Death of a “Cold Calling” Salesman

Posted by John Park on Jan 27th, 2009
2009
Jan 27

cold calling

 
Because I am a decision maker (DM) for my business, I get about 10 to 15 personalized emails a week from salespeople trying to sell me something.  These are elaborate and detailed emails written by sales representatives, business development managers, sales VPs and others holding equally impressive titles.  They aren’t the SPAM emails or the mass marketing emails we are all accustomed to.  These individuals are sending me emails directly and in a singular fashion with all of their direct contact information.  After receiving a few more today, I just had to pick up this business phenomenon as a blog topic.
 
If you are a business owner, you are getting these emails as well.  And, you’ve probably noticed the increase in frequency as the economy continues to decline.  I especially love the ones that come with attachments like PDFs and Word docs.  Do they really expect the decision makers to stop in their tracks and read the long emails as well as the attachments?
 
As all of you know, I am an unapologetic and “Kool-Aid drinking” fan of business technology and automation.  Having said that, this is one misuse of technology that makes me downright angry.  It makes me angry because I am one of those guys that considers my foundation and roots to be in sales.  My first corporate sales position was to cold call, door to door, at least 50 businesses a day pushing telecommunications services.  The job taught me more about securing new business than any other job I’ve held since then.
 
When did sales cold calling become cut-and-paste emails?
 
Sales by nature is not for everyone and there is a reason for this.  Rejection is a key component of sales and without getting a certain number of NOs, you’ll never get to a YES.  Whatever happened to objection handling, getting an appointment, inspiring action by communicating a benefit and etc.?  If you are doing this and you know who you are, what are your reasons for doing this instead of picking up the phone?  Is it because you can cover more ground?  Is it because you can do this in the middle of the night?  Is it because this sales tactic is making your commission checks fat?  My guess is no.  You fear rejection, the uncomfortable feeling of cold calling and sometimes being on the receiving end of rude behavior, hangups and door slams.
 
Sales is an important profession and if that is your role in an organization, I ask you to honor it by not abandoning the basics.
 
Pick-up the PHONE and make the cold calls.  I guarantee you’ll have better results.
 
I leave you with this amazing and true business story.
 
“At age 66, he lost his business and began to live on his Social Security check.  It wasn’t enough.  He went around the country selling his recipe for fried chicken.  He was turned down 1,009 times before someone said YES.  And he went on to become a multimillionaire at an age when most people are quitting.”  This story is about Colonel Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken.
 
If he had the technology, do you think he would have sent out 1,009 personalized emails instead of cold calling?
 
 
 

I Want Some “Small Business” TARP!

Posted by John Park on Jan 23rd, 2009
2009
Jan 23

Too Funny.  You’ll love this video.  What can we do except laugh and sing about it. What a great way to end the business week.  Hang in there my business owners.


Click here to view the video.


 

Are you doing business with GHOSTS?

Posted by John Park on Jan 17th, 2009
2009
Jan 17

business ghost customers

 
It was just before Christmas.  Like all other shoppers going through the motions, I had stopped by a gift shop after work to pick-up a few last minute items.  My destination was a small but established neighborhood store.  After getting the items I needed, I got in line behind a few ladies who clearly knew a lot more about gift giving than I did.  Their little handheld baskets were full of trinkets and other festive items sure to make some one’s holiday a little more merrier. 
 
As the first woman unloaded her items on to the counter, she was greeted by the bubbly 16 year old cashier.  She scanned each item and I watched as the LED sub-total on the little balance screen got higher and higher.  The grand total was just over $150.00.  The lady reached in to her purse and promptly paid in cash.  Smiles were all around and it was a scene we’ve all witnessed a thousand times.
 
It was the second lady’s turn and the entire scene played it self out again as if the setting was on replay.  Her total was just over $100.00.


As I watched both of them walk out of the store, I thought to myself… “They might as well be ghosts.”
 
This little boutique had just sold $250 worth of goods in 5 minutes and the owner has no idea who they just did business with.  They don’t know if they are new customers or regulars.  They wouldn’t know how to contact them again to build any sort of a relationship.  They have no idea how they ended up at their store.  In essence, the owner of this boutique store just did business with a couple of ghosts.
 
Retail settings are perfect for witnessing and demonstrating business theories.  This is because a simple retail transaction is about as “pure” as it gets to define doing business—buy low and sell high.
 
Many businesses are doing business with ghosts everyday.  The goal should be to identify who these ghost customers are so that a relationship can be initiated and grown.  Instead of constantly hunting for new customers with expensive mass market advertising, how about just taking good care of the ones you already have.  Not only will you be able to grow the relationship, these known customers are also your best candidates to be unpaid business ambassadors.
 
For those of you not operating a retail business, this effects you as well.
 
