Offline Line Businesses - Help With Cold Calling

34 replies
Just wondering if I can get some help with approaching small businesses who need a website.

I have researched small businesses in a niche around my area who don't have a website and have tried to cold call them to get an appointment.

I have called 5 so far, and they all say no they don't need a website as they are doing just fine without one, as most of their marketing is word of mouth and they are busy enough anyway, so why would they need a website...

Just wanted to see if anyone else does the cold calling to get business and and if they did have success with cold calling, what they did...

Thanks for your help :-)
#businesses #calling #cold #line #offline
  • Profile picture of the author Chucksta
    Not one for cold calling myself, not got the balls But, amongst the many IT skills I posses, web development is proving to be quite a lucrative one, and what I do to get custom is for every site a build I ask the people to tell their friends, family, colleagues etc. and for every piece of business they send my way I give them a commission (motivates them to promote my work).

    This tactic works well for website creation because of the return is high, but I did it for PC support, and had to quit, due to the volume of work and low return. Hourly rate is a lot less than for development work, and I hate PC support, but love programming and drawing.

    It might be an idea to start very local, and send out examples of your work, both by email and land mail (snail mail)

    My website build work started with my brother-in-law and has just escalated from there... all word of mouth... but then his work involves him interacting with many people at a creative and productive level (woodland management - looking after the countryside)
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  • Profile picture of the author shaggard
    I completely agree with overseerver here. Cold calling is not going to cut it. You will need to go in and talk to the people. Show them exactly how their business can profit from a website and how easy it can be to implement. They probably are thinking it will be a lot of work and they dont have the time. However, if you can show them with very little effort you can get them up and running and it will pay for itself in profits, they would be glad to sign up.

    You can't sell them a website they don't want. So convince them they need a website to better serve their customers and help the word of mouth. People talking about them can easily pull up the site and show them who they are.

    good luck
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thanks for your help! I was thinking that too, just to go to their place of business and explain to them the benefits of a website...I am pretty nervous when I call too, so that probably comes across in my voice, so Im probably not doing a great job anyway...

    Love the referral idea, i will definitely be adopting that :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Steve Peters Benn
    I'm not a huge fan of cold calling, but I do make it work for me.

    I think you might be trying to sell what you want to sell, not what people want to buy though. Sort that and things will become easier.
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  • Profile picture of the author Venturetothetop
    Here is a method I used for cold calling that worked fantastically well.

    Before you call the company do some research. What kind of question do you want to known about the industry, what answers could help you market your service to others?

    Now, for the first call, I am not expected anything, and I mean anything except the answers to the questions. Remember business are rarely asked to give their advice so this is the element we are going to tap.

    Call the company, say your doing some research on the industry *you are, so you are not lying) and that you would like a few minutes with the relavent person (owner) to ask a few options about elements of their industry.

    You then ask your questions and the following:
    Do you use a website?
    What do you use it for? (hinting at attracting customers or just information etc)
    Would you consider developing it, if your target market used the internet more? (what are their plans for the future and how will they attract customers?

    Thank them for their time and answers and hang up. If you spot a gap where you can help them, put it in a letter and send it them asking them to arrange a meeting.

    The next person you call, do the same, but add to the discussion by talking about opinions other experts had in their industry. Establishes you as a true knowledgable person and makes you interesting to talk too!

    It works great, and gives me so many ideas of other ways I can earn from/I mean help them

    I have also compiles some of my research into an article and had it published in industry magazines, again establishing me as a n expert!

    (The above is just a basic text, I am writing an indepth text for this which I will post soon)
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thanks heaps, Venturetothetop...I love you method. I will definitely try it. I agree with the whole not trying to sell anything, really no-one likes to be sold to...
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  • Profile picture of the author ileneg
    They don't want a website...but I bet they want more profits - "Sell the sizzle, not the steak..."

    Like most other things, along with the right personality, cold calling takes patience, consistency and testing. Test your script, work on your delivery - and sell the outcome "more money" not the tool "a website".

    ileneg
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  • Profile picture of the author sabun
    Visiting the office and meeting the person in charge is a better option but you'll still need cold calling to fix the meeting ... 0 response from 5 calls is not a big deal, really. It will take a little more persuasion and time before you can convince some of those businesses out there, it's not that simple, obviously.
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  • Profile picture of the author Imran Naseem
    Banned
    This is coming from someone who has done cold calling and trust me it is not easy.

