First off, it’s not your fault!
Have you ever heard impatient bosses sternly demand that their people get out there and “MAKE IT HAPPEN!“ … OR ELSE…? Or, perhaps maybe you’re that boss.
After all, as Peter Drucker so famously said, “Nothing happens until someone sells something.“
So then you ramp up your urgency to get out there and make it rain. You blast out one email after another. For endless hours you smile-while-you-dial phoning potential prospects, but all you get are no answers, no replies and “no” responses to setting up appointments with you. Rainmaking doesn’t seem to happen for you. If this is you, don’t beat yourself up. Here’s why it’s not your fault.
The problem is sales doesn’t magically occur simply because you told yourself to just make it happen. Being a Rainmaker and making sales happen has grown increasingly challenging for service providers and sales professionals. The marketplace has grown more fiercely competitive. You’re competing with more businesses setting up shop in your local area. With the speed of technology and shifts towards mobile work cultures you also may now be competing with thousands of other competitors from all over the globe.
Today your prospects are living in a culture that bombards them with incessant sales ads and marketing messages at a relentless rate hundreds of times a day everywhere they go (ok, maybe except for the loo). All this makes it harder to vie for your prospect’s attention.
Why Your Emailing and Cold Calling Aren’t Working
Email used to be the innovative technology solution originally intended to save us time in our workplaces while helping us reach more of our prospects, but emails have now too become part of the problem.
Today, it can be difficult to reach our prospects through email because the majority of them are already suffocating under an avalanche of endless emails. Not to mention many of them now have steel-plated spam filters, so we might think they read our emails when they never even received it.
It’s no wonder that I’ve seen an uptick in an increasing number of new clients of mine whose sales teams have gone back to the picking up the good old fashion phone.
However, the downside of the traditional cold calling method is that it lacks sustainable effectiveness. Cold calling is very time intensive with a high rejection and frustration rate. Why it doesn’t work is largely because:
– You have no pre-written call plan.
– You have the wrong call plan.
– You have no written phone approach to keep you focused.
– You’re making cold calls rapid fire with no effective questions to solicit engagement.
The problem with this traditional cold calling approach is that you may only get at best, a 5-10% scheduling rate among the prospects you connect with. That means you’ve just burned through 90-95% of the potential prospects who you managed to speak to on the phone.
Ok, so I am not saying that emailing and cold calling doesn’t work at all. These tele-selling and email selling approaches just don’t work well enough to make it a sustainable and scalable business development practice.
So, what can do you do that does work better?
Remember, whenever you have a PROBLEM, make it a PROCESS to solve that problem. Sales, marketing, prospecting — these are the problems I solve everyday for my clients. In my work, sales and business development coaching is about helping you make key shifts in your thinking. In this case, what has to happen first is a shift in how you think about your cold calling GOALS.
The most common prospecting goal of many of my frustrated new clients have is to set up presentation appointments. However, that’s the wrong goal. There are 3 prerequisite goals you must achieve before you proceed to your goal of setting up your sales presentation appointment.
Goal #1 – Achieve the KLT Factor (know-like-trust) No one likes sales people, so stop charging out of the gate selling.
Goal #2 – Identify their urgent issues, regardless of whether this is within your skill set or service deliverables.
Goal #3 – Seek opportunities to share relevant resources to help them with their urgent issues.
Once you’ve shifted your thinking about your own specific email and cold calling goals, we can then move on to the next step of sales and business development training.
Here are bullet tips to my 7 step process that will help you bust through email overload and warm up your cold calls.
Step #1. Begin with some quick research on your target prospect before reaching out. This can be done via LinkedIn, the prospects website, etc.
Step #2. Identify common ground you share with the prospect. For instance, you are both members of the same LinkedIn group or business association.
Step #3. Identify what you think might be the current priority issue of the prospect. This might include job benches filled, reaching more of their target customers, etc.
Step #4. Invite the prospect to connect with you on LinkedIn and explain how you know each other, what you have in common or how you found them.
Once you get into the groove of this new approach it will go faster. You can get steps 1-4 down to 5 minutes per person if you learn how to skim. You don’t need to painstakingly read everything.
Step #5. Once they accept your invitation to connect on LinkedIn, invite them to set up a 10 minute phone appointment for you to learn more about how you can be a resource for them. When you call your prospects without an agreed upon appointment, you’re perceived as an interruption. So, stop being an interruption.
