Subscribe in a reader: Subscribe to Business Cookery BookNews FeedSubscribe to Business Cookery BookComments

When Should I Cold Call?

May 7, 2011 by  
Filed under Sales

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]
Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them? Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing. There must be a…


Please login to read the rest of this article.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a login yet – it’s free to create one and you can do it now by clicking here.


[/WisP]

[WisP level=”Business_Cookery_Resources”]
Who actually likes having the phone slammed down on them?

Extreme perhaps, but that’s what puts many people off picking up the phone to find out who might be interested in buying from them. The telephone isn’t the big scary monster that some people think it is if you know what you’re doing.

There must be a sales manual out there that says if you’re going to cold call businesses, you should only do it between Tuesday and Thursday. Why? Because on a Monday people are thinking about the weekend and on Friday, guess what, they’re thinking about the weekend.

This may be true for people selling toner cartridges, water coolers or any of the multitude of items that are sold business to business every day, but it’s not so true for higher value services. In fact, I’d argue that there’s no reason to be cold calling – ever.

Before we think about when you should cold call, let’s take a moment to be clear about what a cold call is.

According to www.answers.com, a cold call is:

A telephone call or visit made to someone who is not known or not expecting contact, often in order to sell something.

For a moment, put yourself in the shoes of someone getting a cold call. Let’s imagine that you’re a senior manager in a mid-sized company. You don’t know this person who’s calling you, they don’t know you, yet they’re telling you they can help you to perform better at work or increase their revenue.

What’s going through your mind?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I need any help? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than the company we’re already using?”
“If they’re as good as they say they are why are they calling me to tout for business?”

Now imagine this situation for a moment.

You’ve just settled down to watch your favourite TV show and the phone rings. It’s a dentist who tells you that they can fix your smile and make you more attractive to the opposite sex.

What are you thinking?

“Who is this person?”
“How did they get my number?”
“What makes them think I’m unattractive? – Has someone been talking?”
“Why do they think they can do a better job than my regular dentist who I trust?”
“If they’re that good, then why do they need to call strangers? – Have they frightened away all their clients?”

Do you notice any similarities with the earlier situation?
You relationship with your dentist is based on trust. OK, so you might not like going, but when you visit a dentist it’s good to know that you’re in safe hands. And how do most people choose a dentist – they ask other people who they go to and if they’re any good.

So back to cold calling.

I’m not saying that you should never pick up the phone to a prospective client. What I’m saying is that a random call out of the blue is not likely to get you very far. Managers and decision makers take calls from sales people day in day out and many of them are sick of it.

You might get lucky with a random call, but you can increase your chances by doing your research before you call:

Are they already using a company like yours?
If they already buy the product or service you’re offering from another company, they are likely to be more receptive than someone who has never bought what you’re selling before.

How far into their financial year are they?
If it’s a plc or limited company, you can check this information online. If they’re approaching year end, they might have money to spend (to soak up the VAT) or they might be out of cash. Either way, call a few months before year end to find out what their plans are for the next financial year.

Tap into your networks
Who do you know who can recommend you in to their company? Does your brother in law work there, does your friend who’s a Manager know anyone there, do you live next door to their accountant?

Name Drop
If you’re doing work for a similar company and there won’t be a conflict of interest, mention the results you’ve had with them (without revealing confidential information of course)

Send them something before you call
A letter, a brochure even a DVD of you talking about what you do could help you to cut through the clutter and get their attention. Then when you call, you can ask if they received the DVD and arrange a time to call for a more in-depth conversation.

[/WisP]

How NOT to Follow up on Leads

May 6, 2011 by  
Filed under Sales

[WisP level=”not_logged_in”]
How you follow up with any leads generated by your Marketing activities is essential to the success of your business.

Through your efforts you may have generated the following types of leads: …


Please login to read the rest of this article.

Don’t worry if you haven’t got a login yet – it’s free to create one and you can do it now by clicking here.


[/WisP]

[WisP level=”Business_Cookery_Resources”]
How you follow up with any leads generated by your Marketing activities is essential to the success of your business.

Through your efforts you may have generated the following types of leads:

  • Subscribers to your newsletter
  • People who downloaded your ebook
  • In-coming call from someone interested in your services
  • People attending your workshop
  • Delegates on your tele-seminar
  • Business cards from people you meet networking

There are a number of ways in which to follow up with them which are often covered in articles, but no one seems to talk about what can go wrong when following up with people.

There are 6 main reasons why leads don’t turn into paying customers:

1. You don’t ask them to become customers or clients
Yes really. You may have heard people using expressions such as ‘asking for the business’ and wondered how you go about doing this. It might even have crossed your mind that asking for the business was somehow ‘dirty’ or could be perceived as being needy or begging for the business. In fact the opposite is often true.

Have you ever visited a store, found what you were looking for and then wandered around as the staff ignored you? Even if you really wanted the item, if the staff don’t seem to want your business it’s very easy to put it down and walk out again.

The same can be true with your business.

While I’m not suggesting you start selling your services like a store sales person, I am suggesting that you make it clear how to buy from you and be ready to serve customers. In a store the company gets this message across by displaying signs and posters with their latest offers, the price is clearly displayed and staff are (or should be) trained to say hello, tell you about the items on sale and help you decide which of the options available would be most suitable for you. Get used to using some of the phrases below in conversation with prospective customers and clients. Feel free to customise them to suit your style and the circumstances:

“What were you looking for in terms of help and support on this issue?”

