For anyone who runs a small or mid-sized business, or is in a marketing/sales team, reaching out to new markets and new clients is not something you can put off any longer. It’s not time to sit back and “see what will happen;" it’s time to move into overdrive.
The cold calls to my office and those of my clients, have increased sharply, but in my opinion, they are not getting anywhere. Why? Because cold calling sucks. Repeat: cold calling = waste of time.
I can hear it now; sales managers screaming, that this is the way real sales professionals do their work. That cold calling is a key part of their sales process and what every brave sales pro should do. Then they will say it's a "numbers game."
I disagree. Therefore, please allow me to repeat: cold calling = waste of time.
For any sales professionals reading this, depending on what you sell, for most of you, I would imagine it is a contract, service or product worth anywhere between 4 million yen to 25 million yen or more. Do you think anyone is going to give that kind of money to someone who calls them out of the blue?
Below is a simple prep sheet for anyone going after NEW business; what I like to refer to as Smart Calling.
Mindset preparation/goal setting: Your goal is to get a face-to-face meeting, not sell anything on the phone.
Make a list of no more than 10 companies per set to go after.
Research your target company's industry and find out their top three competitors, general target customers and history in Japan.
Write down a few issues/challenges your clients may be having and how your service can be of a benefit to them.
Be ready to show a written positive client reference.
Focus on clients that are close to you (easy to pop into on short notice, easy to hand-deliver contracts), or lumped together in one building so you can travel there easily.
Map out some third party contacts that can help you with an introduction, reference etc. If you are in a networking group, ACCJ, round table or committee, think of who your target may know.
Look for a speaking or charity event that will put you in with the C-level people of the company you are targeting.
Write a white paper, article or posting to highlight your expertise and knowledge of your products/services and how they benefit your current clients.
Map out the bars and clubs where executive targets like to mingle. Go there, be seen, use your ears more than your mouth.
Research their website, financial results, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever, to gather as much information as you can about your target company or person you need to reach.
- Update targets in your list often. Always have 10 on there, as you will break into some client faster than others. Be brave, stop talking at work with your mates about the next season of some FOX drama series. Get work done!
Go after target companies but also, create a positive image so that target companies will come to you.
Next, here are some tips for client meetings after you break in:
Write down your experiences with their industry or brand. You can also bring your research notes about them.
Write down your experiences solving similar problems they may have.
Get your client references ready.
- Have a list of your benefits and match them to possible needs.
For senior sales people with a small list of well-paying clients, my advice to you is this: The time to find new clients and focus on new BD pipeline is when you are on top of your game.
Make a list, get prepared and regularly spend some time going after new business. Your success trap will eventually pigeon-hole you into a boring, safe career with no challenges and nothing new. If you start bringing in too much new business, pass it on to others in your team and negotiate a commission percentage with your boss.
New contracts, new business, new clients closed, is fresh air to a sales professional. That is also a good way to assist you in getting a higher base salary come pay review time.
So, what do you do next? Answer: Stop chatting in the office about nonsense, stop reading the same gloom statements about how the global economy is going to hell and make a target list, use your brain, do some research, create an attack plan. Do this along side some work mates and share stories after work.
But if all this silly preparation is a waste of time, just keep at your current rate of 1 meeting per every 100 cold calls.
The writer is managing director of Smart Partners KK, a company that offers sales training, consulting, business strategy and financial planning advice.© Japan Today