    You will need to speak to the main decision maker and most of the time the main person is not there.

    Some businesses have receptionists (known as the gatekeeper), who are more than happy to hang up the phone.

    Once you do reach the decision maker make sure you get them in front of their computer so you can demonstrate what you are offering - also known as the "tell me, show me method".

    You need to have a good relationship over the phone and be energetic. No one will be willing to use your service if you do not have faith in your product and are not confident.

    The key to cold calling is to be passionate about what you are offering and how it can help the business owner. Sell yourself first then sell the product.

    Peace
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    • Profile picture of the author Steve Peters Benn
      Originally Posted by Imran Naseem View Post

      This is coming from someone who has done cold calling and trust me it is not easy.

      You will need to speak to the main decision maker and most of the time the main person is not there.

      Some businesses have receptionists (known as the gatekeeper), who are more than happy to hang up the phone.

      Once you do reach the decision maker make sure you get them in front of their computer so you can demonstrate what you are offering - also known as the "tell me, show me method".

      You need to have a good relationship over the phone and be energetic. No one will be willing to use your service if you do not have faith in your product and are not confident.

      The key to cold calling is to be passionate about what you are offering and how it can help the business owner. Sell yourself first then sell the product.

      Peace

      Call around 8.30 - 9.30 and around 1pm-2pm and I've found the gatekeepers are often not around. Suprisingly, some of the worst offenders are also very very bad timekeepers!
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  • Profile picture of the author CarolThomas
    I agree with obseervers and venturetothetop. However, from my sales experience - if you just turn up at the companies "out-of-the-blue" the chances of you being able to talk to and present your services to one of the managers/ceo or people that make those kind of decisions straightaway is very unlikely. These people are normally very busy and either in meetings or out of the office.

    What I've done in the past is to put together a small information pack of the services that you're offering - eg. website design (into a small binder so it looks very professional - like you are anyway). Create say 7-8 and then go round the various offices/businesses in your area(s) and give out your information packs. Then say that you will come back in a couple of days to pick up your folder - that way you don't have to ring them and get blown out. When you go back to that business the aim is to set up an appointment (where you can then use your laptop to impress them with a demonstration of what a website can do for their business). If they say that they're not interested then leave them your "business card". That way if they change they're mind later on they have your details and they'll remember you.

    You could also approach small businesses in your area who already have say a basic website and ask them if they are getting enough traffic and getting customers through their website - otherwise what is the point of having a website. You could offer additional services (if you want - just a thought) say on backlinks, traffic generation. I would think most companies nowadays - in this economic climate (whether they have a website or not) would not say no to more customers. Just another angle you could use. Hope this helps. Good Luck
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    • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
      Before you even start with cold calling, you need to be prepared for getting plenty of rejections. If it was easy, everyone would do it.

      And like Imran says, you need to sound confident and enthusiastic.

      Also, if you have done a lot of research to find the companies, let them know.

      I have been working full-time as a telemarketer for 10 months(B2B), so I would say I have some experience in the field.

      As for them telling you "they don't need a website as they are doing just fine without one" like you stated, try visualizing a situation.

      Whenever I hear something similar, I use the one about box tv vs. flatscreen.
      "We used to have box TV's, and they worked just great, but then technology got better and suddenly everyone wanted a flatscreen. - Even though our old TV did the job"
      Or something similar. They can't disagree. - Unless they're still using a box TV, but then they won't be able to understand the point of a website anyways

      I must admit that I haven't done much cold calling on small businesses where I offer my own services, but the same concept's apply. I would try sending them a semi-custom snailmail first, with a date to call them up.

      - Preben
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    • Profile picture of the author copious
      Venturetothetop, I like your approach! Not quite a cold call, more of a warm call!

      Myself, I detest when people cold call me. I hate doing cold calling myself and would rather go bankrupt instead of cold call. (In fact, that's exactly what happened to me a few years ago just as the economy took a nosedive).

      Cold-callers are often seen as peddlers. You want people to come to you, and see you as the expert. I learned that from one the great Internet marketers I follow and consider to be a mentor (even though I've never met him): Perry Marshall.

