The Voicemail Vortex

9 08 2010

I was looking through the CRM tool at my new company today and picked up a prospect account – we’ll call it Bob’s Construction and Leasing.  While reviewing the notes for Bob’s, I realized that this account had been repeatedly called on by 4 different reps for the past year and a half – none of which had gotten a single call back.  There were no alternate forms of contact (email etc).  Right then and there I saw this for what it really was – a Voicemail Vortex. 

You may be familiar with the term, or you may not.  But you are certainly familiar with the little “delete” key on your own phone.  It’s the one you keep your finger on when entering into your voicemail box so you can listen to as little of the message as possible and get on with being productive.  Voicemails are like an intrusion on your day.  And guess what – the people you are cold calling feel the exact same way. 

So back to my situation.  After careful pondering, I decided to give it the old college try and dialed the number.  Of course – voicemail.  I left a brief, polite message and went back to the drawing boards.  If this guy won’t answer his voicemail, what can I do to get his attention? 

I decided a brief, cheeky email may be the solution to my problem: 

Hey Mike,

I hope your Monday is going great.  I wanted to shoot you a quick and candid email to follow-up on the voicemail that I just left you.  I know you have been left messages by Cogent reps before, and I also know that you have not had your interest piqued to the point that you would return those calls.  

Look, I know it is not your first priority to respond to cold calls.  They aren’t very fun on either end of the line to be honest.  But what I have to offer you could drastically improve the efficiency of your wide area network.  Cogent specializes in increasing our clients’ bandwidth while decreasing the overall cost of the network. 

Could we possibly schedule a call in the next week to determine how Cogent could be of value to Bob’s Construction and Leasing?

Take Care, 

Tara Wagner

Within 5 minutes I had his response in my inbox as well as 2 other contacts from his company that I should be talking to.   Moral of the story – don’t waste your time leaving voicemails when you know the client won’t listen to them.

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Overcoming Objections With A Simple Jedi Mind Trick

7 06 2010

A while back I attended a Sales Boot Camp program hosted by the Sales Guru himself – Paul Castain.  I had a blast collaborating with my fellow sales junkies and learning all the “secrets to success” from our dear Uncle Paulie.  As with all sales meetings, I returned home with a fire in my belly, buzz words ringing in my ears and a phone in my hand determined to sell to anything in my path.   I’m sure you all know what that post-convention high is like.

Now, almost a year later I started thinking about what has really benefited me in my day-to-day sales.  I have written a lot about the creative impact this training had on my cold-calling approach (See: Creative Cold Calling Experiments #1 and #2) , but I want to tell you about a simple yet genius method of overcoming objections that I use almost daily.

The magical phrase is simple, yet powerful and goes a little something like this:

  • Me:  So I’d love to get together to discuss your needs further, does next week work for you?
  • Them: No.  I am very happy with my current provider and can’t see any reason why I would be interested in speaking with you further.
  • Me: Okay, I hear that.  Let’s meet anyways.

Typically, this phrase strikes confusion into the heart of your prospect, soliciting the “I don’t know how to deflect that – she still wants to meet me?!” response that ultimately turns into an appointment.  Now for you over-zealous hunters out there, the goal is NOT to turn your phone call into a battle of wills.  People still only buy from people they LIKE.  This handy little trick will help you overcome absolutely any objection and get the face time that you need to demonstrate why working with you will make their projects, jobs, and very existence happier, healthier, and easier to navigate.

One small note, the conversation doesn’t always end right there with the magic line, you may need to do a little further convincing with reasons like:

  • We aren’t trying to toss out your provider, our services truly complement what you already have
  • This way you will feel comfortable calling me if you ever DO have a need and I will know what you are asking about
  • Your organization could benefit from knowing what other services are out ther!

Now go out there and give it a try!  Happy selling!





Creative Pre-Call Experiment #2 – Be a Pill

4 12 2009

For those of you who saw my very first Creative Pre-Call Experiment from a few weeks back, you know that I am a firm believer in a small element of “cheese” when trying to charm your way in front of a new client.   Everyone is busy and everyone is bombarded by sales people on a daily basis.  That is why YOU need to set yourself apart from the first moment the potential client (aka Target) comes across your name.

You can use these pill bottles to creatively position yourself as the “prescription” to relive the PAIN that your buyers feel.

This Experiment takes a bit more prep then the first one, but is definitely impressive at the end.

