90% of the time, cold calling is a waste of time as fact is, we’re not all super confident, outspoken and brash enough to call out all day, and we wonder why nobody is questioning whether it’s actually efficient. It’s one of the most illogical of direct marketing tactics, to dedicate a huge amount of time to – who even came up with the idea of 100 calls a day? Some of us are introverted as are some of our customers and prospects; some might say that we have the wrong personalities to effectively drive new business but they’re so unbelievably wrong – we work effectively and intelligently to get new sales leads.
We’re not saying that you won’t generate new business with cold calling and telemarketing because odds are that you’ll eventually get through to the correct person, the call will go really well and you’ll successfully arrange the next steps – you may even close the deal too. As they say, if you throw enough of anything at a wall some of it will stick, but you might have to throw a lot of it.
So you’re an introvert, a little like some of us at Sweet Leads and you’re not into the standard 100 call-a-day sales prospecting strategy because you realise the box is bigger than that. You’re wanting be the undeniable sales champion of your office. You want results, to take home your commission and lead your sales team with a smart direct marketing strategy. Read on to take your direct marketing ideas to the next level.
A Better Sales Prospecting Strategy
It’s all about basing your direct marketing tactics atop a strong foundation of rock solid rules of engagement. When prospecting for sales leads you’re looking to establish a connection with them; it’s going to have to break straight through the ice, establish trust and provoke a response from them. Use these rules as a starting point:
1. ALWAYS be concise. In all forms of communication you have a very brief window before the delete button is clicked, the phone is hung up or your prospect gets distracted by something.
2. Talk about THEM. Why are you talking about you all the time? You’ve won industry awards, been around for 27 years, call yourself a trusted partner and once won a relay race at school. It’s terrible to think about and a little hard to accept but nobody actually cares. They care about themselves, their challenges and the struggles in their day so talk about something related.
3. NEVER lie. So many sales people approach it like a conman and wonder why they didn’t get the order in. If you need to lie, your strategy is already broken. The only outcome of a sales opportunity is a win-win once the deal is closed, if you’ve mis-sold at any point, you’re looking at a refund and a damaged reputation.
4. Don’t GIVE ORDERS. ‘You should dedicate at least 50% of your website budget to SEO, so many people spend £20k on their website but don’t have a plan for google rankings’ – something we spotted on Linked In recently. Imagine if someone came into your office, started telling you what you should be doing and then asked you to sign a contract. Would you? Now imagine if they came into your office, had a look at your website traffic and bounced some really interesting ideas off of you around how you could increase it? Exactly.
5. EFFECTIVELY QUALIFY before making contact. If you don’t you’re wasting your time and the sales prospect probably won’t appreciate you wasting theirs. Make sure the company are a good fit for you, that you genuinely can help and that you can demonstrate results that, in some way relate to them.
Smart Direct Marketing Concepts:
The greatest fact about direct marketing tactics is they can all be utilised to a very high standard, achieve the most amazing results for very little cost. The potential return is astronomical and if you understand smart direct marketing concepts then there’s no reason why you can’t base the majority of your marketing campaigns on them.
At Sweet Leads we implement smart direct marketing with a deep content marketing strategy and that’s 95% of everything we do to get great results. You can do the same. As with any part of the sales process, prospecting is a hugely delicate affair. It’s that first impression, that nurturing and initial building of the relationship. Here’s a list of the forms of direct marketing required to get you on your way – none of them are expensive so this can be done completely on a shoestring:
Creating Great Sales Introduction Letters
Once again, the biggest mistake is to rabbit on about how great you are. Imagine receiving a sales letter that tells you how amazing a person at a company thinks they are? It wouldn’t cast a great image, nor would it get a response, nor would it establish trust, it wouldn’t really achieve anything except rubbing your business’ ego. If you want to get yourself ahead of all of the junk email that gets sent to your prospects each day, cut straight to the chase. Only mention your company name in the logo at the bottom, let them know something amazing that you’ve done for their industry or at least what difference you may be able to make to them without telling them what to do.
A great starting point for great sales introduction letters is to examine the outcome you’re looking to achieve. Are you looking to invite them to a fancy dining experience or event to show them a new idea that would change the way they operate? If you are, you might want to follow up this tactic with a call but when you do, it’s a good idea to avoid starting the conversation with ‘did you receive my letter?’ because they may not have done, they may have received it and binned it or just not bothered – they’re busy people after all and it can get a little awkward from there. It’s also a great idea to consider paper and print quality, brand fonts and colours throughout the letter.
What is Lumpy Mail?
Lumpy Mail is one of our favourite direct marketing ideas. If you’re looking to stand out and achieve a great chunk of brand awareness then a well thought out lumpy mail campaign is a very good idea. The trick is to attach a story to the object that you send in the envelope, so rather than throwing in some branded pens or a mouse mat(does anyone use mouse mats anymore?), take a seat, grab a pen and make a mind map. What is it that you’re selling? What problem does it solve? What story could you craft around it? Could it be hilariously funny or complement your brand in a positive way? Does it scream quality?
