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5 Proven Lead Generators

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Cold CallingDid you know: It takes about 100 calls to yield 30 decicion-makers, who after two to four appointments will then yield a new client or deal?

Phew, that seems like a lot and it is, but you’ve got to put in the time if you’re gonna “always be closing” right? But thankfully it doesn’t have to be as difficult as it sounds. The current issue of Wearables magazine has some excellent advice on proven lead generators, identifying the perfect client, handling buyer objections and more. Check out this “Sales Buzz” article now, and in the meantime here are 5 proven lead generators to whet your whistle:

  • Cold calling. Knock on doors or pick up the phone. You may start with a gatekeeper but can likely get a name of a decision-maker when you inquire politely.
  • Referrals. Ask for leads from your current clients.
  • Business networking. Join a minimum of two networking groups such as an association in your area of market expertise or your local chamber of commerce.
  • Social networking. People want to work with people with whom they have something in common. Therefore, joining clubs related to your hobbies or getting involved with your child’s PTA can ultimately yield sales leads. Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter also serve as socially-driven lead-generation tools.
  • Internet research. Use the Internet to mine for leads in a specific region or industry or for a particular size of business.

Tip of the Day - Improve Cold Call Skills

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Cold CallingJust recently, Advantages magazine added a great new section called Reboot! where experts offer advice to distributors on how to re-energize their sales. This month’s feature focuses on how one sales rep, Jack Foley of Proforma Team Foley, was able to break through on cold calls and have great success. The article breaks down how he did, an action plan, stats and what role business cards can play in cold calling. It’s a quick, informative read that I recommend to anyone who dreads this task, but who also aspires to perfect it.

Enjoy! And in the meantime, here are 5 expert tips to succeed with cold calling:

  • Make it a warm call; do some research first (LinkedIn, Facebook, Google search, etc.). In most cases you will have a mutual connection or common interest.
    – Joe Sale (real name), DENT Marketing Solutions, DENTmarketingsolutions.com
  • Understand your product inside and out and believe in it (or get another job).
    – Stephen Roberts, marketing manager, timberwolfcorp.com
  • Shift your perspective to the fact that you are a salesperson and it is OK to sell. The world is driven by sales, and nothing happens until something gets sold.
    – Connie Kadansky, sales call reluctance coach and trainer, exceptionalsales.com
  • Figure out how your ad specialty items help your customers. Do they help grow sales, build customer loyalty, increase brand awareness? You should lead with how you help your customers because your prospects most likely have the same challenges that your customers do.
    – Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling,” queenofcoldcalling.com 
  • If you get passed to someone else, let them know that you briefly spoke to someone else who suggested you contact them (Hi, Nancy, this is Brandon with XYZ Company. I just briefly spoke with Tad Wilson in marketing, who thought you would be the right person to talk to for what we do. We specialize in …).
    – Brandon Pipkin, sales trainer and author, 21for21.com

3 Cold Calling Tips and Strategies

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Here are the success stories behind each selling strategy.

1. Your Lucky Numbers
Gifts galore.

Four years ago, Deborah Price, creative marketing consultant with Geiger (asi/202900), was getting shot down. After making some contacts with a security company at an event and following up with them for two years, they just were not interested in seeing her goods. But, she didn’t give up.

As an associate member of the Building Owners and Managers Association, Price was determined to break through to the security company. She sent them a giant fortune cookie with a personalized message about the tremendous success the prospect would have if they used Deborah Price. In addition, the cookie’s “lucky numbers” were her phone numbers.
After sending the cookie, Price lucked out on one of her cold calls. “I requested an opportunity to show them what I do – they don’t have to buy from me,” she says. In addition, she had no expectations. She knew that the prospect had a promotional products rep that they had been working with. Since the rep was coming in, the prospect allowed Price to come in and piggyback.

Eventually, Price got the opportunity to present her gift ideas. “In my head, more than likely they would throw me a bone. I figured that the worst-case scenario was that they’d continue with their old rep, but they’d give me the opportunity to provide candy for the receptionists,” she says.

The day of Price’s initial meeting was just short of disastrous. The address on her contact’s business card was in downtown Los Angeles, but the office was in Orange County. “It was off to a crazy, rocky, messed-up start. We’re all sweating and I walked in late,” she recounts. It turns out,  she wowed the client. She set up the conference room with beautiful gifts, including items from Leed’s and Cutter & Buck. She presented everyone with a folder of the items she was presenting. She also provided a “Thanks a Dozen” box filled with bagels and cream cheese for everyone. “They ended up buying those from me as well. It turns out that they were so wowed by my items and passion that they gave me the order for the gifts,” she says.

Since that meeting, Price has been the client’s only source for premiums and gifts. “It’s been amazing. I am their exclusive person. They told every salesperson to go through me for their giveaways and trade shows,” she says. Her total sales figures for the client are approximately half a million dollars.