      I used to have a small web design business, even got a small office to look more professional (read: lots of unnecessary expenses and tied down to a restrictive schedule). Honestly, I wouldn't bother with an office again. Working from home is just fine and allows you flexibility to travel. And, I would steer clear of making website small start up businesses. TRUST ME! If they're having trouble coming up with $500 for a basic website, and try to dicker down the price, that's the start of things to come. The less they pay, the more they complain. I found that people paying $1000, $1500 or more would gladly whip out their checkbook and pay what I asked for, and never complain. Of course, they may have legitimate concerns or requests for revisions, but that's different.. If only I had discovered that (and had the confidence) to approach those kinds of people sooner, things would have been a lot different for me.

      As it happens, I just read a pretty good by Jim Smith called "How to Start a Home Based Web Design Business." For the most part, I agree with what he is saying. Take it with a grain of salt. For the $20 you'll pay for that book, you definitely get your money's worth, even if it just gives you 1 or 2 good ideas.

      I'm getting back into web design on a part time basis. This time I'm positioning myself as an Internet Marketer to a certain offline, bricks and mortar industry (driving schools, since I know the industry very well - I've helped my friend build up a very successful driving school, and I made her a killer website that brings in 50% of her customers). I'm going to focus on one niche and one niche only.

      Since there are only so many driving schools in a city, I will likely not meet many of my prospect and customers face-to-face. I will charge a premium price for my expertise. So, even if I just do one website a month, or one every two months, it will pay my living expenses. I plan on devoting more time to creating other sources of online income, such as membership sites (more hands-off auto-pilot once set up). But I will count on doing about one driving school website per month once I get things rolling.

      But, check out that book. For $20 you'll get a heck of a lot of good information. Good luck! Let us know how it goes for you.
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      • Profile picture of the author Preben Frenning
        Originally Posted by copious View Post

        And, I would steer clear of making website small start up businesses. TRUST ME! If they're having trouble coming up with $500 for a basic website, and try to dicker down the price, that's the start of things to come. The less they pay, the more they complain. I found that people paying $1000, $1500 or more would gladly whip out their checkbook and pay what I asked for, and never complain.
        I have experienced this exact same thing! I got paid very little, but I mostly did it to get a happy client and a good reference, but it was just a massive amount of work, and lots of minor revisions and further free work. Why? Because he was only focused on his website at that time. I don't even think he was satisfied with the massive amount of free work I did for him.

        So... I won't go after start-up businesses again. At least not as cheap as I used to, and I'll make it clear that I will make a VERY SIMPLE WEBSITE, and that I don't intend to do a whole lot of revisions, unless they are able to tell me exactly what they want in the beginning, and I'm not able to give it to them.

        And @GuerrillaIM - What you mention is also extremely valuable - and fun.
        Many bosses in small companies love to harass telemarketers, and don't realize the danger of it. Which is also why you should not sound like a "phone subscription seller" kind of guy. Make it less formal, but still professional.
        If they are being rude, simply tell them they are being unfair, and that you're only trying to help them. (But only if it is early in the conversation, and they haven't listened to you.)
        If it comes later, then it's most likely you that have said or done something wrong.
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  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    I spent all yesterday cold calling businesses. The angle I used was like this.

    Me: Hello, I wonder if you can help me. Would you be interested in receiving enquiries for <industry type>

    Them: Yes, of course, what do you mean?

    M: Well, I am an internet marketer and I specialize in generating business from the internet. I work very unlike anyone you may have talked to previously as I work purely on results. In other words, if I don't generate business for you I don't get paid. Do you have a referral system in place at the moment?

    T: No, whats that?

    M: Well, its a system where you can incentivize people to send business your way.

    Then I go into opening questions:

    Have you ever marketed online before? What was the outcome?
    Do you get enquiries from your existing website?
    How much extra business could you handle before it became too much?

    Then based on their answers I make a presentation based on the services I offer that would be good for them and look to agree a deal.

    Even though I work performance related, some people will prefer to offer me a lump sum as opposed to an ongoing commitment, which is fine. I make this option available to them if I am having trouble closing.

