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Unread 23rd December 2010, 01:36 PM   #1
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Default Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I recently started a new venture offline (not your typical website/seo consulting stuff, but an advertising service).

Anyway, I don't have any problems talking to people and meeting face-to-face and I'm not looking to do things all online or over the phone. The only thing I want to seek advice on is how to "open" the sale process when you walk into a business?

For example, should you walk into the business, introduce yourself and leave your card and some information about what it is you do? Should you ask for the owner to help bypass the gatekeeper? I'm just trying to get an idea of how to best go about this.

I'd almost rather generate leads first before just jumping into a business, but at the same time, I need to get my face out there and get people in my city familiar with me and what I'm doing. So, if any of you have any expertise on jumping into a business cold and just winging it, I'd be interested to hear what tips or advice you have!

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 02:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Advertising is relatively easy to sell. It helps to specialize in a niche and learn the business "lingo" for example in medical, dental, automotive, real estate, insurance etc.

My sales reps generally will target a business complex or medical center and just walk in asking for the person who orders [your product or service]. If it's a small business ask for the owner or manager, don't just leave your business card. You need to actually speak to the buyer, or get his/her name. As with advertising, our product has very wide appeal (hands free voice texting for any phone), so it's quick and easy to demonstrate.

As you start getting revenue, ramp it up to larger businesses. You will need to have some kind of followup system in place (such as Act) to keep track of your customers and prospects. Ideally call back or visit at least once a month just to check on results, and obtain referrals!

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 03:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Thanks for the advice. That's sort of what I was planning on doing. Just looking for a good "ice breaker" more or less so I don't come off as just "another annoying guy trying to sell some stuff".

I'm also working on developing a sales letter and coupling that with more information about my company and mailing that out to a targeted list that I've researched myself. For the cost of a stamp, some envelopes and a few pieces of paper, I think it's worth a shot and could serve as a great lead generator.

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 04:41 PM   #4
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Great Ideas - I have often used a dialing for dollars specialist to sell 15 minute appointments, while you tell them your in the neighbourhood. You will be surprized at just how many people will give you 15 minutes to pitch to them.

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 04:42 PM   #5
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Exactly. But for starters, just go in and start talking to businesses. Find out what kind of advertising they're doing and results they're getting. Most business owners will be happy to provide that if you present a professional decorum and understand the type of business needs. I found it best to arrive "empty-handed"; dump the briefcase and anything else that shouts - "I'm here to sell you something."

Your first approach should be to sell yourself first and get the appointment for a time to allow a 15-30 minute max presentation or demo. Most importantly, show respect for their time as they are usually quite busy. I would just go ahead and start now, so you can get an idea of what would be a good ice-breaker.

Others may have more ideas, but what I have found to be the quickest way of getting sales is the direct approach (knocking on doors or calling) rather than mailing out letters. Letters will more likely get tossed unopened, but it's more difficult to ignore a salesman in the office or even a phone call.

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 04:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Usually having some kind of "hook" or intriguing question works. I have no idea what you are selling, but if it's some kind of internet thing, you might ask "How is your website working for you? Are you getting any sales from it?"

Whatever works without appearing too salesman - like.

Sometimes just being sincere about wanting to help them will do the trick. Often times, if you can't help them, they may be willing to give you some referrals.
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Unread 23rd December 2010, 04:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Business owners trust other business owners. You're not a salesman. You're another business owner.
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Unread 23rd December 2010, 05:41 PM   #8
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathon Hay View Post
Business owners trust other business owners. You're not a salesman. You're another business owner.
Right on - That's probably the best thing I've heard this week!

myob - Thank you for your insight and detailed posts. I appreciate the encouragement and you offer some solid points. Guess the plan is to hit the pavement and grind it out. I think I'll get an idea of what works and doesn't work once I get my feet wet and jump into it. Have to fail a few times before I get it right, right?

I'll still go with the letters as well though. It doesn't hurt and if I get a client or two out of it, it's well worth it. Just another way of "maximizing my time" so to speak. Just figure it's worth a shot to test it out and see if it's worth doing again. I even did some e-mails this week to try to generate some leads and make initial contact (not the best solution and won't be using it much from here on out), but I did manage to solidify 2 companies interested in meeting with me to go over more of what I do, so at least I got something out of that.

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Unread 23rd December 2010, 05:55 PM   #9
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

May be worth your time to do a little cyber stalking first.

What I mean by that is not quite going in 100% cold.

Having some information on your product vs. whatever medium they are using for advertising now. Plot your course of business that you want to target, wether they be by niche or geotargeted by street corner so you don't spend all day driving across town and burning gas.

Do a wee bit of research so that when you walk in... you know how you can benefit them compared to what they are already doing. Then find out who owns the location by going on to Manta. If they don't have a claimed listing there you can always go to your county records website... Secretary of States website... whatever... and find out who owns the company.

