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 Like I promise on my latest post – Is Cold Calling outdated?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! 😉

Click here for more posts about Sales

Innovation is everywhere!

Living in a world where everyday innovations are more important than breakthroughs, leaders must be able to innovate and allow innovation! Ah, and the good news is, ‘you do not need to be a rocket scientist to be an innovator’Innovation is everywhere!

Minor changes and little improvements may suffice to help a company being better prepared to face the market and its rivals. Everyday innovations, and not only big innovations, can help companies being more competitive! It is crucial to move from a “putting all the eggs in the R&D basket” mentality to an “innovation is everywhere” mentality! If someone working in the customer service develops a new way of handling customer complains and bring time-to-answer down, she is improving customer satisfaction and loyalty. If the sales team develops a new way to prospect clients in a brand new way its being innovative! Even in a department like accounting one can innovate. Everything that introduces novelties and is able to improve competitiveness, uniqueness or creativity can be called of innovation!

Open innovation and crowdsourcing besides being very trendy nowadays, are also brilliant innovatory concepts! The idea of having key stakeholders helping a company solving problems or moving into a next level it is in my point of view amazing. The Social Media not only helps boosting these processes, but it can also be the process in itself. Social media brought a brand new way of interacting with consumers and brand fans, and introduced innovatory ways of lever on these interactions. By cutting off the difficulty and lack of commitment associated to the old fashioned surveys and inquires, where people did not feel motivated or committed to give suggestions or ideas, social media allowed companies to build strong online communities and transformed crowdsourcing into a competitive weapon. If a company is using social media networks to create alive communities and being able to build rapport around its brands and products, it is now better prepared with a real competitive advantage to face its rivalry.

A lot has changed regarding branding and marketing management, consumers does not want to be interrupted by advertisement campaigns on TV or an e-mail on there inbox, they prefer to chose when to participate or receive info from companies. So, when a person expresses her will to belong to an online community, she is already committed to receive info and, who knows, to engage. Ultimately, she can become a brand evangelist in helping spreading the word, and a fan committed to help the company with ideas and suggestions! Not only social media augmented the impact of crowdsourcing but also allowed companies to measure the pulse to its audience in a more reliable way! Social media democratized innovation in the sense that it brought common [inside and outside] people to participate in the process. In my viewpoint, brilliant and genius! Isn’t it?

In my point of view, innovation can be everywhere and carried out by everyone! 

What do you think? Is innovation everywhere? Can everyone be an innovator? How about online communities? Have you ever though that they could be a real competitive advantage to your company? Send us your thoughts and experiences!

Have a great day! Be an innovator but more than that, allow innovation into your company!

Communication: a Secret Weapon or an Achilles’ Heel? You Choose!

A couple of months ago I wrote about Active Listening – Ever thought about: why do we have two ears but only one mouth? – and the importance of doing it when communicating. Now, I want to focus on the messageand how communication can be a competitive advantage to you, and your companyI am sick and tired of assisting people pretending to be leaders, and failing to truly communicate! Communication is the process of conveying a message, and a lot of people are still failing to be honest, transparent, and respect their audiences. The word we are living in today it is so different from the one we were living in just a couple of years ago that a lot of people have not realized yet that a lot has changed. To start with, the technological advancements with the Internet and World Wide Web have just democratized the information and make each one of us owner of her own search for news! The era where newspapers and television were the solo places where to find facts on what was happening in the world is dead. Nowadays, one is free and able to find the information one wants without intermediaries or third parties. It is easier now to investigate for something when it does not smell right. So, I keep asking myself, Who can some people dare to lie and bullshit others in the 21st century? Not a Leader, I suppose! A real Leader must be able to well communicate with her audience, meaning that she should be able to listen (actively), and communicate with transparency and honesty, not with lies!

In my point of view, Leaders should start by respecting their audiences otherwise they will lose the trust of others, becoming poorer and sometimes even losing their most powerful “weapon“, their credibility! And this works also for companies. One can learn a bunch of rules on communication courses, though, if the message it is not honest, clear and transparent, everything will be at stake and your audience will end up feeling cheated. Respect your audience means being a Leader, and a Leader will always treat her audience respectfully!

