I know. This might be hard for you to believe. Or, maybe more likely, you believe it on some level, but question the effectiveness and efficiency of the method. Or, you just don’t like it and don’t want to have to do it. I don’t either. Because I know it’s literally one of the least efficient ways for a business to generate good sales leads. But it does in fact work, and I suggest you do whatever it is you need to to steel yourself to the idea and get to work. That’s what I’m doing today. And I do it any other time my pipeline is drying-up, and I want to stir things up.
“The thing about John is that he’s always out there stirring things-up.”
That really reinforced the idea for me. I looked up to and respected my Dad very much. He was a salesman too. And cold-calling was exactly what he did when he needed to find customers for Warren Printing; and it worked for him too.
The challenge is that because it’s not the most efficient thing you’ll do to generate leads, it’s easy to get discouraged and very quickly, or avoid the work altogether. Cold-calling also doesn’t often produce an immediat result. And that can be even more demorilizing.
Today is my last day of work for the week. I’m headed to San Antonio Texas to go watch my son Carl graduate from Air Force Boot Camp. I’ll tell more of that story in the coming weeks. It’s a good one. My real point here is that following a massive quarter of sales in Q2, my pipeline is as dry as the Califonia desert and if I’m going to hit my numbers for July, today is a day when I need to make things happen. Or, at the very least, go stir some things up – as many things as I can – so that upon my return on Monday, the seeds I planted already this month, and especially today, will have begun to reach for the sun.
I know this will work.
I’ve done it countless times before.
…and yet it would be so easy today to get lazy, head into my vacation a little early mentally and promise to hit the phones hard on Monday.
Nope! Time to get to work.
No matter what, today I bring my ladel; and I get to work stirring things up.
I suggest you do the same.
PS It doesn’t matter what kind of business you’re in. Cold call selling still works. The story I read this morning that inspired this post was one where a local business had been drop-in called on by a pizza shop owner, a baker, and a computer salesperson. All three made sales. The observation was that 40% of these kinds of calls will yield business, especially when combined with a special offer. It reminds me of my work as a pizza delivery man for Dominoes while in gradutate school…we used to head out in the middle of the afternoon and spend a few hours hanging coupons on doorknobs. This ALWAYS produced a great night at the shop. It literally NEVER failed to bring more business than we would have had otherwise.
PPS The image above is that of mailbox stuffer I received this spring. I still do my own lawn, but I think about this guy every time I go out to do it. Especially when the temperature tops 85-90 degrees. He didn’t get me this year, but he almost did and if I ever do need help, this is the guy I’ll call. I’m sure he landed plenty of other business with his efforts this spring. He came around twice.
It takes great imagination to pretend that the capital riot did not place on January 6th of this year. Along with a wide variety of varying and cockeyed belief systems. But that’s not the point of this story, just an example that helps reenforce the idea I’ve introduced in my headline.
A more positive example of how this ‘reality-bending’ can work is the ‘reality distortion tour’ that Steve Jobs created in order to put his ‘dent in the universe.’ You’re likely reading this post, in fact, on a device originally conceived by Steve himself.
My points here today are not political or hypothetical.
The point I really want to make here is one of marketing strategy. One in which you create unreasonable comparisons that favor your product or service. Because one really strategic way you can build perceived value in your products and services is by comparing what you offer to something that is totally different; and maybe even something that your prospect would never even want to buy.
The only limit in this game is your imagination.
The comparison need not be fair.
There are NO Rules – that’s what I really love about this strategy.
You can invest, for example, thousands of dollars a year in an expert coach to help you succeed. Someone who will hold you accountable to your goals, provide expert strategical guidance along the way, and all kinds of support to help keep you propped-up and pursuing your success with steadfast gusto, while your bank account drains at a dramatic and unproductive rate.
You can subscribe to the ash flash for free, stop by now and again, and very likely run into a post, podcast or video that will so dramatically change your thinking and perspective on a subject, that it will prove to be at the very least 10 times more valuable than hiring me directly as your guide.
If you are unable to quickly, easily and comfortably communicate the fundamental reason why people or organizations would choose to do business with you and you company above all other options, including doing nothing, you will likely have a very serious problem when prospecting for customers.
In fact, you might not ever even get your foot in the door..
Here’s a quick sales pitch formula to help you get started.
“We assist our _______[clients or customers] in the _______ [industry/business] to _______(what you help them do). We do this by _______[what do you help them do? what problems do you solve for your customers?].”
Don’t cheat this work. I know it sounds simple. Too simple, even.
But it’s not.
As soon as you begin working through this as it relates to your products and services and your company, you will see what I mean. If you haven’t answered other key sales and marketing questions about your business, you will have to go back and do that first, before you can get to this.
This process forces you to consider four very important questions about your business. Questions that I’m sure you’ve thought of at some point or another, but that I know first hand, most small business owners and salespeople don’t spend nearly enought time curating and clarifying so that they can truly hone their efforts.
I’m going through this again in my own work right now so I’m also speaking from very personal and timely experience.
Especially in light of everything that has changed over the last year and a half, it is time to reflect on how you, your work, and your business have changed in an effort to adapt to your customers and the marketplace.
What can you do differently?
How can you craft a killer unique selling proposition? (USP)
Here are those four quick questions that will help get you started.
