Archives For cold calling

Setting up a New Event

Will they come?  Just this week I was working with one of my clients in the northwest on filling seats for their first major marketing event.  This is their first “asset owner” facing event, and like most, there was some uneasiness as to whether they would actually be able to attract buyers to their event; there always is when planning a first event.  Just one week into their marketing campaign, 18 had already signed up (18 qualified asset owners).  Within two weeks, 39 were signed up!  How did this happen?

Well it wasn’t luck…Marketing doesn’t always work, but good marketing does.  We didn’t just send out a bunch of emails last minute to do this.  We started this process weeks ago, working out the wording, the format, and media that would most appeal to our target audience.  We chose a topic that resonated with this target group of prospects, and we planned a phone campaign with scripts and timing to match the overall campaign theme and mailing.

Building  a New Territory – Will it Work?

I was talking with a sales person yesterday from another company in the northeast.  He is just a few months into a new position, trying to establish a new territory.  In the past four months he has found it extremely difficult to penetrate the market he is in.  He’s tried calling, emailing, and sending letters, but as you might have guessed, it’s slow, and people are unresponsive.  Will an event work for him?  The answer is yes!  Events do work.  When they don’t, it simply means they have been set up incorrectly.  The topic is wrong, the marketing poorly planned, and the invite process, flawed.  Events are the best way because they are based on educating, not selling.  And smart people love knowledge.

What’s  The Secret?

There are a few things that must come together with absolute perfect timing:

  • The topic must be newsworthy.  What are we seeing in the Wall Street Journal?  Nortel’s recent hacking incidents, Anonymous threatening governments, subscribers of a large porn site exposed online by hackers, and alarming cautions from our government leaders on the threats of hackers taking down power grids, stock markets, and other vital infrastructure  (all new this month).  This is not about products – so don’t let your vendor partners steer you in the name of funding.  I have seen more companies this year follow their vendors for funding, rather than demanding their vendors fund what works.  VARS – If your vendors aren’t going to cooperate here, find new ones.  You can’t build a solution provider company using hardware vendor strategies.
  • The initial marketing plan must target the right people.  That means the message is written to asset owners – people running a business.  They don’t care about computers, networks, or firewalls. The owner of the  company that does metal stamping, is thinking about metal stamping all day.  The law firm senior partner is thinking about the law, court cases, case law, and winning an important case. What right do we have to demand that they stop and focus on a new virtualization technology or data center consolidation project?  Send them something that matters to their business.
  • The calling can’t be done by amateurs – or professionals that make calls on contract.  You sell technology solutions and you’re good at it.  When you contract with an outside calling firm, you are contracting with someone who makes calls on anything from insurance policies to upgrading cell phone service.  These firms cannot connect with asset owners – they are there to reach the mass market – consumer market, with a mass message.  If they get a .2% response from their list of 10,000, they are happy.  You can’t afford this kind of campaign.  You don’t have a list of 10,000 asset owners.

© 2012, David Stelzl

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The One Day Sales Cycle

February 15, 2012 — Leave a comment

I just got off the phone with an excited client – owner of a solution provider company in the north.  He called just to tell me about his one day sales cycle – about a month ago his team did an event, targeting asset owners, focused on assets, revolving around risk and security trends and threats;  the sames stuff I have been writing about since I started this blog.  Yesterday, he and his sales rep went in to meet a business owner who attended the event.  They have never met with this business owner – he is pretty much a cold prospect, except that he did attend the event.

The Aftermath

1. They discovered in their meeting that his company is required to meet PCI compliance regulations – however, following my training workshop guidelines, they asked anyway; “What are you trying to protect?”  The answer was somewhat surprising – The owner knew his company was out of compliance, and in fact,  is paying a monthly penalty for it; but he doesn’t care.  His real answer led them to the deal.

2. They “focused on the assets” – went through the discovery process I outline in my new book, From Vendor to Adviser, and identified his major areas of risk.

3. They could have done an assessment, but he was ready to buy.  So instead of moving ahead with the assessment, they listened, learned, proposed, and closed, all in the same day.  It took them one hour to go from not knowing anything, save the prospects name, to getting a signature.  This is smart business.

I am looking forward to today’s Making Money with Security Workshop – starts at 1:00 ET.  If you didn’t sign up, there may be a seat or two left:  Check it out at http://makingmoneywithsecurity2.eventbrite.com/

© 2012, David Stelzl

How do you get people to attend your next marketing event?

Recruiting attendees for your next marketing event may not be as simple as it looks. The tendency here is to assume that you know how to do this, and when everyone seems too busy to get involved, to assume that a call center is a great alternative.  The problem is, I have yet to see this work.  Since event attendees really need to be management level, and if possible, senior level – asset owners, there is more selling required here than might be obvious.  A track record from past events suddenly becomes irrelevant when you look back and realize, most of your events have been sold out to IT and other non-asset owners.

