THE TWO MOST COST EFFECTIVE MEANS OF NEW BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT:
EMAIL & THE TELEPHONE, are the two most cost effective means of developing new business opportunities, but not necessarily in that order. More about that later but first some background on me.
The first part of my working life was spent in retail advertising/marketing, working for some tremendous retail success stories, and also working for some not so tremendous retail success stories:-) I know the emoticons are corny but I love them:-)
The most valuable lesson I learned in retail is how to turn on a dime, but there were other lessons primarily from a Boss who was a real tyrant. From him I learned how to bite my tongue. Boy that guy was tough, but those valuable lessons have stood me in good stead in whatever else I’ve chosen to get involved in like HI-TECH.
My first introduction to hi-tech was when the highest end desktop computers maxed out at 20 megabytes. Today I get emails longer than that:-) Then I saw the Internet and knew it was going to change the world. It is without a doubt the greatest educational and research tool in the history of civilization, and we haven’t even come close to its potential in changing the world as we know it.
BACK TO BUSINESS:
Teleprospecting and email are the two most cost-effective means of generating new prospects for your Company’s products/services, but not necessarily in that order. Each situation is unique, with unique requirements, requiring its own unique approach. The big challenge is how to stand out amidst all the clutter we’re faced with daily. You could be the most articulate genius in the world but it’s hard to develop a working relationship with a potential prospect if you can’t get to first base with them.
Email and the telephone may not be right for everybody, but recent research has shown it is right for most: https://ascend2.checkboxonline.com/ViewContent.aspx?contentID=1045
And it is most right if you are selling a relatively hi-ticket product/service; the target market is wide spread; and the sales cycle sometimes long, and sometimes agonizingly long. But as long as there is interest you have to keep following up. Most sales managers agree most sales are lost because of improper or inadequate follow up procedures. The following strategies have been developed and nurtured in over a decade of introducing new technology to the Contact Center industry. But the methodology would work well in any vertical. The first thing you need is a good database of potential prospects.
A GOOD DATABASE:
There are a number of ways to build a good database. My Clients attend trade shows, put on seminars/webinars, and utilize various other media to develop lists of prospects who have expressed an interest in their products/services. They then send me the lists to me to fine-tune qualify the live ones for their sales people to go in and close. We call it warm calling as opposed to cold calling because the prospect has already expressed an interest in the product/service. The methodology we’ve developed and nurtured over the years obviously works or I wouldn’t still be in business working with many of the same Clients I started out with many years ago.
In the Contact Center vertical my list of contact centers has grown to well over 60,000, mostly across the U.S., some in Canada, and more these days internationally. I have also developed considerable credibility with many C-LEVEL decision makers and various other influencers within the contact center community because of the quality of products/services, and the reputations of the companies I’ve introduced in the past. Relationship building is my prime objective in dealing with these people.
I work this database on a daily basis so it’s pretty fresh and up to date. The better the quality of data the better the quality of results. The lists include all pertinent company and contact information, including titles, addresses, especially email addresses, any pain points, when any decisions will be made, (not always possible), and who is involved in the decision making process. Often you have to start with an influencer which is good. Often it’s the people in the trenches, those who stand most to benefit from whatever it is you’re selling, who institute change in organizations and will introduce you to the decision maker(s).
You can also buy lists of potential prospects from a list broker, but be sure you’re buying from a reputable firm. There are many scammers out there selling old outdated lists which are a complete waste of time and money.
I can’t stress enough you have to keep lists updated, and segmented as much as possible by title, geographic location, size of company, contact titles, and whatever else you can define. These days companies go in and out of business, merge, change locations, and people change jobs, and/or locations, move around, get hired/fired, and lists age faster than ever. If you’re working on the database on a daily basis you can scrub and update it as you go along. But if you have too much aging data it’s more cost effective to outsource this type of work. If you have tons of records to update there are offshore call centers that specialize in this kind of work and they do most of it online.
About gatekeepers, somebody once asked me who I thought was the most important employee in any company. “I would guess the CEO I replied” The correct answer is the receptionist. They can make or break a company, and isn’t it odd that they are often the lowest paid in the company.
Last word about lists: While having a large pool of potential prospects is always desirable, QUALITY ALWAYS TRUMPS QUANTITY!
Everybody is inundated with email these days and you have to stand out amidst all the clutter. We answer this challenge by working with some of the best email content writers in the business to develop compelling results producing emails. Content is king and we first consult with Clients to determine salient features and benefits, and then it may take us a few tries before we come up with a winner. It’s just a matter of testing until we get it right. However, not all Clients need this type of help and prefer to come up with their own compelling value prop. We just provide this service as an option.
Getting it right however doesn’t always ensure people are going to beat a path to your doorstep, even if you’ve sent them a kick ass email. I’ve always felt it’s presumptuous of me to expect a prospect to call me when it’s me that’s trying to sell them something. So what I do is diarize them for call backs. As long as the interest is still there it’s only a matter of following up until the timing is right.
This is where the rubber hits the road.
If your first contact is by email it must be followed up with a consistent professional teleprospecting campaign or you risk losing a lot of new business.
I don’t mean pestering people, but following up with a well-defined and refined regimen is a must. The objective is not to annoy, but to relay some further pertinent information or research related to your prior discussions, or it could be any number of other gentle reminders to keep whatever it is you’re selling in your prospect’s top of mind awareness. As stated previously most sales are lost through improper or inadequate follow up procedures.
There is an art and skill to this honed over time and practical experience, or as in my case the school of hard knocks:-) There are on-line tools like LinkedIn, just one of a number of great resources for new business developers, and Twitter and Facebook. However, I’ve found LinkedIn to be the best for B2B marketing.
One of the first and most amazing things I discovered in teleprospecting is how a smile is transmitted over the telephone! Believe it or not smiling during a prospecting call can actually be felt by the person on the other end of the line, and so can a sour puss:-( Think about all the benefits your products/services will mean to your prospect, and how it’s going to make their work day so much easier, and let that put a smile on your face:-) Of course you’ll have to consciously make an effort to ditch the smile after work or you’ll end up walking around with silly grin on your face the rest of the day:-; Next time the value of STORY TELLING!