A semi-funny story, with a point that advertising salespeople can use. You can credit me or not (Jean Best, Best Marketing) This is something I have used in my career in ad sales and as a sales manager for a couple of newspapers, radio stations, and ad agencies, both here in Raleigh area, as well as back in NYC.
Many sales people have business owners say their ads do not work. OK, let me prove ads work! Lets run an ad and give away a FREE item to first (10, 20, 100) customers. Absolutely FREE with the ad or mention of ad, BUT the salesperson gets to pick the item. Here’s where you, as the salesperson, pick an expensive item, say for example a $300 TV. The store owner, OF COURSE, will have a slight fit! They usually then say – are you kidding ( Crazy!?) I’ll go broke giving away thousands of dollar$$ worth of products. Let’s give a $1 or $2 item!
My answer was sooooo – you are saying the ad will work?! IF the ad isn’t going to work, why is it a problem to advertise to give away an really expensive item? If the ad isn’t going to bring people in asking for the item, then why worry?
The point of this is, WHAT you advertise, not IF you advertise, makes the difference in response to advertising.
But, a word of caution, be careful how you say it – don’t make an enemy of the business owner. Better to be laughing when you say it, and still get the point across.
This little story has resulted in closing many, many sales for me, and my sales staffs. Oh, and the use of the word FREE often and boldly helps too!
Here are some tips when cold-calling:
Learn the peak and off hours so you do not interrupt their business or customers. Do not expect the customer to wait til you are done; you should wait til they have been taken care of.
When the first person you see may be sweeping the floor, cleaning a table, stocking shelves or answering phones – most people would ask politely, “can I speak to the owner (or manager).” You should NOT assume they are not the owner or manager. A better way is to ask are you the owner, or manager, or even person in charge. It accomplishes a few things. IF they aren’t, they now feel respected and can become an ally, getting you in front of the decision maker; if they are, then you still showed respect for their business and staff. Many owners have to do every job at some point during their day to day operations and get their hands dirty, or wear same uniform as their staff.
Never underestimate who you are talking to…they may not be the owner or manager, but could be a relative. If they ask what it’s about, or what you want, don’t talk down saying you only want to talk to owner.
Same thing applies when you do talk to decision maker – don’t knock their business and say you can make it better; you can offer some suggestions to help – but putting someone on the defensive by saying they are not handling their business correctly only puts up a wall. You want to become an asset, talk about helping them save time, as well as money, by using your or your company’s products or services.
Remember TIME is very valuable in small businesses, and especially now with Covid-19, Coronavirus affecting so many. There is a short time to make a comeback to remain open.
There is so much to do that a lot of the marketing, advertising, promotion of the business gets put off; especially keeping the public up to date on social media, and keeping website current. If you can show how you can help them save time as well as money, it can be a deciding point for a harried owner.
You should also offer conversationally a reference or business similar to theirs that you have worked with in past, or are working with currently, to show you understand their potential needs, so you can provide a solution.
Never be Negative! A radio sales rep once asked a client of mine if he felt I knew what I was doing, did I have his business interests as priority, and was I really helping his business. The client said well I hope so, that’s why I hired her. Rep proceeded to say that since I advised against his station, I did not have the best interest of the business at the forefront, and that he could a much better job. The owner then said – how do you know that is not my wife, or sister or business partner that you are knocking! All that rep accomplished was to make 2 enemies, and of course, the owner never would work with him since. Not every service is the right fit for every business.
Never burn your bridges! You never know when you may need to talk to that person again, or patronize their business, or, if you change jobs, or they do, you may need to call on them again. Even if you do not earn their business right away, it is always better to be on good terms. They may even refer you to someone else.
Be knowledgable! Salespeople should learn something about the business and the industry that they are calling on, so you can talk the “language” and use proper terminology. To be able to help a business you really need to know about it. Too many salespeople are so busy talking about what they do or sell, that they ignore the trends in the particular business or industry, or what the business owner wants or needs.
Be positive! It is always better to be positive and creative, than to downgrade what is or has been done, even if it didn’t work. A no today does not necessarily mean no tomorrow or in the near future – circumstances change in businesses every day. Covid is a prime example – no one could have imagined being shut down for months.
For business owners, it’s like starting from opening day again.
Be pleasant! No one wants to talk to someone who is depressed, angry or makes you feel like your time is not valuable.
90% of sales closings are personality driven. An old saying is that as a salesperson you have to sell yourself, then the product or service!
Business is getting better, and although many are being forced to make the decision to close permanently, it is better to be part of the solution, than the problem.