Resellers always want more leads. Even just standing still requires fresh business connections - 20 per cent of the installed base will churn, even if you are the best on the block and it has been a good year.
Social media lead gen was about contributing to online chatter and building inbound momentum. It is a nice idea on paper, but it takes time, effort, dedication and a creative genius to achieve. On top of that, it will not necessarily find you customers to meet this quarter’s target.
Blogging helps avoid the rejections that come with cold calling - but it is tough to measure as a lead generation tool. Cold calling was about blitzing through parroted lists with a script and the inevitable “Send an email to [email protected]” or “Sorry but we have a no-name policy” responses.
Even though when the pressure is on, some VARs still insist on burning out their new starters with hours on the phone, no one has the stomach for years of that and at some point, eyeballs must meet eyeballs.
A better way fuses the best of new-age social and old-school cold calling: warm calling. This is about prepping the contact initially, to build rapport from the first “hello”. This initial communication should establish your appreciation for the prospect’s current circumstances, and that you are interested in genuinely helping them - based on the “saw this and thought of you” model.
Free data online from a variety of sources, including news and PR, found via targeted Googling, can provide enough background to craft an introductory call. This way it is easy to learn about new business wins, events, hires, management changes and so much more. Bad news can be best - suggesting a genuine and pressing need.
One good place to look can be the London Stock Exchange website, which releases company-produced information about new product launches and other significant changes in a listed company’s fortunes. News from many SMBs is announced here that they do not think to include in releases sent to the press.
Google News allows us to search on our list of key words and on stories released in regional newspapers - many of which are also a fantastic source of business updates and SMB company news.
There are other sources of free data and information - including the Reuters newswire, LinkedIn, the Guardian Small Business Forum, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) website, and many more.
Your warm call can then be along the lines of: “We read with interest the recent online article about your company and based on what we learned we believe that you can get value from our products/services.” Then you can close by setting up a meeting.
Think of RITA: a relevant, informed, timely and actionable approach
With warm calling, it need not be formulaic. Indeed, for it to work you have to care about the business you are in and the value it can offer the prospect. This approach initiates a conversation rather than encouraging a semi-automated knee-jerk rejection. A warm introduction can then be followed up with RITA emails.
Approaching people at events is a learned technique but once mastered it is easy to collect the back stories from contacts as you go, and afterwards you can follow up. OK, it can feel cheesy - but, as Marlon Brando said, once you can fake sincerity you’ve got it made.
Peter Urey is a management consultant at Fearless Consulting
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