Cold Calling - Duct Tape Marketing

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13 Give to Get Appointments

One of the surest ways to build the trust required to do business these days is to be able to demonstrate your willingness to give, to add value, before you ever ask for anything in return.

Certainly you’ve seen this dynamic play out in the act of referrals. You’ve probably also seen or felt the impact of this mentality in the offering of free white papers, how to seminars and evaluation sessions.

But what about in a lead generation environment where you’re trying to create awareness and land an appointments? What about using this thinking in situations where you are essentially trying to get the attention of a prospect that doesn’t yet know you exist? Can the give first mentality be used to open doors and create enough trust to get you invited to tell your full story?

Here’s a simple campaign that I’ve seen do just that.

  • Acquire a highly targeted mailing list from Hoovers, InfoUSA or Jigsaw.
  • Send an email and postcard to a small number, say 100, using variable data printing on the postcard to display the prospect’s name big and bold.
  • In the email use the prospect’s name only in the subject line.
  • In the body of the email and for the postcard copy simply state that you have a few ideas on how they could get x (x = more clients, better return, few errors, more done, etc – it’s what you sell) – don’t add anything else about you or your solution, just keep it to that one line and add a link to a personalized landing page (using a pURL) from a service like SendPepper. (there are lots of services that can accomplish this, but I really like the features from SendPepper)
  • The personalized link and page features the name of the prospect and provides five or six of your best recommendations or tips. Don’t hold back, give them some really good information and advice. The content of this page can be segmented for different variables, but for the most part the actual content will be generic, but still valuable with a personalized feel driven by the pURL technology.
  • If you’re using an integrated tool like SendPepper, you’ll get notification when someone visits their page and you can then follow-up with even more great information and a call to action, such as an appointment, evaluation or presentation of more customized ideas.

A couple things to note:
This works at a far higher rate than simple bulk mailing because of the personalization and because you’re offering something of value that is easy for them to consume and simple to understand.

Too often we try to spell out multiple offers in hopes that something will stick – keep your message dead simple and intriguing and you’ll get far more response.

Keep the batches small so you’ll have plenty of time to follow-up immediately and analyze what’s working and what’s not. Most services allow some amount of split testing as well.

83 The Abusive Math of Cold Calling

If you are emotionally attached to cold calling, you might want to stop reading this post now.

mathAt a recent conference I heard Mahan Khalsa, co-author of Let’s Get Real of Let’s Not Play share the following statistics. (I don’t have the source of the data, but my experience tells me it’s pretty accurate.)

Cold calling results in about a 1-3% success rate for getting an initial appointment and it’s generally abusive to both parties. When that same call is made with a referral, the rate jumps up to 40% and even much higher when that referral comes from within the company.

The conclusion anyone should make from the gap in these two points is that you should never leave the office or get on the phone to call on a prospect without some form of a referral. In fact, if you’ve got a hot prospect, you should probably wait to find someone who can refer you or you might just waste any chance of getting in the door.

So, let’s do some simple math – if you have a list of 1000 names to cold call, you’re looking at getting 30 appointments as doing quite well (who knows if they are the right 30, but we can use this for conversation sake.) Now, let’s say you drill down and do enough research to find 250 prospects on that list that are very well suited to your business. Then you do further research using social media to locate information and contacts that would allow you to get referral introductions and recommendations to most on that pared down list. Experience tells me this approach is likely to turn up 75-100, well qualified prospects willing to discuss your ideas further.

Make fewer calls, get better results – that’s marketing math you can live with.

A referral into a prospect can come from one of three places, your current customers, your network, or a strategic partner. It’s important to mine all three of these groups as you build your prospect list.

A key aspect of this concept, of course, is that you are constantly developing a hot prospect list. In other words, a list of customers you would like to do business with. When you have this as your starting point you can target your referral sources for specific requests. When you go to a customer or strategic partner and ask if they know anyone on your list, it’s much easier for them to help.

Now, here’s where social technology can really be your friend. Once you have a prospect list, connect with them in social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. When you do this, not only will they tell you a lot about what’s important to them and what their challenges and opportunities are, they’ll probably show you who their peers, friends and network members are. They may actually identify for you the best way to get to referred into them.

Do this with your existing customers as well because it will make it easier to identify the ones that are influencers, who participates at a high level in social media, and who might be great candidate to refer you to your hot prospect list.

The last piece of this tactic is that you also have a plan to educate your referral sources. If you find that you are just one LinkedIn connection away from a hot prospect and you would like someone in your network to make an introduction, make sure that you take the time to teach them how and why to introduce you. This assures you don’t waste anyone’s time and your referral source including that of your referral source.

This approach obviously takes more time and planning. You must develop a prospect list, research using social media, and plan for referred introductions. The end result, however, is a success rate that any sales and marketing person would be envious of.

Image credit: stuartpilbrow