    Hope it helps.
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    • Profile picture of the author Imran Naseem
      Banned
      Originally Posted by GuerrillaIM View Post

      I spent all yesterday cold calling businesses. The angle I used was like this.

      Me: Hello, I wonder if you can help me. Would you be interested in receiving enquiries for <industry type>

      Them: Yes, of course, what do you mean?

      M: Well, I am an internet marketer and I specialize in generating business from the internet. I work very unlike anyone you may have talked to previously as I work purely on results. In other words, if I don't generate business for you I don't get paid. Do you have a referral system in place at the moment?

      T: No, whats that?

      M: Well, its a system where you can incentivize people to send business your way.

      Then I go into opening questions:

      Have you ever marketed online before? What was the outcome?
      Do you get enquiries from your existing website?
      How much extra business could you handle before it became too much?

      Then based on their answers I make a presentation based on the services I offer that would be good for them and look to agree a deal.

      Even though I work performance related, some people will prefer to offer me a lump sum as opposed to an ongoing commitment, which is fine. I make this option available to them if I am having trouble closing.

      Hope it helps.
      I like this strategy a lot and I love the opening.

      Do you do cold calling a lot?

      People get turned off from cold calling since some people do not seem to be confident on the phone but just ask the Local business directories like Touch Local and Yell - all their money is made by selling Adspace through cold calling.

      It can be lucrative if done right.
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      • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
        Originally Posted by Imran Naseem View Post

        I like this strategy a lot and I love the opening.

        Do you do cold calling a lot?

        People get turned off from cold calling since some people do not seem to be confident on the phone but just ask the Local business directories like Touch Local and Yell - all their money is made by selling Adspace through cold calling.

        It can be lucrative if done right.
        Yes, I have done a lot of cold calling.

        The important thing I find is to establish authority. I am not a salesperson, I am an experienced marketer who really can pick and choose who I work with. I have chosen this company to talk to, if they are rude to me I will pull them up on it. In other words don't take no sh*t. If you don't believe and act like you are important person, no one will treat you like you are.

        Many people are used to being rude to cold callers, its great to hear them gasp when I challenge them on it in a polite but direct manner, you can hear them re-call and try to take their words back as if they are worried they have actually offended someone important that their boss will be doing business with.
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    • Profile picture of the author dsprank
      [QUOTE=GuerrillaIM;2321010]I spent all yesterday cold calling businesses. The angle I used was like this.

      Me: Hello, I wonder if you can help me. Would you be interested in receiving enquiries for <industry type>

      That is a beautiful opening line. I might have to try it out for a few days.

      Dave
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      • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
        Originally Posted by dsprank View Post

        That is a beautiful opening line. I might have to try it out for a few days.

        Dave
        Lol, hopefully it doesn't catch on too much or it might stop working so well
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  • Profile picture of the author enterpryzman
    I can tell you that my offline business life is very-very busy and if/when somebody shows up without an appointment, they are pretty much out of luck as I will see nobody without an appointment.

    I most likely have 5-10 salesmen show up throughout the week and it upsets me that they show soo little respect as to simply walk in and expect to meet with me.

    The only way I ever meet with them is if they present themselves in a way that i have never heard nor seen in the past. I will then give them enough time to see how they are presenting, NOT what they are presenting, all in the interest in learning myself how to communicate in a new way.

    Cold calling is tough BUT, I do think it is very good to teach you what not to do in the future. Also, handling objections will make you better and smarter or convince you to quit......NO,NO,NO, all day long can be a hard thing to deal with.

    Best wishes,
    Enterpryzman
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thank-you GuerrillaIM and CarolThomas, I will definitely try your suggestions, they sound great! I agree with Imran too, its not easy and I think I underestimated how hard it was, think I might have a couple of vodkas before I do it next time lol
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thanks Copious, you have given me some great advise. I agree with you about the niche thing, thats what I am doing, I am focusing on Restaurants, my mum was a chef so I know the industry pretty well and I love food :-)...

