I have been a long-time lurker here on the Warrior Forum, however I just recently created an account and figured it was time to give back to this great community. A little about myself: I've been marketing to "offline" clients way before the offline revolution began, mainly selling website design services then upselling to marketing packages. On the marketing side of things, I offer clients anything from SEO to radio/TV advertisements; depending on their individual needs and what we think will help increase their revenues while still providing a positive return on investment.
However, website design is my "foot in the door," and as such, it has worked splendidly. Quick side-note... if you are struggling to get your first client, do this:
1. Go to your local Chamber of Commerce website, and pull up a list of all registered businesses.
2. Go through that list, and visit every website that is listed. Skip the businesses that don't have a website listed.
3. If the website looks old and out of date, copy the business name and phone number into an excel spreadsheet.
This will take you anywhere from 3-10 hours, depending on the size of your city, etc. Grit your teeth and do it. When you're done, you have a highly targeted list of maybe 100 businesses that are in desperate need of a website re-design (and guess what - they know it). Now take a day off, relax, play some golf.
Now that you are refreshed, wake up at 7:30, grab some coffee, go for a run, do whatever you need to do to wake yourself up and get ready for the day. 'Cause guess what, you're going to spend the day cold calling every single business in that list. As 9:00 approaches, stand up, stretch, and prep yourself for that first call. It's going to suck, so who cares - think of your first 5 calls as "warm-up" calls. They don't mean anything because their only purpose is to get you into a rhythm and get the jitters out. By the way... as 9:00 approaches you will probably start doing anything you can to procrastinate and put off that first call, so recognize this and FORCE yourself to make that call. I've been there, trust me, it'll probably happen.
Here's your elevator spiel:
"Hi, this is First Name, I own a small business here in City - did I call at a bad time?
Y: "Oh I'm sorry, I didn't mean to bother you, I can call back later if you'd like"
(You'll basically be asked for your pitch at that point, or given a time to call back. Or you struck out and move onto the next one)
N: "Oh ok, great - I'm just calling because I was on the Chamber of Commerce website last night, and noticed that your website is a little out of date. I run a small website design company, and actually spent a little bit of time last night re-designing your website, and was just wondering if you want to take a look at what I've done?"
Y: Set up the appointment, giving you enough time to actually put together a quick re-design mock-up
N: Thank him for his time and move on.
Not fancy, not an especially well written script, but it works. You're going to get pulled into a conversation with the guy anyways if he's interested, so don't worry too much about sticking to the script - it's basically there as a crutch for you to lean on. I've done this, and got 7 appointments from 100ish businesses and landed 5 as clients. That's one day of calling. Sure cold calling is a numbers game, but there are ways to skew the numbers in your favor - putting in the time to develop a targeted, researched list is one of those ways.
To be honest you're probably not shaving off too much total time as building that list takes a while, but hey you're cutting down the amount of time you're spending on the phone. And since that's the part most people hate, this method is quite effective. Plus, when you're landing appointments every 10-15 calls rather than every 50, cold calling is much more fun and you have better success simply because you're amped from the success you're having, which makes you a much more effective telemarketer. Business owners can tell a lot by the tone of your voice - if you're bored, or are making your 100th call of the day, they know and you are much less effective.
Hmmm... that side-note turned into quite the lengthy post. Oh well. I'll just keep writing cause I'm in the zone, my apologies for the continued length - feel free to press your browser's back button at any point obviously .
Now I would suggest doing the above if you're struggling to get your first clients, simply because it's cash in your pocket very quickly. However, I do utilize a more advanced technique that has been incredibly effective - and to be honest I haven't read about it much here, so it's possible that not many people know about this/are doing it effectively.
I've dubbed it my "Cold Calling Robotic Funnel" system. (Imagine a brass-heavy anthem playing right now)
Given how lengthy this post already is, I'll do my best to cover the basics with only a small back-story preface... my apologies again.
