2 More Reasons Why You Should Pick Up The Phone to Prospect

Happy mid-October everyone!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted!

In the past, I could make 100 sales calls and reasonably expect to generate 4 to 5 meetings easy. 4-5% response rate.

Seems lately that the sales landscape is much harder to navigate and it’s increasingly difficult to connect with decision makers, regardless of vertical, geography, or management level. Such is life.

As the late Jim Rohn said, “Don’t wish it was easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for fewer problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.”

When I reach out for business development efforts for Connect 5000, I make 15 touches before moving on:

7 emails

6 phone calls / voicemails / attempts to connect live

2 snail mail postal letters

(I’ve noticed that many companies now won’t even let you leave a voicemail. I’ve been told repeatedly that the executive doesn’t have a direct extension or the only way to get a hold of them is by email only. If you can’t leave a phone message, or response rate for email is abysmal, try sending a letter or two to your targeted prospect.)

This week alone, in doing some callbacks for targeted executives, 3 CEO’s who I’ve targeted are no longer with the company. We aren’t talking about entry-level folks, people!

How do I know that?

Because I don’t solely rely on email only. Just because an email doesn’t bounce back as undeliverable, doesn’t mean it got through.

Takeaway #1: Add the phone to your sales arsenal. Just because an email doesn’t bounce back, doesn’t mean it got through. Plus people, including yourself, may have thousands of unread emails in their inbox.

Another observation I’ve noticed is that people don’t update their LinkedIn profile right away, or at all.

I don’t expect when someone loses their job or gets terminated, to update their profile right away. But 6 months or 1 year later, it’s very misleading.

Recently, I reached out to a company after visiting their website and looking at their management team. The website had this particular executive on the website. LinkedIn said this person was still at the company. I called the company and the person who answered said that the executive hadn’t been with the company in years and that they hadn’t updated the website.

My guess is that this company was small but wanted to portray themselves as something bigger than they really were. Kind of like a bag of chips.

So rather than emailing an executive and hoping they respond even though they’re no longer employed there, pick up the phone and save yourself the time and trouble.

Takeaway #2: Countless LinkedIn profiles are not accurate and updated. Company websites aren’t correct either. Take the extra step, pick up the phone, and ask for the executive. If he/she isn’t there, cross them off your list and move on. Bad data is of no value to you.

Enough sales ranting from me. Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.

 

Goodbye Summer, Hello Fall!

Hey, everyone!

Long time and no talk!

It seems like the summer crawled like a snail but summer is over, the kids are back in school, and Labor Day weekend is near.

Where does time fly?

I hate to use the word “busy” because the word to me seems a little pretentious and a badge of honor and it sounds better when people ask how we’re doing, rather than answering something like “I’m bored and have nothing to do.”

Quick story:

This past April, I flew to Chicago to attend a sales lunch along with my business development rep who reached out to a prospect and agreed to meet us for lunch along with his marketing colleague.

This company is a $1B+ accounting and consulting firm with offices nationwide.

I flew to Chicago, spent the night in a hotel, had lunch with my guy along with the other firm’s two guys. I think between airfare, lodging and meals, I spent about $700.

Was I guaranteed a client? Absolutely not! But we saw the value of meeting this firm face to face.

There’s no substitute like sharing a meal with a potential prospect. It happens all the time. We talked scope, numbers, etc. and parted ways.

Yes, conference calls are more efficient, but if a firm gets multiple calls, you’re a voice, name and company to them. Meeting in person keeps you memorable and makes the connection stronger. (Assuming you add value.)

A few weeks later we agreed to terms and were looking at a start date of June 1. Unfortunately, the office we were helping had no one in place to run the meetings we would be generating.

Long story short, they finally hired someone and we started engaging this client in August.

Takeaway #1: Always keep your sales pipeline full and keep prospecting! Even if you agree to terms, sign a contract and are ready to go, the client may have some internal delays on their end that you have no control over.

A few weeks later, I get a call out of the blue from the Phoenix office of the same company. This branch was having similar lead generation issues and somehow connected with our contact, who gave him our name.

We had an initial call about our services, then another conference call with 3 of their team members.

We shared what we were doing with their other office, etc. and we can help them hit their goals.

Takeaway #2: Companies with multiple offices talk to each other. You’re thinking “Duh, of course!”. Yet we forget these simple facts.

You never know where one lunch can lead to an expanded scope with a company.

Have you gotten official word from the other office? No.

Does it look promising? Yes.

Get out of your comfort zone, book a flight out of town, meet new folks and you never know what will become of it.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000! Goodbye summer!

PS: It was neat watching the recent eclipse. I’m in the KC metro and we were almost at totality!

 

How Paying Attention To A LinkedIn Connection Led To New Client

Happy June everyone!

In December 2016, I reached out to the CEO of a technology company here in the Kansas City metro.

I sent him a creative marketing box from the Little Book That Sells.

Here’s the link to the past blog post I wrote on it: http://www.connect5000.com/another-creative-lead-generation-idea-to-get-into-targeted-companies/

The CEO gave the box to the VP of Marketing. The VP of Marketing reached out to me and we exchanged several emails.

