Well, the concept is as old as the hills. We have all received an unwanted, unsolicited call from someone selling something. They come at the most inopportune times of the day; at dinner, when you are in a meeting, at lunch or when you are busy. It is part and parcel to a consumer society and has been with us for almost as long as the telephone itself. Regardless of the National Do Not Call List, ruthless marketers persist. Therein lies the rub; considerate, interested honest salespeople are punished with the same disregard as those operating boiler room operations. Cold calling does not work and has not for quite a while. Inbound marketing strategies have replaced this old school method of gaining new leads.
Cold calling does not work for a number of reasons, primarily because consumers and decision-makers hate telemarketers as much as they hate disruption. There is enough to do all day at work (and at home for that matter) without having to answer an annoying phone call from someone interested in “saving you time or money.” Today’s consumers have grown weary of the constant interruptions and distractions that telemarketing, tv commercials and radio spots bring. Life is simply now on their terms, not the advertisers.
What can you do about it? Good question! How can you gain new customers? There are several ways to do so without having to resort to the outdated and annoying cold calling method.
- The first thing you should do is gather your top clients’ information, such as name and address, email address, when you last interacted with them and so on. You can create this log in a simple excel spreadsheet, although customer relationship management software can keep that information updated without any work whatsoever. Regardless of the system, prepare to use these top 25 or 50 clients.
- Ask these clients to rate your performance, the likelihood of repeat business, and especially if they would consider a testimonial you can use to showcase on your web site and other marketing paraphernalia.
- Each month, re-approach these clients if they know of anyone that might be in need of your valuable goods or services. Explain that in order to keep your prices competitive, you prefer to work with those clients that have been referred to you by happy clients. This way, they can be assured of the finest service, knowing that their friends and associates have already experienced your value proposition.
- Use the three-foot rule when networking, are in the community, or any time that you meet someone new. This simply means that if someone that you don’t already do business with is within a three-foot radius of you, tell your story and ask for the business, or at least a referral. You’d be surprised at the outcomes.
- Today’s selling environment is totally different than a few short years ago. People want to work with someone they have built a relationship with, and they are searching online for the right product or service provider. Stand out from the crowded field of competitors. In order to differentiate yourself from all of the others, offer information about your industry that matters to potential consumers. Know your target audience and provide engaging content such as an informative article, a topical eBook that solves a problem, or a regularly produced newsletter that not only highlights your services but provides humorous anecdotes, cartoons, a pertinent video clip or some information that has the ability to impact their lives better somehow.
- Never make another Cold Call! People don’t wish to listen to a sales pitch from a hungry salesperson. They will, however, like to hear from someone that they know and trust. By developing a relationship with individuals, the call becomes warm. Make a habit of taking copious notes about family members, birthdates, anniversaries and special likes and dislikes. Taking the time to wish them a happy birthday, or inquiring about how their son Johnny did in the annual spelling bee at school goes a long way to building a lasting friendship, which very well may turn into a business relationship.
- Stop Selling! Your web site and brochure is all the sales hype you need. People are in dire need of the warm and fuzzy, not another sales pitch. Your social media activity, your blog, and phone interactions should be about telling a story, building a relationship and ultimately harvesting leads that will eventually turn into sales. Let go of the sales pitch and pick up the storyteller’s cap. Inbound marketing, including your blogging and article writing efforts supported by social media, is the way to avoid cold calling forever.
There may always be a need for salespeople who make their livelihood pressing the flesh, dialing for dollars and annoying people across the globe. You don’t have to resort to being someone that cold calls. There are alternatives. An inbound marketing assessment can identify what needs you have, and the tactics and strategies necessary to accomplish your goals.
And make all your future calls warm ones!