How do you make the first contact with a prospect? Many people do it with a phone call. How do you approach that phone call? Look back on many of your previous phone calls. Look at your ratios. They may scare you, or maybe they look pretty good. But if your first approach is always a cold call then I bet your ratio is scary.
Now lets try something new. Now this may go against what you have been taught, or even what your boss expects. Why not turn that cold call into a warm call? If you have been in business and established enough it may be easy. If you are new in business you can still create warm calls.
For established businesses/sales person (team), send out a letter thanking your customers for their business and support. Let them know you would like to give business back to them as well and ask them to discribe their target customer. Then discribe your target cusotmer and ask for a referral. Also ask them if you can use their name when contacting the referral (hopefully they'll say yes). There is your warm call. Gitomer says something to the effect that your current customers are your best source of business, so use them. They do appreciate it. It makes them feel you appreciate them enough to ask their opinions and for their help. But don't forget to thank them with a return referral or a thank you gift/card.
Now if you are a new business, like myself, you can still create warm calls. This will also work for established businesses as well. Instead of using the phone for your first contact, send a letter. Tell them a little bit about your business, but not too much information. Make sure to put a catch in the letter. Something that they can't resist, or is memorable to them. Humor is great as well. Also let them know when you will be contacting them. This way they will be expecting your call and will be more willing to listen. This will also help you to feel more confident.
Another way to create a warm call is to go to other businesses that you know do business with you target customer. Ask them work with you to create a referral system. You refer customers to them and they do the same.
Recently I went in to visit one of the businesses I felt could help us get our ladder racks to the end user, a truck accessories dealer. I had sent him a letter previously. He instantly recognized the name, said he had received the letter and checked out our website. He informed me that he was interested in doing business with us as a customer rather then a referral source. Great for me I'd rather work on a wholesale level then go after the individual. He was already comfortable with our concepts that he had read on the website. He just wanted one change. Round tubing instead of square. I then let him know that we were in the process of making that change. At that he said "contact me as soon as you get that first rack built. I want to come look at it." At that we agree to meet again and become a team. The letter worked to warm him up to my visit, and give him a chance to be prepared with questions he needed answers to. It also lets your prospect know that you realize their time is valuable and you want to respect it.
I have also gone into businesses that work with contractors. They have been very open to putting my brochure and business card out in order to help us get our name out their. I have also ran into potential customers that way as well.
So if cold calling scares you then change your way of THINKING! to warm calls. Create partners in business that can help you with a referral system, instead of calling the end user directly. Send letters to warm up your end users.
Note: DO NOT forget to send thank you's to your partners in business or your customers, and return the favors as well. Here are a couple great ways to say thank you:
Designing Women Gift Basket
Internet Greeting Cards
"Uncover Your Mental Operation System/Belief 8 Upgrade Your Attitude 8 Take Specific and measurable Action 8 Attract the Right Prospects 8 Produce the Desired, Specific, and Measurable Results 8 Great Lifestyle and Extraordinary Performance"
Keith Rosen, MCC The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cold Calling