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How to cold call proof your business

14 Oct

 

After years and years of getting lead generation outsourcing companies cold call me asking “ can you put me through to the decision maker” I thought let’s make it even harder for these folks to phone SPAM and tarnish the 1% of sales and marketing people who actually do some research before “GETTING ON THE PHONE” “DIALING FOR DOLLARS” and sales managers who have spent far too much time watching Glengarry glen ross.
In today’s environment, it is absolutely critical to approach people in a new way. The days of cold calling “put me through to the decision maker please” calls are well and truly over. ( Good riddance.)
The traditional numbers-focused sales and marketing model has fallen apart. Especially when selling or marketing technology products to savvy, tech folks. They don’t care about our products and services, they care about what those things can do for the businesses they run. The old school strategy of hiring more “feet on the street” doubling sales org to double revenue looking for sales growth or generating volumes/volumes of “leads” is proving wildly inefficient.
Here is my advice to Technology buyers and ensure sales/marketing people do some work upfront :

Top 10 ways to cold call proof your business from phone spammers and sales/marketing people not doing any research before picking up the phone :

1. Do not have e mail addresses online. Have a central management@X.com or something similar.
2. Most salespeople can guess your e mail by checking it online, Google search etc. They will guess certain firstname.lastname@vendor.com etc add a twist to your company e mail. For example add a number, sign or something that cannot easily be guessed.
3. Have a central voice mail system and have ALL sales solicitations going to that. One member of stuff can review on a daily, weekly basis and reward relevant messages with a response.
4. Have a new vendors please contact us at vendors@…….com ( review daily, weekly)
5. Have a paragraph on your website dedicated to new vendors. List projects, help required and have a single entry point for inquiries.
6. Do not have direct telephone numbers on your website.( Investor relations, PR etc – salespeople use these to get in)
7. Give clear guidance to the receptionist. ( sales and marketing people refer to these people disrepectuflly as gate keepers. ) Train them to reward folks that have done some upfront work.
8. Have a companywide policy to direct all inquiries to a certain person and/or e mail address
9. Keep an eye on your internal phone directories. ( have clear guidance for salespeople/marketers to follow as opposed to cold calling all over the place and wasting your employees time. ( Salepeople punch in random names and try to get internal referrals. This is also very attractive to mis – guided inside sales team to artificially inflate “dials”. Because dials = sales right????? ( not)
10. And lastly, if they get through all that and still contact you. Give them at least a quick response. Yes, no. not on the agenda for 6 months etc. They have earned it.

Here are 4 easy tips to help you get above the clutter and noise in less time than it takes to make a cup of coffee…
1. Go to the website of the company you’re calling before picking up the phone. You are now in the TOP 10% of sales/marketing people in the US.
2. Go to the website and actually read something about the business you’re calling. Congrats you just made the TOP 5% of sales/marketing people in the US.
3. Go to the company’s website, read something , tailor a specific message that fits their business OR tell them something they don’t know. TOP 1% (Read: Exceptional credibility. )
4. Don’t give up too early. (It often takes several tries to get a response) Most salespeople give up after 4 attempts.
Welcome to the TOP 1% of sales people in the USA. Even though you do not have much competition, don’t let your standards slip.

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Venture capital firms and market development

17 Aug

Amassive Nod to Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler @ predictablerevenue.com for the basis of this post.

I was chatting with a  couple of venture capital (VC) guys from 2 different firms recently and something dawned on us – Most VC firms are not well equipped to deal with the disruptive changes ongoing in the technology field today. Especially when it comes to marketing and sales execution.

We agreed the firms have great portfolios of companies and great relationship with founders. However, there is a new role that needs to start showing up in VC firms or can (should) be part of their stable of services. As well as a EIR (Entrepreneur in residence) VC firms need to have a on the ground day to day person getting their hands dirty across all the portfolio companies when required.

Here is one major area how thinking about startups, not just from the founders, executive level management perspective but how a bottoms up approach can help grow a company in the critical early stages. In the areas of sales and marketing. Also known as Growth.

One of the major problems at technology startups today is the lack of understanding of how much sales and marketing principles have changed. “If I need to double revenue growth, I need to double my sales force to drive it” or “I need to generate 1,000 leads to generate one sale. Therefore 2,000 leads will generate two sales.”

This doesn’t make sense and management teams, VC firms are confusing correlation and causality. A vendor who believes in this may as well claim, “Christmas trees cause Christmas.”

The majority of VCs and technology startup management teams are still under the influence of the 1990’s, 2000’s mind set. Sales and marketing has changed so much it’s amazing (especially in the IT industry).

The problem today: Not generating enough qualified pipeline and sales to hit and exceed estimated revenue targets.

Here are the two major root assumptions executives, founders and VC firms have that cause the majority of the problem:

I need to double my revenue, therefore I need to double my sales team & salespeople can find new business on their own.

No they won’t. They may find some but not enough to grow 30%, 40% 50% etc. Even if they do, they become too busy dealing with those deals that they fall behind (Aaron Ross of Predictable revenue calls this “lumping”. Having salespeople forced to cold, call, qualify, run the cycle, close and manage.)

Here’s why:

  1. Salespeople are not great at prospecting. (Sometimes it has taken 10, 20, 30 attempts to break into a company and qualify a brand new opportunity. Salespeople usually stop after 4 – 5 times).
  2. Salespeople typically do not like to prospect and do the upfront work to drive demand (salespeople want to sell not drive demand).
  3. Even if a salesperson does do some prospecting, as soon as they generate some pipeline, they become too busy to prospect. It’s not sustainable. This is why ramp up times are so much longer than anticipated.

Salespeople do not cause customer acquisition growth, they fulfill it.

It’s a huge shift in thinking and VC firms will be well served to develop more internal expertise and not just rely on executive management relationships. Of course a company needs more salespeople if they are getting bigger, but this is not the main cause of new customer growth.

Marketing, awareness, demand generation and engagement cause new customer acquisition and sales fulfill that demand generated by marketing.

There aren’t any quick fixes. However, there are ways to solve this. I have outlined (in brief) a few ideas below for you to consider (These are especially Important for companies with a high volume sales model).

  • Trial-and-error in awareness, demand generation (requires patience, experimentation, money) MUST be a true combination of sales and marketing team working together. I jokingly call this SMARKETING but it works.
  • Use CRM religiously and track, track, track.
  • Patience in building great word-of-mouth (the highest value lead generation source, but hardest to influence).
  • Create a well-supported demand generation (inbound and outbound) practice +sales development team with resources, This is by far the most predictable source of pipeline, but it takes time and focus (ties in to point # 1). BEST indicator of pipeline generation in the short term. We did this at a previous company and took the business from $1 Million a quarter to $ 6 Million.
  • PR & Social media outreach on a consistent basis
    Find the right online and offline network ( social and personal)
  • Target social networks that are relevant
  • Listen
  • Engage
  • Track results

How much (qualified) pipeline does your company need to generate on a monthly basis? Most startups don’t know this.

P.S: Massive assumption of this post is your product works and it solves a problem/want/need/desire.

P.S.S: Eric Ries says in the Lean Startup “New Customers come from the actions of past customers” but guess what how do you get those customers in the first place.” Next post I will outline some specific ways to generate opportunities from nothing.

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