How would I fill my pipeline during an economic down turn?
I work in a contact center and need some advice on how to grow my pipeline when networking is not working and cold calling has 0% success rate. Is there a way to avoid rejection during hardships?
Change your mindset. Write a marketing plan with someone because it sounds like you are missing your market. Who are you trying to reach?
Begin to establish yourself as a resource and even a thought leader. Use LinkedIn to post articles that people in your industry would find interesting. Comment on the articles to show you understand the issues. And if you can, write original posts to demonstrate your expertise. Join relevant groups and post there. Then, once you've established yourself amongst your peers you can reach out to discuss your product/service. Good luck and Godspeed!
Post articles on Linkedin and your blog, from which you can write short e-books to give away and/or sell. I wrote two books in the late 1980s and had record consulting sales during the 1990+ recession.
I suggest that you try a different approach, which can be fun for you at the same time.
1. Stage a party to celebrate the success of your business and invite potential clients to attend.
2. Start a series of workshops on a topic that your business is good at, and invite potential clients.
3. Hold a business book club at your business, I find its a great way to discuss common problems and gain new business.
4. Get yourself invited on local media as an expert, its a great way to get you and business known for free.
5. Start writing letters and articles for the local papers, social media and trade press about tyour expertise.
You got few sec to grab the prospects attention if you don know what keeps the awake at night and show them you got the solution in about 10 sec .... Then the hard battle begins. My advise know your Customer pressing issues and give them what they want don't sell them things they don't want.
One recommendation isn't to go with the attitude to "selling" - but what you can do for that other business or person. If you approach with the attitude of service and building a relationship (versus trying to sell them something), you will get a better return on your investment.
People do business with people they know, like and trust. Therefore, business networking isn't an overnight thing. Think of it like "dating". You don't get married at your first date. It's the same with selling. Don't expect the person to "buy" something at your first introduction. Therefore, don't ask for the sale on first meeting. Instead - get to know more about the person, what they do, what their issues and challenges are, what they really want for their business or home - then find out how you can help them achieve their goals. It may be referring them to someone else in your network, etc. But this is how you can start building your network.
Another example of service - is to give a presentation or speaking engagement that covers your target client's needs and goals. Giving a presentation automatically gathers a group of people that are interested in what you have to share. This allows you to get their contact information in exchange for the information that they feel is valuable.
I managed a call center for the financial and insurance business when the market crashed. Needless to say when company executives lost their entire life savings along with their staff they were less than eager to talk to us.
As the call center manager I was responsible for production and training as well. After struggling with what to do and how to pull myself and my team out of the dark I decided I first needed to evaluate. I needed to evaluate every aspect from lead generation, scripts, objections, schedules the whole nine.
I first figured out what days and times where the most effective to call in terms of actually reaching and talking with prospects and then the least effective. I then put together a dedicated schedule for my self and my team for evaluation and training.
I made my calls to help my team of course then I took on average 2 solid hours a day to actually sit with my team one on one and listen to their calls live. At first they were a little nervous, but they got use to it pretty quick. As they made calls I would listen, never interject and take down notes. When the call was complete I let them update notes, fields within the CRM and set up the next event based on what they felt. When they had completed everything and where ready to move on to the next call I would go back over the call with them. I'd play the call recording back, pausing and asking questions about why they might have said this, or what they felt the prospect meant when they gave their objection and most importantly what they could have done differently.
Then on a weekly bases we'd have a 2 hour developmental training session to go over some of the calls. What I found is that this really helped everyone including myself to go out of their comfort zone. Moral definitely increased and our production rate increased by over 50%.
Investing the time into working with your team and giving everyone an open platform to express themselves without bashing is in my opinion critical to any call center that doesn't go off scripts.
Firstly you will have to change your approach.Learn new skills and discard your old ways of marketing.Become more open and learn new things.Secondly usage of social media is must ,then only your success rate goes up.
