Lead Generation / Client Referral Gift Idea

Hey everyone!

I’m an avid reader and about a year ago, I read John Ruhlin’s book, “Giftology”.

It was a fine read with practical advice on corporate gift giving that’s not too self-serving.

A few months ago, I happened to get one of his emails since I had subscribed to his newsletter. Apparently, he hadn’t written in a while and he was out of sight, out of mind to me.

I decided to re-read his book since it’s a short read and gave me some fresh reminders.

Meanwhile, one of my client’s recently referred me to another client and I’m very grateful.

I’ve never met the woman in person and was trying to probe and get some ideas on what she liked to send her a thank you gift.

She wasn’t too revealing on her restaurant and shopping preferences which were fine.

I ended ordering a Cutco knife she can use on a daily basis with her name engraved on it.

I had it gift wrapped and sent to her home.

She loved it! Here’s part of her email response:

Hello Ray,

I received your surprise gift today. Thank you very much. It was a very kind and thoughtful personalized gesture. Your gift will be much used.

I don’t think what I did was anything that warranted more than a simple Thank You. Patti’s good work bore fruits. Nothing more.

Cheers

2 takeaways:

  1. When you send a corporate or client thank you gift and you have it engraved, don’t put your company name on it. Put the person’s name instead. They’ll remember who gave it to you for the rest of their life.
  2.  If you’re trying to break into an account and are having difficulties, send your prospect a knife with their name on it with a note saying something to the effect of: “Can we carve out some time to chat?”

I’m Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000!

Long time, no blog! Happy Spring!

Hey everyone!

Happy Spring and early Easter!

Ray Ruecker here with Connect 5000.

I realized I hadn’t posted since our Christmas staff luncheon in December 2017.

It’s almost April! Where does time go? 3 months went by quickly.

I’d like to say that I was busy but that sounds like a humble-brag or too pretentious in today’s culture.

Business is as usual and I met with some prospects in New York City in February and did a sales prospecting training session in Seattle a few weeks later.

The beauty of being an entrepreneur and owning your own company is that you get to set the pace.

I’ve been married for almost 13 years in May and have an 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son. I work to live and not the other way around. Finding the right work balance is always tricky.

I don’t have anything earth-shattering to share but one thing constantly sticks out:

In a noisy, crowded, technological world, how do we stand out and get our message across?

Yes, it’s rhetorical but lots of factors at play:

Decision fatigue.

Information overload.

Ad bombardment.

Short attention spans.

The experts tell you to have a blog, produce lots of content, have a Facebook page. Instagram too! Don’t forget Twitter, Youtube, LinkedIn, etc.

I could go on and on but you get the point.

The answer might be one human, high quality, personal connection at a time.

Yes, it’s not sexy but what’s the alternative, unless you have a marketing budget like Apple, GE, or Amazon?

Sales Conversation Triggers and Book Giving

Happy December everyone!

This year has flown by quickly. I haven’t blogged in a while so as the holidays descend upon us, I thought I’d share a quick tip.

I’m an avid reader, with a Nook reader from Barnes and Noble with the Amazon Kindle app on the device.

I recently finished Paul Falcone’s book “96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire”.

It had been on my reading list for quite some time and I always want to improve my hiring skills.

A while back, I chatted with a CEO by phone, then we had lunch in person and we chatted some more by phone a few weeks later.

He mentioned that he made a couple of offers to some sales reps but the job candidates ended up getting counteroffers from their existing employer and decided to stay.

(This blog post is NOT about whether or not you should accept a counteroffer.  That’s a whole blog post in itself.)

Paul Falcone’s book addressed how to handle counteroffers in advance and not waiting till making a job offer to get blindsided by it.

He had some good suggestions to get counteroffer opportunities out in the open early rather than be surprised later on.

So as the CEO shared with me, I thought of the book. I told him about it and said I’d have it mailed to his office and to keep an eye out.

Last Friday, I met with the CEO and 6 of his staff and he had the book in his hand showing everyone.

Moral of the story: be alert to what your prospects are going through outside of what you’re trying to get them to agree to and add value. The book was less than $20, including shipping.

I strongly recommend you read the book if you hire people regularly.

In the meantime, I wish you a Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays and a great New Year!

May you end 2017 well!

Ray Ruecker with Connect 5000

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.

 

Happy Labor Day!

Happy September everyone!

8 months gone in 2017! 4 more to go! Where does time fly?

I shared in my previous post (Here) how I flew out to see a prospect face to face with no guarantee that the firm would become a client, and they eventually did.

Football season is upon us and hopefully, most of your clients and prospects are back from summer and vacation mode and in full focus until the end of the year.

Another quick story:

I had a solid client for approximately two years out of Seattle but I had never met them in person.

A few months ago, one of the firm’s principals reached out to me via LinkedIn out of the blue and wanted to restart our relationship.

Obviously, with today’s technology landscape, you can conduct business with people around the country and the world and never meet them.

So I flew out on Memorial Day and met with the firm the next day. It was a productive strategy meeting on moving forward for the fall and future.

Long story short, they became a client again and all is well.

When you meet an out of town client in person, it’s beneficial for 3 main reasons:

  1. You go from being a friendly stranger via email and phone to a real person and partner.
  2. Assuming you do great work, you become more memorable and entrenched with your client.
  3. There’s no substitution for face to face communication and interaction, where you can read their body language and facial expressions.

Should you go see every out town client? Maybe. Maybe not.

Disclaimer: I haven’t met every out of town client myself. I try to and some people I’ve had as clients, it’s like we are long time friends, without having met in person. I know about their lives, families and interests.

I have no scientific data, but my guess is that if you’re intentional with your clients, they’ll stay clients longer.

Happy Fall everyone!

 

 

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.