That way when you walk into the door.... you are somewhat prepared. You aren't necessarily cold calling. You are... but you aren't.

You can walk in and say..."Where's Bob?" Saying it like you have known Bob since the second grade. More often than not... acting like the age old friend will get you right past the gatekeeper. Unless they have Jedi like skills of detecting sales people.

I try to dress nice... but not too nice. No $3k suits. Business casual. Maybe even Jeans and a shirt... pending on the type of business. Always keeping in mind.... I am one of them....

Sometimes being overly dressed screams "sales rep" and you just became the opposition vs. a friend who shares common interests and thoughts. Whose common interest just happens to be how to grow my business.

When making initial contact. You may have a free gift/offer you might want to propose. The theory of reciprocity is HUGE, and works quite well.

What are you selling? What's your medium? If I knew more I may be able to help you put together a pitch or at least an opener.

Don't want to share in public?

Shoot me a PM.

Whatever happens... just keep in mind this is sales... and a numbers game.

The more no's you come across. The closer you are to a yes.


Don't give up five minutes before the miracle happens.

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Unread 24th December 2010, 06:18 AM   #10
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Depending on the type of organization, you should probably be aimed at related companies. I think that putting larger companies is the best idea of local companies, because small firms usually contribute very little, and asked 10 or 20 companies are very small and can be a mess. I suggest you write a package of care, and simply saying what you do, how much you need, and why you need this money, where is this money goes and how you can benefit the community.

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Unread 24th December 2010, 09:00 AM   #11
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Hey!

I don't know exactly what kind of advertising you are doing, but what I do whenever I need some quick cash is Pizza Advertising. I take a pizza box into the business and it grabs people's attention. Then they approach me. Wondering who ordered a pizza.
Gina Gray sells a great program here.
Don Alm also offers a program about several kinds of advertising here.

Hope this helps!

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Unread 24th December 2010, 10:47 AM   #12
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Cold Calling, either in person or via the phone totally messes up your posture and sets you up as just a desperate peddler peddling his wares! Totally Sucks Posture Wise....

No to mention gate keepers and every one in the organization blocking you.

I did this for 7 years in the automotive industry.

Biggest change was when I got a Dan Kennedy Marketing Kit and used and implemented it. Bought a list, made a flyer with bold offer, mailed it out twice a month to 250 or so prospects. Always got 2 phone calls back, then two more over the next 30-60 days.

When they called there was no up hill selling battel.

POSTURE

They were NOW calling me, and all I had to do was listen, qualify them before running over, and close them on a personal meeting. They did most of the work, and they almost always had an underlying pressing problem that triggered the call.

This process took 2 hours to complete, start to finish, hand addressed envalopes with real stamps...Offered a free repair with a 10 day deadline.


Old cold calling took aprx 20 hours, scope the car lot, walk in, get past the gate keeper, try to get the managers attention and get him to listen, drag him out to the lot, sell him on a free demo, then hope and pray he would call me back the next time he needed a repair.

Turns out that the cold call clients were the most likely to be dead beat dealers who would never honer their purchase order, while the ones who responded to the mailer almost always had an immediate need, were easier and nicer to work with, wanted top notch service, and most of all PAID the bills on time and stayed on three times longer than the cold call clients.

So figure out a problem and or market gap, then create an irisitable offer, and create the situation where they are tracking and hunting you down.....Not the other way around.....Posture.....Strong....vs.....weak
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Unread 24th December 2010, 10:52 AM   #13
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

There are many tools available for marketing. And the more tools you learn how to use effectively, the more successful you will be in your market. Cold calling is only one of hundreds of marketing tools. Even now, however, cold calling still happens to be among the most powerful tools for building a solid business quickly.
But like a hammer, you can either hit the nail squarely on the head, or keep smashing your thumb.

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Unread 24th December 2010, 12:00 PM   #14
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I can't imagine cold calling in the automotive industry.

For some reason I just can't wrap my mind around it.

My cousin owns a Chevrolet Dealership... All of his sales comes from a retail environment. The people come on the lot. His reps try and close. No prospecting whatsoever for the sales reps.
I thought that was the industry standard. So I can REALLY see not wanting to cold call for selling a car. That is a lose / lose out the gate.

Either way... it doesn't matter.

What does matter is that you can still remain to use "positioning" even though you used cold calling techniques to prospect a client. The key is... You have to care.... Just not that much. I love cold calling because an appointment setter can set me 5 appointments a day. So when I walk in.... I know that it's O.K. if they don't take me up on my offer.
I know that I won't have to discount my services because I am scared that I have to make a sale!

Holy CRAP! I HAVE TO SELL THIS... never goes through my mind.

Why? Because I have several other people lined up today.... tommorrow.... and the day after.... so if they don't want what I have... it is there loss. Not mine.

250 fliers isn't even a good start for a test campaign.

