You’re trying to get ahold of that prospect but he’s not returning your calls or your emails. Maybe you’re reaching out to a cold lead. Or maybe all you want is an update.
- Is he interested or not?
- Is he buying or not?
- Is he moving forward on that quote you sent him, or not?
- Should you write him off your list so you (and he) don’t waste any more time?
You’re not selling snake oil. You believe that your product or service will help him. If he’s not interested that’s fine – all you want is the courtesy of a reply!
I’ve been there. You’ve been there. So, what can you do? After 20+ years of selling I’m going to tell you what: You grow a thick skin and resort to a few shameless sales tactics.
These are real-life things that I have done, and still do, shamelessly. Because they work, not all the time but enough of the time. Sure, I may risk going to hell for doing any one of these, but for now I’m still sleeping like a baby.
1For starters, ignore his office number and call his cell phone
You got the number from his signature on one of his emails, so it’s not exactly private. You call that phone early in the morning or as late as PM. When he picks it up you act surprised and say “Oh Dave, I’m so sorry, I thought this was your office line and I was just leaving you a message….you know…about that open quote?”
2Refer by first name
When you do call his office, ask for him by first name only. “Hi, I’m looking for Dave please?” Oftentimes, the gatekeeper/receptionist will just put your call through without questioning your familiarity.
3Say you’re “returning” his call
OK, this may be shameless lying. But on the scale of lying it’s pretty far down the list. You’re just “returning” the call he owes you by saving him the trouble of making it.
Telling the receptionist that you’re “returning” a call will get you right through almost all the time.
If the prospect confronts you (which is unlikely, because he doesn’t remember who he called or didn’t call), at worst it will be “Hey, I never called you.”
Blame it on a mistake with something like “Someone here said you did, I’m sorry.” Then move on as if he reached out to you with “I was under the impression that you needed help with…..”
4Send him the same email twice, about five minutes apart
Then apologise in the second email saying the first one “bounced back” and you’ve been having email issues. Did he receive it?
5Send him six duplicate emails all at the same time
Then you wait two minutes and send him a 7th email that profusely apologises for the other six. Say there was a glitch with your email software and, oh by the way, how about that open quote?
6Email him with the subject line “Are You OK???” (include the multiple question marks too)
You ask if he’s been ill or if there’s been another problem. You emote sympathy and concern. Of course, you’re not concerned – or sympathetic – but there’s a fair chance he’ll reply when he thinks you are. Then you emote great relief and ask him about the status of your open quote.
7Find his boss
Troll online until you find out who’s the VP for his division or someone else in a superior role. Email the VP with the same concerned subject line. “I just want to make sure Dave’s OK,” you write. “We were talking and then he went silent so I’m concerned.
Can you please let me know?” Chances are the boss will forward that to Dave. Remember, you’re not harassing. You’re just a concerned colleague, right? Right.
8Change your domain
Setup email addresses from other domains, like Google, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc. Then send him an email from those domains. It’s possible his spam filter is stopping stuff from your domain.
Yes, that’s right: I said spam. But it’s a light spamming. You create a list of people in your database who will be sent a template email maybe 3-4 times a year.
This is not a newsletter or a packaged marketing thing that would normally need someone to opt-in. It’s just some type of check-in, no different than if you were sending them an email check-in individually, but in bulk.
When you get a response that you don’t like (“remove me from your list”) you take action accordingly. But hey…at least you finally got something! And you’ll be surprised, too. By doing this you’ll get others who will reply with something like “this kind of fell of the radar, but we’re ready to talk again.”
Related: 7 Simple Ways To Close More Sales
Yes, go ahead and text him. A quick message of concern – “Hey Dave, sorry to have to send you a text but my emails aren’t getting through to you. Are you OK?”
11Message him on LinkedIn or Facebook
For some reason, people seem to reply to these more so than a typical email. They also seem to get caught less frequently in spam filters.