2. Heartbreak Hotel
Don’t treat him like a hound dog.

When Dave Mann was selling copy machines, he knew cold calling was the way he had to go. “There’s not a lot of repeat business in that industry, so in order to be successful, it was 50 cold calls a day, rain or shine, sleet or snow,” says Mann, the director of national accounts for Promotional Designs Inc. (asi/300830).

When Mann switched industries into the promotional world, he applied the same formula and sold over $1 million in his first year. “I approach cold calling as, ‘What the heck, they are currently buying nothing from me, how much worse could it get?’ ” he says. To him, cold calling is true selling, and the rest is just account management. Most years, he sells about $3 million.

When Mann prospects for new clients, he finds pursuing a common interest works. For months, he called on a national music magazine publisher because it was 90 miles away and there wasn’t much other business in the area. He subscribed to the magazine and is a huge music fan, so he had some good ideas to present. The contact never called him back after numerous voicemails over about six months. “One day, I called the receptionist and told her my story and said, ‘What’s up with this lady? She never calls me back. What kind of person is she?’ ” he says. The receptionist told him that the contact was a huge Elvis Presley fan and her office was decorated with all kinds of Elvis memorabilia.

Mann waited several weeks, until August 16, the anniversary of Elvis’ death. He left a voicemail in an “Elvis” voice saying, “Hey mama, this is Dave. I too am a huge fan of Elvis and your not returning my calls has got me ‘All Shook Up.’ In fact, I am staying at the ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ until I hear back from you. Any true fan of Elvis would certainly call me back on the anniversary of his death. Please don’t treat me like a ‘Hound Dog.’” Within five minutes, the prospect called him back and said, “You got me.” After a good laugh, she scheduled an appointment with Mann. He mentioned that he had some good ideas, he did local imprinting and could provide some services that she wasn’t getting. He also ordered a pair of Elvis sunglasses and an Elvis wig, and arrived at the appointment wearing his new accessories. His contact greeted him with delight, hugged him and proceeded to steal his Elvis stuff for her office display.

Mann’s first order with the magazine was for polo shirts. Seven years later, he still does business with the client, even though his contact has since retired. He has been able to penetrate other departments within the account and continues taking orders for T-shirts, hats and other apparel items, pocket knives, chip clips, duffel bags and writing pads. He has sold approximately $200,000 worth of items to this client.
To this day, the receptionist still calls him Elvis.

3. While You Were Out
A memorable fax.

For Ryan Sauers, getting a return call required a creative push. The president/CMO of Sauers Communication (asi/319273) was trying to work with a religious-related entity in his area. “I called on them over and over again. They liked our company, we said all the right things, and they said they were serious about moving their business. The problem was, we couldn’t get them to move off dead center and pull the trigger,” he says.

The tough part for Sauers was that he knew the prospect, he just couldn’t get a return call. “I’d get the receptionist, I’d get voicemail, but I couldn’t get them on the phone. If someone is telling you that it’s a great fit, how do you get their attention?” he says.

About five years ago, Sauers went into the prospect’s office and noticed that the receptionist used a “While You Were out” slip. He decided to go in for the kill and make sure that his message got to the main part of the office. He took the slip and wrote, “Please call Ryan Sauers. He’s having a hard time reaching you. You’ve been chasing each other. Signed, Ryan Sauers.” He blew up the note to 8″ by 11″ and faxed it to the office.

Within an hour, Sauers got a call from the prospect asking when they could get together. In the first meeting, the prospect mentioned Sauers’ creativity, his confidence and his persistence. The prospect said his unique thinking was the push it took to provide an opportunity.

“We were able to develop a relationship and start talking about the people we knew in common. We set up a subsequent meeting with both of our staffs, which led to moving the first projects in our direction,” Sauers says. The new client started booking more orders with him, and eventually ordered apparel, giveaway items and brand-identity products. “This client has also helped get me business with its sister organizations,” he says.

The client has worked with Sauers for about four years now. “They were loyal to their other supplier and didn’t have a desire to change. It took something to get their attention,” he says. He now books about $25,000 per year with the client.

Even though Sauers’ staff thought the fax was risky, he has no regrets. “What would have happened if I had just quit? Try a different direction, try something off the wall. That was either going to work or bite me in the butt. I knew that fax would stand out,” he says.

From Advantages September 2010 issue.