At the typical 1% print media conversion rate... that is 2.5 phone calls.... that is if I have a decent flier. If my marketing Kung Fu is no good.... I can expect 1 phone call.

At the typical closing ratio of 30%... actually 20% if you are fairly new.... 250 fliers will get you absolutely no where.

Now if you have a track record in sales.... the warm lead from a presold marketing piece should convert at 70% - 80%. So 250 fliers = 1 sale... if your lucky.

So as the previous poster said... if I mail out 250 fliers... at around $.50 which is really cheap if I am going to include my hourly rate, I mean.... time is money. Then factor in the gas for the trip to the post office. etc. etc. etc.

I can spend $125 and get one sale! WOOOOO!!!!!

No thanks....

When I was brand spanking new.... I had no money to gamble with and my back was against the wall. So what did I do. I sold my Black Berry on craigslist. Used that money to get some leads and set up an autodialer.

Then.... already having a solid script... I started making phone calls. $1600 in 72 hours. Actually.... it was more like $2100. Why?

Because I was so nervous on my first appointment. It was my first... what do you expect?

I sold a fairly large site for $1000 yet a week later he called and said... hey... we will gladly pay you $1500. Which is what I originally asked for. But I was nervous and needed the money.... remember... I sold my cell phone to get to this point.

Anyway..... That sale was a result of my 3rd phone call. I say 72 hours because I didn't want to SEEM desperate... for all of you out there real big on positioning. 72 hours out is when I set the appointment. Walked in with nothing but a smile and walked out with a check.

Whew.... bills paid.

SO..... I can spend a couple of hours every day getting new clients by prospecting over the phone. OR... I can lick stamps for a coulple of hours every day and spend over $100 per day in marketing costs.

Either way.... I will get a new client. But for $100 per day of licking stamps. I can pay some college kid $10 per hour to set me at least 5 appointments per day.

You do what's best for you. I know what works for me.

That being said.... don't think. Just do.

Cold calling is not the only avenue of marketing that I employ. I have at LEAST 5 streams of marketing going at one time. The most effective, and the one that pays for the others.... cold calling.

There is more than one way to get to Denny's.

As long as you get there. I don't care how you do it. You can take the Freeway, or the back alleys. Whatever works for you.

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Unread 24th December 2010, 03:04 PM   #15
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhuff85 View Post
myob - Thank you for your insight and detailed posts. I appreciate the encouragement and you offer some solid points. Guess the plan is to hit the pavement and grind it out. I think I'll get an idea of what works and doesn't work once I get my feet wet and jump into it. Have to fail a few times before I get it right, right?

I'll still go with the letters as well though. It doesn't hurt and if I get a client or two out of it, it's well worth it. Just another way of "maximizing my time" so to speak. Just figure it's worth a shot to test it out and see if it's worth doing again. I even did some e-mails this week to try to generate some leads and make initial contact (not the best solution and won't be using it much from here on out), but I did manage to solidify 2 companies interested in meeting with me to go over more of what I do, so at least I got something out of that.
As with anything in marketing and sales, it's a numbers game, the more businesses and people you talk to, sooner or later you are going to find someone interested in what you have to bring to their business.

Just be prepared upfront for a lot of rejection, especially as many companies are struggling to stay afloat in this economy. Since your selling advertising services, it's a little different, since you have a way for them to increase their business. That said, try to keep your costs down, especially when your just starting out if you don't have a lot of capital.

Direct mail is one of the lowest converting types of advertising. I generally get between 10-30 pieces of junkmail at my companies a day. And guess where it goes? Straight into the trash, if your lucky I might open it, and glance at it for 5 seconds, before tossing it.

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Unread 25th December 2010, 01:37 AM   #16
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I'm also seeking advice on how to walk into a business and offer services.

I just recently started my own home business and it's largely based online, but not completely.

I'm looking forward to studying all of the advice given in this thread.

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Unread 25th December 2010, 01:16 PM   #17
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Amir Luis View Post
I can't imagine cold calling in the automotive industry.

For some reason I just can't wrap my mind around it.
It's interesting how different cultures and countries address the 'selling issues' in business.

I've read that almost 50% of cars sold in Japan are sold door-to-door. Seems odd, but if it's true, then it only goes to show what's possible.
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Unread 25th December 2010, 01:20 PM   #18
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I would think advertising requires cold calling. Don't know that for sure but from experience I can tell you most of our high commissioned clients came from cold calling. I own an insurance agency and we plucked them from a list. I don't know of any list of people who are looking for advertising solicitations or I'd tell you.

Regardless, the local coupon guy comes around about once a quarter even though we don't use him. Nobody buys insurance off a coupon is the reason we don't use him. But he is persistent. We have however referred some of our biz clients to him.

Does that mean that'll happen for you? I hope so. Don't pooh pooh cold calling. It works.

