Online Cold Calling – Using e-mail & social networks! [Part 2]

Hello again, hopping you are having a good day. Like I promise on my latest post – Is Cold Calling outdated? No think so! [Part 1] -, I will give you some more tips on how to utilize on online resources and boost your cold calling activities.

Obviously, by now your targets should be already listed and prioritized accordingly to your objectives, and aligned with your business strategy. Only after that one can think about what tactics, and sales techniques one should be using. So, please get this right first before going on cold calling and targeting randomly!

Before continuing further, I would like to share with you that using email or any social network to cold call can be risky. Why? Starting with the idea that it can be seen as spam and immediately deleted, making your time spent doing it unworthy; or that you can spoil your opportunity by using a channel to engage with the prospect that she does not appreciate; Or even, and going a little bit further, and saying that your prospect can see it as annoying, and upsetting, and call the Legal department. So be sure you follow all the legal rules in your prospect’s country. Although, unsolicited is need to sell, please do it right first time!         

In order to use internet cold calling efficiently please follow a two-key-step process to avoid falling in the risky situations mention before – Preparation and Execution.

Preparation

Please do your homework and investigate before sending an unsolicited email or online message. Try to find a way in, a lead on an issue or special need that your company can help with.  After saying that, start by getting the name of the person you want to target, the Decider, who is someone with the power of deciding on spending and budget allocation. However, before you can get in touch with her, you may have to pass by the gatekeeper (normally the Personal Assistant), an Influencer (someone you know within that orgaization with some power in other areas but not in the one you are exploring but can help you with an introduction to your dear Mrs. Decider), or even a Contact you have within the company that can help you indirectly with your mission. Ah, and never forget that your mission is, scheduling an appointment with the Decider. Second, search all the relevant information (all about the company and person you are targeting, its competitors, industry, etc) you need to achieve your goal: schedule an appointment. Third, fill in your CRM with the intelligence in order to keep a record on it.

Execution

What ever is the channel you are using, email or a message through a social network (e.g. Linkedin, Facebook, …), please follow a set of rules to make it more likely that your message is read and that you receive an answer. How to do it: direct the message to a person (your target); tailor-made it to her and company; make it short (3 paragraphs maximum); make it meaningful for the person reading; add an easy way to unsubscribe your emails; and please before sending it do check if you are doing the targeting correctly, and that this is the right person. What information to include: targeted person’s name; quick presentation of you, and some key words describing your company; a few lines pinpointing the benefits of your offer, or solutions for any problem you might have identified in your target (use this opportunity to keep your target’s attention by being creative in your writing); add a referral or at least a success case of a well known client of yours. Don’t add any files on a first email because it can be seen as a threat (viruses, etc…) being the email deleted with being read. Though, you can make a “tailor made” presentation to this specific client and add a safe link to it in your email. End up with a thanks note, and request an appointment. Mention that you will try to follow up by phone and ask for her coordinates (direct contact phone) if you do not have it yet!

Please along the process keep always the eye on the ball! Schedule an appointment first, doing business, next. Ah, and use some creative writing what being not easy can help you out with having your message read, but more than that have it replied with some free slots to schedule an appointment.

Well, good luck with your cold calling and never forget to mix your sales techniques to adequate your sales tactics to your objectives.

Note: If you have any experiences that you would like to share please feel free to comment or send me an email.

More tips on Sales here

Is Cold Calling outdated? No think so! [Part 1]

I don’t think cold calling is an outdated sales tactic, though, I believe it should be refreshed and refurbished for the 21st century! Social media and direct email can also be used to boost cold calling and bring it to the 21st century, though, please don’t stop using the phone! I like to believe that selling it is about mixing up several tactics, techniques and resources to communicate, engage and gain customers’ “love”, and interest in our products. Thus, the winners would be the ones who will find the most inventive and ingenious ways to engage and communicate with their audiences creating value for all the involved parties! Therefore, don’t be afraid of mixing old with new sales tactics, and add some technological flavor on the top!

Before embarking on a cold call tactic, one should first answer the following question: Why cold calling? Is it the right technique for what you’re selling? One should also understand that, cold calling it is called that way just because the person one is contacting doesn’t know one will be contacting and try to sell something. Cold calling it is still a strong technique, and tactic when correctly used by a well informed and prepared sales fellow, otherwise, one should call it “blind call” which is really a wasting of time with zero return. After being sure that cold calling is the correct technique and that it can be fruitful, one should start designing a plan. Yes, a tactic used to achieve and implement your sales and commercial strategy.

My plan! I would probably allocate my resources not only to traditional cold calling (phone), but also on the internet and social media in order to target my audience the best way I could. As you probably know by now, social media can be highly profitable when coming to engaging, passing a message, creating buzz and word-of-mouth, selling and getting referrals. Saying that, and after being sure that cold calling make sense to what I am trying to sell, I would have a second question answered. What kind of preparatory work do I need? And, I would probably start with the WHAT and WHOM! What are the products and to Whom am I selling to? One must have a good idea on what kind of niche or market one is in, meaning a strong analysis on competitors, suppliers, potential clients, market, etc.

