What would you do if you received 10,000 sales leads to call?
That’s exactly what happened to a young salesman who started working for an environmental consulting firm in Maryland a few months ago. He was the only salesperson – and probably the first one ever hired – by the firm. In the past, the firm probably relied mostly on referrals, word-of-mouth, and bids to obtain business. Now, the firm decided to become more proactive and mount a cold calling campaign to obtain more customers.
After making several cold calls for a few weeks, the salesman became frustrated. He wasn’t reaching anyone and his prospects were not returning his phone calls. Furthermore, it appears based on his company’s website, that they didn’t offer any marketing content to share with others, and had no social media presence. With that in mind, the salesman decided to post his problem on a LinkedIn sales discussion group and requested our help.
What would you do in his situation?
Here are my suggestions –
1). Develop a client profile. Before making any cold calls, examine your existing customers. Why are they buying from you? Why do they like your services? Do you see any patterns in the types of customers using your services? Do your customers fall into specific categories, e.g., small, mid-size or large companies? Do you see a pattern in the geographic locations, e.g., more Northeastern vs. fewer Southern-based customers? What are the positions of the people who are using your services? Are they C-Level or lower?
2). Talk to your top customers. Make a list of about 10 to 20 of your largest and best customers and talk to them. Why do they like your services? What recommendations would they provide on how to persuade prospects to order from you? What attracted them to your company? This doesn’t have to be a long process. Maybe 30 minutes per customer tops. Your goal is to gather ammunition that you can use when making cold calls. For example, if a prospect doesn’t want to order from you, you may say “well, some of our top customers had similar problems like yours, but once they began to using our services, they really appreciated what we could do for them.” Also, if you don’t already have these, now would be a good time to gather some testimonials that you can display on your website. And finally, by talking to your top customers, it will give you a better understanding of your industry and how your company helps its clients.
3). Talk to your employer. What advice can your employer offer you to help you make better cold calls? What are some of the common problems or pain points faced by prospects in their industry?
4). Know your industry. Sure, you may be new to the industry. You may not know all of the buzz words or technical phrases yet. Well, start learning. Ask your employer for advice on which industry publications and blogs you should follow and read on a regular basis. You don’t have to be an expert in the industry – but just know enough so that you don’t embarrass yourself when speaking to a prospect. Also, while studying your industry, make note of any potential prospects to contact later.
5). Review your prospect list. Now that you have a good understanding of your existing clients and industry, review your prospect list. Check off the prospects that you feel have the highest potential for ordering from you.
In part 2 of this post, I will continue listing my suggestions.