By Richard Doyle | @Deverons1
I was recently engaged by a client to develop their customer base. They manufactured a product that needed to be sold through non-traditional channels of business. Although it has been years since I have actually had to develop a virgin customer base, I thought no problem, I will use the tactics and processes I have employed for years to develop their business. I would use the three things that had made me successful in the past:
- Cold calling
- Personal visits
Here’s what happened:
Cold calls: It was easy to make 100 or more in a day! Why? Because no one was answering their phones. Yes, the receptionist answered and put me through, but I got voicemail. So, I diligently left messages and asked for a return call. I averaged three out of a hundred return calls. OK, so I did get three out of 100, but then most of them were not interested in the opportunity.
Ultimately if I got 1 person a week to listen and explore the opportunity I was doing well. Of course, I continually called the others back, and they continually ignored my message. Because I was calling them back, I was not getting to as many new prospects. The results got poorer and poorer.
Emails: Well at least with cold calling there was a personality leaving the voicemail. There were just no replies on email. I know, you will tell me that my subject line was poor or that my message was poor. Let’s assume that is the truth for a minute, even the worst pitch gets some response. You can cut and paste the message all you want, if it is not personal, the rate of return will be even lower.
Personal visits: I have always relied on the fact that I am an engaging person and much of my sales success over the years has been due to the relationships I have developed with my customers, many of whom are still personal friends to this day. Well it was a whole new world. While I did get a few people to see me on a cold visit, the results were less than spectacular. First, I had to get past the gate keeper. They are damned good at what they do today and can be quite protective. Once again, the cost of the travel and time allocated to this, did not provide a return.
OK so now what do I do? I have a client who wants to grow their business and they have engaged this supposedly experienced person to launch their product into the North American marketplace. So, I began to search the internet for articles on how to become better at cold calling. Most of them just regurgitated what I already knew. In 2017 there had to be a better way.
That was when I met Tim Hughes and Adam Gray from Digital Leadership Associates. They were plugged into social selling and were very accomplished at it. I spent a day with them.
That day changed how I will look at selling forever
By doing a few simple things that they taught me in a few short hours, I was able to acquire more inbound requests for business that day, than I did in months of cold calling, emails and personal visits. I was stunned and a convert. A few weeks later I continue to use their tactics to grow my client base and develop business.
I am not going to go into a long dissertation about what I have learned, but here are a few nuggets:
- Develop your LinkedIn profile. In the past you got to know the person, created a relationship, and then you got the opportunity to sell. You have to do the same on LinkedIn. Be personable, tell people who are you and what you like. If people can relate to YOU, they are more likely to buy from you.
- When you decide to connect with someone make sure that they can help you build your business. Connections for the sake of connections are useless. In this case less is more. Make sure that you can help them accomplish their goals, before you ask them to help accomplish your goals.
- When you do connect, DON’T send an immediate email back selling them your product or service. They don’t know you yet. When that happens to me, I immediately block the person. They don’t want to know me, they want to sell me.
- Be on multiple platforms. Just like there are many routes to take to the office, there are multiple social platforms out there and you do not know which one the prospective customer will take.
- Be an expert! Write articles about your area of expertise. Don’t sell, just be an expert at what it is that you do, your industry, your discipline and your product category. People want to do business with experts. Today, 57% of the purchased decision takes place online before a customer contacts you. If you are out there and are considered an expert at something, you are more likely to have been noticed in that decision-making process.
There is much more. I will leave you with this. social selling is not new. We have always been social in our selling. It is just that social selling today is done on a different platform than in the past. You still have to create a relationship. It is how you strategically approach that process that will determine whether you enhance your close rate or not. If you always do what you always did, you’ll always get what you always got!
Digital Leadership Associates: We are Global Social Media Management Consultancy. We do three things: Social Media Strategy, Social Selling and Social Media Management. Drop us an email or call one of our founders on 00 44 7823 534 557 and let’s talk about how we can make an impact on your organisation.