least I was not the person who kept a bottle in my desk drawer to take a nip every now and then. Nor was I like the gentlemen from Mad Men and their office cocktail de-stressers. But the munchies, for me — exactly the same – a crutch. You know what they say? Recognizing that there is a problem is half the battle. I embraced my new habit by acknowledging it. Oprah or my shrink – (maybe both) had given me permission to do this, and I started to smoke again. JUST KIDDING!

That’s it. Just watch for these triggers, and remember to go for the carrots.

The best kind of client to have is one that stays on board for a long time. Most importantly, everyone gets more comfortable in the relationship and accustomed to how the process works. The callers are getting their mouths wrapped around the pitch, and familiarizing with the types of questions the prospects are asking, and, HOPEFULLY, appointments are getting scheduled.

THE TRADE SHOW IS A WONDERFUL THING

Clients that “get us” know that our services can expand. Example – Your sales team is heading to a trade show in two months. You’ve spent 500K on a booth, not to mention the millions on developing new software. NOW WHAT? We just need the attendee list, and away we go….scheduling booth appointments. What’s that, you say? Don’t have a booth? We’ll schedule a coffee meeting in the lobby. It’s simple. They’re there to see what you’ve got. You just need to find a way to reach them, effectively and in enough time. Don’t wait until the last minute to schedule.

NO APPOINTMENT NECESSARY
Heck, sometimes clients just consider us part of their ad budget, and admit to not even wanting appointments. An appropriate voice mail with a Company name is direct marketing. The company name’s been delivered, nuff said.

Think creatively, and make good use of professional communicators. That’s going to be my next posting – the importance of working with professionals and to avoid using your friend Dan who’s good on the phone.

Til next time….thanks for stopping by.