Monday, June 24, 2013

Take the Chill Out of Cold Calls

imageThis article was written by Harvey McKay, reprinted by permission

Cold calling is dead, or at least it should be. Too many sales people waste their time and energy cold calling for new business, when they can be using technology and the "Invisible Web" to warm up potential customers.

Sam Richter, president of SBR Worldwide, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Actifi, and a world-reknowed sales trainer is a guru on taking the chill out of cold calling. His best-selling book Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling: Web Search Secrets for the Inside Info On Companies, Industries and People shows how being in the "Value Age" is even more central to salespeople than being in the "Information Age." That’s why I wrote the foreward.

My goal is always to learn as much as I can about my prospect and company. When you do that, you’re going to have a warm call, where you position yourself and your company as credible. You capture the interest of your potential customer and ask pertinent questions because you already understand what’s going on in their world.

A cold call isn’t just cold at the start. It leaves you cold at the finish. A value-based warm call defrosts the doorway. It turns practical research into an enticing opportunity.

In his book, Sam shows how to use free or low cost tools to access information on companies, industries and people. Whether it’s effectively using popular search engines or accessing data via the invisible web—the 90 percent of web pages that search engines don’t access—the information that you need for warm calling is out there, if you know where and how to look.

I know it works because MackayMitchell Envelope Company uses his system. He has made a couple presentations to our sales force.

Start by visiting Visit Sam’s Warm Call Resource Center, the corresponding program for Sam’s #1 rated Know More! sales training program, for an updated list of business information web sites, search tips, and download the Warm Call Toolbar so you can access business information resources directly from your browser. (I bite my tongue as I share this choice secret. I can only hope our competitors don’t pick up Sam’s book).

Following are just a few of the search tips you’ll find in Take the Cold Out of Cold Calling. Start using these today to get the information you need to establish your credibility, make a great first impression, provide relevant solutions and take the chill out of any cold call:

  • Google Filetype Search: Imagine finding a competitor’s sales proposal, an association’s membership list, or a high-end research report online. To find files online using Google:
    1. Enter the information you want and/or the company name (use quotations around phrases).

2. Enter filetype: and then choose a filetype extension (pdf = adobe acrobat; xls = Excel spreadsheets; ppt = PowerPoint document; doc = Word document). For example, "plastics industry" + "membership list" filetype:xls will search for a plastics industry membership list in Excel format. "ACME Corporation" filetype:ppt will search for an ACME Corporation PowerPoint presentation. "automotive industry" + trends OR issues filetype:pdf will locate reports and/or articles related to trends or issues in the automotive industry.

  • This business networking site helps you create connections at companies, learn about people, and ask for referrals. Once you’re registered, invite people into your network. Your online network can grow quickly because as people accept your invitations, and as you accept theirs, everyone’s network is shared. Once you’ve built up a good sized network, you can use LinkedIn’s advanced search to start searching for people by name, company, job title and more.
  • ZoomInfo uses sophisticated Web search tools to find information on people, and then it automatically creates an online profile using different information sources. Just enter a person’s name in the ZoomInfo search engine. If it’s a common name, also add their company name.
  • Your Local Library: Most libraries subscribe to premium databases that you can use for free. Want Dun and Bradstreet or ReferenceUSA to research companies, their competitors, executive biographies and more? Want to see if a prospect company you’re visiting has ever been quoted in a local newspaper or cited as an expert in an industry trade journal? Find out which library databases you can access from your computer.

With the amount of information available online today, there is absolutely no excuse for not knowing something about your potential customer before you meet or call. Your prospect couldn’t care less about you. What they do care about is if you can help them achieve their goals.

Mackay’s Moral: If information is power, then use the web to catch customers.