If you’re new to lumpy mail, ideas are likely to be short but with a little careful thought you’ll be able to stitch a brand related story to the object and they’ll remember you for some time, they might even reply. One of our greatest lumpy mail ideas was sending a branded sand timer to sales prospects business for a national utilities consultancy. The sand timer was branded with their logo and accompanied with a letter that asked them to turn the sand timer over. It then explained that in the time it takes for the timer to run out, they could have wasted £1 if they happen to have an undetected leak, that’s £1 wasted every 30 seconds of every single day per premises that they own. Of course, one of the services the utilities consultancy sold was a leak detection system and the £ value was accurate and based on real examples of leaks that they’d fixed that year. It was the perfect marketing sales letter.
Direct Mail vs Email:
Everyone wants to know which is better but direct mail vs email is a difficult one to usefully quantify. We’d absolutely recommend using both strategies as part of the same campaign as they both serve different purposes. The best sales prospecting letters could achieve great results and get some responses but they’re a little harder to respond to. They’re better used to make a memorable impact so that when you do send a sales email campaign it will make them much more likely to reply and you’ll be a little more familiar to them – definitely don’t expect them to post a letter back.
Direct Email Marketing Strategy
Creating an awesome sales email campaign is simple. Don’t get us wrong, it isn’t simple in the easy sense, but the content should be straight to the point with a low word count. At Sweet Leads, we’re masters of generating smoking hot sales leads through direct email in less than 50 words. Challenge yourself to write an email in under 50 words that does the following:
- Breaks the ice
- Establishes trust
- Stealthily calls the prospect to action
Avoid using a cliche email sales pitch – that goes against everything sales courses/theory might advise but this is designed to break down walls very efficiently.
Cold Calling Strategies
So this article started with ‘90% of the time, cold calling is a waste of time‘ and this section is about that remaining 10% of the time. As a proportion of your time generating leads, 10% would be about right for cold calling. There are always going to be potential prospects who don’t answer emails. If you do it well, sometimes they call you straight back. This is the response we try to provoke from them using these direct marketing tactics, as this blows any ice out of the conversation. That said, cold calling and telemarketing will always have a place, but that place is contrary to what a large amount of sales managers, marketing managers and directors believe.
The problem with cold calling is that it is one of the most abused methods of communication. At Sweet Leads we receive 100s of nonsense calls per week and the truth is we are a very small business that isn’t a good fit for a lot of companies to sell to. None of the cold callers get through, we’re on the TPS and for security and productivity reasons as we don’t want to waste time dealing with anyone calling with the hope of selling us bin lids or printer inks.
Overcoming the Fear of Cold Calling:
We get asked about this at least once a month; ‘what are the best ways of overcoming the fear of cold calling and telemarketing?‘ If you have any employees with this problem, it’s totally understandable and very common. It’s really important to spend time with them managing the issue, coaching them and working to break down the barrier. Some managers think it’s okay to shout, to talk about performance improvement programs and ranting about how they can hear a pin drop and that it’s not good enough – if that’s you, your ego needs adjusting and you could do with some management training. If you’re having a problem with confidence in cold calling strategies then the next section is for you. It takes preparation and a lot of patience to work through but you will get there and you’ll do extremely well because of it.
How to Make Cold Calls More Effective:
- GAMIFICATION – turn it into a game. Play bingo with your colleagues, lay out a grid of objections and as you hear each one on a cold call, blot them out. First to get a full house wins and the loser buys the coffees. This takes the strain out of the scenario and you’re listening to each other for positive and fun reasons.
- STRUCTURE – set out power hours where you make 20-60 calls, book yourself a room to do it in, and fire away. If you have another colleague that struggles with cold calling too, take them with you and you can both work through the challenges you’re facing without any outside interference or distraction.
- SIMPLIFY – reduce the script, the options and the distractions. When we cold call, we take the same approach of 50-100 words of script, maximum and let the conversation flow from there. All you need is to break the ice, give them something valuable and establish trust – the rest is a straightforward process.
Cold Calling Script Template:
When approaching cold calling, script templates can be really useful but they can also be a huge hindrance if you aren’t in control of the conversation. There are so many templates out there but of the ones we’ve seen, none of them fit what we’d advise for cold calls – though there are many ways to peal an onion so they may not work for us but they may for someone else. As a guide, take a look at the example below and feel free to use it as your cold calling script template:
Obviously, as with all scripts, it is presumptuous. They could be in a terrible mood and tell you to do one so you have to roll with the punches. This cold calling script should keep you in control of the customer conversation and allow you to take it to the next step. As you get used to using this type of script, it’s a good idea to try to add your personality to it so it becomes more natural and a better fit for you.
Email Prospecting vs Cold Calling:
EMAIL ANY DAY! The reason being that after a prospect is on the receiving end of a Sweet Leads sales email campaign, the most common response is the phone ringing or a request to call that day. It’s no longer a cold call as the hard bit has been done, in a very simple and stress free way that doesn’t annoy anyone or waste anybody’s time. There are people who would argue that down but chances are they’re heavily reliant on cold calling as a strategy, simply because it’s something they’ve always done. A recent campaign we ran had 125 recipients and 18 sales leads with one email template and one click of a button – we’d challenge anyone to get even close to that level of efficiency with cold calls alone.
