Do your sales teams shy away from cold calling when trying to get more clients?
So, your sales teams don't like picking up the phone and dialing stone-cold leads, but can you really blame them? I mean... how well do you react when somebody you don't want to hear from intrudes on your day with a cold call?
Enough, already! Put down the bull whip and increasingly unrealistic expectations. Try these inbound sales & marketing tactics instead.
It's not good today, but it was never that great to begin with.
I was in the b2b sales trenches for about a decade. In that time I cold called my way into tens of millions of dollars in sales - armed with nothing but a phone, a call list, and an insatiable appetite for being number one.
Even during the earlier years when the internet wasn't what it is today and cold calling and advertisements were the best way to sell, it was still a hard job (Insert favorite Glengarry Glenn Ross quote here), and being good meant having thick skin and hitting ridiculous calling quotas. But today, 20 years after Bill Gates' prediction of the internet being a marketplace of ideas, cold calling is slipping - in a BIG way.
And that's a good thing for consumers, because they're ready to put you on the DNC registry for good if you don't change your tune. So, without further ado, here are steps for weening yourself off of cold calling, paving the way for a more advanced sales & marketing methodology that supports your mission and vision as a business.
Step 1: Start with your website
What does your website say about your business? Okay, yes, I get it... this is a LOADED question - and there may very well be nothing in line with your message and your website's delivery of that message.
But let's do more than just tweak the pictures and copy, and give it some real purpose in your lead generation efforts. In other words, build it with the infrastructure for inbound.
- Having more than "contact us," or blog subscriptions as portals for conversion - like premium content offers
- Having a blog
- Using targeted long-tail and short-tail keywords that aren't necessarily at the top of your competitors' lists
- Focusing the content on your prospective customer's problems that your company solves, NOT soaking in the revelry of your own accomplishments
Get this free marketing plan template to organize your inbound program!
Step 2: Turn on the content offers
It's great that your website looks nice, has interesting keywords, or even attracts the right people to it. But what does that mean if they're not ready to become customers when they visit?
It means they'll fall into your "bounce rate" trap, something you may be all too familiar with (see more from Google), or they're clicking and clicking for more information that will help them with their decision to buy what you're offering, but getting nowhere. They're not converting, that's for sure.
If you give away free resources that help your customers learn more about the problems you solve, they just might start seeing your brand as the answer. In the meantime, you'll be gathering contact information and learning about what motivates them to explore your services - You can call them directly, and they'll know who you are.
Step 3: Tell your story
Blog, blog, blog, blog, and blog again. This is really important, because this is how you attract visitors and show them that you understand what they're going through.
When I was cold calling 10 years ago, I remember how little people cared about the company I represented and how much time was spent purely on relationship-building. They knew nothing about me 48 hours prior, and maybe didn't even know anything about the services I was selling, and it was my job to get them to listen to my pitch and trust me enough to divulge protected information.
In staffing, I was learning about hiring occurring. In corporate advisory services, I was talking about tax returns - ON THE FIRST CALL!
But you know what? I didn't do it by sticking my foot in the door with a quick pitch. I turned it around on them, and found enough of their story to relate to ones I could draw from in the past. In tax advisory, we dealt with a lot of obstacles around insufficient education around our service offerings. So, I had to educate them AND get them to tell me if they paid taxes the year prior.
Today, we can do more, because your business deals with problems every single day! So, what if you were to take those stories, your stories, and publish a series of blog posts around them? Optimize them, and you'll not just engage your traffic, but you'll earn more visitors than ever before. (get the blogging strategy & execution playbook by Orange Pegs Media)
Step 4: Get social
Your sales people are already on LinkedIn and maybe even Twitter. I'm sure they're on Facebook too (although they may never admit it out of fear of having to friend you - no offense), so what are you doing to leverage that resource?
Are you providing materials for them to distribute on their own channels? For example, do you have a new blog post that they can send out once or twice a week (yes, that's how often you should blog at minimum)? Do you have premium content offers for download that they can share?
Does your BRAND do any sharing? ...not just blurting out advertisements, but engaging in actual social social media behavior?
Well, you should, and you should share every single day. You'll be amazed at how many page visits and leads you get from Google+ and friends (as long as you have the rest of the playlist working for you).
Step 5: Nurture your way to revenue
Alright, so now you have leads coming to you for once. What a change, right? Sure, it took awhile to build your list, which is why we WEEN vs pull ourselves off cold-turkey, but it's there, and after an incubation period, it grows almost every day - some more than others.
And the leads are stronger, because they have gone through a qualification process.
But not everybody is ready for that call just yet. So, you should implement a system that helps you score the quality of your leads based on certain types of behaviors. I suggest getting a solid marketing SaaS to handle this and everything else (we use Hubspot - more on that HERE).
Once you know who is ripe for the picking and who still needs some love and nurturing, try emails. (get the email marketing playbook by Orange Pegs Media)
Step 6: Flip your sales process
It's time to become real consultants of our products and services, and not just have our sales teams make that claim on their LinkedIn profiles or the opening lines of their cold calls.
Seriously, you're giving a bad name to actual consultants by claiming that your cold sales pitch resembles anything close to consultation. You're pitching and qualifying - let's be real... but what if qualifying didn't require trickery or bait-n-switch positioning? What if your leads were so primed for your business that you never had to pitch at all?
Well, say "hello" to the inbound sales process (more on how to change your sales process to inbound HERE) - how sales qualifies while it converts, allowing you to step into the shoes of a real business consultant.
If you're going to change the source of your leads to something that is more inbound (and I suggest you do), you're going to need to learn a new method of sales.
This is important - I know from first-hand experience, because it wasn't until I felt comfortable with my agency's mastery of inbound that I flipped the switch and had us focusing on closing the sale - and it wasn't until I flipped that switch before it all fell into place... with the quality of our lead generation to the quality of that first, second, third, and fourth contact with our leads.
Now, closing the deal is a natural step in our consultative process - not some more trickery or fad tactics to get our customers to buy. Nope, if you make it to a proposal, it's because the project makes sense for all of us (not everybody gets that far), and it is apparent that we can help them achieve their business objectives.
Step 7: Recruit ambassadors of your brand
If you're doing it right, you'll have some pretty happy customers by the time you close the deal and start executing your contracted terms. You never barged your way in or made them feel like your time was more important than theirs. You never apologized for calling, and you were always welcome.
I don't know about you, but I love feeling that way about the businesses I give my money. It makes me feel more connected to their product or service offering, and I'm not resentful that I bought in. That lack of resentment creates loyalty. That loyalty makes people want to promote you.
... and because you're on all the easily accessible social media platforms, you're EASY to share, and very likely to BE shared by your adoring fans - which means more inbound leads, less cold-calling, and a better way to do business.
Everybody wants to know how to get more clients...
But not everybody realizes yet how far off cold calling is to this particular goal. That's why there is such a demand for that particular skill-set.
It's a scary game right now for the cold-callers. The market is saturated, your audiences aren't buying the cold pitch, and turnover is getting out of hand, isn't? So... how about something a little different - like a true inbound program?
Want to meet with an inbound sales & marketing expert to learn more about your business and determine whether you can get off of the cold-calling train with your business? Schedule a free inbound marketing assessment with Orange Pegs Media today!