Dou you work with individuals, organizations, enterprises, associations, or governments?
What industry or industry segment do you specialize in? What segment? What market? What type of business? “…OK, I know, that’s really a few questions in one, but they’re all related.”
Ninety percent of the success or failure of ANY sales offer is the headline.
How much time are you spending on your headlines?
The reason is that the headline answers the MOST important question you need to address in ANY sales pitch. “What’s in it for ME?”
Why should I stop everything I’m doing, open my wallet and invest in your product over any and all other products or simply do nothing at all?
Now, go back and look at the last few email subject lines you’ve written and ask yourself if they are good enough to break through these barriers. Stop wasting time and money and start putting a lot more attention and intention into crafting great headlines.
What does a headline do?
First and foremost, it attracts attention.
It communicates a strong benefit; and once you start looking around at what other are doing and maybe even what you are doing, you’ll see that this very often missing. Big mistake.
Third, and as I’ve mentioned already, your headline should appeal to the self-interest of the reader and answer the MOST important question of, “What’s in it for me?”
When thinking about headlines and how to use them it is also very important to remember that they are not only for the top of your sales letter, blog post or email. They should be used everywhere. For example, the teaser copy on an envelope and the back of your book are just as important as the headlines in your sales letters and advertisements. If your prospect won’t open your letter, you’ve accomplished nothing more than subsidizing the post office. If your book title stinks and is not compelling, you’ve wasted a lot of time, money, blood, sweat and tears for a book destined to be mostly ignored.
Advertising guru, John Caples once said that “when you write an ad, write a lot of headlines first. Spend hours writing headlines – or days if necessary. If you happen to think of a headline while walking down the street or while riding the bus, take out a pencil and paper and write it down.”
When was the last time you put that much thought and attention into writing a headline?
And if I still haven’t convinced you, think of this…
The father of advertising, David Oglivy, once said that “on average, five times as many people read headlines as read body copy. It follows that, unless your headline sells your product effectively, you have wasted 90 percent of your money.”
Good luck and remember, there are no shortcuts.
Subscribe to the ash flash and get your copy of The 100 Greatest Headlines of All time right now! Sometimes the answer to how to write headlines is simply swiping a successful one that you know already works 🙂
In a popular previous post on the subject of direct-mail, I stated that the death of direct-mail, print advertising, and long sales copy is continually exaggerated. Mostly, this is because it is misunderstood by most. Especially when considered in the context of similar stories warning of the apocalyptic end to the post office and printed mail in general, direct-mail as a viable and profitable marketing strategy is too easily set aside, like a bowl of vegetables at the dinner table.
Maybe it helps if you think about it this way…
Your mailing list is MORE valuable than your inventory, your expertise, and the services you offer. All of these things can be replaced, and also improved upon day to day inside your business. But without anyone to tell those stories to, other than the customers inside your store online or off, who is gonna care?
You want to find more people don’t you?
And when you find them, you want them to get just as excited as you are about what you do and the solutions you offer, don’t you?
You want them to visit your website or store, make inquiries, and then buy some or all of the things you sell, don’t you?
Sure, you can do it without a mailing list, but you are much less effective, and you will make less money than you could if you embraced this old school mechanism. I guarantee you.
When you continually work to build and cultivate your list, you open many doors to countless opportunities to MORE effectively serve your customers and communities. Your business might go bust and you might lose everything, and yet your cultivated list could become the seeds from which you grow something far stronger and more powerful.
There are countless means of accomplishing this goal.
I sincerely hope you choose at least one of them and start today.
I would be doing you a disservice here if I tried to tell you that marketing and the sales that result from it were easy. Remember, the mission here on the ash flash is to share real expertise in small doses for both your small business and your health and fitness program.
First, I have a lost of expertise to share when it comes to your health and fitness. And though I currently spend most of my time working as a salesman and marketing maniac, I spent the first 25 years of my career focused on clinical exercise physiology, personal training and fitness coaching. As my son Carl has pointed out on many occasions, “it would be a shame to waste all that talent and wisdom, Dad.” He’s right.
Second, there is such a preponderance of nonsense out here anymore that I also fee strongly that those of us committed to the good stuff, the real stuff, absolutely MUST make a commitment to sharing what we know. And what I know is that if you spend even just a little bit of time here on the ash flash, and especially if you come back regularly, you are bound to run into things that help you cultivate the slight edge .
Today, that might be the following two things I felt compared to share with you today.
Assuming you really want to get it right, and that you want to build the ultimate sale machine inside your business, you must embrace the idea that you are a marketer in the business of whatever it is you’re doing. Not the other way around. Once there, the next step is to embrace the complexity of creating a system from which you can derive a steady stream of leads and new business as well as cultivate more business from existing customers, generate referrals, constantly obtain good reviews and success stories, and so on.
Feeling overwhelmed by all this?
Start telling stories. As pointed out in the article, marketing at its core is really about stories. About seeing stuff, writing it down, and then sharing it in ways that are compelling, interesting, and prone to stir emotions and drive people to the actions that you desire.
So, if you’re in need of something today that will ground you in the ultimate truth that simplicity really is the ultimate sophistication, tell me a story. If it’s a good one, I’m always ready to listen.