Do Cold Calls, work?

Discussion in 'Traditional Offline Marketing' started by Mountain Man, Aug 10, 2010.

  1. Mountain Man

    Mountain Man
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    Can cold calling ever be used for a small business. Or stopping in to drop off a flyer. I am not talking about mass flyers or telemarketing I am talking about selective targeted businesses.
    If your service is something they could use is there a way to directly contact them without getting the cold shoulder? I have been calling related business' who I think could benefit from my services but I get the feeling I am just an annoyance to them and have not gotten any feedback. I have stopped in and spoken to managers, and left a flyer or business card but have not yet received any work through this method.
    how would you react if someone called your business out of the blue or showed up at your work place with a flyer? would it make a difference if it was something you were interested in?
     
  2. Joseph.Shivell

    Joseph.Shivell
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    How do you follow up after leaving your flyer or business card - or do you? If you stop in and simply leave a flyer or business card, it gets put aside, the manager goes back to work, and you are forgotten as soon as you walk out the door. When you talk to them give them a compelling reason to read your flyer. Then, when you call back, they remember you, and once again you can give them a compelling reason to listen to you. You also need to be excited about your service. Tell them how using you to provide your service can benefit them.
    For example, when we cold call a prospect, we do not try to sell them our service right away. Instead, we offer them a copy of a report about our industry that differentiates us from our competitors and tells them a little about how using our service benefits them, giving them a compelling reason to read it. We then follow up with a phone call describing our services and pricing in more detail.
    Remember, you are probably not the only sales rep they have seen. Differentiate yourself, get them excited, and don't forget to follow up.
     
  3. Fergal

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    From personal experience I would say that cold calling can work very well when it is done right, Mountain Man. What type of business are you promoting?
     
  4. Mountain Man

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    Thank you both for your input. If I am dropping off a flyer I try to speak directly with the owner or manager and explain what I do. If it is a cold call I just introduce myself and ask if I could send a email introducing my company. I don't like to be too pushy as I have never liked aggressive sales people, so I don't do followup calls unless they have shown direct interest.
    As for what I do, Any written material basically explains it like this:
    EC (Name of my company) installs, maintains, and troubleshoots communication cabling and related equipment including; voice, data, coax and other low voltage wiring in existing facilities as well as pre-wiring for new construction, renovations and expansions.
    Any advice on dealing directly with potential customers in a marketing type way, I would be glad to hear.
     
  5. Tecknowoman

    Tecknowoman
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    Cold calling can work, cards can work - everything can work!

    Mountain Man with your written materlal if you'd dropped that in I wouldn't have understood how you could help me form that. When would I call you, what can you do to make my life easier, why do I need you. Not being in your business I don't think about your business in the same way you do so I need you to leave me with something 1. that gets my attention and 2. ensures you pop to mind when I need you.

    Never overestimate your prospect put communication cabling and related equipment into tangible words for the biz so if the phone stops working or they need new internet or whatever you come to mind.

    One of the biggest things I was told is follow up is crucial especially for services because it if frequency and recency which affect the sale. An every 90 day follow up was suggested and included things like even sending newspaper clippings relevant to your area of business and of interest to the biz owner.

    For example in Aus one of the hot election topics is the super fast broadband network so an article about it and the changes it can make for business with a note to the biz and similar. Things that keep you in their mind as helpful, knowledgeable expert.
     
  6. Kay

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    The best advice I can give you about cold calling is to begin with something like "Can you spare me a few minutes of your time this morning or this afternoon to see if my business can help yours (save money/improve communications/increase your sales/whatever the benefit would be from their POV) please? I won't take up longer than five (or however long you need) minutes of your time." Keep the time short because right now you're aiming for a foot in the door, not an hour long presentation. That may come later. Right now, you want to introduce yourself and give a brief overview of how you can help them

    Just launching into a sales pitch without checking whether it's a good time to do so first, either in person or on the phone, is a bad idea. If you happen to be lucky enough to talk to the manager, show that you respect their time. If they say they don't have time, accept that and thank them for taking a moment to listen to you while offering to leave the literature and to call back in a few days to see if they have any questions. Politeness goes a long, long way as does not being pushy.

    Be ready too for the one who says, "Sure, I can do that right now. Come on in." Prepare.