I'll give you another example. We just partnered with a national tax service to do our client's taxes. We will only be gathering the tax information. Their CPAs, EAs, etc will be doing the return via the Internet. I have cold called over 100 local businesses. All accepted my flyer and hung it in their break room for their employees.

How about that for a silent recommendation? I don't know the exact nature of your proposed biz, but maybe your biz model can copy ours in that respect.

Just my 2.

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Unread 26th December 2010, 12:51 PM   #19
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Are small business owners willing to give you their time if some kind of appointment is not scheduled?
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Unread 26th December 2010, 07:33 PM   #20
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

That depends on you... Anthony.

If your Kung Fu is good. They will. If not... they will use that as an excuse to not deal with you. But....

MAKE AN APPOINTMENT. You talked with them... however... you got them on the phone. You walked in and were at the right place at the right time....

Now don't lose that opportunity. Make an appointment for when they are not busy.

"I understand Jim, You have a lot going on right now, but.... when would be a good time I could get your undivided attention for about 10 minutes?"

"What are you doing for lunch? I'll buy!"

Whatever it takes to get you infront of him or her for just a few minutes to establish interest and value. Once you have done that. They will push off whatever else they have going.

They have to see the need and the value first though.

Just my experience.

I am not my usual self... I am not feelling so hot today. I just might be allergic to christmas.

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Unread 26th December 2010, 08:04 PM   #21
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Cold Calling is tough. But it still works. It really depends on what type of advertising you are selling, (that's been said how many times in this post?...)

Here is what I tell my reps to do (I manage 30 sales reps in 5 states).

1) Write down what it is you want to sell or present.

2) Write down as many reasons as you can think of as to why people would be interested in what you are selling. (treat this like a brainstorm - there is no right or wrong here, just create a list...)

3) Go through your list, and identify the top 5-7 that are really good, and then write a 3 sentence opening about it. (It is going to sound canned at first - get over it)

4) identify out of that list the ones that will be the easiest for you to talk about, and really internalize, memorize you 3 lines about it (rehearse?).

5) Put your self in a position as a business owner, and think how you would want to be approached, and that's how you open the conversation.

Remember, as a business owner or senior exec, you only have 3 driving concerns - 1) Increase revenues/profits 2) decrease costs / expenses and 3) minimize risk. If you can tie your opening and your solution into one or more of those, you will have their undivided attention.

Good luck!

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Unread 26th December 2010, 08:07 PM   #22
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Gardner View Post
Are small business owners willing to give you their time if some kind of appointment is not scheduled?
If they are interested they will. If they are interested, but short on time, ask them to set an appointment, and come back.

You are a small business owner. Remember that. Treat them how you would want to be treated, and you will see results.

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Unread 26th December 2010, 09:44 PM   #23
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bhuff85 View Post
I recently started a new venture offline (not your typical website/seo consulting stuff, but an advertising service).

Anyway, I don't have any problems talking to people and meeting face-to-face and I'm not looking to do things all online or over the phone. The only thing I want to seek advice on is how to "open" the sale process when you walk into a business?

For example, should you walk into the business, introduce yourself and leave your card and some information about what it is you do? Should you ask for the owner to help bypass the gatekeeper? I'm just trying to get an idea of how to best go about this.

I'd almost rather generate leads first before just jumping into a business, but at the same time, I need to get my face out there and get people in my city familiar with me and what I'm doing. So, if any of you have any expertise on jumping into a business cold and just winging it, I'd be interested to hear what tips or advice you have!
I find that true face to face cold calling has such a low close rate, I rarely do it anymore. Local networking / business groups will give you the opportunity in a non-threatening way to share your business model with dozens of businesses.

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Unread 27th December 2010, 09:28 AM   #24
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

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I find that true face to face cold calling has such a low close rate, I rarely do it anymore. Local networking / business groups will give you the opportunity in a non-threatening way to share your business model with dozens of businesses.
In my experience, the only business contacts you will find in such groups are those who are looking to sell you something. Hardly any real corporate decision makers attend such meetings. Trying to schmooze around with other schmoozers is a comparatively slow way to get any prospects. :rolleyes:

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Unread 27th December 2010, 09:44 AM   #25
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
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I find that true face to face cold calling has such a low close rate, I rarely do it anymore. Local networking / business groups will give you the opportunity in a non-threatening way to share your business model with dozens of businesses.
Dozens?

...and what is your closing ratio out of the "dozens" of possibilities?

People who make 200 calls a day (About 2 1/2 hours of cold calling) land 2-4 appointments or close sales everyday.

Non threatening?

I have yet to call anyone who felt threatened by my asking "Have you folks got a website? Are you considering doing one"?

Its much easier IMHO to have a two hour call session and make $800 with a "take it or leave it" attitude , than it is to attend schmoozing meetings, and lose half your dignity hob knobbing, rubbing elbows, and otherwise trying to prove to yourself that you are important enough to be a part of someones club, or popularity contest.

