In my last post, I promised to show you if and how cold-calling can generate new clients. As I mentioned in that post, the company I work for uses cold-calling and cold-canvassing as its primary means of getting business. That doesn’t mean we ignore other marketing methods. It’s just that we don’t just sit around waiting for people to respond to our mailers. We have a sales force on the street and a telemarketing team on the phones actively looking for new business. That’s because we realize that our prospects are not self-directed. Let me explain.
The self-directed consumer is one who already knows he has a particular need and is proactively searching for someone who can fill it. One person looks on the Internet, another person looks in the Yellow Pages, and yet another asks a friend for a recommendation. It’s that simple.
I work for an independent Yellow Page company. Our prospects are similar to your prospective web clients in that they both have the same type of self-directed customers. You see, Yellow Pages is the original search engine, and the one thing that Yellow Pages and the Internet have in common is that its users are self-directed. In the Yellow Page industry, we call this “directional advertising.” Both Yellow Pages and search marketing fall into this type of advertising because it targets a buyer who’s looking for a seller. All other advertising is the exact opposite—it’s the seller looking for a buyer. Make sense?
In case I haven’t made myself clear, let me elaborate. When you’re in your car and you hear that radio commercial or see that billboard, chances are you’re not in the market for that particular product or service at that exact moment. But the company who’s advertising to you (or at you) is hoping that at least a certain percentage of the people who hear or see their advertising are in need of their wares. They’re searching for you, hoping you’ll become a buyer.
But two weeks later, if you suddenly do have a need, you’re not going to hop into your car and drive back down the highway, hoping to find the billboard. Depending on the nature of the product or service, you’ll either turn to a search engine or to the Yellow Pages. Now you are the one who’s searching. You’ve become a self-directed consumer.
Yellow Page advertising and search marketing work best when people know they have a problem, can describe it to themselves, and believe that somebody on the Internet or in the Yellow Pages has a solution. (“My sink is leaking and I need a plumber.” “My clothes don’t fit; I need a weight-loss solution.”)
This is going to be important, so stick with me. For the most part, your prospects are not self-directed; they are not searching for you. That’s because many of your prospects have problems they don’t even realize they have. Or they have problems they don’t realize the web can solve. And, unlike Yellow Pages, the Internet is multi-faceted and can solve a variety of sales, marketing and business problems.
So here’s the bottom line: Since your prospects are not searching for you, you’ll need to interrupt them instead. And cold-calling is an effective way to do that.
Don’t Bother Me, I’m Busy
Seth Godin coined the term “permission marketing.” Cold-calling is the exact opposite—it’s interruption marketing.
Now, if that offends your sensibilities, please don’t be so quick to judge. Most advertising is interruption marketing. The postcard that invaded your mailbox interrupted you while you were sorting your mail, looking for bills. The television or radio commercial interrupted your viewing or listening pleasure. The billboard interrupted your driving concentration. Get the point? If the thought of cold-calling offends you (because you’re offended when telemarketers call you), then you have a choice to make. You can stay offended and continue struggling to find clients, or you can get over it and make some money.
Some of the objections I’ve heard to cold-calling come from people who have been successful using other marketing methods. In the professional services circle, that method is typically word-of-mouth referrals and networking. If you’re doing these things and having success finding clients, great! If you are satisfied with the amount of business you’re generating this way, I’m happy for you. On the other hand, if networking has produced only mediocre results, consider adding cold-calling into the mix. And if you’re not doing either, think about doing both.
Even if networking is getting you fantastic results, consider this: each new client that a cold-call produces adds one more person to your client base that will refer you to others. Successful marketing is not about having that one “magic bullet” that will work for everyone in every circumstance. It’s about finding the right mix of marketing tools that work for you and for your type of business. Cold-calling expert and trainer Scott Channell puts it like this:
Cold-calling for appointments is like any other marketing tool. Use it in the right place … and use it correctly … and you get results. Use it in the wrong spots … and incorrectly … you get frustration and phone phobia.
There is one truth. Cold-calling stinks. I teach the stuff yet don’t love it. Rejection is the norm. Do and say the same things over and over again. But, but, but … despite all that, if you know that a certain process consistently gets you qualified leads, cost-effectively and convert to very profitable sales … Guess what?
You take a deep breath and do it again and again and again.
In next week’s post, I’ll talk about how to overcome the single biggest obstacle you’ll face when it comes to cold-calling. I’ll also show you a way to get all the training you’ll ever need to become the cold-calling expert you always dreamed of being—without costing you a dime!
And I’ll finally reveal what stapling bacon to your face has to do with cold-calling. Really, I promise.
Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.