This week, I was reviewing the results of our annual Engage Success Survey, and I noticed something particularly interesting.
The large majority of our respondents rated "cold calling" as their weakest sales skill, the skill they hated the most - and the skill that they felt could have the largest positive impact on their results if they improved at it!
So I got to thinking . Since cold calling is clearly so essential, what can we do as sales people to make it more fun - and more profitable?
Identify and target your ideal buyers
One idea is to target your approach and focus on only one niche market.
By focusing all your efforts on a particular group, you'll be able to build solid relationships and establish a proven reputation much more quickly. Once you've cemented your position at the heart of this group, you'll no longer have to make any cold calls, because all your cold calling will be replaced with introductions, referrals and warm leads!
Take a moment to fully grasp the power of this concept. There are always a small group of ideal buyers who are cheaper and easier to sell to, but who also bring greater rewards. You likely have some of these "dream customers" right now, but if you're like most sales people, they probably represent a relatively small portion of your client list.
Now - imagine how much more successful you would be if all your customers were ideal customers? You'd not only close more deals and make more money. You'd also have more fun, because when you sell to people you know are ideal for your business, you're more persistent, more passionate and more engaged.
The Dream Sell List
This concept is called "The Dream Sell List," and it encourages you to go after your "dream" prospects with a vengeance. It was developed and perfected by my good friend Chet Holmes www.ChetHolmes.com over 20 years ago and has been responsible for 100's of companies doubling their sales revenue ever since.
One Engage client is using this strategy right now to improve his revenues and profits. First, he identified the top 30 potential clients in his market. Then, he began sending them a newsletter or value-based marketing piece every two weeks without fail.
Next, he reduced the number of networking events he attends and association work he does to those few select groups that his top 30 are involved in. He made a commitment to attend events he knew they would be at or call them a minimum of four times a month. He also staged a monthly invitation-only series of seminars - and guess who he invited?
Since these prospects represented the biggest buyers in his market, the first four months of intensive marketing and selling brought no financial reward. In the fifth month, however, one of these "dream" clients moved their financial planning over to him. By month number six, three of the 30 largest potential customers in his market had given him their business.
Ask yourself: who are your best buyers? If you sell B2C, whether you're a dentist, accountant, chiropractor, real estate broker or financial advisor, chances are your best buyers live in the best neighborhoods. They have the most money and the greatest sphere of influence. So take a look at your current customer list, identify where your best customers live and target your marketing efforts to others in those neighborhoods. If you send them an offer every single month without fail, within a year, I can practically guarantee you'll have built a great reputation among the very wealthy.
If you sell B2B, your best buyers are usually the biggest companies - Fortune 100 if your business sells internationally, or the biggest companies in your area if you sell locally. What are you doing every other week, no matter what, to let these companies know who you are?
Persistence always pays off
There's no one you can't get to as long as you constantly market to them, especially after they say they're not interested.
People will not only begin to respect your perseverance; they'll actually begin to feel obligated to at least hear you out. It may not happen right away. But believe me, even the most hard-bitten and cynical executive can't help but respect a sales person who just won't give up.
Just make sure you don't cross the line between persistence and stalking, or all your hard work really will be for nothing! For more on this topic, check out our article "The Fine Line Between Persistence and Stalking" online.
That client I mentioned earlier? By freeing the time he used to spend going after business outside his core target group, he's been able to spend much more time building relations with his top 30 and their networks. He now works fewer hours than he did before, and his referrals and sales have doubled.
Another company I work with that sells to the government used this strategy recently to target the ten highest directors in each of the ten largest departments in the country. That's a list of just 100 unique names.
For the first three months, no one responded to any of their direct mail pieces or phone calls. But by the fourth month, most of the directors started saying: "I just have to meet you. I've never had anyone continue to call me so many times after I said no."
Within six months, the company's sales reps had gotten in to see 75% of the high-level directors they had targeted.
The secret is to NEVER give up. No matter what they say. Period.
Once you've identified your list of dream customers, just keep going after them again and again until they agree to meet you. Or if you sell to consumers, commit to sending a value-rich promotional piece like a newsletter every single month to those wealthy neighborhoods. Eventually, all the wealthy people in your area will know exactly who you are.
So - who are your dream prospects? And how committed are you to getting them as clients?
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Make sure you check out Colleen's latest book, Nonstop Sales Boom for powerful strategies to drive consistent sales growth quarter after quarter, year after year.
Colleen Francis, Sales Expert, is Founder and President of Engage Selling Solutions (www.EngageSelling.com). Armed with skills developed from years of experience, Colleen helps clients realize immediate results, achieve lasting success and permanently raise their bottom line.
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