Lesson learned, when communicating be truthful, honest, transparent and clear. You will gain your audience’s respect and trust! As you know, your credibility, image and brand are important aspects of being competitive. Thereupon, being acknowledged as respectful and trustworthy will give you some edge when facing your competition, and work as a real competitive advantage toward them!

The Art Of Brainstorming In The 21st century!

What I like more in the social media and all these internet and web stuff is the easiness of sharing, connecting and commenting on each others’ ideas. Social Media is doing its job and helping people getting more into sharing, communicating, and building up on others’ ideas. People is becoming more open to exercise their own creativity and innovatory abilities. People like to share and comment on other’s work, obviously that this is much easier today than it was a couple of years ago, nevertheless, this social change brought by the advancement in technology is boosting the whole phenomenon. Commenting, sharing and building up on other’s ideas is for me the basis of Brainstorming! Online or Offline, Brainstorming is a powerful tool and in my point of view, a competitive advantage for those doing it. Brainstorming has become a tool to generate a higher level of innovation and boost creativity. Honestly speaking I am a huge fun of brainstorms! I know that sometimes one ends up with a bunch of people trying to brainstorm and nothing happens. Though, the right question here is the Why! Why is it not working?

For several different reasons like, wrong people or place, or more important, wrong leader. So, another key question is, How can you take fully advantage of its amazing potential? For starters, Brainstorming only works if people is doing it in fully awareness of what it is at stake and able to speak freely. Meaning, only if you have a strong team spirit, a motivated team and you rewards their participation and willingness to share you will be able to profit from it. However, not having the “right” leader in charge of stirring, coordinating and conducting the whole meeting it is also a common and the most important mistakes! Even for brainstorms you need some order and rules, and nothing better to do that than having someone capable of leading the whole discussion. If you want to have a good, efficient, and fruitful brainstorming you must appoint a Leader to be in charge.

Another key question again, What kind of traits must be present in a Brainstorm Leader? In my point of view, first of all you will need someone with a good sense of what a Shaper and an Evaluator are. A Shaper will challenge people, be dynamic, provide the drive and courage to overcome obstacles and take some action. On the other side as an Evaluator, she will be sober, strategic, logical and more important she will see all the options and keep track on the good ones. And on top of everything, you will need someone who has a good sense of humor, a sharp common sense, an ability to stir ideas in order to think outside the box, a good moderator and communicator. Someone who knows how to ignite innovation and creativity, motivates people to build up on others ideas and suggestions, and more important someone who does not judge or inhibit people to take risks or share their opinions!

If Brainstorming can be seen as a competitive advantage, and I believe it can, companies must pay more attention to it and have better leaders to manage it. I have seen amazing brainstorm sessions where solutions are found, new ideas brought in to the table and a boost in creativity and innovation accomplished! If companies must innovate and be creative nothing better than start using social media to do it but also never forget to do it offline, in-house with your company’s employees. You will be surprised with what you end up with, an amazing set of creative and innovatory ideas.

Tip: Include brainstorming in your weekly tasks, do it at least once a week and you will see the changes after a couple of months! Your company will be much more open to new ideas, creating and innovating more, and your team will be more motivated and productive than ever.

Do not hesitate in contacting us if you want some more tips on Brainstorming or Share tips with us!

Similar Posts: Words for Starters, How much time would you like to invest innovating and creating?Don’t worry, Be creative!Being just a click away!Decisions: a headache or an opportunity?Vision, Strategy and Implementation! How About People?

Is there such thing as too much social media?

No, I do not think so! Although I don’t believe in the idea of too much social media, I believe in wrong, uneven, unadjusted, and bad implemented solutions and strategies. What can bring the sense of failure or overwhelming. If one does not have a strong will, a reason to do it, and a good understanding of what Social Media is about, than one should STOP,LISTEN and TRY first!