Speaking of spam filters, you cite this as the reason why you’re emailing him on LinkedIn/Facebook. “Not sure if my other emails were getting caught in your spam filter so….”
12Tweet at him
If he’s a Twitter person, then tweet him. Make it informational, like “Hey Dave…here’s a great article you might enjoy. Are you available to speak?” Follow him on Twitter and if he follows you back (ding!) then send him a direct message. Sometimes people pay more attention to their Twitter feed then their email.
Shameless? Yes. Effective? You betcha.
This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.
Want To Become A Supplier To A Big Company? Consider This First
A giant customer can be highly profitable or cost you your business. Have you considered all the angles?
“How do I get into the big corporates or Government?” Business owners visualise huge sales and profits by becoming a supplier to a giant, and that is often the case. For a big organisation with billions to spend, a trivial expenditure to them may be a large fortune to you. Do not let the number of zeros dazzle you, riches are not guaranteed; many entrepreneurs have suffered losses or businesses collapse from such dealings.
You must understand the motivations of managers of large organisations, and the risks they face. They are KPI-driven and risk serious damage to their careers if something goes badly wrong. Compared to these issues, your profitability, work hours and ego are minor considerations. You may believe that you only have to perform in terms of your agreement, but in reality, you need to make your contacts look good. Aim for a zero fail rate; deliveries that are late, faulty or incorrect may cause a disproportionate explosion because that means your contact has let someone down. If you are smart, you can help your contacts get a reputation for superior internal service.
Understand the risks that big customers pose to your business
There are risks in any unequal buyer/seller relationship. The biggest risk is if the giant stops buying. Large customers can be extremely demanding; they see you as an extension of their business and can be intolerant of your need to service other customers. Many small suppliers will be familiar with a peremptory summons to an immediate meeting and occasional rudeness. A supply contract inevitably favours the big guy, and this means pricing and other terms of trade are vital. You must protect your ability to make a reasonable margin even if circumstances like inflation, exchange rates or sector wage agreements change.
Large organisations care about meeting their budgets, not about your profitability, and many suppliers have failed because they were bound to supply goods at an unsustainable price. Managers move around, and if your champion is promoted, the replacement manager may prefer their favourite suppliers, so out you go. Broaden your range of contacts in the organisation to avoid this risk. Large organisations are huge bureaucracies; decisions may take time and payments may be delayed, especially if your paperwork is not perfect.
There are opportunities — but evaluate them carefully
The major opportunity is significant growth. They will buy if you supply a product or service that suits their needs and budget at service levels that make the managers look good. It is entirely possible to make your company almost indispensable by solving problems and offering them innovative new ways of exceeding their KPIs at reduced cost. There are opportunities to supply other parts of the giant, as well as their supply chains. Be careful with growth. Your primary contact will be used to your full attention and if he or she senses that this is no longer happening because you have grown, they can seek alternative suppliers. Never let growth reduce your customer service level.
A very large and prestigious customer gives your company credibility, allows you to attract the brightest staff, makes selling to other giants easier and gives you funds to develop new markets and new products.
Is it worth it?
Is it worth the big money? Yes, if you can manage the risks, chief of which is becoming too dependent on one customer. However, dealing with the big gorillas is not the same as having a more balanced supplier/buyer relationship. It works if you use your ability to be nimble and flexible to solve their problems. It helps if you are innovative and can use your creativity to respond rapidly in ways that big corporations cannot. It works if you can give very personal service, even if that means you, the owner, are the primary interface. By doing these things you can become an indispensable cog in a huge machine.
You need a champion in your client’s organisation, but ensure you have other contacts too. What happens if they leave or are promoted? Is your contract safe?
Accurately Predict Future Sales With These Two Things
Being able to predict your sales for next month and those to come, is a result of a combination of two things.
As someone responsible for sales in a growing business, you would love to be able to predict your sales accurately, month after month – but this can be a difficult process. Fortunately, it’s not impossible. With some initial effort and careful monitoring, you can predict whether the team will have positive sales results in the future, and where you can see trouble looming, you can take advance action to avoid problems.