After knowing everything about the product and to whom they were produced for, I would segment WHO are my potential clients, the ones I want to target without being loosing my time nor their’s. A short list with segments and reasons why they might be interested. And because I don’t want to spoil my contacts because I didn’t understand my product or market, or I wasn’t prepared, next step would be Preparations phase. Like other sales techniques, cold calling is about preparation, finding the best channel to communicate, right message to be delivered, and the correct moment to interact with the chosen “cold calls” (time range).

After I am sure that I’m using an appropriated sales technique and that I’m prepared (with right info and knowledge) to do it, I would next start designing  my execution plan! I would build a script with the schematics of the approach to your contacts. a) list strong open questions and understand well what are the reasons why they may need the product, along with some dead-ends solutions to move on when you get a “No, thanks” for an answer; b) I need a good hook as a starter, a good reasons why they may be interested in the products, strong arguments to avoid a “no”, and a closing-deal argument; c) with the info gathered on b) I would design a script help you guiding the conversation, with multiple possible ways and solutions for dead-ends leading me to a yes. The script should be built in a decision-tree format with several possible paths for each “intersection”. I will write a second part to this post only with techniques to “cold call” clients using social media and eMail, don’t miss it!

Summing Up: Cold calling is a good and valid sales technique! Though, 1) Be sure cold calling is the correct technique; 2) Be sure you mix it with new technologies like internet and make use of social media as a lever. 3) prepare yourself with info and knowledge on product, clients and competition; and 4) have a strong idea on how to do it, an execution plan. Ah, and don’t miss the second part with social media and email tips to cold call.

Good Luck! Have good time selling and don’t forget to engage and converse with your clients. Selling is more challenging than ever! 😉

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Selling is not what it used to be, it’s much MORE CHALLENGING now!

Selling is in the 21st century much more challenging and interesting than ever. Some people think that selling is about copying past successful plans and apply them again, again, and again!  Wrong! Sales is much more than that! Increase, change, cut, create, or innovate are all words that can and should be applied to sales. Strategizing a commercial plan that is aligned with your present, and NOT with your past goals, will be hard work and requires creativity, though a good start towards success.

In my opinion, if one wants to be a successful sales fellow or business developer, one needs to understand what is at stake first and create a customized plan to tackle the situation at hand. Sometimes one can copy a previous and successful process and be successful, though nothing nor no one can guarantee success just because in the past that same process/plan worked. Furthermore, today’s word is changing faster therefore the best solution is to anticipate and innovate. Obsolete processes and plans must give up to new more customized and creative ones.

Sales is a challenging function that depends more than ever on information and preparation! When starting a sales process with a client or prospect the sales time must be really prepared with a strong file not only on the client that they are prospecting or selling to, but also on the external environment and client’s industry. Sales is all about preparation, listening, and finding the best and unique solution to present to client. An open mind, hard work on preparing and studying everything relevant on the client, and an outside-of-the-box thinking can help sales fellows achieving their goals in a time where everything changes fats. Never forget the service that goes  with the sales, it is key on gaining loyalty and positive word-of-mouth.

Sales is still a very important function within a company and able to make a business successful or a totally disaster, though it needs to be working with all company departments in a collaborative way. For instance, Business and Client intelligence must be passed onto Sales in a straight forward way ready to be incorporate it into the commercial strategy. An efficient controlling systems created and managed in a collaborating way with the accounting and financial departments is also key. My point is, a collaboration culture is key to be competitive and winning the market.

Good sales!

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Please Do Converse With Your Clients!

What was the last time you have conversed with someone at a bus stop or supermarket? Someone that you have never met before? OK! Let’s put it differently. When was the last time you have really engaged in a conversation with someone outside your regular circle of friends? Someone that you have known for years but never said more than a good morning or a good afternoon, a neighbor or the mail man! Well, you are probably doing the same with your clients! OK, I ask you again: when was the last time you have really engaged in a conversation with a client? Probably too much time ago!

I would like to share with you an example of absence of conversation in sales that happened to me today. I was shopping when suddenly my phone rang. I answered, and guess what? It was my Gym’s sales rep. She started by presenting herself, what was well done, but then big mistake! Without any previous conversation she informed me that my “contract” was seating there without being renewed since July (when my pre-paid 6-month enrollment period finished), and therefore, they were calling to ask me if they could kill it or if I was interested in renew it! Amazing isn’t it? They spent time and money just to ask me, for this same order, can we kill your account, or do you want to renew it! So I thought, ‘they are not interested in knowing if I am interested or happy with their services. They just wanted to know if they could clean up some administrative documents. So, I answered: ” Well, I will pass by this weekend thank you for calling”, and cut the talk short. Although, I am renewing, I am doing it because I like the gym not because I liked the approach. Otherwise they would have lost two clients: myself and my husband. Wrong move!

How many errors did she do with this one phone call? Too many!  And I am referring only to Sales errors.