Be a Pill

Materials:

  • Actual Pharmacy prescription Pill Bottles
  • Large Bag M&Ms
  • Avery Label Paper (I used Template 5163 2″x4″)
  • Envelopes – your company colors preferred
  • Clear plastic bags (about lunch-bag sized)

Tools:

  • Stapler
  • Gloves

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Obtain prescription Pill Bottles.  After scouring local stores and realizing they aren’t sold anywhere, I begged the Wal-Mart Pharmacist to sell me a few bottles.  I was able to purchase each one for exactly. $0.15 each.
  2. Next, put on a pair of gloves and scoop the M&Ms out of the bag into the bottles.  Be careful to not get your gross germs on your future client’s treat.
  3. Open Microsoft Word.  File>New>Search Template: Avery 5163.  This is the trickiest and most time-consuming part of the process.  You will not find an exact blank label pattern, so you will need to modify one with a plant decal or random ugly font.  I am not the most computer savvy so I am sure there is a faster way, but I had to manually delete and then re-insert the font and spacing that I wanted into each individual label.  Be sure to paste your company’s logo at the top as if the prescription is coming from the “Fittje Brothers Printing Company” Pharmacy. 
  4. Figure out a creative label that revolves around how you will relieve the Target’s pain.  You can see what I wrote below in the photo or here.  Then print 2 sheets so you have 2 copies of each label (you’ll see why in a sec).  Take one sheet and apply all the labels to the already candy-filled bottles.
  5. Next, write a creative introductory letter to the Target to the tune of “I know you are busy so I’m not going to waste your time.  I will call you on X day at X time.” Insert letter into a company-colored envelope with one of your business cards.
  6. Put labeled bottle and envelope into a clear plastic bag – be sure there is enough room left over for you to fold and seal it closed.
  7. Grab your extra label sheet.  The labels are difficult to read when wrapped around the pill bottle so this is how you will ensure that the target appreciates the full extent of your cleverness;
  8. Fold the top of the clear bottle over and hold closed with the extra label you have on your spare sheet.  Ta-Daaa!  You’re done!
  9. Now you just have to run around and drop these babies off.  Be sure that you actually call on the day and time that you indicated in your letter!

Experimental Conclusions:

Mixed.  Of the 12 bottles I put out, 4 were to current clients, 4 were to people I had been trying to call but hadn’t gotten through to, and 4 were to brand new names.  Clients LOVED these little treats and thought I was incredibly clever.  Almost immediately I won a bid with a client that I had lost almost all other bids with.

People I had tried to contact previously didn’t really respond.  I have put in regular calls prior to and after giving them pill bottles, and either way they are less than interested in what I have to offer.

For the new clients, my call was taken 3 of the 4 times.  Of those 3, all said that they were very satisfied with their current printer but left the door open for me to contact them in the intermediary.

Sooo all in all… I think this COULD be a very successful if targeting the right market such as a health care facility or hospital.  I think it was successful in that my creativity made me stand out and EVERY person I spoke to remembered me once I mentioned the pill bottles.  It was a failure in that I didn’t make any new clients, though I did further a relationship with an existing client.  It may be too early to tell… It has only been one month since I dropped these off and I’d like to believe that I planted the seeds for future business.





Creative Pre-Call Experiments 1 – It’s a Cake Walk!

19 10 2009

Here’s a harrowing statistic –  more than 78% of all mail is opened over the trashcan.   Dang.  Not the best news for a green sales wannabe who sends out enough “hello” and “thank you” cards to deplete her entire company’s supply of postage stamps. 

No joke – that has happened twice.

So what’s a cold-call adverse girl to do to warm up that first call??  I have decided to conduct a series of creative pre-call approaches to see how they measure up.  I have estimated that my response rate from my handwritten cards thus far has been around 0.01%.  So here goes – chEasy Money Part 1.  The cheesier, the better. 

It’s a Cake Walk:

Materials:

  • Gift Bag (preferably a unique, company-related color)
  • Tissue paper (company color)
  • Note card with envelope
  • Assorted Candy
  • Ribbon (company color – getting the theme here??)
  • Card stock (cut to business card size-ish)
  • 2 business cards
  • Single slice of cake (can buy at almost any local grocery store)
  • Single-wrapped plastic utensils
  • Napkins

Tools:

  • Scissors
  • Hole Punch 

Assembly Instructions:

  1. Fill the bag with tissue paper and sweet candied goodness:Step 1
  2. Tie ribbon around the cake box like it’s a gift.   Also tie the plasticware and napkin together with the ribbon. 
  3. Make the ribbon pretty by curling the ends with the scissors.
  4. Hole punch a business card and piece of cardstock.
  5. Inscribe “Working with (my company) is a piece of cake!” on the card stock.
  6. Tie business card and cardstock together on top of the cake so both are displayed:Step 2
  7. Place the plasticware and cake into the bag on the very top of everything:Step 15
  8. Write a clever note to the client (samples of mine to follow) on the card. 
  9. Place the card against the bag and hole punch in two places.
  10. Tie ribbon through the two holes to make a pretty bow on the front.  Curl the ribbon (duh).Step 3

Experimental Conclusion:

SUCCESS!!  Well so far.  I have used this once – on a local radio-based ministry.  I found out the names of the Communications Director and Development Director using LinkedIn and decided they’d be the best targets.  I dropped off the goody bags on a Friday morning and had an email requesting a printing quote from them by the following Tuesday!  All of my correspondence with them has been personal and pleasant and they have even given me insight into what their budget is for this upcoming project.  All from two pieces of $2.00 cake from a local bakery and a little creative cheesin’.  It’s going to be a bit of chEasy Money I think… har har har. 

The experiments will continue…