Being able to predict your sales for next month and those to come, is a result of a combination of two things:
1. Developing a sales process
As ‘boring” as it might sound for many entrepreneurs, it is extremely useful to understand the benefits of working to a process in business. This applies to any part of the business, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, is very applicable to sales.
Think about it this way:
- If you do the same task a different way every time, you can expect a different outcome every time. It becomes difficult to predict whether the outcome will be good or bad.
- But if you do the same task the same way every time, the outcome becomes very predictable, and you’ve laid a platform for systematic improvement. By making one small tweak to how you do the task, you can see if you get a better, or a worse, outcome. You can then keep all the tweaks that improve your outcome and drop the tweaks that make it worse.
2. Developing sales systems
A superior quality sales management capability necessitates that you have a Sales System on a best of breed technology platform, to help manage the sales function in the business.
A good sales system helps you capture your sales process. Good sales management practices drive home the discipline needed to implement the sales process, and in turn, predict sales results.
Take the first step in your journey towards accurately predicting sales by developing a sound sales process.
Next in this series: HOW TO DEVELOP A SALES PROCESS THAT WORKS LIKE A CHARM
Why Customers Don’t Respond To Disruption
You’ve got chatbots running your customer service, interactive screens across your stores and you’ve just appointed a chief digital officer. Why aren’t you seeing sales going through the roof?
PwC partner Quinton Pienaar says there could be many reasons for this. But the short answer is probably that in your understandable rush to stay relevant and keep up with the latest technology trends and developments, you lost sight of your number one priority. You’re just not that into your customers – and they know it.
It’s fairly easy to get dazzled by the array of technologies out there. But the trap that you’ve got to guard against is that you start seeing the world through a technology lens, rather than a customer one. Remember, technology is a tool, not an outcome. It’s the means to the end, not the end itself.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t be transforming your business digitally. You absolutely should. But there’s a big difference between investing in technology to keep up with the Joneses, and investing in technology that’s going to drive specific business outcomes and improve the customer experience.
Related: Reimagine The Use Of Technology
In fact, it would be downright dangerous to ignore the game-changing benefits that the current wave of emerging technologies brings to the table. To understand what they can do for your business, you have to know what they are. We at PwC talk about the ‘essential eight’:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are the building blocks for the next generation of digital work.
- Robotics, drones, and 3-D printing are all about machines that extend the reach of computing power into the material world.
- Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) merge the physical and digital realms, and offer incredible advances in customer experience.
- Blockchain rethinks our approach to commercial transactions by allowing participants to exchange value, and verify ownership of something, without a third party.
Some of these technologies are verging on science fiction. So how do we use them in a way that supports customer obsession? The starting point of any successful customer transformation is a customer-focused design that brings together three essential elements – business strategy, customer experience and technology – into a coherent, fully-fledged digital strategy.
In other words, today’s most successful companies have a strategy that is focused around a simple and regularly-updated list of priorities. They incorporate the new generation of technologies like IoT, blockchain and AI. But they keep their people, and their customers at the core of their business by designing strategies that directly address customers’ underlying needs and desired outcomes.
This sounds dead obvious. But what we find is that many companies we talk to are focused on growing their revenues, or making improvements to their products and services, rather than creating better customer experiences. Or they have the strategy, but are battling to execute it effectively.
Of course, to underpin this customer transformation journey, you’re going to need some data and the foundational technologies on which today’s innovations depend – data mining and analytics, mobile, and cloud. You may also need to rethink your processes to manage, enrich and maintain data, and operationalise it throughout your business.
So you have all of that in place? Good. Now stop. Breathe. Ask yourself whether your technology and data are truly supporting an unwavering focus on the customer. Because if you take one message from this article, let it be this: in today’s marketplace, putting your customer at the centre of your business is imperative to driving growth and profitability, winning market share and unlocking the value of your technology investments.
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