It is a fact of life for most new sales people whether in events or insurance ; they get the dream sales job with unlimited earning potential and expect to earn so much money that they can now enjoy the fruits of their coming wealth. Everything seems perfect until they realize that before closing a sale and earning the big commission, they must first prospect for new customers (read, cold calls). Cold calling is hard to do. People hate to make cold calls and people hate being on the receiving end of them as well.
Prospecting is the most difficult part of the job. There are many ways to go about it but, for some reason, most managers preach cold calling as the only way for young sales people to generate leads. As someone who has been through it, I wish that these attitudes would change.
I recently read one of the best selling books on cold calling. In this book, the author stresses persistence. He uses the 15-3-1 rule. That is, you need to make fifteen cold calls to make three appointments with prospects. Out of these 3 appointments you will close one sale. By being persistent and making fifteen cold calls a day, this will translate to, on average, one sale a day, five sales a week, twenty sales a month, etc. Further, the author explains that he doesn’t mind the rejection that he gets when he cold calls. The reason is that since it takes fifteen calls to get an appointment, that means that he will hear the word “no” (rejection) fourteen times before he hears the word “yes.”
This is simplistic and anybody reading this book may get overexcited and think that this is easy. It’s not easy and the author’s arguments don’t hold up in real life selling.
Take the fifteen cold calls a day rule. Anybody reading this book will think that fifteen cold calls a day is nothing. If it takes 2-3 minutes to make a phone call, it shouldn’t take more than 45 minutes to make your mandatory 15 calls. Then the rest of the day is spent selling in front of prospects.
But it doesn’t work this way. If you’ve ever cold called, you will know that it usually takes at least 10 phone calls to reach a decision maker. Think about it, executives aren’t sitting in their offices waiting for your call. They’re either on the phone, in meetings, on vacation, or they just don’t want to talk to you. So now, to talk to fifteen people, you need to make 150 cold calls. This is not 45 minutes of work; this can take days.
Further, for someone to say that he enjoys hearing the word “no” because it means he is getting closer to a “yes” is just misleading. Although a select few people can take this kind of rejection day in and day out, most cannot. It is only human nature to be discouraged by so much rejection.
There are better ways to get sales leads and increase your sales. People buy from people that they trust. Your time should be spent networking with your friends, colleagues, and business contacts. Get referrals, get introductions, get testimonials and the sales will come. Not only that, your job will be better; nobody likes the rejection and time consuming nature of cold calling.
Don’t get caught tying your shoe laces while others are making calls and making money
Here are a few suggestions to help increase your list of contacts.
Buy or rent a list of potential sales leads from a company specializing in obtaining, cleaning and selling lists. Like many industries, list companies have merged and grown in size to where there are a few major players and a lot of minor ones. Call some of the larger ones and get prices. Buying only email addresses is the most popular and cheapest way to go. Once your Internet ad is developed, the price of both sending the email or having it rejected is free or minimal if you have a specialist do the email blast for you.
Collect business cards at an organization or chamber of commerce meeting. The best salespeople in the largest companies still consider every card a potential sales lead.
Jot down the names of potential leads as you read your daily newspaper or magazines. You can tell from the ad what the business specializes in and whether or not they might be a good lead.
Browse through Internet Web sites when you have a little time to spare. Do searches for companies that may have an interest in your product or service and review their Web sites. You may find not only valuable leads but also valuable information that could increase your success rate. Look at the best in the field and see what they do :
Top 10 event planners in the world :http://uk.askmen.com/fine_living/top_10/10_top_10.html
Preston Bailey, who is one of my mentors say’s:
Every single guest in any event you do is a potential client. It’s strictly up to you to show them something or give them an experience they’ll never forget. There is one tool I have used for many years, and it’s proven to be extremely effective in getting clients. I call it creating a DRAMATIC STATEMENT. Even if you do not have a large budget, if you invest most of it in this statement, it is the one thing a potential client will remember and most likely call you about when they are entertaining.
Every single inquiry is different. That does not mean you should not have a clear protocol for how to handle that initial call or email.
Here are some suggestions from me to you:
1. Make sure there is always someone (especially you) answering your phone at least 10 hours a day. You do not want that original call to go to a voice mail. A lot of new clients simply hang up and call the next vendor who actually answers.
2. When you answer in a very pleasant voice, you should always sound like you have all the time in the world. No new client wants the impression you are just fitting them in.
3. Getting information is essential in this first call. You could have a questionnaire form you ask in a very conversational tone. For example: name, email, address, type of event, number of guess, location etc.
4. If possible, do not discuss money in this original call. It is best to do that in person. However, if the potential client brings this up, make sure you are prepared to offer your rates.
5. Try to establish a personal connection over the phone in this first call. In my experience, most potential clients are more than eager to talk about their events with excitement. Encourage them.
6. Very gently ask them how they found out about you. If someone recommended you, it is always good to send them a thank you note or email.
7. Make sure you find out the client’s likes and dislikes. This helps you prepare to make a better make sale by showing them only what they like.
