Most of us hate cold calling, and this job has became more difficult with the advent of voicemail. Nowadays, it is almost impossible to speak to anyone directly. Instead, I recommend sending carefully targeted and well-constructed e-mails.
It is important to research your prospects carefully, identifying the right person in the company that theoretically should be interested in your products and services. If you do not have the skill or time to find these e-mail addresses, a reputable telemarketing company can do this task for you, without their attempting to do any selling on your behalf at this stage.
Then, the skill is in composing a very short initial e-mail. Most people think that the more features that are crowded into this first-e-mail, the better; in fact, the exact opposite is true. I always recommend a four-line e-mail, which is designed specifically to raise some interest for an initial fifteen-minute meeting.
The first line is the most important and should be specifically tailored for each individual client. It should suggest the specific problem that you can solve, such as improving their revenues or reducing costs.
The next line should be a simple premise of what you do; how you have acknowledged expertise in helping customers solve that problem. People are generally sceptical about sales pitches, so your third line should feature some proof, such as a similar customer you have worked with, who could potentially provide a reference.
The final line should suggest a short meeting at a specific time and date. Ideally, they will be able to agree immediately; if they are interested but cannot make that specific date, they might suggest another.
This type of “Magic E-mail” (as I call it) is inexpensive and unobtrusive. If they are not interested at that particular time, they will delete the e-mail and swiftly forget you. People who have used this approach tell me the response rate is much higher than for more traditional methods.
It has the added advantage of significantly reducing your unanswered voicemail messages and the curt, dismissive customer replies that are often endemic to cold calling.
Copyright ©Mike Southon 2012. All rights reserved. Not to be reproduced without permission in writing. Mike Southon is the co-author of The Beermat Entrepreneur and a business speaker.
A new business quick fix — it doesn’t seem possible, does it? I’m afraid that’s because it isn’t.
Many small businesses find themselves in need of new clients and they are looking for quick results. But getting new business is about building relationships and that can take time.
The problem is that many firms fail to focus on new business until they are suddenly facing a drop in orders. That’s when firms tend to look for a magic quick fix. But a short-sighted approach can easily be perceived by the target audience as aggression and ultimately may be damaging to the reputation of a business.
The best approach is to work on new business relationships over time, showing potential customers what you can offer and gaining their trust. Then, when those customers need a service like yours, they are more likely to come to you.
A successful new business programme is based on a long-term vision and achieves a steady flow of good quality opportunities. There are a number of phases that need to be realised before optimum new business results can be seen. A new business typical cycle looks like this:
1. Groundwork: steady, focused and tailored activity to gradually warm up your target audience;
2. A pipeline of mid-term opportunity is developed: clearly scoped against targets and a timeframe;
3. Trust is won and doors are opened.
As with any relationship, there needs to be an initial chemistry before trust is won and that interest then needs to be cemented before you’ve won over your conquest. To get to this stage you need to ensure you have the right approach in place and make sure your message is appropriate to your audience to get you noticed.
Good new business development is a skill and it is also a perpetual and evolving cycle. Those that adopt a long-term strategy will enjoy the greatest return — assuming the approach is researched well, pitched well and managed closely.
Phone and email for new business generation are still at the heart of all new business marketing programmes when reaching out to an audience; however social media is playing a growing part in these strategies.
Here are a few suggestions showing how you can widen your reach to be noticed, to persuade your audience, engage them and stand out from the crowd.
Join discussion groups — those your key targets are part of and active in. Get involved and offer your expertise, help solve their problems.
Follow key targets, including a sample of their targets, to get a feel for trends, issues, challenges and popular topics being discussed.
Independent expert status will deliver a deeper level of trust. Get involved with forums that will be most valuable to you and share relevant content across these platforms.
Have a close look at media in your sector, the angle taken, your targets’ positioning and the audience they are reaching out to.
Attend all key industry events and engage with your target audience. What are your targets showcasing, how strong and professional is their positioning, collateral, understanding of their audience?
You’re an expert. Share your knowledge and industry opinions.
Attend carefully chosen conferences and seminars, consider speaking at them, particularly those that are the benchmark for your specialism.
Your website needs to be interactive to allow your audience to connect with you. Make it easy for them to reach you through an online blog where they can post comments or find you through other social media platforms and connect with you there.