OK, so Grant Cardone may love cold calling, but most of us hate it. (And, frankly, I find Cardone’s approach seriously off-putting). So, like many people, I was thrilled when “inbound marketing” became a thing.
I had fantasies about never having to cold call again.
But as the amount of content on the Internet has skyrocketed, the dream of just being “found” naturally as a result of your great inbound marketing content has become less and less likely.
So the need to make sales calls isn’t going away. (Darn!)
As today’s guest, Jill Konrath, puts it in our interview,
“I’m not going to sit here an wait until somebody from [my target customer] stumbles across my website.”
That huge content overload (what Mark Schaeffer called “content shock“), not only makes it harder for you to reach your prospects, it even makes it harder for your sales people to do their jobs well. Because they are also dealing with content overload.
Even Konrath realized she was struggling with Internet-based distractions, which led to her new book, More Sales, Less Time. It talks about the things she’s done to overcome the overwhelm; something we also discuss in today’s podcast.
How You Sell Matters
But how we sell is vitally important to the customer experience. If I get a Cardone-type on the call, I’m outta there!
And I’ll be warning all my friends to stay away.
Konrath is one of the sales gurus whose approach to sales is a lot more aligned with what I believe makes for good customer experiences.
It’s about building a relationship based on honesty and openness, right from the start. A relationship that will leave prospects feeling good about you, whether or not they ultimately become customers.
Now to be fair, with good content marketing, some inbound calls or emails are likely to happen. But they probably won’t be enough to keep you in business. Even Hubspot — one of the first companies to really push the idea of “inbound marketing” — admits that it does outbound sales too.
Sales in the Digital Era
So if you can’t rely on inbound marketing efforts, what do you do instead?
Well, the elements of inbound are still important:
You need a good, informative website.
Pretty well everybody is going to go to your website before contacting you, and/or after you’ve reached out to them. It had better answer their questions. (You might find our 85 Tips to a Winning Website helpful.)
Social media matters.
It’s like advertising: it builds brand awareness, which can make people more open to talking to you when you try to contact them.
Target specific niches, and develop content just for them.
Some of this content you’ll use on the website, and some of it will help in sales calls. If you try to sell to everybody, you may end up selling to nobody. Decide who you are really after.
But how you handle the actual calls (and getting people to take them) has changed a bit.
Avoid premature pitching.
To be fair, you should never have just been talking about what you offer. But the reality is that there’s even less point in doing that now than there was before. As Konrath put it:
The business case is essential.
Again, the business case was always important (in theory), but the days of doing deals just because you are friends with the right person are pretty much gone. Even if your buddy wants to deal with you, they’ll have to be able to prove the business case to their colleagues. So as a sales rep, you want to help “project manage” that internal sales process.
Other Sales Advice In This Interview:
- How to set time limits on how much pre-sales-call research you do, and use the research time more effectively.
- The importance of “trigger events“: what they are and how to use them in your sales.
- Why you shouldn’t just run with the sale when somebody calls and says that they want to buy from you.
- The key questions to ask to build a real relationship that leads to a sale.
- Tools that can help you manage distractions.
Now, time for me to pick up my phone and make a sales call.