    Before you go, find out as much as possible about the business online. Look for something that you could help them with. If they're talking on their website about expanding or moving to new premises for example, mention that when you're chatting so they know you've taken the trouble to find out a little about them. They may need your services at that point and remember.

    If the boss has an unusual name, call beforehand and ask the receptionist how to pronounce it. You don't need to say it's you if you don't want to. You can also ask her when the quieter days are around the office and plan accordingly. If you turn up on the day of their huge weekly delivery, you've no chance. Remember too the receptionist is often asked their impression of salesmen that drop in. Be nice to her. Not just because it's the right thing to do but because she could be the boss's daughter. :)

    And if they invite you to come in and see them, never ever take up more time than you promised you would. You can always arrange a follow up call or meeting. Say something like, "Well that's my five minutes up, thank you very much for seeing me. I won't keep you any longer. " It leaves the door open for them to invite you to stay longer and continue chatting as well. Don't schedule appointments too close together either so you do have time to stay if they suggest it.

    Good luck. :)
     
    #6 Kay, Aug 11, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  7. hcted

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    I don't do this because of Telemarketing calls. Someone can request to have their number taken off telemarketing lists, so if you call with a message like that, you can be fined pretty good.

    I never do that in danger of fee. I start business by knowing someone.
     
  8. pixelbob

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    There is nothing wrong with cold calls, maybe your approach is wrong. Make sure that you don't put pressure on your prospects, let them buy their own time.
     
  9. Fergal

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    An approach that might work well for you is - a cold call to find out the correct person's contact details and to tell them that you will mail them something. Then send out the mailing and follow up the mailing with another phone call.

    You have to persevere in order to make sales and you also want to avoid being too pushy. A quick phone call every few months, to ask how business is going and if there is anything you can do for them, should not upset anyone. If by chance it appears to upset one of your potential customers, just take them off your list and don't call them again - instead focus on your more receptive clients.

    As suggested by other members you really want to keep your business at the top of your potential client's mind and you want them to automatically associate you with particular types of problems and more importantly the solutions to those problems. So if they have a voice or data problem you want them to automatically think of you and your business.

    If your clients are mostly based in your local geographic area, business networking will also form an important part of your strategy. Getting your name out there through networking is another way of ensuring that your potential customers automatically think of you when they are seeking a solution you can offer.

    Good luck with it.
     
  10. Mountain Man

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    This is all great advice. I will keep plugging away. My services are not something you use everyday so it is easy to get forgotten. Sadly, often what I offer can be put on the back burner. (That old wire hanging down from the ceiling? "we will just put a plant in front of it") Or run a cord around the corner to feed that extra phone.
    Tecknowoman, it is hard to hear but I think you may be right. I have given my elevator pitch along with a card and thought I did a great job, only to find 6 months later they called 3 other people who couldn't do the job before they thought of me (I have been told this by customers). One thing I sometimes add to the back of my cards is "When you can't call ... Call us!" A little cheesy but it tells what I do. As for the other services I guess I need to rewrite my profile to be more clear.
    Thank you all for your valuable advice.
     
  11. agentmanningctu

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    Well, it depends on who you are calling. It can work as long as you aren't super pushy and in the person's face.
     
  12. Tecknowoman

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    Mountain Man it is always hard to hear and believe me I know because I do some of this stuff for others but have been woefully criticised for my own. I'd just be more specific for tripping over cords, dangerous wires hanging, phones dropping out, fax not working type of stuff (things so the business owner doesn't need to think).

    I actually like your cheesy bit! Anything that makes it memorable works for me.

    So on your frequency and recency maybe you need to find articles and sensational stories of accidents from exposed wires in workplaces, lost business due to lines being down, time it takes a business to notice it's phone isn't ringing and how much business can be lost in that time (sounds dumb but been there) and do regular useful info follow up with a really gentle don't let this happen to you - the fastest fix is ....... your details - photos of abominable messes you've fixed before and after...

    The best advice I had for services that are needed when they're needed really is the recency and frequency. Be in there mind so you are the first person they call. I know I've done that as a user of services in business - oh hang on I know I spoke to someone who did that...
     
