Cold Calling? You mean dressing up in a suit, leaving the comfort of my own home and actually doing a face to face meeting?
But I have GoToMeeting, Vonage, IM and Email right here. :)
And, I live in Southern California where a 25-30 mile trip could take over an hour. That's no incentive for me to Cold Call.
I think he means Cold Call as in phone call. As in contacting someone with whom you have no prior business or personal relationship. As in what you do after you've completely exhausted your pile of business cards (from conferences, trade shows, other networking events), your online network of friends and relatives (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), and your offline netwok of friends and relatives (and alumni asscociation).
Sorry, not doing and cold calling myself- just chiming in to help clarify the question. :)
[edited by: LifeinAsia at 6:27 pm (utc) on May 13, 2008]
Ah, the art of selling. I'm not fond of Cold Calling these days. After 20+ years of being in that environment, I'm over it. But, I guess you can say I've replaced Cold Calling with other methods that generate probably more business than if I were to Cold Call. And now I guess you'll want me to describe those methods? ;)
|And now I guess you'll want me to describe those methods? ;) |
Since you opened the door... :)
That's kind of what I alluded to in my post- there are a lot of other methods/tools available today that probably give much better returns than having to resort to cold calling.
|That probably give much better returns than having to resort to cold calling. |
Getting involved with a community and giving back after tenure. It takes time but it does work.
I prefer to Cold Call outside the norm. I wouldn't do it during normal business hours, or maybe I would. I'd find those environments where prospective leads are most likely to gather. And then I'm going to devise a strategy from there.
These days I'm being Proactive. I might be out one day doing things. I'll come across a local opportunity that looks promising. I'll investigate a little further and see where they are at with their online presence. I'll then devise a strategy from there. That might include building a website for them in advance as a selling tool to get me in the door. Yes, I'll go that far. In fact, I have 5+ projects right now that started with that concept and are now bearing fruit or are about to. :)
I won't do cold calling. I think I would rather smash my thumb with a hammer :0 Ok, maybe not that far, but close. I also don't happen to think it is very effective. Most people catch the cold calls in their voice hell and never return the call anyway.
I have found networking, some direct mail, and volunteering for organizations/causes to be my most lucrative forms of marketing. Networking is a biggie. I use a group called BNI (Business Networkers International) and a few local chambers and/or organizations. That seems to provide a fairly steady source of leads and the conversations from introduction to signing on the dotted line move much faster if the lead came from a referral.
Volunteering has been a mixed bag. Sometimes it hits well and produces a few good clients sometimes it uses a ton of time and I get nothing other than the good feeling of helping a cause out.
Direct mail has been my worse producing marketing, but still produces a few leads here and there and reaches out in bigger numbers and area than I can typically cover with networking so I keep doing it.
I used to be a director of membership with BNI
and used to recommend it (here)
Why “used to”: after a couple of years I found that BNI and Chambers are sadly enough ruled by the sempiternal real estates, banks, insurance and attorneys
the rest (us for example!) share leftovers
However I really love the idea of going a few steps on your own and building a demo
Let’s face it, real cold calls are a pain for both end users…
But if you really want to:
Your goal is to obtain an appointment
First do your homework, know the biz you call upon
Ask the watch-dog/secretary/door-keeper a question (don’t ask yet for a meeting) that only the person you want to meet with could answer so she/he has to call that person and put you through, then do your dog and pony show, act in such a way that your interlocutor will be enclined to meet with you and will be willing to accept a meeting.
Do not phone call, go to the place.
|Do not phone call, go to the place. |
What if you're butt ugly or have country-yellow teeth?
|What if you're butt ugly or have country-yellow teeth? |
Do all your cold calling on October 31. :)
Hmm, do I miss how constructive this is?
|That might include building a website for them in advance as a selling tool to get me in the door. |
Smartest piece of advise I've seen in a while...
Nice post PageOne.
I am interested in the other methods you spoke about. I have just started a web design business and i really need all the ideas i can get to help me build customer base.
|I am interested in the other methods you spoke about. |
One method is to find a medium sized Distributor/Manufacturer in your region and one that maybe fits with your area of expertise. Establish a relationship at that level and let "them" do the Cold Calling for you. It is definitely a longer selling cycle but once the first sale registers, its onward and upward from there as long as you've fulfilled your obligations and most likely to an above satisfactory level. You need that last part to set things in motion. You need to go above and beyond the call of duty as they say and really nuture that type of relationship.
