For many of the entrepreneurs I know the biggest challenge they face is getting the best potential clients on the phone to even start developing a relationship with them. It’s not that the client doesn’t know who you are, but they don’t have time to talk with you today. The biggest competition you face is not competitors, but the inertia of potential clients who don’t want to take action.
In the past, it was my responsibility to begin developing new clients for my organizations. I’ve made over 100,000 cold calls in my career. I’ve developed thousands of great relationships and clients from my cold calling activities. I’m not saying it’s the best way of starting a relationship with a potential client, but it is a way of managing the client relationship. If I’m calling you, I’m able to control many of the key aspects of the selling process. I have created first sales totaling in excess of $10 million from cold calls. Several times, the initial first sale exceeded several million dollars. What do I know about cold calling business leaders that you don’t?
I think individuals who are successful at cold calling have several key qualities that you can develop with focused effort on your part. I share these so you can take control of your business development activities and provide you with the keys to successful large account selling.
The first key is to invest the time uncovering what businesses match what I have to offer. I spend my time understanding my organization’s capabilities and who we’ve done a good job for in the past. I look to see if there is a particular client who matches our success criteria closely. If they do, I complete additional research to discover what they are currently doing for service. Not surprisingly, I can often get a good view of this potential client by talking with others within the client.
The second key is to talk with people who work inside the target organization. I may call in and talk to their sales leaders or customer service people. Customer service people provide me with clues to where this client company is struggling. You’d be amazed what you can learn from a customer service person. They are just waiting to be helpful. You just have to ask the right questions. During this process it’s helpful to let the client lead the discussion. Letting them do this provides them with an opportunity to help you understand what their business is doing.
Sales professionals can share with you information about what is coming from their company and how they plan to sell it to customers. They can provide additional clues to help you better understand what the organization is going to do to continue their growth. Many well connected sales professionals can also provide you a good overview of who else you should be looking at when trying to understand their markets. For many years I belonged to many great professional organizations because it provided me great opportunities to network with potential clients before I approached them.
The third key is to review the client’s web site. Look at their job postings to see what kind of people they are looking for. What capability might they be trying to build in their organization? Since I target only 10-15 key companies in my pipeline at any time, I can invest additional time in understanding each company’s business strategies. I might even create a competitive landscape map to better understand their industry better. I have found several of my best clients one business away from the ones I was researching. When I’m searching for a new client I’m trying to find the best match between my organization’s capabilities and the client’s unique needs. It’s much easier to sell a client when there is a good fit to start. Many new sales people think the stronger their selling skills, the higher likelihood of success in obtaining a new client. I find that if you match up well with a potential client and they are currently buying your services elsewhere it’s a much easier sales process to go through. The trick is not to be overzealous when talking to the client until you understand where the potential opportunities are located.
The final key is to research in the news and press section on the site. Many times I have found incredible opportunities based on information in a press release or a news article featuring my potential clients. Potential clients may be unaware that they are being featured in a trade magazine and this research can open several opportunities for you to begin your relationship with them. It also shows them you are serious about understanding their business before you get it.
Begin to look for clues and then assemble them to get ready to make your first calls. Next week, I share several secrets that help you get your first meeting with the potential clients. After all, if you don’t get a first meeting you can’t begin the business development process.
See you here next week.