One day, after a long cold calling session (I was not using a super-targeted list), I spent about 15 minutes going through my lead tracking program, checking out the statistics for that day and seeing what kind of numbers I had. That day I had called 122 businesses, which were broken down as follows:
72 answers, 50 no-answers
44 messages left (some numbers were disconnected)
26 marked as "warm" leads that I was going to follow up with, either because the owner was out or because they requested a call-back, or requested an email with information.
4 marked as "hot" leads, either because they sounded extremely interested and asked for a call-back, or wanted an appointment.
2 appointments set
Overall, a pretty decent day. Then BOOM. Epiphany. I don't know why or what cogs were turning in my head, but all of a sudden I focused very intently on those 44 messages that I had just left. That epiphany was that I was wasting a ton of time reading my "message spiel" (I have a paragraph on hand when I cold call that I use only for messages - I recommend this, makes things easy).
Long story short, I started looking for solutions to this problem. Every problem usually has a solution somewhere. Sure enough, there are various companies out there that offer what's called voicemail broadcasting. Some of you might have heard of this, some maybe not. Usually VB (which is how I'll refer to voicemail broadcasting from here on out) is integrated with an auto-dialer service of some kind. You plug a list of numbers into the system, and it will connect you whenever a live person actually answers the phone. If a machine answers, the service will drop a sound file onto the machine with your message.
So that solved my problem... but as I was falling asleep that night, I kept thinking of other ways to utilize this voicemail broadcasting system, so the next day I decided to try out a few that I came up with.
First, I discovered that you can have the software focus only on answering machines - so I loaded a list of 200 businesses into the software, created a sound file telling the owners that I am a local website designer that is running a 24-hour 80% off special, and to give me a call if they're interested. Creating that sound file took 4 hours and is beyond the scope of this post (let's just say there are STRICT specifications for that sound file, and it will sound horrible if you don't use the right software/methods to create it. Very annoying.)
So, I waited until 9pm that night, then let the software do its thing. All in all it left 150ish messages, which was pretty decent considering it wasn't the best list I've ever used (I eventually had a custom scraper program developed to build a quality list of local leads, and my numbers have gotten better).
The next day I got 3 calls, which turned into 1 sale... and the day after that I got 2 calls from business owners asking if they missed the special. Both turned into sales after a few follow-ups. Lucky? Yea, without a doubt, but I still had proof that this worked pretty well.
Here's how I turned that basic VB software into my "Cold Calling Robotic Funnel" system - it took me a lot of trial and error to develop, but it works pretty damn well if I do say so myself.
Basically, I thought to myself, how can I make this as scalable as possible? The answer came to me when I started looking at VB as a type of Adwords. You spend about 3.5 cents for every 3 messages you leave, so it's really not that expensive, but scaling it out and leaving messages in other cities wouldn't really work that well. I couldn't use my "local business owner" line effectively, couldn't meet with the owners personally, etc. Basically my conversions would drop and I couldn't close the sales easily without hiring a huge sales force.
Thus, I set up a one-page website for every city I wanted to target, with a small sales letter selling a "time-limited" website design package. I re-set the 24-hour timer at the top of the page every time I ran a campaign, and offered a few different packages at different discounted prices.
Then, I ran a campaign leaving messages that said I was a local small business owner that was offering discounted website design services (in the message I actually told them the price for the cheapest package) for the next 24 hours, and if they want to lock their spot in all they have to do is go to this website.
- I load up a call list for a certain city
- I create a website just for that city, with local references in the ad copy, with "buy now" buttons
- I leave messages on the answering machines automatically
- This drives targeted traffic to my website (seeing the similarities with adwords?), at a ROI I can track
- They purchase a website, fill out a questionnaire, and receive their website within 7 days.
I don't do anything but 1.) send the questionnaires to my design team, 2.) develop the lead lists using my custom scraper program, 3.) answer emails, and 4.) create new campaigns for new target cities. Oh, and follow-up with the customers over the phone to sell them marketing services.
Thus, my "Cold Calling Robotic Funnel" system. I load up thousands of numbers for each campaign, so it is very scalable and quite profitable. Hopefully someone gets at least a little out of this post, I know I rambled for quite a while, sorry about that - old habit, probably from all that time on the phone!