Another method is to do the "Social Scene" at the traditional level. You know, hang out somewhere and enjoy life. But, while you're enjoying it, you can strategically promote yourself and become "the one" that everyone starts referring business to. I can tell you that when it comes to web design, development, anything Internet related, many consumers already have a bad taste left in their mouth by a previous company that didn't meet their "realistic" expectations. And if they see that one of their family, friends, business affiliations, etc. have done what they are trying to do, they are going to ask "who did it?" That's where you come in!
The above is not for the faint of heart. It requires a major commitment. This is not a part time gig unless you want a part time income. It may take a couple of years for things to really bear fruit or it could be less. Be ready to work 24/7/365 and "be there" for your clients when you are needed. I've found that "being there" and "getting things done" promptly, efficiently and, as close to perfect out of the gate, have been the driving force behind our growth.
I haven't had to cold call in at least three or four years now. I get enough business from organic results in the SERPs, not to mention cold calling yields little results for web designers (in my opinion).
|That might include building a website for them in advance as a selling tool to get me in the door. |
I have used this effectively as well. Started that way. Doesn't even have to be a full blown site; just a few key pages/navigation that really hits them with the difference between what they have and what they could have. So much the better if they really like it over their top competitors. (Or at least whoever they perceive to be their top competitors.)
And no, not for the faint of heart as it goes beyond cold call and into providing some work 'on speculation', but that can do a lot to warm up that cold call.
If it doesn't work out - then it's a design ready to go for somebody else on another project.
I am glad that cold calling is illegal where I live.
Nevertheless I still get enough (illegal) cold calls. And my personal advice would be: Invest two minutes time in finding out if the business you are calling even has a need for your products or service.
I get calls from companies that offer search engine marketing all the time. Yet they do not have a single clue about my website. Although it would perhaps take two minutes to find out relevant keywords and check the rankings. But of course a company calling me about this issue has already proven to be incompetent since any expert can see that I do not need their service.
Given the technological limitations of the 20th century, cold calling was the best thing proto-spammers could come up with.
There isn't much excuse for cold-calling these days though.
Why phone up 500 businesses and deliver an unsolicited sales pitch when you can bulk email the same pitch to 500 thousand?
What's that you say?
Because cold-emailing 500 thousand businesses is unethical while cold-calling 500 businesses is okay?
Come off it.
Cold calling only works if there is enough research behind it. As many have said, you have to spend time in researching the person you are calling. Don't waste time in too many formalities and get to point. Have some excellent reasons why the person would like to either meet you or see your proposal.
But if it's leads you are seeking, then tap in your existing client base. In fact motivate them by either giving a finder's fee for each of the contact who signs up OR throw in a small free service for referring clients. Word of mouth beats all forms of advertising.
|Because cold-emailing 500 thousand businesses is unethical while cold-calling 500 businesses is okay? |
Most of the time, I'd prefer some spam email in my inbox (spambayes is taking care of that), but if someone calls, I have to a) either pick up the phone b) possibly lose a real customer. So these guys really steal my time without a chance to get rid of them before listening.
But every other week I decide to listen to one of those and try to find out how they sell. It's tough business and some of them are really good at what they do. Once they find out they a giving me a free sales training, they often hang up ...
In my experience Face2face beats telephone and telephone beats email. But each is more expensive.
A couple of things have worked for me -
1 - Bring the punters to you, charge them a small amount if possible and then deliver a sales pitch disguised as something else. The dti/business links are really good for this. The people that attend these things are usually mature, male, Mds of family businesses and...very easy to sell technology to.
2 - Get a few people on the road 1 day a month, preferably 4pm onwards towards the end of the week, mid month and just turn up at companies asking to see the md/fd. After a few months of this you will know what works and what doesn’t.
Most of us hate receiving cold calls but the truth is, if you have the balls to do it, its one of the most effective ways to get sales.
Do the warm-up routine.
Send direct mail, THEN followup.
I'm in an industry dominated by cold callers, and I (now) do direct sales as part of my business. Yet I would never cold call (actually, now I've done sales, I probably could, but would prefer not to).
