By Gary Walker, EVP of Channel Sales & Operations, CustomerCentric Selling®
If you just love cold calling, stop reading right now and go polish your Ferrari. This little tale is for the rest of us for whom those two little words create a variety of emotions from dislike to outright dread.
You have to admit that effective prospecting (nice way of saying cold calling) is the secret to any kind of selling success, no matter what method you use. Practitioners of CustomerCentric Selling® know exactly how to handle the process once the sales cycle has begun, but all of us need every advantage we can muster to get those initial prospects into the sales funnel and on to our forecast list.
The last decade has seen our combined sales prospecting efforts gradually use up the market’s tolerance for direct mail, letters, phone calls, faxes and lately even broadcast email. None of these methods produces much of anything, but a miserable return on time spent and a one or two percent reply rate that is considered good given the generally poor response of today’s inundated buyer.
So what else can you do? Here’s a prospecting method/approach that can increase your response rate. Most busy prospects have call filtering, an admin to trash faxes, a junk email filter and no time to speak to you. What they do have however is an ego. How many executive level buyers do you know who don’t like the complimentary adulation?
To take advantage of this all you need is a some kind of email client, or better still an email prospecting system, a few minutes a day, and a calendar to set appointments. It turns out that virtually everyone will accept text-based emails, especially ones that congratulate them on something or in someway. At least ten percent of those people will read these emails (if they are short) and send a reply that starts a conversation. That’s right, ten percent! The only secret to this is the careful selection of the email subject line and a tightly worded message that has a simple call to action such as, “send me a quick reply and I will call and arrange an appointment.”
A more successful salesperson might send out ten to twenty of these emails as part of his/her prospecting efforts each day. The process takes from fifteen to thirty minutes depending on how much research you need to do about the company. An average response of one or two replies allows them to call and set appointments with no direct cold calling – and you nearly always get by the call-blocking admin, because the prospect has copied them on the email asking you to call and set the meeting.