How do you get in touch with your customers? Personally, I love getting creative and finding fun ways to lay down the groundworks of your future relationships. But, as always traditional ways still resound loudly amongst sales professionals. I’m talking about your website, cold calling, emailing, LinkedIn, messaging and conference visits.
To create a little perspective around these different channels, I’ve performed a little research on the topic. Not the result of a retrospective study among thousands of anonymous sales boys and girls but instead the views of three experts whose opinions matter to me.
The objective was to share how they manage the various channels mentioned above, rank them, and share how much time they spend on each. Let’s meet them:
Cold-calling expert | Social Selling | Speaker | Training
"The most important aspect in any kind of communication is to focus on the OTHER PERSON instead of yourself. Try to steer a conversation that is about your prospect’s challenges and not directly about your products or services."
Success story: At some point, I made a short PDF with ‘10 Tips to use LinkedIn in sales’. ON LinkedIn I posted an announcement that asked viewers to comment ‘YES’ to receive it. Whenever someone did so, I would send them the PDF through LinkedIn and mention this in the comment section. Usually, my posts receive around 1000 views but this particular one exploded to 75.000 views, realizing 300 leads for yours truly! 1 post, 300 leads. Not bad, right?
Business Development Manager at EATRIS LinkedIn
"I think it's important to be honest, and not too pushy with potential customers. Being honest can build trust. Chances are that the potential lead might like your product but has no need at this moment. You want them to remember you and your offering until they do need it."
Making use of your network: From time to time I browse through my LinkedIn contacts looking for potential leads. I look for people that have started a position at a new company that could fit my client profile. Reach out, ask about their new role and whether they enjoy it. When the small talk is over, ask if they can refer you to a relevant colleague.
"Always make your actions come across and personal and see to it that you are knowledgeable about a prospect’s challenges to be able to be an equal partner in the conversation. And when you go by for a coffee, always take along something to go with it ;)."
Unique entree: Personally delivering a cake or a bouquet tot the person you’d really like to meet. Chances are good that your prospect will break away from any meeting, greet you with a smile, and give you a chance to follow up.
Learn from their perspectives below!
Website - A website is essential to any organization; without it you don’t really ‘exist’. It should look updated and clean and can possibly provide you with many leads. BUT: it’s actually not a sales job but marketing job to create it and keep it up to date. Of course, sales is responsible for following up on incoming leads. Prospects know how to find me for training and lectures on (cold) acquisition) on the internet because my website contains the right keywords and I rank fairly high when you search those. And the leads I get through it usually receive a call from that same day.
LinkedIn - Crucial to be found and to get into contact with prospects. Your profile should look good and contain the right words, so you can be found on the platform. Many new customers have found their way to my training and lectures because they either saw my profile on LinkedIn and/or received my posts on their news feed. By posting frequently you remain at the top of your relations’ minds to which your prospects usually also belong.
Cold calling - A cheap, quick, and effective (if done right) way to gain prospects but also very labour-intensive and challenging for many a salesman or woman. A large share of the biggest deals I landed in the past 13 years as an independent contractor, I got through cold calling. Calling someone you don’t know and persuade that person with a well-prepared and thought-through call to making an appointment and taking it from there.
Email - Because the ban on SPAM and GDPR regulations, this has become a troublesome instrument to connect to prospects with. Usually, emails get deleted without opening them unless you can make it very specific and personal. It’s still a viable tool for email marketing but only if you have a person’s active consent. On my website, I offer the book ‘Cold Calling: Brrr…’ as a free download, in exchange for your contact data. Everyone who does so becomes a part of my contact database and my email marketing program makes sure everyone is regularly updated (with their consent, of course). The top x % also receives a call.
Texting (WhatsApp) - I don’t feel this is a suitable medium for your first contact with a prospect because you could instantly end up in a prospect’s private environment.
Conferences - A channel that shows little return on investment, in my opinion, because you meet a relatively low number of people and usually costs a lot of time (half a day. full day). A visit to a conference for entrepreneurs may lead to ample inspiration, new ideas, and a handful of business cards. But, after following up I usually find myself with bitter after taste and very few actual leads.
LinkedIn - I mainly use LinkedIn to stay in touch with people I met at various events. Friendly banter on career or company developments can keep a relationship alive. Sometimes you can use this to your advantage and ask for a favour, like a referral to a decision-maker within the company.
Email - Cold-emailing can be effective when done right. If you can get someone else to refer you in cc the chances of the recipient getting back to you increase dramatically. Otherwise, if you have a topic that is relevant to the recipient a concise email might get you in. I would stay clear of mass email campaigns, as they come across as spam and may give you a bad reputation.
Conferences/partnering events - The best way to quickly build a relationship is via face-to-face contact. Go to as many partnering events that your budget allows and make the most out of the partnering portals that allow you to set up 1-on-1 meetings beforehand. Add every business card you receive to LinkedIn and follow up via email the week after the event, to give people a chance to catch up on email when they get back to the office.
Cold calling - I don't like receiving cold phone calls and have never received one about a service/product that I was looking for at that time. I would skip this one.
Texting (WhatsApp/SMS) - I've never sent cold WhatsApp messages, but maybe this works? Most people are swamped in emails, so using an alternative mode of communication might help you stick out. I would keep the message very brief. A business card usually has a phone number on it, so why not use it!
Website - It is fairly straightforward to make a list of companies that would potentially need your services, but you don't have control over WHEN they would need you exactly. Create a clean and neat website that clearly details your service offering or products, and make sure you keep it up to date. A potential customer might google for certain services when they need it, so make sure they can find you.
Email – Sharing a customized email with relevant subjects/issues/topics/blogs or a teaser that will guide prospects to your website. You could also consider organizing a raffle as an incentive or a poll on trending opinions of which you can share the results at a later stage. All-in-all an effective way to get in touch and create legitimate reasons for follow-up.
LinkedIn – After email, this is my preferred method. The key takeaway here is to keep it short. Meaning I’d recommend sending out an invite with a short and customized note which the platform facilitates. Of course, if your prospects accept, you can elaborate more thoroughly.
Website – Make sure that your front page is always dynamic and contains so-called Call-to-actions to engage your visitors. By posting blogs and/or whitepapers regularly you can keep your audience’s attention and increase your odds of getting into contact with them.
Texting (WhatsApp/SMS) – Sometimes you can use this as it gets you into direct contact. I would recommend simply sharing a teaser with a link to your website or a recent blog to get your prospects attention.
Conferences – If you plan on going to a conference with a booth, make sure you stand out, make it fun, and organize something that people will enjoy. (like the barista act ;) )
Cold calling – Still a viable way to contact your prospects. Make sure that you are getting into contact with the right person and make sure you have a well-prepared pitch at hand that entices the person on the other side of the phone call to realize an added value for them. For instance, changing legislation, or trends and developments in specific areas i.e. GDPR, Brexit, new regulatory procedure.
If one thing is clear it's that different people prefer different ways of approaching their prospects! From what I know, all three of them are successful in their jobs and perhaps the best lesson learned is that you should apply tactics that work for you.
In case you'd like to explore how you can improve in these different areas, just drop me an email with your situation and I'll send over some tips tailored to your current challenges!
PS. While completing this blog, I can't help but feel I've somewhat neglected the saleswoman's perspective. So, if you are a business-minded lady who enjoys sharing some expertise with others. Please feel encouraged to become no. 4 in this article :)!
And finally, a big thank you to Victor, Chris, and Bart!