What is an alternative for Cold Calling?
Cold Calling – We all hate it! It is almost like a curse word. Sales people hate it, consumers hate it, everybody hates it!
If everybody hates Cold Calling then we can conclude that it doesn’t work. Surely, there are individuals who are good at cold calling but in general, if as a business owner or manager you rely on cold calling to generate business leads, then you have set up your sales team for failure.
So what are the alternatives?
First, let’s consider one of the reasons I think cold calling doesn’t work. There is one reason that stands out like a sore thumb – timing! We can’t get our timing right. Nowadays, with everybody using mobile phones, we just can’t determine the best time to call. We may call a busy executive at a very awkward time. If we call on a landline and especially if it is an office number, we know at least that if someone answers the phone, the person is at work and hopefully at a desk. But we still can’t know for sure what is the right time for the individual to receive a call.
Secondly, what is the best time to sell something? It is when the consumer actually needs the product and wants to buy it. Imagine you making ready for a relaxed evening at home watching a movie and the door bell rings. “Hey, I am selling popcorn. How many boxes do you want?”
If a consumer needs a product or service, they will be doing the calling or in some or other way be active in looking for the product or service. So our cold call in most instances reach a consumer who doesn’t need what we are offering right at that moment. They might need it later but not now. If the need was urgent they would have been calling. It is again a matter of timing.
The solution or answer is therefore fairly obvious – let them call us.
Let the consumers do the calling and let them find us easily when they need our product or service.
This brings me to the point of “What is an alternative for Cold Calling”. It has one thing in common with Cold Calling – it consists of two words: Online Marketing.
Online marketing is a vast field and cannot be discussed or explained in depth in a short session, but let us try to trigger a thought process by giving a short, not academic definition of online marketing. In short, thinking of my introduction, online marketing is to make it easy for consumers to find our business when they are looking for our products or services.
As I said before it is a vast body of knowledge, but let us consider a few things that should be included in an Online Marketing Strategy.
I would classify an online marketing strategy into three components or departments:
- First, GENERATING BUSINESS LEADS. Now remember, a lead is not a name or a telephone number. A lead is someone who knows about your company, has an idea about your services or products and is interested to buy or make use of your services.
- Secondly, ENGAGE with your business leads and NURTURE them to eventually become customers.
- Thirdly, FOLLOW UP at the right time with leads that are ready to buy and get that order!
Now let us for this discussion consider the one tactic of Generating Business Leads. I think of 4 things that are essential for generating good business leads AKA hot leads. They are in order of importance: A good website, a presence on Google by means of a Google My Business Listing, a presence on various online marketing platforms and lastly, a social media strategy. If you finished reading this article only remembering these 4 points that are necessary to generate business leads:
- A good website,
- a presence on Google by means of a Google My Business Listing,
- a presence on various online marketing platforms and,
- a social media strategy
then I have added some value.
Now let us consider these 4 points just very briefly.
- Good Website
The cornerstone of any online marketing strategy is a good, effective website. Why this is important is because many businesses have websites just for the sake of having a website and they don’t realise that a website can be a valuable business resource, and not just something to show off to family and friends.
What constitutes a good, effective website is a topic for another discussion but in short, for a business website to be effective and a valuable business resource, there are 4 things to consider.
- Traffic. Firstly a website needs traffic. Without traffic a website is like a fantastic restaurant with an exquisite menu but no customers. The second, third and fourth aspect that I am going to mention help to generate traffic to a website and on their own they are almost meaningless.
- Visual Appeal. The second point is visual appeal to grab the attention of your website visitors. Just consider: an appealing website without traffic is also meaningless because people don’t see the beautiful website until the visit it. I have in the past put Visual Appeal under the third point which is:
- Engagement: We want our website visitors to engage with our website. We want them to “read” our menu as in the example of the restaurant. Visual appeal is one of the things that can help with the engagement but there are many other factors relating mostly to the content and structure of a website such as Calls To Action, easy, intuitive navigation, etc. If one would analyse the performance of a website, one of the metrics to consider is the Bounce Rate. A bounce is recorded when someone visits the website, reach the first page and leaves. “I came, I saw and I left”. I high bounce rate is indicative of poor engagement. Don’t waste your traffic, make sure that your website visitors engage with your website by answering the “What is in it for me” question right from their first view of the website.
- Conversion: The last point is conversion which means the website must be able to at least convert visitors to leads and preferably generate orders. If a visitor is interested in a product or service it must be easy for them to enquire about that particular product or service or place an order. A general contact page and a general enquiry form are necessary but not enough. If you have a product or service that can be sold online, then make sure that you have website that allows customers to transact online. It does not necessarily mean that that they have to make an online payment and that you need to have a delivery service although these are important points to consider. There is a website solution that allows a customer to place an order without having to make the payment right there and then. The order is received and processed by the office in the normal way, the customer is contacted to arrange payment and pickup or delivery.
All of the points mentioned above that make a website effective rely on a few factors of which I am going to mention only the two most important:
- Content: There is a saying in the online marketing world “Content is King” which means it is the most important aspect of a website. Good content helps with generating traffic because it gets indexed by search engines and it helps with the engagement and ultimately conversion.
- Structure: The structure of a website is in a certain sense a technical consideration but equally important because it makes it easy for search engines to index the website and it helps with engagement and conversion by making it easy for visitors to find the information they are looking for.
- Google My Business Listing
Once we have our website sorted, the second aspect under “Generating Business Leads” to consider is to make use of what Google offers all businesses for free. It is a Google My Business Listing. A GMB listing comes with two benefits:
- A presence in search results, and
- A map listing. Although they are actually two different things, a map listing is usually depending on a GMB listing.
Let me explain what a GMB listing is: When you do a search on Google for a particular product or service or for a particular business, in many instances you will find a particular business listed on the right side of the screen with a small map and photos. It also includes a link to the business website, contact numbers, business hours, etc. From this listing it is possible to generate directions or make a call. You can also add photos of the premises outside and inside.
To see an example of a GMB, just open up a Google Chrome window and type in “Pretoria Attorneys Association”.
A map listing usually comes up in Google search results under the first four paid adverts. It is obviously a big advantage if a business comes up on a Google map. To see an example of a map listing, just do a search for any product or service. If the map doesn’t show automatically, click on “maps” in the menu bar. The order in which businesses appear in the map results depends on the websites’ Google ranking.
- A presence on various online marketing platforms
The third aspect under “Generating Business Leads” that I would like to mention is to have a presence on as many online marketing platforms as possible. Many of these platforms offer a free listing but on premium sites such as ShowMe Pretoria there is a small fee to pay for a showcased business listing.
The advantage of a presence on online marketing platforms is that:
- It enhances your overall online presence
- It helps with brand recognition
- It drives traffic to your website which in return enhances your own website’s ranking in search results. The search engines recognise a link to a website if it comes from a credible website as a “vote of confidence”.
- A social media strategy
The last aspect under “Generating Business Leads” that we should consider is a Social Media Strategy but I am not going to say anything more because time is up and this is not my forte, to be honest.
In closing, if anybody wants more information about generating business leads, specifically a good website, a GMB listing or a presence on online marketing platform, you are welcome to contact me. We can arrange an one-on-one meeting and I will make a quick analysis of your situation and give you some advice.