Winning Sales Presentations:
As they’re such a valuable part of our smart direct marketing strategy, our winning sales presentations had to be a feature though a lot of people may not even consider it part of the toolkit – it definitely is. If a sales prospect can’t commit to a face to face meeting, or maybe doesn’t want to, our sales presentations could fit well on webex or any screen sharing facility at the convenience of your customer. To open up the possibility of more leads, we’d recommend having a special presentation section on your website so sales prospects can book directly into your calendar. So what makes a good sales presentation?
Sales presentation Structure:
They say that by the 3rd year of your corporate career, you’ll have died by PowerPoint presentation at least 17 times and another 30 times you’ll have lost grip of your sanity for the exact same reason. Mostly, presentations are unspeakably boring performed by people with the charisma of a wonky potato smiley. How do you overcome this? They’re already expecting to be bored out of their minds as you babble about your amazing company and your ISO certifications. You flip it on it’s head with this stealthy sales pitch presentation structure:
1: BOLD STATEMENT!
You have to be bold; fortune favours the brave after all! Don’t feature your contact details they’ll already have them in your email signature, just have your company logo in the bottom corner. The bold statement could be based on time, ‘We Live in the Age of Data Mobility.’
2: STAGED OVERWHELM:
Tell them about their market, the challenges within it, how they look in their market compared to their competition. How much money the average company is wasting by doing whatever it is you solve. How much time they’re wasting, how inefficient something is and support it with evidence and examples and how the market has changed over time. This should take many angles over many slides.
3: WINNERS AND LOSERS
“Some companies collapsed because of not dealing with it, because of these problems and not adapting to the change.”
“Some companies spotted the inefficiencies, actively dealt with them and greatly profited.”
It can be as simple as a few slides of company logos who have been a victim or failed to address a particular problem.
4: THE PROMISED LAND
What is the ideal solution to this problem, how much it could save, what benefits come with it. Outline the feature of this solution, a sense of what it gives them and how it will change their lives.
5: YOU’RE THE PROMISED LAND
How your solution is the best answer to the problem, what it offers, what comes with it and how you will change their business. A great idea is to match the benefits from the previous slide to your product or service. So if it gives them data visibility, explain the visibility that your product gives them. Don’t sell or try to convince them of anything, just state it how it is. It’s a good idea to create this section first and lead all of the other slides to this point, playing specifically to your strengths.
Testimonials from customers supporting you, your solution and how it is the promised land.
Social Media and Selling:
The key to social selling/marketing is not actually selling or marketing at all. If you take a look through company pages and they consist of posts that say ‘We’re an amazing design company, look at this hilarious meme of Morgan Freeman saying so’ or ‘Visit our website as we are amazing at video’ then you’re looking at great examples of what not to do. If you spot a company posting a vast range of content from their industry, full of tips, insights and useful information then they’ve got a very good social media strategy.
Social Media Selling Tips:
Company wide, there should be a main corporate page on each relevant social media platform but alongside that, individuals across the company should have them too, the sales and marketing team in particular. The best social media selling tips we could give are not to sell at all but to do the following:
- Give Insight
- Be yourself
To give INSIGHT, we’d recommend analysing industries and creating info graphics or presentations. The more it’s related to your product set the better. As a great example, an information security company that we worked with took security scans of company websites. We collated the information into an infographic for the finance industry and it contained similar information to this, but was presented in a much prettier way:
INTERACT with everyone who sends you messages, except those annoying automated messages that people send. Make conversations public, insightful and invite other experts to participate. Whatever you do, don’t just post junk 7 times a day, the same posts on all platforms and make sure your efforts are focused on the most effective social media channels.
BE YOURSELF unless you happen to be a giant bigot or a particularly nasty individual. People buy from people they like, they don’t buy from logos. Try to stay away from political issues because they can lead down very unpredictable paths. Be free to have fun, follow the companies you’re targeting and their employees and engage with them directly.
It’s an amazing idea to have a link to your company in your profile but don’t use it exclusively for a corporate purposes as it won’t work and you’ll look like a bot. We’ll cover social selling/marketing to a horrendous depth in another article so keep your eyes open, for now take a look at our guide to ecommerce growth hacking.
So now you’re at the end of this article and it makes a lot more sense how cold calling is a waste of time, 90% of the time. You’re now fully equipped to be a master of the direct channel of marketing and should be more than capable of implementing a smart direct marketing strategy. If you’re a fellow introvert, we’d love to know how you get on as the better the results, the more we can say ‘we told you so’ to all those sales managers, trainers and ‘coaches’ of such little faith!
If you want to take your direct marketing strategy to the next level, take a look at our direct marketing services and we’ll take you from where you are, to where you want to be. Fill out the contact form below and we will be in touch.