Recently I read a 'follow these steps to improve sales performance' article with these being the steps:
1. Make a cold call to gather information about your customer.
2. Send a letter telling them you are going to call.
3. Call the buyer finding our what he really wants (I wonder if they even know what they really want).
4. Schedule a personal meeting, but don't push too hard.
5. Follow up with a thank you note.
6. Set up a second meeting.
Let's focus on the first step of this so-called 'process' - make a cold call to understand your prospect and their needs. So should you just start making cold calls hoping to gather something relevent to the buying process - or is there a better way?
Jeffrey Gitomer one of my favorite sales training experts recently said, "Social Media is the new cold call".
What he means is that there is no excuse for not using the tools and info available through social media to learn about your prospects, understand their issues, see who is in their circle of influence, learn about what they are reading, saying, consuming, communicating, and buying. Oh yeah, and to be introduced to your prospect so that there is no "cold' in your call.
Make a cold call to ask them to TELL you what is on their mind, who the decision maker is, and when you can expect the order? Really!?!
Tell me the last time someone got through to you with a cold call and you gave them the time to answer all of their general information questions about your business and your issues just so they could sell you something. The answer is, not in a long time - they never even get to you or to someone that really knows what is going on.
If your first step is to call someone to find out about their business you are done before you start. The days of calling someone and asking them to 'tell me a little bit about your business' are long gone. If someone called me and asked me what my business was I would say 'go to my website' and hang up.
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How about starting with any one the following (far from comprehensive list):
- Corporate website
- Google the people you find at the above sites
- Industry groups associated with the prospects market
- Local newspapers
How many cold calls, how much time would you waste, how annoying would you have be to gather a fraction of what you can gather using Inbound Sales tools? I'm not saying never call someone you do not know but there is no excuse for not knowing enough about the company, prospect, and problems you could solve to avoid anything approaching a cold call.
Last week I got a call from a guy I used to work with 10 years ago because he was interested in a job and one of the owners of the company he was targeting was a contact in my LinkedIn network. Boom, he calls me, we catch up on the last decade, and he learns what I know about the company he is approaching. He also gets a recommendation/reference that is personal and not just a name on a reference sheet with a resume.
Cold call - I don't think so.
How about this for a 6 step process to increase sales:
1. Social call - see above
2. Connect through common ground - find areas/people/networks/tribes where your prospects engage and join the conversation and contribute.
3. Communicate a message of value that shows you understand the issues of your target market and know how to deliver value that they recognize - after all you are the expert in your field right?
4. Develop specific tools that show your value and make it real for the prospects - ROI calculators, how to white papers, checklists for fixing some problem, anything you can share up front that generates interest and demonstrates expertise.
5. Send this value tool you created in step 4 as your thank you note.
6. Now you are ready to meet them in an environment where you are viewed as an expert source and not as just another salesperson.
Follow these steps, do the hard work, create the value prospects need and you will be in position not just to talk products and pricing but true business value and long term partnership.
And the best part of this 6 step process is that if you use inbound marketing techniques to spread the word your prospects will find you. Now that is a process guaranteed to grow your sales.
*This blog article is authored by Todd Hockenberry of Top Line Results, a strategic partner of LogicBay*