[Sales] Lessons Learned: 1) Never call a client to ask: “May we kill your account?”; 2) Do not call a client to ask why she is not buying your products in a rude and too direct way; 3) Never forget to converse with your client before presenting whatever you have to present her; 4) When calling to a client be prepared: have a plan, understand what is the need and how can you satisfy it; have a strong message to delivery and prepare the different answers you may end up with in order to have a positive outcome what would be a face-to-face meeting; 5) Never push for a decision over the phone, try instead to schedule a face-to-face meeting where you will be able to better understand your client’s motivations and needs and present a tailor made solution.

However, If everything you have it is a phone call, please be wise and be prepared! After preparing yourself, I propose the following 4-step approach: 1st step, create empathy and establish some rapport with her in order to overcome the first barrier; 2nd step, actively listen and converse with her, trying to understand (open and semi-open questions) needs; 3rd step, only after understand needs you present solutions and never before, and never rush to close the deal before timing; and 4th step, closing the deal is crucial though very sensitive, so you must have passed for all the mentioned steps before trying to close it!

Good Luck with your Sales, and please NEVER forget to CONVERSE with your clients! Use your Active Listening to do it!

Posts you may interested in: Having tough negotiations?Increasing sales: a successful action plan!Marketing and Sales: 2 Deadly Mistakes!Is a Dollar spent in Marketing more valuable than a Dollar spent in Sales?

 

Marketing and Sales: 2 Deadly Mistakes!

In my opinion, there are two highly deadly mistakes not only for Marketing and PR, but also for Sales! First, publicizing and communicate something (launch or just a campaign) to not be able to deliver; and last, not having a Marketing (going to market) nor a PR Strategy (nowadays with a good marketing strategy covering from traditional to digital a company can do a acceptable work regarding PR).

Regarding the latest one, I believe that not having a clear idea about how to market a company can be the most deadly of the mistakes a company can make. Why? 1) if a company does not have an idea about how to market itself often means that the crucial Marketing work was not done: market research, audience (clients or customers to target) analysis and its segmentation, market positiong, value chain analysis, mix to offer (product, price…). This means that a company is going to market almost blind with little knowledge of what exists, to whom target or simply where to promote and sale, killing that way the opportunity to win. 2) Do not have a value proposition to communicate or at least do not have the right means to communicate means not leveraging on the proper PR and Branding tools to create a strong a well shaped Brand; 3) No idea about market value or customer lifetime value meaning a short term vision. Well, sometimes what happens is that the company as an idea on all of these aspects but it does not have a structured approach. An old Chinese saying says: “There is no good wind if you do not know where to go”. If the company do not have a vision or a goal to pursuit the company is adrift, spending and spoiling good products, ideas, and scarce resources.

On the other side, if a company has an amazing marketing campaign supporting the launch or special activities but it does not have the correct implementation plan or team to back up and make things happen in the field the company is in big trouble too. It is like shooting your own foot! Normally this mistake happens due to miscommunication between key areas of the business like corporate strategy, marketing, PR and sales (and sometimes operations). However, miscommunication happens often between marketing and sales. Lacking liaison these two departments miss too often to properly communicate what leads to major failures in sales and commercial plan alignment and accuracy. In my opinion liaison is needed within companies, and only a few can do it properly! Sometimes one has the bricks but misses the cement to glue them successfully!

Two deadly mistakes not too difficult to avoid, and that everybody knows but no one wants to act on them! Why? Different reasons being the most strong one the difficulty felt by managers to focus on the holistic plan, leaving their own manors aside! Nevertheless, the 21st century’s challenges are not compatible with selfishness and individualism, instead they need collaboration and teamwork!

Is a Dollar spent in Marketing more valuable than a Dollar spent in Sales?

Why people put always sales vs. marketing? In my viewpoint a company cannot achieve results if it thinks that marketing is more valuable than sales ore vice-versa. What happen sometimes is that one of the two areas has a more structured or a better strategic approach. It can happen also that one of them is more tuned with business strategy and better aligned when defining plans. A lot of times marketing and business strategy are not aligned with and translated into sales strategies.

Depending on the company I have assisted to two main problems: 1) marketing departments completely out of “scope” regarding business strategy, planning unfeasible actions and strategies, and not articulated with sales strategies; 2) sales departments that are not invited to the business strategy discussion and aside the process they are asked to do things without structure; Strategy, objectives and action plan are not aligned nor translating the company’s vision. In my opinion it is a strategic problem regarding the way companies define their business strategy and consequently their business model and go-to market strategies. I believe that a better relationship between corporate strategy, sales and marketing  is key. Not to mention that the whole company should be focused in achieving the same goal and vision by doing their job. A lot of companies fail to understand that the way the different areas interact and the synergies they have are crucial to success. In this case Sales and Marketing are key areas if you want to succeed. if the Marketing understands the market as a whole and proposes an approach to achieve the goal, the sales define a strategy to implement it and achieve the same goal.