There are really only four ways to obtain a customer and they consist of some form of marketing which includes social media or advertising, networking, obtaining referrals and direct contact such as cold calling. What do the first three activities have in common? The first three activities require you to wait for something to happen first which unnecessarily extends your sales cycle. When you provide marketing such as advertising, you have to wait for someone to respond to your message and if someone responds to your message, you still have to qualify because you have no control over who responds. Typically when any type of advertising is done, you will get a mixture of responses and you have to weed out the contacts that are not a match. Also, let's not forget that there is always the risk of no one responding at all. When you participate in social media, once again, you typically have to wait for a response and your goal is to court your prospect and lead them to the opportunity to engage directly with you comfortably and this certainly requires time, the social media methodology never happens over night. When you attend a networking event, you have only a couple of hours to work a room. Your goal is to speak with those contacts that are the best match for what you offer. However, with most networking functions, you typically meet the person that knows the decision maker or you never get the opportunity to connect with everyone on your list because the time ran out. Obtaining referrals is a great way to obtain business, if the contact is a great match. When a referral is received, you still need to qualify and we all know that we all have received our fair share of referrals that will never be a customer because they simply are not a good match based on various qualifying criteria. Also, once again you usually have to wait for an introduction or your current customer to think of who would be a good match for you and sometimes there are loads of options that your current customer can come up with and sometimes there are none at all. The method that stands out from the crowd is cold calling or direct contact. When you decide to directly contact your prospect, you are shortening your sales cycle because you are directly connecting with that person and it is either a yes or no based on if they have a need or desire to know more about your service or product. You obtain the opportunity to select who you desire to do business with based on specific criteria that you decided to use as a guideline which enables you to focus on quality as opposed to quantity when it comes to building your book of business. This also eliminates wasting a great deal of time weeding through a batch of contacts trying to find the best possible match. Cold calling or direct contact is usually more economical than the other methods mentioned and lastly it enables you to cover more ground. You can speak with a great deal more prospects via the phone as opposed to physically networking and you can control how many people you desire to reach out to as opposed to simply waiting for someone to respond back to you. So, the next time that you are considering your marketing mix, don't' forget to place direct contact or cold calling on the top of your list , this method truly stands out from the crowd.
Article by Leslie Wells, Owner of L. Wells & Associates,Inc. a new business development firm specializing in assisting small to medium size organizations with generating new business through sales coaching and training, marketing strategy and a variety of calling campaigns. For more information, please visit www.lwellsassociates.com.