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 Like I promise on my latest post – Is Cold Calling outdated?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

Advertisements

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!

Click to discover more SALES related Posts

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.

Increasing sales: a successful action plan!

You want to increase your sales but don’t know where to start? Your company has a large variety of products and a big market to cover? Your sales team is reactive instead of proactive, and does not know which products or clients are profitable? You have a loyalty problem: only a few products are sold repeatedly to the same clients? Or a more strategic one: no right client value proposition? …You are not the only one.

Well, there are a lot of crucial areas that you must investigate before implementing or try to define a commercial planning. Only after that and having all the crucial info and data in your hands you should go and try to define a plan to tackle the issues. Don’t forget to put an effort on the implementation part (crucial to achieve results), otherwise it will be an awesome plan but only on the paper.

I propose you a 6-step approach to energize your Sales Action Plan and do-not-forget areas.

A 6-step Sales Action Plan

1) Understand your team, go along with them and try to understand how they work, assess each ones strengths and weaknesses. Ask them what are the needs and changes they would like to have covered. Profile one-by-one.

2) Do a serious analysis on your clients, profile and rank them from important to “indispensable” you should use a list with the applicable criteria in order to rank them. The 20:80 rule is a good beginning but not enough. You said that some of them are not buying the profitable products. Did you know that between 10 to 20% of a company’s clients bring a lost or at least zero profit? Wrong product and buying conditions, deliveries, payment conditions… a lot of factors can turn a client into a major lost. Ask the opinion of your sales fellows about each client, in order to profile also the clients as accurate as possible;

3) Try to interact with all the crucial departments in order to have crucial info, info that can give you ideas about increasing sales example: managerial accounting (profitable products, profitable conditions, product cost, profitable delivery timings….); Production (info about cycles…), etc Understand as much as possible when are your products profitable and when they are not, try to avoid the unprofitable areas.

4) Have a brainstorm session with your team in order to have ideas and plans to increase sales, have some insights regarding products and how you should be selling them (product mix, packaging, deals, discounts, contracts, payment conditions, order conditions, deliveries…)

5) Highlight main problems and find solutions for each of them. What can be wrong: product mix, pricing, delivery conditions, cross selling and up-selling schemes, product expertise, contract conditions, quality issue…). Or is it a strategic problem: wrong client value proposition? Try to work closely with marketing on that to solve any market incoherence;

6) Define a sales action plan starting with the goals, then present your findings and the right actions (regarding that) to achieve the goals. Present it to your team in order to fine tune them. After that define the wanted results for each action, deadlines and who is accountable for what define individual plans for each of your sales people accordingly. Put the plan in place and do a strong follow up on it, with coaching, supervision and a tight control on your plan with special focus on the KPIs (set results) and budget.

Not to forget

Do not forget to define alternative plans, act fast on deviations from the forecast objectives and results; Define the key clients and try to balance your client portfolio avoiding the 20:80 rule and pushing the 20% (of clients bringing 80% turnover) toward 30 or 40% that way you decrease your risk. There is no right plan; I believe in be efficient, hands-on and control your budget. Sell what your client need (up-sell and cross sell whenever you can) never forgetting what is profitable to your company and how you should sell each product to have the maximum profit. Negotiate with your clients having a list of subjects and not on subject by subject, that way you have more chances to reach good deal! Ah, and never forget to walk the walk!

GOOD LUCK!