It is about Selling in kind of a different fashion than you might do. Sell from the Why to the How to the What. The Why is in 2 parts: Why they might need a product at all? Why would yours be a fit. How: How might they solve the problem. What: What Product (including capabilities that will help you articulate why you can address the issue.}
Hello Ms. Layal:
Your answer may be contained in your final question, "Is there a way to avoid rejection during hardships?" To the degree that you consciously and conscientiously avoid rejection as you work to grow your business, you will experience failure. You would be well served to lean into rejection as a way of understanding which elements of your own selling and presentation are ineffective and do not work. One of the best ways to sharpen your game at any point in a sales role is to create a high-volume, short term goal for making contacts. By sticking with this approach, you will learn to handle rejection as neither personal nor catastrophic to your existence. Growth is uncomfortable and often contains pain. If you're unwilling to get uncomfortable and you actively work to avoid a bit of pain here and there, you'll remain behind the learning curve and in a call reluctant state that gets you nowhere.
Kiran, the results we experience in our outer/business world are always a reflection of what's happening in our inner world. In your situation, I would reflect back on whether I had experienced rejection earlier in my life, whether that had occurred during hard times for me economically. Everything we experience can be used by our brain as a resource and reference when a like experience comes up later in our life. Once we see the pattern, we can recognize it for hat it is and it loses its hold over us (the energetic charge of the associated emotion is discharged). If you need further help with this let me know.
Unless there is a product or service involved that has no demand, you are likely missing some key marketing fundamentals.
Yeah, I know... boring.
But I put a video together about how lead generation has changed to such an extent that the vast majority of business owners have it wrong. The video is a bit long, but it's worth it since it has KILLER information. I urge you to review it. It is FREE. Take a look here: http://bit.ly/1PCw8pd
From your profile I presume you are an Inside sales professional.
Here are few steps to generate a good pipe line.
One out of 1000 leads you talk to will be ready to listen to you on the first attempt and be willing to come for an corporate call or discussion, hence becomes a prospect,
This scenario is not easy to come by and it might be frustrating when your efforts does not produce enough yield.
There are few steps that you can follow to be consistent.
1) Work on enough rebuttals for any given scenario.
2) The customer says not interested, be quick to probe him to understand the reason why is he/she not showing interest?
3) If the customer says he's not in the market or he's not looking out for any vendors now, ask him when is the best time to circle back. More often than not they will give you a time frame, and it can be a useful follow up at a later stage.
4) They say not interested, mostly they don't find enough time to listen to what you offer, ask them if it is ok to send your company information through E mail thereby you can create a rapport and convert him to be a prospect at a later date.
5) Maximize your reach. Set a goal of 150 leads per day and 750 leads per month. Reach 100 through cold calls and 50 through E mail. You will find one or two prospects by the end of the week.
If networking and cold calling aren't working for you may I suggest the problem is more likely you and not a downturn. That's not to say that those can't be slow or ineffective at times but your first issue, if I can guess, is that you don't have a good prospecting plan with targets, measurement and accountability for behaviors needed. Forget about the hundreds of different things you can do that will be suggested, they all depend on how you deliver your message, the value of your service and your ability to sell. How you learn to prospect, both planning and execution and sell effectively and efficiently means your pipeline can always have business waiting if...
You might wish to try face to face meetings-----If you are not getting any success with old calling then switch your approach.....From my experience, during a down time. people are more receptive to USP Unique Selling Propositions
Carsten has listed a lot of info - an addition? Use Linkedin and Twitter. I post to LinkedIn an average of once a month - with "educational and informational" articles. This helps me gain exposure and credibility. They are read by over 150 people on every post, and although that is not a lot, that is 150 people that help expand my network, and that helps to grow my contacts.
Marketing. Marketing. Marketing.
Networking, direct mail, email if you have a list, cold calls, warm calls, referrals all work. But the most important part is having the right message that will resonate with your target market. In a recession, having a professional do your marketing is even more important.
Hi Kiran, This is a fantastic question and I believe a lot of people have this issue.
