I use to cold call a lot.
There were times when I’d make 30 cold calls in one hour.
Dialing away until I got someone on the other end to listen to my pitch. Searching for that proverbial needle in a haystack.
Back in those days if I didn’t sell I didn’t eat so the best way to put food on the table was ‘dialing for dollars’, talking to a warm bodies, and closing sales.
I was pretty good at knowing what to say when I had a prospect on the line because I designed scripts for all of the different types of prospects that I could possibly encounter and developed a response for any objection they could throw at me.
Then, something made me rethink my cold calling strategy. I’m not sure when or where but I made the commitment to spend more time getting my prospects to come to me as opposed to cold calling them.
I guess I was convinced that ‘pull marketing’ could yield more business than ‘push marketing’, today’s version of ’Permission Marketing‘ versus ‘Interruption Marketing’ as introduced by Seth Godin.
I guess ‘Interruption Marketing’ is like cold calling. You find a number, call Mr. Decision Maker, and invade his corporate man cave. You’re like that bothersome neighbor who invites himself over to watch the game and finishes off your last six pack before the end of the first half.
Who is this guy and how did he end up in my basement?
See the connection?
I wonder how many sales people today are interrupting prospects like I use to?
So how do you take the chill out of cold calling?
Don’t cold call. It’s that simple.
I’m suggesting that you commit to never making a cold call again.
“So how do I do that?”
Try these five steps on for size.
Step #1 – If you haven’t identified your prospect’s pain and challenges then you’re apt to land back at square one which is ‘Interruption marketing’. Start with Google to find clues that will lead you to the answers. If your prospect is in the insurance game, for example, what challenges are the insurance industry facing? Type in “challenges the XYZ industry is facing” into Google’s search field and you’ll literally have millions of results at your fingertips.
Step#2 – You have prospects who visit your Facebook page and are following you on Twitter don’t you? Consider becoming a subject matter expert instead of selling. If you represent yourself as a trustworthy source of knowledge and information, you can win their trust and respect over time. One of the best social channels to establish yourself as an ‘influencer’ is on LinkedIn. You can do that by joining and participating in groups and/or sharing your expertise on LinkedIn Answers.
Step #3 – You network to meet people, both online and offline, so that you can build relationships, provide assistance, receive referrals, and generate new business. Networking, when done properly, will eventually lead to more referrals which will then reduce your need to cold call.
Step #4 – Take testimonials to a new level. You can go to Best Buy or visit Amazon.com and purchase an inexpensive HD video camera for less than $300 that will allow you to film short videos of some of your satisfied customers or you can create a campaign to invite your customers to video themselves and send you their clip to be posted on your website and your corporate channel on YouTube?
Step #5 – I have sent RFPs to hundreds of hotels over the past few years and can only place my business typically in one hotel at a time. But what about those of you who have received my RFP but did not win the business? I’ve reached out to you and now should be considered a ‘warm call’. So why haven’t you picked up the phone to ask me “What would it take to win your business this or next year?” You tell me!
Prospecting is just one of the subjects I cover in my new educational workshop Mapping the Course that is specifically designed to help hotel sales managers grow their business and generate more sales.
Tom Costello is the CEO and Managing Director of iGroupAdvisors, a performance improvement consulting firm that specializes in the hospitality vertical.