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marketing, sales
Is Cold Calling Still an Effective Sales Technique?

Cold calling can still be an effective sales technique when it’s done the right way. Sadly, most salespeople don’t. I’ve had the unique opportunity to be on the giving and receiving end of thousands of cold calls over my career and I’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t. Here are some insights from my experiences and tips for improving your cold calling techniques.


Full Disclosure: I Hate Sales

Correction, I love sales but hate cold calling. Building relationships with clients and providing services which make a difference in their businesses are what I love most about what I do. Unfortunately, cold calling is a necessary evil when developing new business.

Why do I hate cold calling so much? I consider myself a very empathetic person, so how can I do unto others which I would not want done unto me? It seems like every time I get cold called, I end up wanting to spike my phone. You’re telling me I have to do this to other people to develop new business? Yuck.

Before starting my own company, I was a successful Account Executive at TV and radio stations in Northeast Ohio and Columbus. The irony is, I was successful despite struggling mightily with cold calling. I would procrastinate, hide, call in sick, whatever it took to avoid it. When I inevitably stopped sobbing, sucked it up and picked up the phone, I made damn well sure my effort was maximized. Therefore, I always had a plan to get the most sales for the least amount of calls. Here’s what you can do to increase the effectiveness of your cold calling…


Preparation

• Build a master list: The idea is quality over quantity. Only target prospects who can benefit the most from what you’re selling.

• Build an even smaller Top Prospect list: these prospects are the blue-chip prospects that you know have the potential to be a great partnership. Needless to say, they get additional effort up front.

• Research EVERY prospect: Most salespeople won’t do this. As such, if you actually get to speak with a decision maker, your preparation will make a great impression.

The Call

• NO SCRIPTS: When you do your research, you don’t need a canned, one-size-fits-all script. By being prepared, you can have a real conversation about the prospect’s business and a thoughtful reason for contacting them. Scripted pitches scream, “my manager told me to make 100 calls today and you’re one of them.” This is not a good way to compel a prospect to hear what you have to say.

• Respect the prospect: Actually getting to talk to a decision maker is no small miracle. Don’t blow it by hammering this person with manipulative tactics and clever ways to overcome objections. You did your homework. Now show them you’re prepared, clearly and transparently articulate your motives and be respectful of the prospect’s time. Cold calling in The Wolf of Wall Street (Warning: Rated R) was entertaining to watch, but that brand of selling is what gives salespeople their atrocious reputations.

• Have a clear objective: What do you want out of the call? For me, it’s always to schedule a face-to-face meeting. The phone is no place to sell complex services.

Follow Up

If the prospect agrees to a meeting, make sure it stays that way. Send a follow-up email confirming the details of the appointment. If there is more than a week between the cold call and the meeting, send a confirmation by mail. Let’s face it, the more time goes by, the more likely it is that the prospect will back out. Proper follow up will help reassure the prospect that sitting down with you is not a waste of time.


Conclusion

While there might not be a cold calling strategy out there which makes it fun (at least for me), utilizing the strategy I outlined above will certainly increase sales and decrease frustration for all parties involved. Ultimately, effective cold calling depends on selecting the right prospects, being prepared and being respectful. Time to smile and dial!

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marketing


It doesn’t matter how much money you spend or how perfectly you pick your advertising media, if the copy isn’t right, you could be doomed to failure. Make no mistake, copywriting is a skill that takes time to master. However, the following guide can make the process a little easier.

Get inspired!

One of the best ways to get the creative juices flowing is to get inspiration from other successful ads. The beauty of Google is any kind of information can be found with a few clicks. Simply type, “greatest ads of all time” in the search bar and you’ll discover gems like this from AdAge.

What’s your why?

For the best explanation I know of for this concept, I suggest you watch Simon Sinek’s Ted Talk, “Start with Why.” The gist is, people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

• Typical commercial: We have the best widget in town! It will scratch your back and fold your clothes. Plus, it’s 20% off today only, so come on down and buy it!
• “Why?” commercial: Back in 2010 the founders of Widget Factory saw a need in the market for a better back scratching, clothes folding widget. Our commitment to bring this widget to life for our community has been unwavering ever since. We hope you enjoy the results.

Which copy does a better job of motivating you to buy widgets?

There’s one exception to this rule; if your “why” is primarily about making money or market domination, go ahead and stick to features and benefits…

Define your target market

Which demographic accounts for 80% of your revenue? That’s your target market. Go one step further and create different Buyer Personas.

Here is a buyer persona we created for a driving school: 40-year-old mother of two teenage children. She’s super busy with extracurriculars, her career and piles of other things on her plate. She looks for ways to save money but puts even more of a premium on reducing demands on her time and making life less hectic.

Our ad copy for this driving school has to tell this buyer persona exactly how we are going to save her money and time while making her life easier. Making sure she knows who the company is, what they do and why she should do business with them are important too, but they’re not emotional “hot buttons” which compel her to act.

A.I.D.A.

AIDA stands for Attention, Interest, Desire, and Action. If your ad copy achieves each of these criteria, you’re probably on the right track.

Attention: You have to get your ad noticed or nothing else matters. I never condone click-bait ads, but the reason they work so well is because they get attention. We can learn something from these ads without being slimeballs.

Interest: You got their attention, now you have to get them interested in what you’re promoting. Why should they care about the rest of what you have to say?

Desire: This is where the consumer takes a mental “test drive” of your product or service. Make it so they can’t imagine a life without it.

Action: Tell them what they should do next. The easiest way to get someone to do something is to ask them to do it.

Here is an overly simplified example of the AIDA concept in action:

• Attention: “New burger will blow your mind!”

• Interest: “Our passion is burgers and we set out to make the best burger money can buy. We researched and tested until we got it just right.”

• Desire: “The result is a melt-in-your-freaking-mouth experience, unlike anything you’ve ever had.

• Action: “You’ll be hungry at some point today and you’re not going to be satisfied with anything less than this burger. Get started on your journey to burger bliss by looking up our address at getthatburger.com”

Just write!

The hardest part of copywriting is writing the first word. A blank page requires so much energy to fill but fixing bad copy that already exists is much easier. So just write. Don’t worry about how it sounds or flows. Remember, you’re not looking for perfection at first; just write and then you’ll have something to work with that you can eventually make just right. See what I did there?

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