The advise I always like to give and I believe it can make a huge difference to any business is the following:
1. If you meet with clients in person, need to send in brochures, flyers, business cards or any marketing material, personalise it. Make it your own. (The bit nobody likes) Put a picture of yourself on your business cards, flyers, brochures. This will make you stand out and people remember people and do business with people. Also, people tend to keep cards with a face on it.
2. You say, networking doesn't work. Are you actually going to live networking events, or visiting networking groups such as any local groups, BNI etc? If so, make sure you go regularly. If you don't start going. Don't think in terms of that your target client might not be there. A good networking group will have connections to many industries and companies (locally and internationally). It's about utilising those connections.
3. List 100 or more companies that you would really like to work with (but didn't approach yet). Start listing every company who could use your services (define which service would be good for the type of company. Don't think all services that you offer could fit everyone, it's important to differentiate and only go in with one or 2 core offerings.) Once you have a list and contact details of the 100+ companies, make sure you also research what they do, who they are, who is the GM/ CEO/ Your decision maker etc. If it's larger companies you are after, who are the gate keepers. What do they do (their role in the company is not to keep you away, this is just part of it...) This research might take you some time but if done focused, should provide you with a massive prospecting list.
3. Use a (physical) letter marketing campaign. In times of the www we tend to forget how powerful a physical letter can be. I'm not talking about a generic letter that you would normally receive in email form. I'm talking about a properly researched target market, you know who you need to talk to (by name) and address this person directly, outlining the benefits to them and their clients of working with you. Send 5 - 10 letters per day (depending on how hard you want to hit the phones a few days later) but make it a regular exercise. Let's say you send 5 letters per day which means your prospecting list will get reduced by 5 clients. Immediately replace them by 6 clients (or simply add 6 more businesses to the list). It's important to keep this up.
4. Keep to the 5 a day...I know what you are thinking, working in a call centre we need to make 50 calls a day...well, skip it...you want to grow the business, you need to do it right especially if you consider this approach. You will get to 25 or more calls per day but if you start with 5 a day, and you start following up on those 5 you may only reach 2 or 3. So, after a while those numbers will accumulate and you end up with 30 or more calls that need to be done.
5. The return rate could be anything from 18 - 35% or even higher. This depends on your own skills of making the sale either over the phone or getting the meeting (whatever is more in line with your business of course).
6. Follow up until you get a yes or no answer. You may need to follow up 8 - 12 times before you get there but it's important to keep at it until you get the definite yes or no.
7. Go back to current customers and see if you can up-sell/ cross-sell additional services. That's an easy sale, some clients might be good for additional services. They already know you and are (hopefully) happy with the services they receive. What harm can it do to go back to them and see if they could use something else?
8. Go back to old quotations that didn't result in a sale (old inquiries etc.). Anything older than 3 month basically. You might have another shot there. Chances are better than most people think. In fact, you can probably retrieve approx. 12 - 15% of those clients by simply going back to them and doing a customer service survey. Understanding why it didn't result in a sale, is important for your business to know and with this information you can start putting new packages together depending on the answers you are receiving. Somebody might have just forgotten about you and may order straight away.
9. Go to trade fairs. Either have a stand at trade fairs or go as a visitor. Trade fairs are a great opportunity to network. If your company can provide you with the time to go to those, they can become a great source of leads (especially in your industry).
10. Create a proper sales strategy. People have a strategy for marketing, customer service and how to build loyalty, but rarely anybody I come across has a proper developed sales strategy. Get one. They don't cost an arm and a leg but could provide you with ideas and a proper strategy customised to your business needs and possibilities. Even though some of the points I'm making here might not be of interest to your business, I think by trying them out you will see how relevant they can be. And you can customise it even to each service that you are offering.
If you would like to talk about creating a properly developed sales strategy please feel free to add me on LinkedIn and we can take it from there.
I hope you found this information a bit helpful. I can help you fill your pipeline even more however I would need to understand your business better. I would suggest to have a skype call if you wish with you and your team to discuss your current challenges further and how I can help you eliminate those. Please contact me if this sounds of interest.
Thank you for reading all the way to the end :-)