BTW meetings which can be months apart, and represent a pool of a few dozen prospects usually at best...

No thanks.

"Hey Im selling websites, you want one"?

"No"?

Thanks. Click. Next...

Two hours later you have business, and whats more; you can do it EVERYDAY and get business Everyday, on YOUR OWN TERMS!

Thats just my take.

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Unread 27th December 2010, 11:55 AM   #26
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Cold Calling is tough. But it still works. It really depends on what type of advertising you are selling, (that's been said how many times in this post?...)

Here is what I tell my reps to do (I manage 30 sales reps in 5 states).

1) Write down what it is you want to sell or present.

2) Write down as many reasons as you can think of as to why people would be interested in what you are selling. (treat this like a brainstorm - there is no right or wrong here, just create a list...)

3) Go through your list, and identify the top 5-7 that are really good, and then write a 3 sentence opening about it. (It is going to sound canned at first - get over it)

4) identify out of that list the ones that will be the easiest for you to talk about, and really internalize, memorize you 3 lines about it (rehearse?).

5) Put your self in a position as a business owner, and think how you would want to be approached, and that's how you open the conversation.

Remember, as a business owner or senior exec, you only have 3 driving concerns - 1) Increase revenues/profits 2) decrease costs / expenses and 3) minimize risk. If you can tie your opening and your solution into one or more of those, you will have their undivided attention.

Good luck!
Great advise, Thanks for sharing!

Henry

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Unread 27th December 2010, 11:58 AM   #27
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

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Local networking / business groups will give you the opportunity in a non-threatening way to share your business model with dozens of businesses.
This is what I normally do with great results!

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Unread 27th December 2010, 12:12 PM   #28
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This is what I normally do with great results!
Have you ever even tried sharing your business model with dozens of businesses in a threatening way?

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Unread 27th December 2010, 12:32 PM   #29
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

lol... BUY MY SERVICES OR DIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Unread 27th December 2010, 01:23 PM   #30
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I find Google Places (GP) as a good loss leader. (you'll need a portable internet connection for this)
Check the business on GP, Is it listed?

No, walk in, ask if they know about GP, offer to help them get listed, no charge.
Five minutes later "Google calls" them. You're now a hero and a demonstrated Guru, they will be very interested in talking business.

Yes, check the quality of their listing. Most likely it is crap. Walk-in and offer to SEO it for them for a modest fee. Do a good job, then you can discuss "next actions" with them.

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Unread 27th December 2010, 01:34 PM   #31
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

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Have you ever even tried sharing your business model with dozens of businesses in a threatening way?
Not sure what you mean by that bud, but I am curious to see what you mean by threatening!

I just enjoy meeting people face to face and see who I am talking to, for me relationship selling have been great.

I am not saying that telemarketing doesn't work! I have used and still use telemarketing in order to create leads and set appointments, but I truly believe in diversification (do not put your all your eggs in one basket).

I come from the real estate - mortgage industry and I did a lot of telemarketing to set my appointments for refinances, back in 2003-2004 when the first "refi" boom took place. I was taking 5-6 apps per day...closing consistently 1-2 refis a week for several months in a row...money was super!

The mortgage broker I was working with LOVED telemarketing (I didn't blame him), it was bringing 100% of the business.

We tried to tell him to also find others sources to find leads, like a relationship marketing, go meet Realtors, brokers, for purchases since the interest rates were going up and the applications/appointments/sales were going down slowly but surely.....

He refused, and continued getting a FEW leads by telemarketing!

Well, the rates really went up after a few months there were barely NO leads/sales/appointments to feed all the office.

When he finally decided for us to go out and meet realtors to create a relationship in order to find home purchase leads, it was too late. Pretty much all realtors already had their network of mortgage brokers who they working with for and years.

Needless to say, the company went belly up - and everyone was out of business. Luckily for me I saw that coming right before that happened and I had already secured a job with a local bank.

That's why you don't put ALL your eggs in one basket and have to diversify your marketing strategy - for me relationship marketing works great, I have met so many people that I have done business with or they have referred me some clients.

I use telemarketing, direct mail, email marketing, video marketing, attend to local meetings, SEO, etc.etc...

I wish this is not too far from the thread, but I feel that people can get a lot from this type of discussions, that's why I love this forum!

All the best,
Henry

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Unread 27th December 2010, 02:19 PM   #32
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Henry,

Threatening methods herald back to the mobsters of the 20's and 30's, so I was just questioning what you and LiquidSeo are referring to in "true face to face cold calling" compared to this "non-threatening way". LOL! Certainly nothing mentioned in this thread calls for such violence.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LiquidSeo View Post
I find that true face to face cold calling has such a low close rate, I rarely do it anymore. Local networking / business groups will give you the opportunity in a non-threatening way to share your business model with dozens of businesses.
Quote:
Originally Posted by thesanto View Post
This is what I normally do with great results!

