As I get older and the reps I train seem younger, I see more and more call reluctance. I know that telephone conversation is far less common than in my teen years when we’d pressure test our dads’ circulatory systems by tying up the phone for hours on end. A phone call for today’s younger professionals is like a telegram was to my grandmother – reserved for extremely special occasions or to report that someone has died. It doesn’t help B2E entrepreneurs with young staff that sales pundits everywhere are kicking this prospecting method to the curb in favor of email and social media. These tools are critical to driving your marketing message, but in B2E, my data says keep dialing! Take advantage of the fact that most reps fear the phone, and use this knowledge to eat their lunch.
Cold calling remains one of the most successful forms of lead generation for the teams I’ve coached. If you think about schools and school systems, they are highly distributed organizations. Teachers are isolated in classrooms all day, principals are located in separate buildings, specialists travel from school to school, and parents are one step further removed from the network. Group meetings are few. Educators function via email. An inordinately high amount of email. You will never replace the value of content that can be seen online to an education prospect, but you better be thinking of ways to get that content noticed. Emails are passive, social media even more so, but phone calls mean business.
Who likes getting out of bed? No one. We all hate change, and getting out of a warm bed on a cold morning is the worst change I can think of right now. Picture yourself warm and cozily sleeping in bed and your spouse whispers, “Good morning,” and slips out of the room to go about their day. That’s a sales email. You can react to it if you want to, but you can also painlessly avoid it. Now picture yourself in that same warm, cozy state and your alarm clock goes off. That is a sales call. You can hit snooze a few times but if persistent, the message is received. Like I said, phone calls, especially repetitive ones, mean business.
Now think about a school principal. He is receiving hundreds of emails a day he wants to read from his district, his teachers, his parents, educational journals, news sources and of course his personal friends and interests. He is also receiving what is reported as dozens of daily sales messages and offers from B2E companies. Think about what dozens of vendors approaching you each day feels like. I travel a lot so that has to be the one category of vendors I get the most offers and newsletters from. Today’s count is only five, and I am super annoyed already. A principal is going to ignore or delete everything he possibly can so that he can address what is truly important in his inbox.
Surely educators don’t want a phone call interruptions from sales reps? Of course not, no more than you or I do. Don’t think placing calls equates to reaching anyone by phone. They’ll call you back if they want to talk to you. Here’s what prospecting by phone using the C-E-C-E Method is going to look like. It will make cold calling completely painless and very effective for beginners:
Touch One – Call. Call between 10 am and 1 pm when you have no chance of reaching the principal. The call will either go to voicemail or be answered by a gatekeeper and sent to voicemail. Voicemail script action item is “Keep an eye out for my email with all this information.” This voicemail will be immediately forgotten.
Touch Two – Email. Send the email at about 8 am local time the following morning. I like 8 am because you can land chronologically higher than all the overnight automated messages such as attendance reports, and still beat the day’s onslaught of new information. The email might ring a bell but will likely be ignored or deleted because you really haven’t earned it yet.
Touch Three – Call. Call two business days after the email, and again, you are going to voicemail so don’t be nervous. Voicemail script action item is “I am hoping you had a chance to check out some of the links in my email from Tuesday, in fact just in case, I’ll resend it so it is at the top of your inbox.” This voicemail is going to make him nervous. You’re clearly one of those reps that isn’t going away. He may resolve to at least glance at your email when it arrives so he can email you back that he has no money or isn’t interested.
Touch Four – Email. Send this one right after your call. Just forward the same one back to him with a blurb that says, “Here is that email again in case you haven’t had a chance to see (your special valuable offer for him).”
Four touches in five days, call – email – call – email, or C-E-C-E for short (pronounced “chee-chee”). Now wait for a response. You may get one of the four classic brush-offs or you may see that he’s followed one of your links, making him at the very least a sales “suspect” if not a bona fide lead. Now the real work begins in setting a sales meeting with your target.
Not worth the effort? Here’s a comparison of 200 contacts and the results after 2 weeks from the initial contact. 200 schools were contacted with one email and left alone for the One Touch Method, a.k.a. the way your reps want to do it. 200 different schools were contacted with C-E-C-E.
Using one email, after two weeks I had set one appointment in 200 contacts, 4 no’s and 195 cricket chirps. Using C-E-C-E, within two weeks of the first touch I received a total of 27 responses: 8 appointments and 19 “no thanks.” That is a huge increase in return for the added effort, and don’t scoff at the even larger increase in turn downs. A no is far better than nothing! That’s one less school in 110,000 to keep dialing (this month). And guess what? For the prospects that truly are engaged by your offer, you’re going to have grabbed their attention and converted them into suspects or leads.