I do a lot of coaching and mentoring for professional advisers – lawyers, accountants, mortgage advisers, Business Development Managers, IFAs – who all need to drum up new business from time to time.
Most of them are not cut out to make cold calls and indeed, in their professions, this is wholly undesirable and dilutes their value. I also believe that cold calling should be banished from the kingdom, forever and culprits should be placed in the town stocks and covered in tomatoes.
It’s a thing of a past era. However, many of these professions ask me to help them to re-contact orphan client banks or past clients to re-ignite the relationship. Regular emails, leaflets, letters etc just seem so archaic and emails seem to have a similar reputation as cold calls and are called Spam. Besides the new GDPR is scaring the living daylights out of firms who are fearful of being fined for illicit use of data.
Naturally there are a myriad ways of connecting to a customer – inbound, digital marketing, blogging, advertising both on and off line come to mind. But these are slow burn. Businesses want a quicker response.
The speediest fix is to make a call. But how, bearing in mind people’s reluctance to both make the call and receive it. If you have to, then here’s how.
Firstly are you B2B or B2C – if you’re B2C – Business to Consumer – then don’t call. On balance you shouldn’t, period. If you’re B2B – Business to Business – then you can but be wary that your response will not be kind and you’ll have to overcome some reticence to make any progress.
The reticence comes from your own inner game – your dialogue inside your head and the problem of getting through to talk to a customer, after all PA’s, voice mail all get in the way.
The first obstacle is your own head. You’re not looking to sell them anything, just make contact for the future so when they’re in the market for your service, they know where to go.
When I moved into my current house in Cheltenham, I took care of all the cleaning as it was a small terraced house and didn’t need too much time to keep it in check. Being in town, every day my mail box would fill with leaflets, Dominoes Pizza menus, the local Indian curry house and local cleaners willing to clean my house and windows. Every time they arrived, they went straight into recycling, but occasionally I’d keep them in a drawer, just in case.
During a particular busy period on my work, the house became neglected, my ironing pile grew, the house started to look a little grubby and I needed help. Where did I go? Yes, I asked friends if they knew anyone who could do my windows and clean my house, to no avail, so the next port of call was the drawer with all the leaflets. Inside I found John’s Windows “A Shine Guaranteed”, a quick call and we agreed to see him very two months. Another leaflet had Julie’s Cleaning “Satisfaction Guaranteed”, a quick call and she calls in every two weeks for a couple of hours and is a dream.
You see, the leaflets weren’t designed to sell to me immediately but to sow the seed and be burrowed away for later perusal. And they were.
That’s exactly how you should approach the call. You don’t want to sell them anything now or push them to another appointment, but to pique their interest, so when they’re in the market to buy your service, they’re sure to give you a call.
When making first contact with your client, immediately confirm you’re not selling anything or want to commit them to anything but you’ve been doing some great work in such and such area with such and such firm and you’d really like to talk to them about that. So when they’re in the market they know where you are.
It doesn’t work everytime but it certainly clears your mind so you don’t have inner dialogue that’ll put you off making the call. As soon as your customer feels you’re not looking to sell them anything, they will become less defensive and might agree to a next step
It’s about spreading awareness to your client. They may recall doing business with your firm in the past but they may not, that’s always the struggle with contacting databases. Your client is probably on a dozen or so databases and is the client of many firms.
Remember my cleaner, Julie’s “Satisfaction Guaranteed” leaflet was left in my mail box to be looked at when I had the need, use this concept and you won’t go far wrong.