As a business owner you should be focusing on taking inbound sales calls only. If you have a sales team, how much more productive would they be if they only handled inbound calls from interested prospects?

There was a time when outbound calling was an effective way to sell, but over the years it has become less and less efficient.

  • It’s time consuming calling all those people you don’t reach and who never return your calls;
  • It’s difficult to make contact with your prospects, as many of them use voice mail to screen their calls or are so busy that they only have time to return what they consider important calls;
  • It takes time to establish credibility, as there’s too much competition from other people calling and how could you be really good at what you do, if you have to make unsolicited cold calls to find your prospects;
  • Your prospects have effortless access to information. They can look up anything they need or want, so why talk to someone who is going to give them biased information?

If you are still making cold calls or are only using referrals and networking to build your business, you are missing out big time and your productivity is certainly lower than competitors who know the secret I’m about to share.

One to one selling is still the most effective marketing and sales tool there is and so you want to reserve it for those prospects who are most likely to buy and not squander your time on people who probably want to avoid you if possible. Time is definitely your most precious and scarce resource.

Think about it! How much do you enjoy those calls at home in the evening around dinner time or during your favorite TV show? Well, your prospects feel the same way about your calls, if you initiate them!

Developing a successful telephone program where prospects call you is all about developing a systematic sales and marketing process. It’s about taking your most successful sales conversations and transferring them to copy that can be sent to your qualified prospects, reserving your one on one time for your best prospects; those who are calling you because they already want to do business with you and are qualified.

What’s more if your prospect initiates the call, the prospect has a completely different view of you. In their minds you are an expert whose help they are seeking. If you initiate the call, you are just another sales person to avoid.

The first step in the process is to develop a bait piece that you give away without any obligation to interested prospects. Chet Holmes calls this making the easy sale first. The bottom line is that it’s far easier to give away an educational piece that teaches your prospect how to buy, than pitching people on something you are trying to sell them. If this is well done it positions you as an expert that prospects are more interested in talking to than some poor schmuck trying to sell something. If people find it convincing, they’ll call you. Being positioned in this way is far more powerful than any prospecting you could do.

So What’s a Bait Piece?

It can be a report, a white paper, a guide and executive briefing, a CD, a DVD that documents the problem your prospects are dealing with and explores solutions.

It draws prospects to you hungry for solutions to their problems. Just like fishing, you need the right bait to attract the right kind of prospects, so you must be clear about who you want to attract and what their needs are.

  • It’s well written or produced, it’s easy to read and objective.
  • It is not a pitch for your product.
  • Because it is targeted, it also helps you appeal only to qualified prospects. In most cases it will develop the need a bit further.
  • Why is it better than the competition?

Here’s an example:

One of my clients manufactures back supports and pillows which are sold through chiropractors and physiotherapists to people with back and neck pain. He decided he wanted to start selling direct to consumers.

He tried advertising his products but had little success. He considered direct mail, but didn’t know how to identify back pain sufferers, so he could mail them information. Unfortunately doctors and chiropractors won’t sell you their list of patients with back pain.

So we developed a report; “How to Avoid, Control or Eliminate Back Pain Forever.” The report was very objective and explained why we get back pain and what the solutions were to treating it without drugs or surgery.

The only people who would be interested in this, would be back pain sufferers, or people who knew someone with back pain, so it was well targeted.

My client had been running advertisements for his products in consumer oriented publications with minimal success. Most of his home grown ads produced no more than 5 or 6 inquiries and no sales. The first time we ran the new ad for the report, we received 325 responses, most of whom were qualified. The ad was exactly the same size in the same journals, so there was no difference in cost.

Our objective was to identify back pain sufferers who could then be marketed to as we now had permission to communicate with them and they had given us their contact info to enable us to deliver the report to them.

How many of those people would have responded positively to a sales pitch on the phone? Yet most were receptive to receiving direct mail covering products to help them alleviate their pain.

Depending on what your business is and who your clients are, you can offer items with enticing headlines like:

  • 10 Things Your Computer Consultant Won’t tell You.
  • 7 Imminent Dangers Every Small Business is Facing and How You Can Deal With Them.
  • 5 Questions to Ask Before You Hire a Marketing Consultant

In the next issue of Business Pros Marketing I’ll cover the rest of the process including how to advertise your bait piece, where to advertise it, and how to nurture your prospects, so that they buy from you.