A friend recently shared a great Bob Newhart video clip, from a while ago, where Bob plays a psychiatrist who is seeing a new patient about her irrational fears. The psychiatrist’s advice to her was simple: “Stop it!” When she asked him to explain what he meant, he became further exasperated. Ultimately, he told her that her fear was stupid, and she needed to just “Stop it!” (To view this video just Google “Bob Newhart Stop It video”)
I would say the same thing to any sales professional or business owner who still uses cold-calling or cold contacting with prospective clients. “Stop it!” And I say this with confidence, knowing there are good reasons not to do it. There are even more compelling reasons to take a smarter and more effective approach to your business communication.
Here are some reasons, using any form of communication, to stop reaching out to cold prospects who haven’t asked you to contact them:
- Most will ignore you. Whether it’s a phone call, direct mail, text message or e-mail message, they don’t want uninvited solicitations. All those people who you think are ignoring you really are. Actually, they’re developing negative feelings toward you. Some are even blogging about you and expressing their feelings about you!
- In many cases you’re violating CAN-SPAM or Do Not Call laws (see Papa John’s Pizza class action suit). Doing this might result in being fined, receiving bad PR, and losing valuable business relationships.
- Using this approach for communicating with potential clients is demoralizing for your sales people. As someone who has had a lot of experience cold calling in the pre-Internet dark ages, I can attest to the thick skin and short memory you need to have in order to keep dialing in the face of unrelenting rejection.
So what should you do in order to replace all the cold prospecting your team has been doing for years? Start by accepting that potential buyers are now in control of the process. Recent research says 90% or more of buyers who make “considered purchases” (something that requires careful consideration) begin the process by searching the Internet. And 92% of those people use Google. So if you sell a product or service that people need time to think about, your #1 source of warm leads should be your website. Knowing this, plan your communications accordingly.
Here are some tips to help you:
- Learn the words and phrases your best prospects use to search the Internet when they’re looking for a business like yours. Begin by better understanding how they express their most important unresolved business problems
- Optimize your websites, social media profiles, and PR releases using the keywords you identifie
- Begin blogging using an editorial plan designed around your prospects’ most important questions regarding the services or products you sell. Focus on their pain points
- Create a content plan for publishing and promoting advanced content to offer to interested website visitors.
- Use social media to distribute and promote your content to the right audiences
- Use a marketing automation product such as HubSpot, Marketo, InfusionSoft to manage and nurture the leads you attract
- Qualify and score leads so your sales people only see the cream, ideally only when prospects have demonstrated that they’re ready to consider buying.
Use these tips to carefully plan your communication, and I guarantee, a year from now, you’ll be wondering why you didn’t do so earlier. And it’s your competitors who will be scrambling to catch up; unless of course you hesitated and they got there first.
The Language Lab guest blogger: Greg Linnemanstons is the president and principal of the Weidert Group, an organization that provides all forms of marketing communication, e.g. branding, radio and television advertising, email marketing; public relations, social media; web design and development and more. You can follow Greg on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and at www.weidert.com.