Step #6. Focus on collecting detailed information about what their high priority issues are. This is just your first phone appointment for you to begin developing a relationship of trust. You want to listen for ideas on the ways you can help them that they would most appreciate.
Step #7. Go to work on sending them resources to help address your prospect’s priority needs. This may be a relevant blog post a webinar or a local seminar you found that talks about his or her very issues. Or it may be a strategic introduction you could initiate for them. It could be a valuable resource center they may not be aware of. These are received as gestures of thoughtfulness. But through it all, be genuine. People can smell alterior motives.
So, how does my 7-step process help you bust through email overload?
Because their first few experiences with you have all been useful tips and introductions, you have now earned the reputation that you are a trusted friend who truly wants to help them.
Through these exchanges they naturally will want to help you and learn more about what you do. This way, you’re pulling their interest to want to learn more about what you do, rather than pushing the information about your offers onto your prospects. This approach may seem like it takes more time, but it’s a different way of using your time. Why spend 3 hours cold calling and burning through 100 potential contacts when your tele-selling approach returns mostly no replies and “no” responses.
Instead, you could spend the same 3 hours targeting a much shorter list of people who you build a deeper relationship with for the long run. So even if they aren’t in need of your services at this very moment, you became the trusted person they go to when they do have the need for your services.
Plus, since you’re now connected on LinkedIn, you can continue to stay top of mind for them every time you appear in their home feed from your the compelling discussions you post, recommendations your other clients shared, endorsements you’ve given and received and more.
How’s that for working smarter?
Pooling prospects into your LinkedIn network eliminates the manual one by one approach of trying to stay top of mind. The extra 7 steps you took in the beginning saves you from wasting weeks and months of ineffective “I want to stay top of mind” or the “just checking in” type of follow up.
Don’t get me wrong though. My 7 step approach doesn’t mean you should expect a long wait with everyone you connect with. Often your prospects ask you early on “So, what do you do?”
Simply respond with your brief 30 second elevator statement and end with a permission question like:
* “Is this something you are in the market for right now?” or
* “Would you like to learn more about how my services can help your business?”
Voila! That’s your lead in to set up your next step presentation appointment. And, you did it without any pushiness or sales-y-ness.
Real Life Example
David Ortiz, Managing Partner and Head Chef at Financial Chef in Coral Gables, Florida, learned the importance of changing his goal and focus when making cold calls for his unique culinary-related investment company. He witnessed firsthand the difference strategic and well-planned cold calling makes when he stopped indiscriminately calling prospects and began focusing on prospects with the highest value.
He trimmed his list of prospects by 75% and increased the time he spent preparing for and making the calls. The difference? He went from a 2-3% success rate to one that hovers around 25%. And even at a conservative 50% client conversion ratio scaling the change in his cold calling approach gives David a net result in a 12.5% sales growth. The key for David was clarifying his goals to build relationships instead of tele-selling on his cold calls. What a small way to make a big impact in your own sales growth.
Ditch the Itch to Pitch
Don’t let your itch to pitch throw away hundreds of opportunities to build valuable long term client relationships. It may feel counterintuitive when you want to accelerate your sales to hold off on telling your prospects all about your amazing products and services. But, here is where slow and steady truly does win the race.
Remember, Linkedin is a great, easy tool to use to help you to be both efficient and effective with the time you spend in building relationships for your business development.
If you want to learn more advanced Linkedin tips to help you attract a steady flow of new clients with ease, ask me about my upcoming online training program on “How to Generate 6 Figures+ Using LinkedIn.“ My next one starts in just a few weeks.
Isn’t time for you to stop burning through your prospects?
Here’s to your success!
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Go ahead! As long as you give full author attribution as follows:Business Growth Expert Yoon Cannon has helped thousands of CEOs, entrepreneurs & small business owners achieve dramatic results in sales, productivity and profits. Over the past 20 years, Yoon has started 4 other companies and sold 3 of them. She is the author of numerous articles published in major print media and magazines. She is also a popular keynote speaker. Get Yoon’s free video “How to Find Your WOW Factor” at http://www.ParamountBusinessCoach.com. Call Yoon direct at (215) 292-4947. © Copyright 2016 Leave a Comment Through Facebook