Tip of the Day - Cold Calling Dos and Don’ts

Filed under: Tip of the Day

It’s no secret that cold-calling is one of the most difficult parts of networking. Nobody likes to get turned down, and a rejection certainly isn’t conducive to future cold-calling ventures. Here’s three dos to master cold-calling:

  1. Connect. The first thing you need to do is connect with the person you’re calling by finding some common ground. You can even start the conversation by asking your prospect how her day is going, and respond back in kind. “Respond in a similar way,” says Gail Williams, business consultant for Allegre Communications and author of Effective Selling Techniques 1.0.1. “Whatever they give to you, give back in a respectful way. And, try to be humorous. Try to first connect with the person on a conversational level.” Also, use your prospect’s name. For instance, instead of saying “Thank you,” say, “Thank you so much, Mrs. Fitzgerald.” This builds your connection with your contact. 
  2. Make it relevant. One of the biggest things business owners forget when they’re cold-calling is relevancy. It’s essential to communicate why your prospect should listen to you in the first place. “You want to get to the point, because they have 2,000 other things they could be doing,” Williams says. Be specific: Mention different decorating or marketing services or goods you could provide the person that would make your business interaction beneficial to him or her. 
  3. It’s nothing personal. Recognize that rejection isn’t a reflection of you as a person. The person you’re calling is out to make money just as much as you are, and if he rejects you, it only means that your paths toward your monetary goals don’t intersect. Instead, try a different perspective. Williams suggests “treating rejection like a gain.” Make it a goal to make 100 calls, or strike up a friendly competition with another member of your staff to see who can make 100 cold calls first.

And here are three don’ts to cold calling:

  1. Unprofessionalism. It’s obvious that you’re not going to be intentionally rude to the person you’re calling. But sometimes the littlest “errors” can make you seem unprofessional to your prospect. Make sure you have your contact’s title correct, and that you address them by it initially. If they tell you that you can call them by another name, take the invitation. But until then, maintain a high level of respect. “You have to assume you’re speaking to someone who demands the highest level, because even if they didn’t, they appreciate the highest level,” says Joanna Grant, vice president of Affinity Express, a Chicago-based company that specializes in international digitizing, document creation and multimedia services. 
  2. Talking too fast. If you aren’t rehearsed, and if you try to cram in too much information too quickly, your contact will be hesitant to trust you. That’s where the term “fast-talker” comes from. Obviously, don’t talk so slowly that your contact nods off, but don’t talk her ear off, either. 
  3. Being unprepared. “Make sure you have the facts about your target and his business as strongly and completely as possible,” Grant says. “You need to be familiar with what they do, what they’re good at and how your products and services can help market their business.” Once you’ve got these facts down, rehearse what you know. “Have your talk track down,” says Gail Williams, business consultant for Allegre Communications and author of Effective Selling Techniques 1.0.1. “If you’re not rehearsed, then you aren’t going to get anywhere.” But, be ready to go off script based on the information your prospect gives you.

From Stitches Small Business Newsletter, vol. 46.


Tip of the Day - Create More Selling Time

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Ad specialty distributors often spend so much time on tasks that don’t involve selling – fulfilling orders, following up on invoices and talking to suppliers, just to name a few – that they neglect their main objectives. Yes, you need to create as much time in your day as possible for dealing directly with clients.

Carving out time for prospecting, cold-calling, following up on sales proposals and crafting new promotional programs for current clients is vital for distributors. You can’t get so caught up in other administrative tasks that you forget the thing that’s most important to your business: bringing in revenue.
Here are four tips to ensure you’re spending more time selling. These come from Scott Gingold, CEO of consulting firm Powerfeedback (www.powerfeedback.com), who specializes in helping businesses prioritize their time and go-to-market strategies.

  1. Get up early.
    “A lot of businesspeople you deal with today are starting earlier,” Gingold says. “A lot of times, people have to get out of the mindset that the business day starts at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. It doesn’t. It starts earlier than that. I try to schedule myself a 6:30 a.m. coffee, 8 a.m. breakfast, another coffee at 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. lunch.”
  2. Don’t be a slave to e-mail.
    “It’s easy to fall into the trap of checking e-mail every two minutes rather than setting up a schedule for it,” Gingold says. “Have selling time, whether it’s on the phone or face-to-face.”
  3. Consolidate appointments.
    “If I’m getting in the car and have to drive 10 miles, I’d better be looking at that map and saying, ‘Who else can I see?’ even if it’s just a courtesy call,” Gingold says. “If you’re right there, you might as well meet a current customer.”
  4. Reinforce a positive attitude.
    Sometimes distributors shy away from selling because they’ve come to fear rejection. Turn that around by focusing on current clients that appreciate you and your business – the change in tone should help your confidence level. “If you’re getting doors slammed in your face, pop in somewhere that loves you and loves your company,” Gingold says. “You’ve got to keep pushing that rock up the hill.”

From Counselor’s Game Changer: How To Craft A Creative Sales Approach


Tip of the Day - Cold Calling

Filed under: Tip of the Day

Make your cold calls brief, no more than two to three minutes and be focused on understanding the prospect’s needs at a high level so you can provide them with a compelling reason to spend some time with you, and most importantly, getting the appointment.


 

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