Then the VP of Marketing connected me to one of her direct reports.

The direct report and I had a few conversations by phone but the end result was a no.

No problem. That happens all the time.

I’m a big advocate and fan of LinkedIn. A few weeks ago, I noticed that this direct report was no longer with the company. She had moved on to another position which is typical.

So I found the previous email exchange with the Marketing VP, reached back out and set up a time to meet in person.

We discussed their needs and they were open to using us.

Long story short, we came to an agreement and we both signed off on a proposal.

Moral of the story: pay attention to your LinkedIn feed. The prospect who told you “No” may no longer be with that particular company and you may be able to get back in the door and get a “Yes”.

Sales Lesson Learned from Garth Brooks Concert

Hey, everyone!

One more day till the school year is over for my 4 and 7-year-old and we are limping to the finish line.

I had the privilege of seeing Garth Brooks in concert last Saturday night.

I’ve always been a big fan of his music and one of very few music groups that my late father and I both liked.

So my wife and I along with 2 other couples attended the Garth Brooks concert at the Sprint Center and sat in the lower level and could clearly see Garth Brooks and the stage.

Garth (we’re on a first-name basis, apparently) has been around since the late 80’s / early 90’s and I have several of his CD’s. One of his CD’s is a live concert he did in 1997 at Central Park in New York City.

That was 20 years ago people!

There are several reasons why people love Garth and flock to his concert in droves.

One of those reasons I believe is this: He sings “singable” songs! Obvious but true! The lyrics to his songs are easy to follow along with and sing to. Many artists are not, which is simply okay.

The concert was one big sing-along which was fine by me.

Question: how singable is your company “lyrics”? Can others easily recite what you do and services you provide?

At Connect 5000, we definitely don’t have it down, but we want to.

Our lyrics at Connect 5000 is this: we shorten sales cycles and multiply revenue.

What are yours?

Conversation Starters for Inbound Leads

Happy Cinco de Mayo everyone!

At Connect 5000, we’re huge advocates and fans of proactive outbound prospecting, cold/warm calling, hunting for new logos, new business development, etc. (Or whatever term you prefer.)

We believe it’s better to be proactive and hunt for new business, rather than being reactive and waiting for the phone to ring.

But, we’re even bigger fans of something else: inbound leads!

Inbound leads are great in that a prospect had a pain or problem, did some online research or hunting, came across your website, filled out the form and requested a conversation.

We refer to them fondly as “Sales Gravy”.

I received one recently and followed up with the prospect in a timely manner.

(Multiple research shows you should connect with prospects within 30-60 minutes, or statistically, they grow cold and the chances to convert them into a client drops greatly.)

How should you start a conversation with an inbound lead?

Here are my two suggestions:

1. Ask them how they heard about your company.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, if I may ask, how did you hear about us?

(It’s a simple, non-threatening question to get the conversation going, plus it helps you figure out how your prospects are finding you for lead source purposes.)

2. Ask them: what prompted them to reach out to you.

Mr./Ms. Prospect, what prompted you to reach out to us? What’s your driving your interest currently?

(Then shut up and don’t say anything and let the prospect respond. Don’t spray and pray! Don’t have diarrhea of the mouth! Don’t spill the beans and talk about how wonderful you are.)

Listen to your prospect, ask open-ended questions, assess their situation, and then diagnose their problems.

Don’t drink too many margaritas tonight! Hope these two questions help close more business!

Short Story On Why Never To Burn Bridges

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you had a great holiday.

I keep in touch with people I work with, both clients Connect 5000 has partnered with as well as people I’ve hired to work for Connect 5000.

A few years ago, I was the acting director of sales for a software company in California. We parted ways in 2014 and I kept in touch with a few of their staff after working together for about 9 months.

One gal, who was a solid inside sales rep, left the company and we kept in touch from time to time.

This past February, the timing was perfect and I hired her to work for me at Connect 5000. She accepted the offer, signed the offer letter and she was to start the following Monday. Long story short, she called me a few hours later and said that another company she had interviewed with, finally called her back and that she wouldn’t be working for me after all because it was a better fit for her.

I was mildly disappointed, to say the least, and we talked by phone and she explained her reasoning. I understood and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit I wasn’t irritated after our conversation ended.

A few hours later after I had time to think about things, I texted and emailed her and wished her the best of success. I wasn’t sure if I’d hear from her anytime soon.

A few months later, she reached out to me. She was with another start up and they needed some sales consulting and advice. She introduced me to her CEO. After a few conversations between the 3 of us, the company hired me to consult with them and I’m working with my old associate, but in a different way I didn’t expect.

I know I’m stating the obvious but if you make an offer to someone you’ve interviewed and they turn it down for whatever reason, it’s okay to be hurt, disappointed or even angry. Just don’t stay there. Wish them well and move on. You never know where they are going to land and if you end things on a positive note, it could provide additional revenue opportunities for you and your company.

Creative Lead Generation Idea (On the High End Price Range)

Happy March everyone!

March Madness has begun! I’m hoping my KU Jayhawks go far in the tournament. Final 4 or bust!