.
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Unread 27th December 2010, 02:28 PM   #33
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Henry,

Threatening methods herald back to the mobsters of the 20's and 30's, so I was just questioning what you and LiquidSeo is referring to in true face to face cold calling compared to this "non-threatening way". LOL! Certainly nothing mentioned in this thread calls for violence!
LOL, I was just getting ready to take my gloves off and go to town! just kidding...!

Enjoy your day Paul!

Henry

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Unread 27th December 2010, 02:33 PM   #34
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

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Have you ever even tried sharing your business model with dozens of businesses in a threatening way?
haha...no...I've managed to avoid pressure sales and outright threats!

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Unread 27th December 2010, 02:45 PM   #35
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
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Dozens?

...and what is your closing ratio out of the "dozens" of possibilities?


People who make 200 calls a day (About 2 1/2 hours of cold calling) land 2-4 appointments or close sales everyday.

Non threatening?

I have yet to call anyone who felt threatened by my asking "Have you folks got a website? Are you considering doing one"?

Its much easier IMHO to have a two hour call session and make $800 with a "take it or leave it" attitude , than it is to attend schmoozing meetings, and lose half your dignity hob knobbing, rubbing elbows, and otherwise trying to prove to yourself that you are important enough to be a part of someones club, or popularity contest.

BTW meetings which can be months apart, and represent a pool of a few dozen prospects usually at best...

No thanks.

"Hey Im selling websites, you want one"?

"No"?

Thanks. Click. Next...

Two hours later you have business, and whats more; you can do it EVERYDAY and get business Everyday, on YOUR OWN TERMS!

Thats just my take.

Hi John,

I run an SEO firm in Atlanta with a small local staff. We use cold calling (telemarketing), but I personally do not do this. I think everyone on here will realize that cold calling, while effective is difficult for many people to do. I have a limited amount of time to engage in biz dev/sales. I've chosen networking groups and referrals as the primary way I personally bring in clients

I'm a member for 4 different networking groups. In 2010, from "group 1", a BNI group with 43 members, I closed 17 different local SEO deals. This was my best local group, but each of these opened up new referral opportunities for our team. We meet once a week - not weeks apart.

A second group I'm involved in is smaller, only 14 members. I'm the "marketing director" of the group. I have 11 of these companies as clients. Plus, I've been able to steer many meetings to discuss online marketing/SEO -- offering free feedback which usually leads to at least 1 new client. Each

The cool thing about networking meetings is that each meeting has the regular members, plus a varying amount of guests. All of the guests are prospects and are very open to hearing what I'm talking about. Unlike Chamber meetings, these small groups are very focused on referrals. Possibly better - for anyone doing local SEO, is that almost every member needs serious help. In time, virtually every member here will do business with us.

Considering I paid $350 to join the small group and $495 to join the larger group, the return in both revenue and local reputation was very strong.

I am not knocking cold calling, as I think it is very strong for the right person. Two of my reps do nothing but cold call. One uses a "free Google listing" as a loss leader to faciliate the conversation. It works for him. The other is more comfortable/confident on the phones and takes a much more direct approach. This works well for him.

I've had 3 different reps try to go after local businesses with a true cold call - a face to face unannounced meeting. This is the only method that we've had what I would consider poor results based on the time invested.

Many ways to find business!

Brian

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Unread 27th December 2010, 02:47 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by myob View Post
Henry,

Threatening methods herald back to the mobsters of the 20's and 30's, so I was just questioning what you and LiquidSeo are referring to in "true face to face cold calling" compared to this "non-threatening way". LOL! Certainly nothing mentioned in this thread calls for such violence.

LOL! haha - no real threats. Just using a label of "threating" to unannounced cold calls - whether in person or on the phone.

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Unread 27th December 2010, 03:34 PM   #37
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nathon Hay View Post
Business owners trust other business owners. You're not a salesman. You're another business owner.
I like this approach, to the "Can I speak to the business owner" approach. Attending local business network meetings are good ways for me to meet more local business owners, since everyone is there giving each other business referrals, no one is particularly thinking that they're being sold to.
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Unread 30th December 2010, 12:43 AM   #38
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Offer free 1 hour consultations for business owners in your town at the SBA, chamber of commerce, etc. Be a resource, move the free line, give great information with no expectation of reward, and you will close a ton of jobs!

Go get'em!

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Unread 31st December 2010, 02:52 AM   #39
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Quote:
Originally Posted by derekmichael02 View Post
Offer free 1 hour consultations for business owners in your town at the SBA, chamber of commerce, etc. Be a resource, move the free line, give great information with no expectation of reward, and you will close a ton of jobs!

