Yes, I apologize for that blatant plagiarism of a classic Monty Python phrase, but it fits with what I wish to touch upon today.
This past year I have immersed myself in various types of sales techniques, following various sales coaches on YouTube or through their own blogs and websites, and there is one thing that I have heard consistently from each and every sales coach: mix it up. They advocate a mix of contacts with your prospective clients, rather than the more “tried ‘n’ true” methods such as cold calling or repeated calling. They recommend usage of social media, email, phone calls, letters, direct mail – basically various methods of “touch points” with your prospective clients. For example, you might cold call first, then follow up with a letter, and follow that up with an email or LinkedIn email. Add to that is social media interaction, additional calls, hand-written notes or cards, dropping off information about you and your company, or dropping off samples – basically various means and methods to reach out and engage your prospect. And I have embraced this by using a mix of contact methods with the prospects that I have. So far, I have found it to be successful.
I DON’T WANT TO LEAVE ANOTHER VOICE MAIL!
When I research a prospect I create a whole packet of information, so I know them and their company, and can converse intelligently with them about their company when I speak with them. A couple of weeks back I was looking at a tall stack of prospects that I needed to reach out to again, but I saw that in most cases I’d left 3-5 voice mails already. I looked at that stack and said “I DON’T want to leave another voice mail!” I wanted to reach out in a different way. I thought of it being summertime, and a recent photo I’d put on my Facebook page that seemed “summery”, and thought of doing a postcard – something that would talk about “it’s summer, kids out of school, you still have print needs, blah-blah-blah”. I then went onto social media and mentioned that idea to my print-geek friends, and one of them came back with a brilliant idea.
DONT’ MAKE IT ABOUT PRINT……
Kate Gansneder of Washington state suggested that I make the postcard about summer activities that are either free or at least low-cost. Kate’s a mom with an active family of daughters. I’m sure that, for her, looking for things to do as a family that are inexpensive or free is high on her list. Her idea was wonderful! Plus, Kate is not a typical print buyer or print seller person, so her outside-of-the-box ideas are refreshing. Armed with her suggestion, I decided to do a series of four postcards, each with a different low-cost or no-cost idea for the summer: backyard camping; picnicking; special movie deals and mid-week low-cost bowling. When I got home that night I downloaded an open source page layout application, found images that were labeled for reuse, wrote the copy and created the PDFs, all in about 2-3 hours. After getting approval and suggestions from my employer, they were printed, and I hand-addressed the first card in the series (backyard camping) to go out over a 2-day period. To make sure the rest in the series go out at regular intervals, I placed specific tasks into the contacts on our CRM, and then put follow up calls as tasks on my Outlook calendar. The thing about these is that they are NOT about print. They are ideas for my clients and prospects, and more importantly, they are just one more “touch point” for those clients. I know that the recipients of these cards will remember them more than samples or another voice mail. And that was my goal: to be a resource to my customers, even it if ISN’T about print. So, when I call, they will remember me and, hopefully, engage with me.
Something completely different…..
And now, here in January 2015, a follow up. While I did not have as great a response as I had hoped for with the cards, when I calculate the responses I DID get (i.e., took my call, emailed back, called back), it came to around 2%, which – in direct mail – is a VERY good response rate. In addition, when I did calls to prospects over the Holidays, one of them mentioned having received the cards, remembered them, tole me she liked them and had saved them, and asked me to call back after the Holidays to discuss potential work.