I recently read John Ruhlin’s book “Giftology”.

This short book was on the art and science of using gifts to cut through the noise and clutter of life to open conversations, generate referrals and boost sales revenue.

One idea that I liked and plan to experiment in is this:

Send a prospect an embroidered knife or knife set with their name on it in gift wrapping and ask them this simple question: “Can we carve out some time to talk?”

For you skeptics and cynics out there, when was the last time you received a knife from a prospect?

Well then, I rest my case.

You can get a classy knife from Cutco, embroidered and gift wrapped for around $100 or so.

Is this idea for everyone? Of course not.

BUT, if you have a high average sale price, send out a few to some hard to reach prospects, and follow up later on by phone or email.

Just one new client will probably pay for this investment.

Is this guaranteed to work? Is anything? Of course not.

Try this different way to get into the door of hard to reach executives and let me know how your results are.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.

Sneaky Sales Email Tip of the Day

(Disclaimer: I was not compensated in anyway to promote this service. I pay my monthly subscription with my own funds.)

Ever wonder if the email you sent to a client, prospect, colleague, or friend actually made it to their inbox and that they actually opened and read it?

Well, say no more! Problem solved!

In August 2016, I signed up for Bananatag and am a big fan of their service. Their website is www.bananatag.com and I pay $12.50 per month.

In a nutshell, when you send someone an email, whether personal or business, it sends you an email notification when the recipient opens your email or clicks a link if there’s one inside the email.

So what? Who cares? Sound a little too big brotherish for you? Here’s why it’s helpful.

When prospecting or making sales calls: send an email first. If the email address is valid, it notifies you that the email address is legitimate and you don’t have to worry about if it hit their spam filter or if the email address is wrong, assuming they opened the email, no matter how briefly it was.

You can then call them later on and follow up by telephone and have a multi-touch campaign going.

There are plenty of similar services out there. I don’t know of any service that guarantees your email won’t hit their spam folder.

If they clicked on your website embedded in your email, you know.

If they clicked on your LinkedIn profile in your email, you know.

No service is 100% accurate. If you’re looking for perfection, stop it! It also won’t tell you how long they read your email, etc. They may open it, you get notified, but they delete it and never read it.

I’ve sent emails to people and they respond back and I didn’t get a notification. That’s okay. Move on!

If you send a proposal to a prospect or an email to an existing client, the majority of the time, you’ll get notified.

It’s nice so that you don’t have to wonder if they received an email or not, or if you had the correct email address. Peace of mind for $12.50 a month.

Turnover: Another reason to keep your sales pipeline full!

Hey everyone!

In December 2016, I had a conversation with a VP of Marketing of a $3.7B software company in the Kansas City metro as well as a referral lead for a Sales Director in California by an existing client of mine.

We had solid conversations, both prospects had pain and need and I could see a potential fit.

The next action item step was to continue our conversations in January 2017.

Both of my follow-up calls were this past week and neither person showed. Not unusual, things and life come up.

I left a message with both prospects and sent a follow-up email.

Immediately, I received an auto responder back from the VP of Marketing that she was no longer there.

Later in the evening, I received an email from the company of the Sales Director informing me that my contact was no longer with the company, etc.

I know I’m stating the obvious but people quit, retire, get terminated or change positions.

This is another reason we as sales professionals and small business owners should keep our pipeline full.

Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher, made this famous quote: “Change is the only constant in life.”

How true and a timely reminder this week for me following up with sales prospects!

 

 

 

Another Creative Lead Generation Idea To Get Into Targeted Companies

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays everyone!

I came across this site earlier this year on creative ways to prospect and get inside targeted companies.

Here’s the link: http://www.littlebookthatsells.com/

I’ve ordered a few batches from this company and the feedback has been exceptional. Only one prospect had constructive feedback and he thought it was “gimmicky”. (You can’t win them all!)

In a nutshell: your targeted prospects get bombarded with phone calls, emails, texts and sales letters via snail mail.

How do you stand out differently in all this noise?

When’s the last time you received a box in the mail that contained a children’s illustration book and music player narrating your company and story?

This company will do it at a very cost effective rate. I sent out 40 boxes and set up 4 meetings so far during this holiday season. Yes, it’s a small sample size, but when was the last time you generated a 10% response rate?

Here are 3 reasons why you should trying doing something different and creative:

  1. It will catch the attention of very busy executive decision makers. (Again, when was the last time you received a box in the mail at work?)
  2. The gatekeeper may be less likely to open the box because it may be a personal, not work related item.
  3. It’s a better and sticky way to get your message across. Prospects can delete emails and voicemails quickly. They are less likely to throw away a book and music player.

Here’s what the prospect gets in each box:

  1. A custom children’s book narrating your company story and value proposition.
  2. A music player and headphones so prospects can hear your story audibly.
  3. A handwritten note and call to action
  4. Samples or any giveaway you deem appropriate. (Like a $5 Starbucks card.)

If you are a B2B company and have a medium to high average sale, I recommend you try something different and creative like “The Little Book That Sells” to get inside targeted companies.

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000.