Content refreshed for 2017
Cold calling makes you a commodity
Ryan tells his story about the trials and tribulations of selling photocopiers. In a very similar vein, my first true sales job was working for an office stationers & furniture company. Integral to that role was “cold calling” the businesses on my patch – North West London postcodes including such delightful spots as Cricklewood, Harrow and, perhaps my favourite on a cold wet Monday morning – Park Royal Industrial Estate 😉
As a sales rep, I had to knock on one door (or industrial unit up and over entrance) after another, speaking to uninterested receptionists or bored mechanics – showing them the marvels of my glossy and heavy stationery product catalogue (think of all the trees…) endeavouring to speak to the decision maker there and then, frequently not succeeding at that and so collecting business cards of the stationery buyer as I went, with a view to getting back to the office and bashing the phone.
Differentiate to grow your business
Stationery is boring. It’s all the same – and incredibly difficult to differentiate on a product basis as we all sold the same stuff. As Ryan found with his photocopiers, the only tangible difference was price. So selling on the phone was soul destroying as it inevitably came down to being the cheapest. And although a short-term contract win can be nice and motivating, it doesn’t sustain growth. To quote from The Smart Marketing Blog, “That’s one of the dangers of cold-calling. When you’re only seeking a new client — somebody who’ll bite on your pitch — you sacrifice long-term profitability for a quick sale before the month ends. And when that quick sale is based on the lowest price instead of the most reputable agency, or the most reliable product, or the consultant with the best talents, you hurt yourself. Surely you have more to offer than the lowest price. Surely you’re better than that. Right?”
Well, I decided very quickly that was indeed right, and that if I was to make the most of the bonuses being offered for opening new accounts, I had to forget the phone and get back out on the beat. It was all about differentiating myself again but that’s a story for another day…
Right now, let’s talk about the things that the Smart Marketing Blog guys recommend that you do to grow your business that DON’T involve the dreaded cold calling hat!
What works to grow your business?
1. Keyword advertising
Pay-per-click search marketing is genius – you can implement a keyword advertising campaign very easily and very quickly and you don’t pay a penny unless it’s effective. You pick the keywords that best describe a particular service or product that your business offers – and you fine-tune those keywords using data and keyword tools. You write the ads – you need to create the headlines and the short call-to-action copy that corresponds to those keywords, you create a landing page that provides the information that people using those keywords are looking for, and you decide how much you want to spend on your keyword advertising on a daily basis. That’s it. If you want to read more on the effectiveness of pay-per-click campaigns have a look at this.
2. Quality, substance-based blog posts
Focus on writing quality content. If you write content that makes people think, that provokes an audience, you will grow your audience more than any promotional campaign. The blog reinforces your expertise as a business, it delivers regular new content (which assists in your SEO campaigns), and it gives your community a new, more personal way to engage with you if you write it well.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of improving your site’s visibility among search engines through a number of different strategies. Improvement opportunities range from something as simple as using social media strategies in an intelligent and constructive way to reviewing site structure, navigation, content, tags, and keywords as well as other strategies such as inbound links, eliminating duplicate content and using paid listings. In a sentence, SEO means you’re finding ways to increase your business’ visibility to prospects searching online. And when you’re able to make positive changes to your search engine results, you’re generate more new traffic to your website, which in turn, will generate additional revenue – if you’ve got your website right and are working on improving your conversion rate
4. Engage in social conversations
Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, YouTube and Flickr (amongst many others) are amazing social tools that take people of the same interests and link them in ways never before possible. Some people sit back and watch Twitter updates fly by and fail to see any value in the global social service. Instead of being passive you must proactively seek conversations between users in your industry, in your region, in your city. These are the people you want to connect with. These are the people that’ll help you grow your business by connecting you with new business opportunities. One word of warning though – the social media landscape has changed over the last few years and depending on your business there may be better ways to spend your marketing time so it’s a case of understanding how your social strategy can contribute to your endgame. You’ll certainly want to look at reputation management and customer service channels on social platforms as ways of achieving your overall business objectives.