Small business owners are a target. Everyone wants to sell us something. And since there are so many of us, we get hundreds of solicitations every week—mostly phone calls and emails promising that if we just buy a magic list, we’ll be home free.
Social media chatter can be just as intrusive. With so much coming at us, it’s hard to know just where to start.
This month’s guest blogger, Megan Totka, chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com, shares her perspective on the most effective strategy for sales productivity—the No. 1 way to save time, reach your best prospects, and close deals faster than ever.
Hint: It’s not cold calling. Cold calling is a waste of time.
Here’s what Megan has to say on the matter:
“Thanks to the Internet, the modern small business has plenty of tools in its arsenal. We can reach potential clients in seconds, scope out what our competitors are up to, and do business faster than ever. The name of the game is speed for salespeople and marketers.
So why are people still cold calling? Good question.
Unfortunately, some sales pros and business owners still cling to the cold call. We still see headlines and blogs heralding ‘the secrets to cold calling success’ or ‘how to make cold calling work.’ Sure, businesses are desperate for a bite in a sea of potential clients, but who’s going to take that bait?
Today’s successful sales and marketing pros are turning to referrals, not taking shots in the dark. Here’s why:
1) The Trust Barrier: The anonymity afforded by the Internet has been both a blessing and a curse to today’s small businesses. While we can make our businesses look larger than life from behind the keyboard, schemers and scammers run rampant with little sense of accountability.
Today’s skeptical consumers don’t want to deal with faceless companies and question marks. They want to buy from people they trust. Considering that more than 70 percent of emails today are spam, buyers are naturally resistant to anything that seems fishy.
Referrals get you past the spam filters (and the gatekeepers). You have instant credibility with your prospects because people they trust have vouched for you.
2) Connections Matter:People like to say we’re more connected than ever. With people and businesses all connected by social networks, there are plenty of options and opportunities for companies looking to acquire customers. Likewise, customers have their pick of companies to support.
And that connectivity leaves cold callers, well, in the cold.
Businesses today must put on a fresh face if they hope to win customers. Today’s buyers would much rather rely on someone they can see and know, not some random cold caller.
3) Pure Inefficiency: A recent research study from Baylor University tracked the results of 50 salespeople conducting more than 6,000 cold calls over a two-week period. Of those calls, 72 percent were outright rejections, and out of the 28 percent who showed any signs of interest, only 19 resulted in appointments. Based on an average closing rate of 20 percent, only four deals came from those appointments.
Four deals! Out of 6,000 calls. Time well spent?
The Bottom Line
Cold calling isn’t the answer for modern small businesses looking to compete for today’s savvy, personable buyers. Instead, such businesses should forget cold calling and focus on referrals and strategies that are proven to work.”
How often do you make cold calls? Take cold calls?
About the Author
Megan Totka is the chief editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes in small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the Web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.