    I will definitely buy that book you recommended... Thanks again.
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  • Profile picture of the author sdentrepreneur
    I have been marketing offline for over 2 years. I never cold call. I show up to business mixers and chamber of commerce events. There are so many businesses looking for quality web design and web traffic, it is very simple and I even cherry pick who I want to work with now.
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  • Profile picture of the author copious
    No problem Olivia! I also bought the "Web Design Business Kit" (that might not be the exact name, but it was sold by Sitepoint about 5 years ago). It was very expensive, about $250 USD but was also quite good. It has a lot of files, letters, etc on a CD in electronic format and a bit more detail than the book I recommended by Jim Smith. I'd start with that book first. Then maybe check eBay for a used copy of the web design business kit.

    Incidentally, the Web Design Business Kit was made by an Aussie! And I see you're in Melbourne! A friend of mine is there right now, she's spending a year there working as a nanny.
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  • Profile picture of the author higginb3
    I agree, find a niche (looks like you know restaurants pretty well) and stick with it... then business will come. I got into the website design business accidentally when I did a website for a bar/tavern..... I ended up doing websites for several and provides me with a nice little check every month... It is not my main source of income, but simply another revenue stream. I stay in bread and breakfasts type inns occasionally and have thought to mention them my services... but I'm just too busy right now. Try to focus on smaller businesses such as bar/taverns, restaurants, bed and breakfasts, etc. Work the phone book... I found it much easier to deal with people who have small businesses, etc. When I develop a website for a person I also suggest they do a press release on PRWEB (that I write).. I encourage them to do that when something big and newsworthy happened. I always presented an entire package. It also provides them with more conceived value since I include it in the price. It is much easier to get in touch with the decision makers of these businesses as well.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thanks Copious I will have a look for that kit also. Yep live in Melbourne, Australia is a great place visit if you haven't been, but then again I might be being biased :-)!
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  • Profile picture of the author LondonPaladin
    Aussie, why don't you target businesses that have a terrible website instead of ones that have none.

    All of my offline cilents had one thing in common. They spent 3k on a beautiful website with a 0% conversion rate. I have a client who gets 3-500 LOCAL uniques a month and zero conversion.

    Her site is terrible.

    So start by targetting people who already spend money online but don't know how to do it right. Start by entering a local search term and then call the business on pages 2-4 of google.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    Thanks higginb3, I never thought about including a press release, I am not too bad once I have an appointment, its getting that appointment that I am struggling with... though there have been great suggestions here that I am going to definitely use. I have to say everyone is really nice and helpful in this forum!
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  • Profile picture of the author Aussie Olivia
    LondonPaladin thats a great point, I never thought of it that way, why am I targeting businesses that don't have a website. Might have to re-think about my whole approach.
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  • Profile picture of the author dsprank
    Cold calling does work, if you take the time to work it. The problem people have with cold calling is that you will get much more rejection than you will get sales. But if you work the phones hard you may be able to put out a few sales in a day. In addition, you are not limited to just your hometown. You can do business anywhere in the world, for much less cost than any other type of advertising.

    What works for me is to first give a brief introduction call. Have a short four to six page report that you would like to give them. Let the business owner know that you are not selling anything you just want to introduce yourself and your business to him, and send him your company report on why businesses need a website. Get his email address and send it to him.

    Follow up in a few days, one of two things will happen. He will not be interested at all, in which case you will thank him and move on, or he will have some questions for you. You will now be able to take the consultive approach, rather than the sales approach. Just do not push hard and you will get some sales.

    For those that you did not close that day, send them an email at least once a month with some new information that you have come across. You will get some to start to call you.

    Think of it like list building online. It works the same way, except you may be able to build your list much faster. If you need more business, and leads are not coming in, why not?
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  • Profile picture of the author Quentin
    The fact is not every business does need a website so this is fine. Just say thanks and move on.

    What you will find is those who already have a website are a lot easier because most of them suck.

    Try approaching some that already have a site and tell them how you can help them get a better return on Investment from this asset. Don't use jargon.

    Quentin
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  • Profile picture of the author GuerrillaIM
    Been playing with the pitch today and tweaked it a bit. Seems to work better like this:

    Me: Hi, I wonder if you can help me? are you interested in receiving enquiries for <industry> in the <location> area.

    Them: Sure, how do you mean?

    Me: Well I am an internet marketer and I have identified that there are a lot of people searching on google for <keyword>.

    Etc...
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  • Profile picture of the author wkathome
    Nice supply of useful information here, now to go and put it all to good use. thanks for sharing Warriors.
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