My clients have been telling me for years that, “No one answers the phone anymore.” So why do we keep making so many cold calls. I know there are training programs out there that claim to change all of this, but if the person you are calling isn’t picking up the phone, it’s pretty hard to improve on your message. If you think a better vmail will do it, you’re headed down the wrong path.
What About Email Marketing?
Email is better. If I get someone’s vmail, I may leave a vmail, but I almost always send an email telling them I left a vmail. Some people have visual vmail services, but for those who don’t, I’m pretty sure they are retrieving many vmails at once, or from their cell, and probably won’t take the time to record my number. The email makes it easy.
What About Sales Letters?
But what happened to sales letters? On a recent coaching call I was talking with a sales rep who is struggling to get meetings. He makes his 50 or so calls per week, but the conversion from calls to meetings is low. While listening to his explanation of why, I reflected back on a recent Lunch & Learn we did together. In just four weeks he had managed to recruit 22 business leaders! All new prospects. So while he’s only converting about 4% of his calls to meetings, in just a few weeks he was able to set up the equivalent of 22 meetings. What’s going on here?
It might be that the 22 came because I was speaking – but I don’t think so. None of them had ever heard of me. It’s not like Zig Ziglar’s coming to town. No, I’m not the reason for his success. It’s the message we used to get their attention, and the campaign strategy we used to get that message out.
The phone calling message doesn’t work for at least two reasons. First, no one is answering their phone. But second, you only have about 6 seconds to grab your prospects attention on a phone call. And most of the phone calls being made are to get a meeting to review company slides or offerings. No business leader has time to do that. Especially knowing that there are thousands of people just like you calling for the same meeting.
The Lunch & Learn was successful because we had first identified a specific target market. In his case we were targeting CIOs of mid-sized companies, 500 – 2000 users. Our first point of contact was a written letter. In fact, it was a 3 page letter written with conversion in mind. Most would have chosen a one page letter, but not me. For reasons we don’t have time for in this post, the longer letter is more effective. We followed up with two more emails plus phone calls. When we finally did get through to either the CIO or an executive assistant, our call was very focused on security awareness. This is not a new strategy. Michael Bosworth, in his 1995 book, Solution Selling, recommends setting up one-on-one meetings using a similar educational approach. And Dixon & Adamson, authors of The Challenger Sale (Even though the author is selling against what Bosworth teaches) is saying the same thing.
In the end, we had 20 of the 22 people attend, and every attendee agreed to move to the assessment stage in my marketing blueprint. The bottom line is conversion. If your conversion numbers are great, whatever you are doing is working (at least for now). But if not, you may need more than some phone training or a clever vmail message.
© 2015, David Stelzl
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