Go get'em!
Something similar you could also do is run short educational seminars for business owners at the SBA, chamber of commerce, etc. This would be just as helpful, but a lot more time efficient than offering individual consultations.

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Unread 15th June 2011, 06:58 PM   #40
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I can totaly agree with you. Afterall we are here to exchange our services to eachother It's a win win situation.
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Unread 15th June 2011, 08:02 PM   #41
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

There's lots of ways to open the door.

My first way was to go to an active networking group and it was changable (meaning different people attended). One method I have - is just walking up to people and saying, 'hey I'd love to know more about your business, can we book a 1-2-1?' I'm not sure if it was enthusiasm or my grin but it seems to work. From there the door is open - how you choose to make it stay open is another matter.

When you get started as well you can leverage a lot of referrals from only a few meeting members.

I think Amir has made some fine points too - in the case of me walking into businesses I've definitely done that. Restaurants are just one example - I tend to go and ask for the take out menu and then I look for their website details - if they aren't there I make a note. If they are there I go and do some digging I think Amir calls it 'warm calling.'

I know you're not offering websites but obviously prepping before hand is never a bad thing whatever you offer.

Last night I went to an all female networking meeting (which generally it not my bag of chips) I like mixed groups. It was quite a relaxed affair so not too bad. Anyway at the end of the night I'd booked 2 follow-ups and honestly. All I did was my mini-pitch and drink wine. I probably shouldn't admit to doing business a tiny bit intoxicated but as some of the ladies were too I think we were all good. I got emails confirms this morning so we can't have been that bad. :p

Take that to a more relaxed level...My point is that social surroundings are also good places to open the door to a meeting- go set up a bbq or go to some - plenty of businesses on their days off still talk shop.

Always people ask you at social functions 'what do you do?' And so many miss that opportunity to gently investigate the possibilities. No hard pitch needed.

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Unread 16th June 2011, 12:11 AM   #42
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

as there are a number of people who will try your tactic combined with companies' resistance to such, you may need to be creative and outright credible.
Goodluck

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Unread 16th June 2011, 03:21 AM   #43
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

There are some really good ideas in this thread some of which will fit most people's personality. i thing you need to do what you feel comfortable with otherwise you will waste your time as you will give up when the level of discomfort gets to high.

I am big on 'warm prospects' and so I try to supplement my prospecting with what i think of as opportunistic prospecting. By this i mean try to make a connection with businesses you come in contact with in the normal course of business. for example, if i call into a shop which is obviously a small business and looks like the type of business i like working with i ask questions about a product that will probably require the owner to get involved and introduce humor in the conversation to build rapport. In doing so i build up a database of warm prospects that produce very high close rates when followed up later.

I think it is about quality and not just quantity when you are prospecting. I guess this is a variation on prospecting through business groups.
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Unread 16th June 2011, 09:18 AM   #44
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Here's what has worked for me. I HATE cold calling so what I do is call late at night to get the voicemail. That way if they are interested they call me back. If a live answering service or owner answers I say "sorry wrong number" and hang up because I am not going to do a sales call at midnight.

This is what I did for even my past clients offering my new SMS text marketing service, and 2 called me back the very next day!

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Unread 22nd June 2011, 10:01 AM   #45
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

I've sold "Advertising" programs since 1978 when I found myself in Aspen, CO. I went there on a "Ski-Vacation" after my divorce. I was sitting at an "After-Ski" bar....looking at all the "Ski-Bunnies", when I heard a conversation going on at the table behind me.

4 guys were talking about setting up a new radio station and they were discussing various ideas on "How To Promote" the new station.

I remembered a radio station in my home town (Northbrook, IL) used a promotion every year that involved Bumper Stickers and a contest where radio listeners could win a "Shopping Spree".

I went up to my room and "penciled in" a radio promotion I called, "Bumper Bucks".

Next morning I went to a small printer and had them typeset (this was waaay before computers and inkjet printers) my Samples.

Without going into details....I took my "Mock-Ups" and walked into the radio station and asked to see the GM. I showed the GM my program and, since he thought it would "Work"...to build an audience and...get their station Call Numbers on bumpers all over town....and...since it was totally WITHOUT COST to them....he agreed to Go For It.

So...next morning I put on my "Sales Cap" and went "Door-To-Door" calling on business owners. Just "Barged in" ....asked for the "Person In Charge of Advertising"....handed them my Sample...explained how it worked and quoted my price ($495) and...WHALA!....I sold 22 for a nice Gross of $10,890.

Printed up the bumper stickers and stuff I needed (included ads in the Aspen Times) and walked away with $8,000 in my pocket.

And....I've been doing the same thing ever since. I call it, "Walkin' Down the street Pickin' Up Money!"

Hardest part of this "job" is finding the owner IN. Thus....when the person who writes the checks is not in...I ask 'What color is his car?" and "Where does he park?"...so that when I pass by that biz later...I look to see if his car is there. If it is...I go "barging" in.