 
( What defines a ghost customer? )
 
1)  No contact information collected during transaction
2)  No contact after the original transaction
3)  At least 6 months since last contact
 
If just one of the above three definitions apply towards any of your customers, you have unintentionally turned a customer back in to a prospect.
 
 
( Ideas to turn ghosts back in to customers )
 
1)  Collect contact information especially email and address.  Some customers like anonymity so do your best.  Set policies in motion to collect data during the transaction.  Consider creative methods like offering incentives or benefits in exchange for the information.
2)  Create a contact schedule for each customer.  For example, a retail store could send out a postcard 4 times a year during their busiest months offering their repeat customers a discount.
3)  Implement an effective CRM (customer relationship management) tool to keep in contact with your customer base.  A simple low cost start can be to implement some sort of an email marketing communication.  Services like Constant Contact or iContact is an easy do-it-yourself tool.
 
 
In many businesses, 20% of your customers will be generating 80% of your revenues.  Constantly hunting for new customers in a recession can be difficult and expensive.  In order to grow your business, look towards those customers who’ve already done business with you.  They are the low hanging fruits.
 
STOP doing business with ghosts.  This is a good place to begin.
 
 

Business Self-Loathing Denied!

Posted by John Park on Jan 14th, 2009
2009
Jan 14
 
If you have doubts about what you can achieve, watch this video.  No matter what obstacles you may be facing, the human spirit can overcome.  Outlook alone and a shift in the paradigm of thinking can do wonders.  Take 5 minutes and watch the video.  It is well worth it.  Afterwards, pass it along to others who may also need these 5 precious minutes.
 





Creating Your Business “What Not To Do” List

Posted by John Park on Jan 11th, 2009
2009
Jan 11

merry go round

 
There are many of you reading my little business blog—some now from the Chicago Tribune.  They’ve started picking up on some of my posts via a blog syndication network.  Welcome all new readers.
 
I have a confession to make.  I really struggled with this post.  This is my first post of 2009 and I wanted to share something that would help all of us reflect as business owners.  As you grit your teeth, lean forward and go about the business of running a business, please keep the following in mind.
 
Normally, I am always writing about what specific thing you can do or implement to improve your business.  Today, I plan on doing the opposite.
 
As the new business year gets under way, I want you to create a “What Not To Do” list.  Whether we abide by them or not, as business owners, we are constantly creating “To Do” lists to run our daily operations.  And as you cross-off each task with exuberance and maybe a sense of short-lived accomplishment, the days will pass, the months fly by and the next thing you know…2010 is just around the corner.
 
How can we expect different results by doing the same things over and over again?  There are many variations of this phrase and chances are you’ve heard this before.  As irrational as this statement is, it lives and thrives in many businesses.
 
Ask yourself “What will I do different this year?”  What are some items that should make your “What Not To Do List”?
 
By not doing certain things or by not incorporating certain things in to your daily business operations, you can actually improve your business and hopefully your lifestyle as well.  Here are some examples.
 
1)  I will NOT work with belligerent customers and partners this year.
2)  I will NOT answer emails or phone calls during off-hours.
3)  I will NOT discipline or chastise an employee in public.
4)  I will NOT perform administrative duties which can be delegated.
5)  I will NOT ignore the phrase…Opportunity Cost.
6)  I will NOT ignore the phrase…Doing an unimportant thing well does not make it important. ( From The 4-Hour Work Week )
7)  I will NOT save a penny and lose a dollar.
8)  I will NOT neglect my family responsibilities for business.
9)  I will NOT forget why I started this business.
10) I will NOT live a deferred life.  Carpe Diem!
 
As all of your know, I am a die-hard capitalist.  Don’t worry.  I haven’t gone off the deep-end.  As my posts resume this year, my regular formula-based business strategies will return.  Having said that, there is nothing wrong with a little reflection.  Because of my unique job as a business consultant, I have a frontrow seat to observe the bahaviors and lives of many business owners.  And as a result, I want to invite all of my owner-readers to take a deep breath and consider the above.  As the saying goes…”Life is just too short.”
 
I leave you with the following short poem written by child psychologist, David L. Weatherford.
 
 
SLOW DANCE
 
Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
 
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
 
Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight?
Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
 
You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
 
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
 
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
 
When you ask: How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
 
When the day is done,
do you lie in your bed
 
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
 
You better slow down.
Don’t dance so fast.
 
Time is short.
The music won’t last.
 
Ever told your child,
We’ll do it tomorrow?
 
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
 
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
 
Cause you never had time
To call and say, “Hi”?
 
You better slow down.
Don’t dance too fast.
 
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
 
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift thrown away.
 
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower.
 
Hear the music.
Before the song is over.
 
 
~ David L. Weatherford
 
 
 

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