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.

by Sheryl Tuttle

Web research is a vital part of new business generation, and it’s essential to know as much as you can about a prospect company before actually engaging in dialog with that prospect. Accordingly, I visit many company websites. Here are my top five pet peeves for business websites in no particular order. I invite you to add your own to this list through the comments.

  1. No “About” Information – Most visitors to business websites are looking for information about the company. An “about” page or an easily found descriptive paragraph on the home page is essential in my opinion, and its lack of is one of my biggest pet peeves.
  2. Not Copyable – Frequently, I utilize the copy and paste feature for the important and relevant information from business websites, saving the details into my CRM for future use. It doesn’t happen often that the text cannot be copied from a website, but it’s extremely irritating to me when it does.
  3. Automatic Music – I like music, really, I do, but when I’m visiting websites, I’m typically either a) working or b) shopping. Usually working. In any case, landing on a website to be affronted with music of their choice is not ideal, and at a minimum, there needs to be a very easily found “music off” switch.
  4. No Discernible Structure or Organization – Most people like things easy. Particularly when it comes to company research. We don’t want to have to go on a lengthy mission just to find the information we are after. As such, it is grating to visit websites packed full of unorganized information and no clear structure on where to find things.
  5. Not Able to Use Browser of Choice – Another one that doesn’t happen often, but is very annoying when it does, are sites that require a specific browser to open. While the company or site manager’s preferred browser may be IE, it is not mine, and I want to be able to use any browser to peruse the site.

So what are some of your pet peeves when it comes to business websites?

by Sheryl Tuttle

Frequently I’m asked whether it makes sense to start or continue a new business campaign through the holidays. The argument is that many people vacation during the holidays and so you are less likely to reach a decision-maker during this timeframe. Many people contend that it makes better sense to put these efforts on hold, until the New Year and the resumption of “business as usual.”

I disagree, and here’s why.

For the very reason that more people are on vacation, the likelihood of reaching a decision-maker increases. Not only are your target prospects taking time off, but so are their gatekeepers. While the number of executives in their offices may actually decrease over the holidays, the number of executives answering their own line increases. This often results in making connections that would otherwise have been more difficult.

Additionally, while everyone is quick to agree that the holidays can bring on more stress, it is also a time when holiday spirit prevails. People emphasize community, relationships, and goodwill. They tend to be in better moods, and are more likely to be receptive to a conversation.

The best time to initiate a new business campaign is when it is right for you and your business, regardless of the season. When you want to begin filling the sales pipeline with future business, that’s the time to start a new business campaign.

Happy Thanksgiving.

by Sheryl Tuttle

Recently I stumbled upon a great blog post on New Business Hawk containing a list of ideas for generating new business. While the article is primarily geared towards agencies, the list is comprehensive. Almost certainly you will find ideas you can use for your new business campaign. Here is the post.

Grab the Low Hanging Fruit: 49 New Business Ideas at New Business Hawk

I couldn’t help but notice the number of times “call” was referenced. It is in idea number 19, 32, 33, 45, and 46, affirming again, that a personal telephone call is a great way to connect and build your business.

Posted using ShareThis

 

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.

 

 

 

 

by Sheryl Tuttle

I recently read Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, and offer the following review of the book. But why provide a book review about social media on a blog about filling your new business pipeline through outbound prospecting efforts?

Because social media is not a fad that is here today, gone tomorrow. Social media is revolutionizing the business world, and not just in retail and consumer industries. It’s B2B too. And it will affect how all of us do business into the future, and it cannot be ignored.

I’m not sure how social media will alter the course of my day, making calls to target prospects in which my clients wish to do business. But I do know that it will. It already has in some positive ways.

But first, the book review, then let’s talk more about social media.

GroundswellGroundswell

winning in a world transformed by social technologies

by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff

Groundswell is a great book to help people understand the revolutionary social technology changes that are occurring, why they are happening, and how to tap into it and transform your business. It’s a very interesting read with good information, much of it familiar though, particularly for those already actively involved in social media.

The authors explain that people utilize social media to connect, collaborate, react, organize, and accelerate consumption. They give numerous examples of tools for each of these categories, and explain which of the five primary objectives these tools help companies meet. For example, blogs are effective tools for talking and getting feedback, while ratings, reviews, and online communities help energize the groundswell.  In addition, people engage more or less with social media, and their involvement will range from completely inactive to active creators, with several levels of involvement in between.

Thus, planning is a large part of success. The idea is to look at the objectives first, especially since technology constantly evolves, and select appropriate tools that will develop the relationships to get there. The authors introduce a four part planning process that consists of people, objectives, strategy and technology.

Concrete examples and case studies provide additional substance and make the information easily digestible, enabling you to create actionable steps to move your company into the groundswell. I recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn more about social media and the steps to take to get involved.

Now, let’s talk about . . .

What Effects Will Social Media Have on Outbound Calling Efforts?

While there are some that say social media will eliminate the need for outbound calling efforts, I disagree. Social media may create enough buzz and information about a company, service or product to make inbound calls a bigger reality, but prospects are not all created equal, and not all people will respond similarly. Cold calling will always remain an effective way of picking the higher hanging fruit, of introducing your company or service, and in creating relationships.

So if social media isn’t going to remove the need for outbound new business initiation efforts, what effects will it have?

Since social media is about listening, communicating, and connecting, I see it as another instrument in the salesperson’s tool bag. Already we do web research and look at prospect websites to learn about a potential customer, now we can add blogs and other social media tools to that list, better preparing us to match our deliverables with our customers’ needs.

Social media enables conversations to occur, and for others with interest to join in, but in the end, the telephone still ranks high for communicating one-on-one.

What are your thoughts on social media?

 

by Sheryl Tuttle

Enjoy this video that reflects how social media is changing the world of sales and marketing.

Question for you – How does social media effect prospect outreach? Has it changed your outbound efforts?