“Does the sound like what you were looking for?”

“How soon did you want to start?”

“I have a couple of appointments available that week. Would Monday at 10am or Wednesday at 3pm work better for you?”

“So, shall we go ahead and get you booked in?”

2. They don’t understand what you do
I’m not talking about spouting a text-book definition of what you do here. What I’m saying is that people just don’t ‘get’ what you do. If you only ever talk in terms of “I’ll help you be all that you can be” or give them ‘clever’ statements about your business, can you really blame them if they don’t get it?

Make sure you use everyday language and be specific about what you can do for them. Group your products and services into easy-to-buypackages and be able to explain what is included plus what the benerfits and outcomes are likely to be. Stories help people to understand, so if you’ve got success stories tell people about them (while guarding against a breach of confidentiality) and explain 1) What the situation was like before they became a customer or client 2) Broadly what you did for them – remember to tell them which of your products your customer bought and 3) What the results were.

This format also works when you’re compiling case studies and testimonials – much more effective than the ‘It was great! – Mr A.B from London’ type of comment. Make sure that you engage your prospective clients with real-world examples and you’ll see your conversion rates improve.

3. You didn’t make them an offer
‘An offer’ is often misinterpreted as giving them a discount. It’s not. It’s more about presenting them with a package of services or a relevant product and giving them a compelling reason to invest now rather than waiting.

The special offer could be that you only have space for 3 new clients in the next 6 weeks and when those spaces are gone, there’s a waiting list. Or it could be that for a limited time you are offering 7 of your product for the price of 6. Or you could have created a special package which has seasonal flavour to it, such as a Valentine’s Day package or an Easter package.

Making people an offer consists mainly of giving people a reason to buy right now. Give people a good enough ‘because’ and they are more likely to invest in what you do. When talking to people, get them excited about your offer, but don’t over-do it and make them feel like they are on the receiving end of a clumsy over-hyped sales pitch. It goes down better if you talk with passion and purpose and treat people with respect and sincerity.

Practice saying things like:

“I’m fully booked at the moment, but I’ve just had a call from another client who needed to move their session next week. Would you be interested in taking their appointment and coming along at 4pm on Thursday?”

“When you were on the website did you notice the special deals for this month? You did? Which of the packages do you think would suit you best? I’ve got 2 places still available for the first package and one for the second package.”

4. They couldn’t get hold of you
There’s nothing more frustrating than when you’re looking for help and you can’t get hold of a real person. In most cases if a prospective client tries your number and either gets a busy tone or voicemail, they won’t call back or leave a message. They’ll simply try someone else. Particularly when it comes to professional services where people sometimes spend days, if not weeks or months getting around to making some calls, not getting hold of someone lets them procrastinate further or allows them to convince themselves that it ‘wasn’t meant to be’.

Make sure that the phone number you have on your business cards and website is manned during office hours and that you return any calls as soon as you get the message that someone’s called. You could employ the services of a virtual assistant (VA) or call answering service to answer your phone number in your company name and then let you know when you’ve got messages. The same applies to electronic communications.

Make sure your email address is checked at least daily during a working week and if you are away or with clients that you set up an ‘out of office reply’ or ask your VA to respond to queries if you won’t be able to get back to them within a reasonable time such as 24 hours. After putting so much effort into getting people to contact you, you don’t want those precious leads to go to waste when someone really is interested in working with you!

5. You confused them
You might still be working out who you are and what you do, but don’t let your prospective clients get caught up in that. If you keep changing your mind about which markets you’re targeting and what you’re offering, people become confused. If you are trying out two or three possible niches, we would strongly suggest setting up different mini-websites to promote each of them and don’t mix the two.

Capturing people’s details on a database is great and you need to be able to keep a track of what people signed up for. If they signed up to receive a series of Time Management tips, but you keep sending them information on interview skills or relationship advice, they will very quickly unsubscribe. Be consistent in your communications. Once they have gotten to know you and trust you, you can start introducing other services and products.

6. They don’t trust you enough
Trust is a funny old thing isn’t it? Sometimes you meet people who you instantly have a connection with and you feel you can open up to and sometimes you meet people who you don’t quite click with. It can take a while for some people to trust you and you often have to earn that trust. So how can you do it?

  • Follow through on your promises. If you asked them to sign up to a monthly newsletter, make sure you send it every month. OK, so we all slip up on this one from time to time but if you promised them that you’d email them after meeting them at that networking event, take the first step and email them.
  • Keep in touch. Find a reason to contact them from time to time with something that’s relevant to them.
  • Show you care. Seek out articles and tips that might interest them and send them to them.

When someone has called you or has given you their details and asked you to call them about your services or products, the way you come across can make or break the deal. Aim to sound confident, knowledgeable and not too full of yourself! Remember what it was like the first time you made a decision to work with a new supplier – the chances are you decided to work with someone who made you feel safe and that  you felt understood you and your requirements.

Do you sound like someone who knows what they are talking about? Would you trust you if you didn’t know you? If the answer is NO, think carefully about how you come across and spend time talking about what you do in private until you feel comfortable. You could even record yourself talking and play it back to listen to yourself. OK, so listening to the sound of your own voice can be a little unnerving the first few times, but learn to like your own voice and talking to prospective clients will become a lot easier.

[/WisP]

Get Adobe Flash player