Wednesday, November 11, 2009

A Real "Cold Call"

In all of my years in sales and marketing I think there is one or maybe two people I have come across that truly like making cold calls. For most sales people it's the part of our job we dislike the most. Here's an idea to help you get a warmer reception on your next "cold call".

So you've got your list of prospects that you want to get in and see. You know if they would only spend 5 or 10 minutes with you, they would realize why they should be doing business with you and not your competition. But it's been impossible getting them on the phone. And they never return your emails. It's come down to...THE COLD CALL! Yikes!!!

No biggie. Try this next time. First call the front desk to make sure your contact is in the office. This wont work so well if they are not. Also, depending on the size of the company, find out how many people are in the office or their department. Send your prospect an email saying you hope to break the ice later that afternoon.

Show up about 3PM with a cool treat for your Cold Call. Your prospect will be delighted when they see you've brought an entire ice cream party for them. Serve and clean up from the party. But don't expect to talk business right then and there. However there is a really good chance you'll get an appointment.

List of Supplies for your Ice Cream Party
  • Ice Cream
  • Syrup
  • Sprinkles & Nuts
  • Whipped Cream
  • Cherries
  • Cups or bowls with your logo
  • Spoons (in your corporate colors)
  • Napkins printed with your logo
  • A nice ice cream scoop that your contact can take home after the party

Things to consider
  • This is a way to get in to your TOP prospects. Be sure to do your research ahead of time to make sure this is someone you want to do business with.
  • You are giving your prospect a pleasant surprise in the middle of the day. Make sure this doesn't end up being work for them. Set-up, serve, and clean-up so no one has to take time out of their day to do that.
  • Have your schedule with you so you can lock in a time to meet then and there.
  • Make sure you have extra time in your schedule in the event that your prospect says that "Now is a good time".
  • Make sure you are prepared to talk about your company/product/service if you do meet right then.

Planning & Preparation
  • Creating an "ice cream party prospecting campaign" schedule is a good idea so you stay on track.
  • Start with 100 or so suspects. (You think they are prospects, but not quite sure.)
  • Do some research to confirm they are the person you want to do business with.
  • Based on that research narrow down and categorize your list to A, B, and C groups.
  • Plan a workable schedule over the next several weeks or months. You may be able to throw a party every afternoon, or your schedule may only allow you to get out once a week.
  • Start your campaign with your top "B" prospects. You don't want to waste your time on lower level prospects, however you don't want to cut your teeth on the golden goose either.
  • Make sure to have a follow-up plan in place as well. You've made this huge impact up front, you don't want it to sizzle out due to lack of contact on your part. Remember it takes an average of 7 touches before a prospect will buy.
  • Speaking of huge impact, you have demonstrated to your prospect that you have a strong desire to do business with them. More so than sending a letter or placing a call. This will go a long way to help you land them as a client.
  • Don't cheep out on the ice cream scoop. This is a way for your prospect to think about you even when they are not at the office. A nice stainless steel scoop will be used and appreciated much more than a cheep plastic one.
  • Once you commit to the campaign, buy your non-perishable goods in bulk at a club store or a restaurant wholesaler. This will save you time and money. You'll still need to buy the ice cream and whipped cream right before the party.

Calculating your Return on Investment
  • After you determine how many prospects you are going to include in your campaign you should do the following:
  • Get pricing on all of your supplies.
  • Calculate the average cost of each party. (Include your time in planning, executing, and following up)
  • Calculate the estimated worth of each new client
  • Estimate the ratio of turning the prospect into a client based on your history or your industry.
  • Finally calculate your estimated ROI

Sample: I decide I'm going after my top 40 prospects. I figure each part will cost me $100 in time and money. My average client is worth $20,000 a year. I figure I'll land 20% of these prospects. The campaign will cost me $4,000. I estimate I will gain $160,000 in new sales. After I subtract my cost and take my profit margin into consideration, I come out with a profit of about $62,000 from this campaign. Of course next year I won't have the expense of the campaign and the referrals I get into other departments and other companies will make this even more profitable for me.

Hmmm, maybe a fun way to celebrate our anniversary of doing business would be to throw another Ice Cream Party? This time I wont have to worry about "breaking the ice".