In my point of view, a verdict of “too much” social media can happen for several reasons, being the most deadly: lack of real motivation and reason to do it! When someone is asked about the whys of investing in a Social Media Strategy and replies, “because everybody is doing it, so I am also doing it”! Something is really Wrong! If you are going for a Social Media Strategy you must be willing to do it because you can see the value in it. You must also be prepared for a totally different reality and open-minded. Social Media is about trial and error, there is no scientific method or secret recipes. Forget the almighty ROI as it use to be! You will have to reinvent you KPIs and go for a strong SEO strategy! You don’t know what SEO means? Well, start studying the key concepts and tools for social media otherwise you’ll be just spoiling money. More to that and also very deadly, If you are defining your online strategy by adapting and sometimes even copying what you have been doing offline on the traditional channels you are already DEAD! You need to be fully and really committed to the experience, try and more than everything don’t be afraid of losing control or fail!  You’ll gain a lot, it is really a one life-time experience!

For those who are skeptic or want a more structured approach, please find here some steps to be done before going blindly on Social Media.

  1. Understand what is in for you, and be open minded to new things. Start by enumerate the reasons why you’re doing it! You should find the following two reasons among your list: “I believe I can connect better with my audience and add value to them”, and next to that “I believe I can increase the value added to my overall business, and that I am building a more competitive and future oriented business”.
  2. Assess your Audience (clients or future clients) through an extensive diagnosis and only after that go for a social media strategy. Accordingly to the Audience you identified as yours, define goals and the strategy to achieve them.
  3. When defining the strategy, choices must be made: plans, channels, approaches and actions. Choices that must be aligned with: the targeted audience, its behaviours and consuming preferences; overall mission and business strategy; defined goals (marketing and PR) and available resources.
  4. Align Audience>Mission/Business Strategy>Goals and never forget to incorporate the company’s culture and uniqueness when translating all the elements into a marketing strategy, only that way it will succeed. Ah, don’t forget to align online with offline strategies, use their synergies to boost your business and make it more future oriented!

Social Media is all about trying it! If you want to do it is because you foresee something positive about it and you will fully commit to its success! If you are not sure about it, you will fail for the wrong reasons!

Go and try it!

Do you want to build a successful marketing strategy? Pay attention to the “triangle”!

“Does one size fit all?” was my first post about Audience and the increasing importance of understanding it before setting strategies and defining approaches. Although Audience is more than ever a key aspect on marketing, there are also two other aspects that should be deeply analysed before going on designing and implementing new plans and strategies, value proposition and vision. If a company wants to be a market leader it needs to be able to deal with three different dimensions: inside (value proposition), outside (audience) and vision vs. trends (time evolution).

What does each part of the “triangle” mean?

  • Audience: people to whom products or services are addressed, in a strict sense using an old definition it means targeted segments although, in my opinion the internet and world wide web brought dynamism to the definition making it more flexible and broad by including in it the social networks and online communities.
  • Value proposition: the value that the company propose to their customers and audience, what is inside their products and that can be of value to these people. It should also be strictly connected to the “why” the company does what it does. Vision vs.
  • Trends: this relationship should be managed at the highest level in the company producing a business strategy that being loyal to the company’s vision incorporates also new trends happening in the world, like technological enhancements and innovatory products, or new consuming patterns and behaviours.

How does the “triangle” work?

We have entered an era of radical change for Marketers, part say that traditional marketing is dead and part keep stubbornly using the old same ingredients and recipes. I believe in mixed solution where traditional and new marketing techniques are used together giving bird to new recipes and where ingredients are chosen accordingly to audience, customer value proposition and vision vs. trends. The triangle will be used as a starting point to decide what kind of techniques and channels will be used.

Why marketers need to manage the triangle?

The 21st century brought new technologies and innovations that changed the way people live, behave and interact, affecting the way business is done. Everything is today faster than ever. Individuals interact with individuals to improve products, technologies or processes, not needing companies for that changing the way business is done today. My post Are we all amateurs, aren’t we? clearly shows that people within communities interact and help without being directly connected to companies. This phenomenon makes audience and value proposition more important than ever. Therefore, Marketers’ big challenge is to be able to “perfectly” understand their audiences (the way people behave, interact and share), translate that into a value proposition that makes sense that is also aligned with the company’s business strategy (mission vs. trends).