  13. Fergal

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    Mountain Man have you considered any promotional items that you could use that would be relevant to your services? Maybe something along the lines of the following could help;

    • A sticker with your contact details that could be applied to a phone or address book
    • An address book with your contact details
    • Promotional diaries
    • Or even a special pen that can be stuck on to an office phone?

    These are just ideas, but I'm sure that there is something very clever that you could give potential customers, that they would keep and have as a reminder next time they have a tech issue that you could fix.
     
  14. WebWizard

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    They work if done properly. My industry I rely on more leads then anything.
     
  15. Mountain Man

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    Great Ideas fergal. I had considered a promotional gift for Christmas but only for existing customers. How can I get them to potential customers. I stick a business card by the switches and phone gear since this is the first place people look when something goes wrong, but again only for existing customers. I have not been invested heavily into advertising for two reasons, first being a new business finances are tight.
    Second I work in the type of business where people only call when they are ready. If your phones are all working and everyone has internet access, there is not much I can do for you. It is very much a I"I need you and I need you now!" Industry
     
  16. Fergal

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    You could simply hand them out to people who might benefit from your service. Something else you could consider is setting up a website offering the promotional item for free. Ask for contact details so that you can send them the free gift. That way you also get to build up a database of potential customers.
     
  17. nbeam

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    I do quite a bit of phone marketing (about 100 calls a week). The replies on this thread are fantastic advice as far as cold calling goes! I found that Kay (the moderators) post was about the best advice out of the bunch. It is all about being considerate and being a person and treating WHOEVER answers on the other end of the phone as a person. I have learned with cold calling to quickly but kindly introduce myself and my company, one line on what we do, and get straight to my point. I usually phrase my point in the form of a question. Here is my actual script as an example:

    "Hi, my name is Nathan Beam. I'm with ActionCOACH Business Coaching. We are a regional or I guess I should say local business training and coaching company.I was wondering who would be the right person to talk to about possibly doing some training work with your company? Or if you all would even be interested in what we offer. I was thinking someone in HR perhaps but I wasn't sure?"

    By asking the person who is answering the phone a question I am deferring to their judgment and showing them respect. I would say I get transferred the right person about 90% of the time.

    When I get the person I need to talk to my line is very similar to my opening statement, it goes something like this...

    “Hi, My name is Nathan. I'm with ActionCOACH Business Coaching. We are a local training and coaching company. I was told you would be a good person to talk to about us possibly doing some training work with your company, or if you all would even have an interest in what we have. Did I catch you at an all-right time?"

    At this point they will either ask me to clarify what exactly it is that we do or they will tell me it is a bad time. If they tell me it is a bad time, I respectfully ask when is usually a good time to call.

    Now there is one more point to all of this. Voice intonation and personality matters. Pay attention to how folks answer the phone. If the receptionist initially answers the phone quickly and directly, I talk quickly and get straight to my point. If they answer slowly and warmly, I slow down and add a warm edge to my voice. I am trying to be personable to whomever I am talking to. I am not trying to manipulate, I am simply trying to be easy to deal with.

    Finally, your follow-up is crucial. I always ask people if they would mind me following up and how often. I have a system to keep track of folks so that I can consistently follow-up with them. I keep notes because I care and they provide a point of reference for the next conversation. For one, doing this builds rapport and confidence that you can be trusted. For another, statistics come into play. Check this out:

    Sales Statistics
    • 48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
    • 25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
    • 12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
    • Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
    • 2% of sales are made on the first contact
    • 3% of sales are made on the second contact
    • 5% of sales are made on the third contact
    • 10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
    • 80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact
    WHEN ARE YOU GIVING UP ON YOUR PROSPECT?
    ---------------------------------------------------
    Now I am not sure how accurate these are, but from my experience this rings about true. It not only takes a VOLUME of calls to be successful, it also takes an equal if not greater VOLUME of follow-up.

    Anyhow, I hope this helps and gives you some ideas! I would suggest you read an article series on sales we did. We teach a gentle, consultative sales model that has worked really well. We outline the entire thing here:

    This is the first article:
    h-t-t-p://actioncoachohio.blogspot.com/2010/04/do-you-love-to-sell-part-1.html

    Here are all the rest:
    h-t-t-p://actioncoachohio.blogspot.com/search/label/Sales

    I wish you the greatest amount of success!
     

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