In 30 yrs of doing this I've only had TWO people who gave me some "static" about "barging in". TWO....out of hundreds.

As a Side Note: When I've bought WSOs or Ebooks or reports or programs having to do with selling something (SEO stuff, Google Stuff...etc) to "help businesses get more business"....and the author says he "Goes in and Orders a Meal....then tells the owner how great the food is...then gives his sales pitch!" or....the guy walks in and starts asking questions about "when did you start your biz?"....or, "What ya doin now to get biz from the internet?"...etc....

BAH! HUMBUG! It's POPPYCOCK! No biz owner is going to go for that! They're BUSY people.

Go in...ask for the Owner (sometimes I ask for the person who "writes the checks")(I'm Brazen!)....SHOW want you're doing....explain how it works and quote your price.

What I usually do BEFORE quoting my price is...ask...."Other than Price, Is there ANY other Reason Why you wouldn't want to participate TODAY?"

I want "Price" to be the ONLY reason why he won't buy...Today!

If he says, "Nope! It all depends on how much it costs!" Then....I quote my price and...rather than wait for his "OK...Let's Do It!"...I assume he's bought and begin to write up the Order.

Works for me.

Don Alm
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Unread 23rd June 2011, 07:15 PM   #46
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

This is a really hard question to answer without knowing the specifics of your business. There are so many different kinds of "advertising companies" out there. For instance, my marketing agency does everything from print to local search to mobile.

If you are cold calling on businesses do not just leave a card or marketing material and expect a call back. You may get a couple but this is a waste of time. Personally I DO think cold calling in person is much more lucrative then over the phone but thats me.

Again without knowing the specifics of your company or what makes it stand out from the competition (USP) then it is hard to say but a basic formula should be:

To instantly set yourself apart from others cold calling - not just in your industry but total. This also makes you memorable. People have different ways of doing this and I think its more on personality but I like to start of with a light hearted comment or small joke.

Dont let a gate keeper stop you there are ways of putting a little pressure on them so they pass you through.

You also can't stop if a decision maker says they arent interested. Ask questions and always present in features and benefits specific to that PARTICULAR client. They only care what is in it for them.

Your objectives should also be clear. Your initial cold call's goal should not be to close a sale. It should be to set up a qualified appointment to then close the sale. You want to spark interest and this is done by uncovering needs - once you do talk to a decision maker with whom you should be setting the 2nd appt. not with the gate keeper.

So it should go something like this:
I like to walk in and if they are standing at the counter say something that they dont ever hear.
"Im a salesman dont shoot" OR
"You guys dont shoot salesman on Tuesdays do you?"
I dont use this every time and have tons of other stuff I say but you get the idea. As you do more and more cold calls this will be a little window into the personality of who you are dealing with. If you get a smile or a little laugh you know this person will probably give you a fair amount of time if they are not busy. If they dont do anything then you better get down to business.

For the gatekeepers by simply putting some urgency in what you are saying such as:
"limited time offer"
"time sensitive as you only deal with one client per given industry per area" OR what ever creates a legitimate reason that you need to be contacted swiftly or talk to a business owner if they available THEN you finish off with the simple statement:
"Are you the one who handles this sort of thing", OR "are responsible"
If you present it right they dont want to be responsible for it, especially if you present it as important RIGHT NOW.

I know this post reads a little confusingly but like I said it really depends on your business and many other factors that need to be known to answer it 100% clearly. Also these are word tracks off the top of my head and you can definitely brainstorm better ones I was trying to get the point across is all. Hope this helped and feel free to PM me if you need more clarification.


Quote:
Originally Posted by bhuff85 View Post
I recently started a new venture offline (not your typical website/seo consulting stuff, but an advertising service).

Anyway, I don't have any problems talking to people and meeting face-to-face and I'm not looking to do things all online or over the phone. The only thing I want to seek advice on is how to "open" the sale process when you walk into a business?

For example, should you walk into the business, introduce yourself and leave your card and some information about what it is you do? Should you ask for the owner to help bypass the gatekeeper? I'm just trying to get an idea of how to best go about this.

I'd almost rather generate leads first before just jumping into a business, but at the same time, I need to get my face out there and get people in my city familiar with me and what I'm doing. So, if any of you have any expertise on jumping into a business cold and just winging it, I'd be interested to hear what tips or advice you have!

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Unread 23rd June 2011, 10:20 PM   #47
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Default Re: Best Way to Approach Local Businesses? How to Open the Sale?

Hi,
Here are some tips:
1. Make a presentation of features and benefits and why they should do it.
2. Walk in and get a decision makers card or contact - get contact info first
3. Try to meet in person and ask them questions of what they really need to succeed before pitching anything
4. Start to lean into your service, explain why you can solve those problems and how it will increase efficiency or whatever it is meant to do.


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