Cold calling as a business function means nothing specific. What matters is leads. Flip your thinking around and look at it strictly from a lead generation function. How do I develop leads? And is there any reason it needs to be tied to sales? Sales reps love to sell and hate to prospect. If you can create a semi-automated way to generate leads to feed your salesreps, they're going to love you.
Here's some examples:
- I generate all my leads off my website, and probably get 10X the number of leads of the rest of the industry who can successfully cold call. This would be the first place I'd be looking. Everyone - including B2B and execs use Google.
- second behind that is to hire a telemarketing firm. There are companies that specialize in this that seem to be reasonably priced. They look after the cold calling.
- direct mail or door hangers. Much lower response rate than other methods, but easy. Create a compelling piece and start dropping it by area businesses. Then you have a reason to follow up in a few days.....
It's important to wring every possible conversion-to-sale out of the leads. One way to do this is to 'drip' on prospects. Even if there's no sale or immediate contact, regular emails will keep your name in front of them and eventually lead to higher sales numbers.
Interesting topic, to say the least. ;)
I sold $20K a pop venture capital investments for a start-up - exclusively by phone, 100% cold-calling. Working "the front," as it's called. Just about the favorite, most fun thing I've ever done.
A few observations:
a) Not all "lists" are created equal, if that's what you're using; some are far better than others, and will cost more accordingly.
b) Have your best "cold caller" or the best "fronter" in your organization test the lists for you before shelling out the $$$ for more from any list broker. They'll know which are good lists and which aren't; it takes having a nose for knowing, and they've usually got the sniff test mastered.
c) "Dis-qualifying" prospects is more important than "qualifying" on the first cold-call, especially if you're spending $ on sending out "packages."
d) The *deal* is more often than not closed or not closed based on that first call made to the prospect.
Your local print Yellow Pages is your friend. Use it (don't abuse it) wisely.
Please don't sell anyone anything they can't afford, or that they can't afford to absorb loss for. Like don't let anyone invest their retirement $ in anything that's an agressive (aka highly-risky) investment or questionable venture with low chance for return - which essentially, much (maybe even most) of SEO is.
For example, start-up IPO's fail 5 out of 6 times. With investments, don't let someone invest their IRA in such a risky type of investment. Likewise, no one can guarantee search rankings for sure; don't accept the $ if you know they have to take a second mortgage and risk the roof over their heads.
If you've got a bonafide, legit outfit and offer, and not some snake-oil profiteering racket, your sales folks' success for you will depend on their sense of adhering to their own personal integrity - otherwise, unless they're seasoned sheisters, they won't be effective.
Street address cross-directories also work, and even out of the print Yellow Pages the phone company leaves at your door you can have a high interest percentage on cold calls (like 3 positive leads out of 12 calls) if you use an honest, up-front approach and establish rapport.
I don't know about cold calling, but I know someone who made millions from "cold faxing"
If your marketing is good, cold calling isn't very cold. You know the customer's needs and what you can and cannot do for them. Research, research, research.
Just time wasters. I never buy anything from a cold call. It's just like spam to me, but worse.
With a spam you can just delete it. With a cold call you have to act all polite and civil, and waste more time listening to them, because they know who you are.
I still cold-call, when we have new technology, especially when it presents a real clear built-in market.
I preface (when I get the right guy on the phone) every pitch/promo with "I'll be brief". I can sometimes almost 'hear' the sigh of relief after that statement.
It's tough, sort of, but I always do something that makes them chuckle, or say "Me too!" and then they remember me as someone they'd talk to again.
I cut my teeth in sales banging on doors, canvassing neighborhoods for Home Improvement (read: Tinman) outfits.
I moved from that, to selling valuable/collectable coins to numismatists on mailing/call lists. And, and, and..
Selling trust partnerships in ocean-going vessels was the most fun I ever had. My workplace catered lunch every day; Our "dining room" had a fountain and everybody drove leased exotic cars.
The flip-side was that 1 out of 150 calls, maybe, paid off. So the phone-jockeys who could hang in were a special breed.
Cold calling backed by a research could work well where I live, but hose who do give you the feeling they have had it all written down, and were just reading it out loud at the highest possible speed.
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