If you want to look old as a marketer, use tired old marketing tactics that, technically, might “work” but fail over 90% of the time.
Traditional direct mail, for example, offers a typical 2% response rate. So going in, you know that there’s an excellent chance that almost every little postcard you send out in carpet-bombing, non-personalized fashion is going to be filed in a cylinder under a desk or be used as birdcage lining. This is not the same as direct mail that utilizes Personalized URLs (PURLs) – those can be great – but instead a piece of paper that provides no further attempt to get to know the prospect or ever takes the prospect down a more personalized funnel.
Cold calling is another example. Traditional salespeople say it works, but they can’t deny that the percentages are not in their favor here either. You dial 10 people who are only marginally qualified at best and you’re going to have 9 out of 10 of those people say, “Not interested,” if not be outright pissed that you’re interrupting their day (and the one who actually talks to you may be a lead but not ultimately a sale). Especially when you launch into your script about how your life-changing services are just what they’ve been waiting for when you’ve made no attempt to truly understand their needs. Oh wait. That would take more intensive research on that prospect and who has time for that. My bad.
Can we get real about what “works” when we’re talking sales and marketing?
Maybe we can agree on this much, regardless of this or that tactic – sending out a blanket message to thousands of people you have never interacted with before may not be as good for conversion as you getting to know them, understanding their challenges and providing a path that helps them through a decision.
No, this isn’t a launch into how inbound marketing is King and everything else is dead (although inbound is extremely vital). There’s still a place in this world for “Push” strategies and advertising and selling. But the way we push can, is and will be more 1-to-1 than ever. More customized. More selective, pre-qualified and integrated with digital to improve our close ratios. More scalable so that more people can receive a personalized approach. What is continually evolving in our world is the need for greater business intelligence faster as we prospect. And as better technological tools catch up with that ambition to help identify our targets more specifically in advance, we may not have as much of a need to dial for dollars by the thousands of people.
But beyond the technology, how do you change that mindset so that you actually slow down sales and clarify yourself as a viable option in the prospect’s mind?
I do have a suggestion on that, which hopefully is as helpful to you as it has been to me.
One company that has had a profound impact in the way I’ve thought about selling myself and my services is Sales Results, Inc. To be honest, when I approached this company years ago, I was great at helping my clients build their brand but I had trouble with how I developed my own approach. I didn’t have a good “elevator speech.” I didn’t know how to set an agenda for my meetings – most were just throwaway “I’ll keep an eye out for you” coffees and lunches. And I didn’t hold myself accountable for my activities or should I say, lack of them.
Jim Sheehan and Steve Fretzin changed all that for me. I find myself continually learning that there are smarter ways to, in fairly efficient order, discover if there’s a natural fit between two parties as either a sale or a strategic partnership. And how liberating it can be to help someone clarify a decision – even if that decision doesn’t arrive at your business’ doorstep.
There are no shortcuts in sales (none I’ve found yet anyway). You still have to network. You still have to do one-on-ones and events. You still have to follow up after appointments. You still have to make referrals, not just take them.
But for some odd reason, when I employ the Sales Results methodology, it just doesn’t feel like hardcore, off-putting sales to me. And I consider that a very good thing. It’s more natural, comfortable and in my view, more effective.
There are two ways to get a sense of what I mean. One is to actually go through the Sales Results program. The other is to pick up Steve’s new book just released today called “Sales-Free Selling: The Death of Sales and the Rise of a New Methodology.”
To be on the safe side, I’d do both.