In a recent event, where the invitation process was contracted out, I was told by the manager of the call center, “We are professionals and don’t require any input.”  Wow!  That’s great, so I can stop worrying about attendance, and just show up to speak on the appointed date?  Far from it.  Instead, their response turned into a last minute fire drill, with rooms rented, food ordered, speakers paid for, and only 2 qualified attendees signed up.  With two weeks to go, this solution provider was forced to either cancel and take a loss of the committed expenses, or open the doors to unqualified IT-level attendees.  The lesson here is this; the call center can fill seats, but it takes a higher level of expertise to reach people who can actually buy something.  Our event went forward, with predictable results.  A long list of attendees, high attrition on the day of the event, and very few resulting sales.  Event marketing can be highly effective, but when approached incorrectly, can produce “nothing” at a great cost.

© 2011, David Stelzl

I just received an exciting phone call from a computer, letting me know about an amazing healthcare offer that I don’t want to miss!  Should I buy it?  I have received several offers from outbound marketing companies in the past who provide these computerized calling services…I don’t know what their success rate is, or what market this approach does well in, but given the number of times I get routed to vmail when calling on a client, I can’t imagine taking a call from someone’s vmail (at least that’s what these calls  remind me of.)

If you have an opportunity to buy into a subscription that does this type of marketing, pass on it.  This is not the kind of marketing that typically does well for high-involvement sellers.  On the other hand, if you have received measurable success using this approach, I want to hear from you!  It could be that I am wrong about this – if I am, I want to know it!

© 2011, David Stelzl

Discipline

August 25, 2011 — Leave a comment

Hudson Taylor wrote, “At first the task looks difficult, then it is impossible; then it is done.”  Disciplines of health, parenting, work…it takes discipline to get started, endurance keeps you going.  At the end of the day, the discipline of exercise, getting on my bike, followed by endurance to finish the race.  I do it to maintain health and life balance, and to spend time with my kids…not always easy, but necessary.

Coming into an office after weeks of unprofitable calls, there is a discipline in getting started again – endurance to continue to process.  How tempting it is to “fritter and waste the hours…” when the task looks impossible.  Reaching the goal requires more than skill – it requires discipline, endurance, determination.  Failure comes, not so much from a lack of skill, but more often by giving up…

© 2011, David Stelzl

Presenting by Phone

February 18, 2011 — Leave a comment

RSA is over and I’m headed home.  While here  I thought of one more important presentation topic, so continuing from the whiteboard and PowerPoint posts last week, here is an important add-on.

Sometimes you just can’t be there in person, so what do you do?  I am not a fan of cold calling when it comes to high-involvement selling, however learning to use the phone is key when it comes to saving time.  Especially when you cover a large geography.  I cover the world with just one rep – me.

Like most, I hate cold calling, but if the call is set up through email or a referral, it’s no longer cold.  The problem is, people lose their focus on the phone, so you can’t really present anything.  Keep your descriptions short, use a story to draw them in, and predict objections to staying on the phone.    But you need more.

Here’s a simple strategy that I’ve found to be effective.  Since most of the people I schedule a call with are sitting in front of their computer of laptop at the time of the call, taking them to a website that has been set up correctly (meaning it has good content and graphics) is a great way to engage emotionally.  I have descriptions of what I am doing with customer testimonies on the side bar.  Without having to set up Webex and do a slide show or demo, I am able to take them to a page that outlines or pictures what I am talking about.  This allows me to systematically walk through my value, filling in the gaps with a story or two, to show how I have delivered value to others.

Become great at phone selling and you’ll save an incredible amount of time.  An on-sight meeting may take two or three hours with travel, waiting, meeting, leaving, and driving back to the office, and that’s best case, in town.  The phone might take thirty minutes to an hour tops. And that’s only if they are really interested.

© 2011, David Stelzl

Presentations have the power to create business, proposals don’t.  Leads are great, but what do you say when you make the call, and if you get the meeting, do you have anything of value to present?

Company overviews and product data sheets are, in my opinion, a waste of time.  No one needs this stuff until they clearly see a need, and make the connection; you are possibly the person to meet that need.  Take a look at your presentation materials.  Look at what you present by phone, and then, what you bring to that first meeting.  Does it educate prospects on something they really need, but don’t really understand?  Does it interrupt their thinking, causing them to be alarmed by what they missed?  Does it create an urgency that reprioritizes their week?  This is the making of a great sales call.

P.S. I now have dates posted for the Virtual Program: Principles of an Effective Value Proposition – Don’t miss this!  (CLICK)

© 2011, David Stelzl