Archive for January, 2010

More on Cold Calling – Yuck?

In my last post on this topic in the Fall of last year, I talked about re-training myself to go about lead generation in new ways.  As you may recall, I fessed up to the fact that cold calling is not one of my favorite pastimes.  I also mentioned that I was going to try a new program by aligning myself with my local area Chamber of Commerce.

I must tell you that I’m getting a little excited about the results.  My first event with the local chamber of commerce was their “Business Expo” hosted at a local Marriott.  I had no idea what to expect so I set up quite a booth for the event and invested in a digital camera as a booth “give-away” as well as hundreds of Halloween bags filled with promotional products.  I met a whole bunch of local business owners and followed up with e-mails throughout the following week.  I received a few positive responses but I think the biggest benefit was that I established myself with the “chamber” community.

I decided to take another leap of faith and invest any spare time I could find in between projects to send out a customized e-mail to each member of the chamber of commerce to introduce myself and my services.  I did my best to gear the e-mail towards the client by re-writing it several times to focus on their needs.  I used the tried and true “What’s in it for Me?” concept.  Have you heard of this before?  No?  Here we go.  Imagine that every prospect or customer is quietly sitting across from you or your e-mail with a sign hung around their neck pointing directly at you that says “What in it for Me?”  Instead of telling them why you’re so great, try to gear your introduction to things that matter to them (personal service, custom artwork and design, etc.).  For me, I also added my commitment to our community through the charities that I’m involved in and support.

This also means that at least once a day for an hour or so, I cross reference the chamber database, enter the contact data into my contact system and send a customize a e-mail to each member.  I do my best to add a little something in there about why we might be a good fit.  I’ve been able to send out about 400 since mid December.  And I’m getting requests for meetings at the rate of about one per week.  So far, I’d say this is working the best for me of all the methods I’ve tried so far.

So is it time for you to join your local chamber?  I think it really depends on your product or service.  Maybe the chamber is not your best choice but I would definitely invest the time to find lead sources that are a decent fit for you.  One suggestion I found interesting was from a representative of the library in our town.  It turns out that they have invested in tons of business to business directories and listings and are more than happy to help you dive into their databases and most of these are completely free!

So the bottom line here is to find a lead source (chamber of commerce, library, etc.) and invest at least an hour a day in reaching out to these folks with an e-mail tailored to their needs and let the selling begin!

Go Get Em!

I participated in a great event recently hosted by The Graphic Artists Guild here in Los Angeles.  I work with Three Steps Ahead here and assist them with sales and account management.  Three Steps Ahead took the lead in setting up the “Guild” event which was attended by fifty artists and designers in the greater LA area.  I was engaged in a conversation with one attendee that seems to be a common concern for artists, designers and graphic arts professionals – What should I be looking for in a salesperson to help me grow my business?

First, look for a professional.  Sorry to tell you but you cannot hire just anyone who has sold cellphones for Cingular or newspapers for the LA times.  Selling one thing does not mean one can sell everything.  Specifically, we’re talking here about the sale of “intangibles.”  Artists create vision, brand, identity and vibe.  These are not concrete things that a client can touch, feel and compare.  Intangibles require salespeople who have sold products or services in the past where they are used to a more complex sales cycle that requires a lot of listening, consultation and multiple sales calls.

Second, you are going to have to set ground rules.  Sorry to say, but you are going to have to manage your salesperson.  Start by getting your own house in order by opening the Graphic Artists Guild Handbook and get your sales agreements/contracts set up.  No more doing deals on the back of a napkin or via a series of e-mails.  Next, set time aside with your salesperson to establish “rules of engagement.”  I’d suggest that all artists and designers begin by allowing their sales representatives to do only qualification calls to start.  This means that all they are to do is make/receive calls or web inquiries and qualify the client for their general project scope, budget, project time-frame and their “fit” as a client.  We’re talking the basic Who? What? When? and Why?

Third, sit down with your sales representative and go through each lead and discuss what transpired.  If it fits your basic criteria, get ready to participate on a conference call or initial meeting with the sales rep and the client.  By doing this you are educating your sales person in real-time and letting them know what works for you and what doesn’t.  You’d be amazed how much better the opportunities offered by your rep will be once they have seen and heard your process half a dozen times.

Does this sound like a bit much for you?  Think again.  This is a partnership.  The time you invest up front in educating your sales representative will pay off in better and more qualified leads.  Just like design, sales is a collaborative effort and the more time you spend discussing each deal with your rep, the better their work will be in return.

Happy Selling!