8. The most important step in that first contact is to make sure you set up a face to face meeting with the potential client. This is important, because in these meetings you are going to charm them into getting the job. In that face to face meeting, make sure you have lots of samples of your work and services to show them.
9. Send the potential client a thank you note or email telling them how much you enjoyed meeting them, and that you are very excited about the project.
10. Be honest with your potential client by saying something along the lines of, “I’d love the opportunity to have you as my client. I know I can do a great job.”
Clients are folks like us. In order for them to pay for something, they need to first want it and second understand what they are paying for. It’s your job to make this happen. I rely heavily on visual sales. If they can see it, they will pay for it more readily.
6. Analyze each and every job from a financial point of view. What could you have done for less time or money? This is the only way to improve your profit. Gather all the players and discuss a better way.
Back to me :
Ask family, friends and relatives for leads. Ask your neighbor and ask your golfing buddies. Ask the person next to you on your next flight. Leads dissipate over time, and you need to be constantly filling up your pipeline.
Establish a business relationship with another person to gather leads for you in exchange for some sort of monetary return, usually by sales lead or by a percentage of sales.
Sales Leads via Word of mouth
If you want to get the marketplace talking about you to their friends, give them something to talk about!
The golden rule of generating leads via word of mouth, is that you need to be remarkable if you want people to remark on you! I also use Twitter, Facebook ,Blogs , Facebook -Fanpage, Youtube, Media, papers, competitions, campaigns.
Sales Leads via Email marketing
This is easily one of the most powerful forms of lead generation I have ever used. For very little cost, a professionally copy written email marketing campaign can generate a steady supply of high quality, targeted sales leads for your business. Don’t do like most small business owners and CC everyone, write personal emails and where possible write a personal statement about them in the opening paragraph,
Sales leads via Twitter
I have personally generated well over £100,000 for my business, directly via leads I attracted via Twitter
Sadly, I have met just a tiny number of people, who use Twitter correctly, as a form of lead / business generation.
Here’s a tip: Be selective and don’t just follow every person and every “trend” you see!
Sales Leads via Tele Marketing
Whilst I do not recommend you try this yourself, you might want to consider using a professional telemarketing company as a source of lead generation. This works better in some industries and countries, than others; so look before you leap. Check out ANY telemarketing company before you consider using them and ask for references.
Sales Leads via Networking
I choose to do most of my networking online these days, but force myself to go to 3 networking events a month minimum, however the key is to network with the right kind of people.
Form associations with people, who either have a need for your services or access to people, with a need for your services. Let them know what you do and the kind of people you work with, so they know who to recommend you to.
This will greatly increase the volume and quality of leads you get. Our industry has many but perhaps none as popular as ISES which is part of a 6000 strong global membership network for the special events industry.
Sales Leads via Mail shots
Mail shots, (sometimes called direct marketing) has become an increasingly powerful way to generate leads. With more and more marketing moving online, a hand signed letter from a fellow businessperson these days REALLY catches the reader’s attention. We don’t do a lot of this although in 2008 I personally licked and stamped and send 400 envelopes to get business for Christmas.
Sales Leads via your Website or blog
Bottom line: Your site should be a lead generating machine for your business.
Every day, people read that message and click a link. This helps produce leads for my business 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Get your site’s SEO right and get it professionally copy written, so people feel compelled to click YOUR links and get in touch. What’s wrong with our site and what can we do better do you think ?
Also, make it easy for people to contact you. Publish your phone number and email address. If you use a contact form, just ask for their name, email address and message. You don’t need anything else to begin with and every extra piece of info you ask for, massively LOWERS your conversion rates!
Sales Leads via Joint Ventures and Endorsed Relationships
Sales Leads via Newsletters
As Keeley, my brilliant event planner once mentioned, Newsletters are a great way to generate leads. I have found that a well written newsletter, which resonates with your audience, is a very effective way to position yourself as the person with the answers, to their problems. Then, when they decide to get professional help with their problem, you are already the natural choice.
Just make sure you are approachable and that you let your readers know that you are happy to speak with them. Tell them that they are under no obligation by contacting you and that you will treat their email or call in total confidence.
Sales Leads via Advertising
The right message, placed in the correct advertising vehicle, can produce fast, measurable results. The reason so many small business owners claim advertising doesn’t work, is that they use amateur copy and put it in the wrong place. I assure you, advertising works! However, an uninspiring message sent to the wrong people, at the wrong time, doesn’t work (how could it?) If you are thinking of advertising and you have tried before and found it didn’t work, either get a professional in – or leave it! You can waste a lot of money with ineffective advertising.
Obviously, there are far, far too many proven ways to generate leads, than can be covered in a blog post. However, I hope those above have got you thinking about investing in some new, lead generating activities. We have used advertising but it hasn’t worked for us, maybe we just need to look elsewhere, any ideas ?
From everyone at LjS Events Ltd we wish you a very Merry Little Christmas