Trouble with getting a hold of store owners

17 replies
Hey guys,

I'm trying to promote my service business to local small business owners, but the problem that I'm having is actually contacting the business owner. Every time I call them, they are either never there or very busy.

Is this common for some of you guys? Is there a way to get around it?

I've also been trying direct mail with no avail. I was sure cold calling was going to work, but now I'm starting to really doubt it. After 60 calls I got a hold of 2 owners.

Let me know what you guys think.

Thanks so much,
John
#hold #owners #store #trouble
  • Profile picture of the author Claude Whitacre
    I'm always at my store, but unless you know my name...and you ask for "the owner"....I'm not there. You need to know the owner's name.
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  • Profile picture of the author Aaron Doud
    Claude summed up one of the biggest problems you will face.

    Now related to this is the point that you need to talk to the right person not the owner. The owner man be the right person but will not always be.

    So the choice is to do research and be able to ask for the right person or you could simply ask who to talk to. Depending on what you sell and what you sound like on the phone one may work better than the other. But both will work better than just calling up to ask for the owner. Nothing screams salesman like asking for the owner.

    Also rather or not the owner is the right person to talk to he still may not be there.
    He may run multiple stores or businesses.
    He may be semi retired and seldom in the store.
    He may be a hands-off owner who lets his management team run the business.
    There are a load of reasons he may not actually be there.

    So take the time before or during the call to find out who you should speak with. And from that point forward ask to speak with them by name.

    Be confident even when you are asking questions. Remember you can be confident and unsure. If you do not speak with authority they will not let you speak to someone in authority.

    And finally be real. In this world where everyone promotes scripts and magic bullets it's hard to believe that being real and genuine is best.

    If you have any skills at selling you will be better off without a script. Scripts are for closers who don't know how to sell (closing and selling can be two different skills). It gets them into a position where they can close high probability prospects. Once they get a prospect to a certain point they know how to close them.

    They actually "work" very few calls. Most calls are designed to qualify out people as fast as possible It is "numbers game" selling. It works but a guy worried after 60 calls IMO is not ready to play the "numbers game". So I don't think now it's the right game for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    60 dials? Not enough.

    It looks like you haven't done much research on calling methods, which you can through this forum.

    If a store owner is more than a small business owner (and there is another choice!), they won't be spending much time there. To multiply their efforts--assuming they didn't get into the business to "buy themselves a job"--they need to be somewhere else. That's why they hire a General Manager to run it for them.

    What you need to do is find an influential gatekeeper, and ask them when the owner is most likely to be in. Calendar that time and call back then. Some won't give you a time. Some will. But expecting to get put through on your first attempt? Unlikely.

    Your other option is to find the key influencer, like that GM, and talk to them first.
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    One on one contact is effective and works for many, but it is a tough slog, and takes special people with practiced training.

    Why not ask yourself, what other people ALREADY have a relationship with your target market(store owners), then partner with those people. Or even what other people/companies are working on having relationships with your market? Warm introductions are much much easier.

    Ask yourself, who has relationships with store owners already, that may want to solidify their relationship and grow their business? accountants? lawyers? distributors? vendors? manufacturers? insurance people? bankers? landlords?

    Partner with those types of people and do some wholesale deal w/ them, maybe offer them a discounted deal on one of your services, that they can offer their prospects/customers for free(maybe a simple mobile site). Then you walk in warm and expand your service offerings. The people/companies who are working on selling your target market are especially hungry to get their business and might be more receptive to offering a part of your service 'free' to their prospects to get in the door, thus bringing you in on their coattails.

    Eat24, a restaurant delivery service just recently partnered with Yelp, and instantly got 1,000 restaurant sign-up requests. How long would it take them to get a hold of 1,000 restaurant decision-makers and sign them up on their own? Using your numbers, calling 60, talking to 2. That's 30,000 calls minimum if you were so good, you closed 100% of them. Take a closing rate of 20% if you are zig ziglar, and that'd be 150,000 calls, 10% closing rate? 300,000 calls. Eat24 said they expect to QUADRUPLE the number of restaurants they service by the end of the year.

    It's a way of outsourcing your 'cold calling' part of your sales force or marketing lead gen. No need to only be a cold callin warrior, but consider partnering with complimentary businesses that have a similar target as you.
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    In a moment of decision the best thing you can do is the right thing. The worst thing you can do is nothing. ~ Theodore Roosevelt

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    • Profile picture of the author OutOfThisWord
      Postcard marketing is a fast, inexpensive way to get leads from biz owners.

      And the ones that don't call still have been served an impression of who you are and what you can do for them and that often helps the next time your postcard arrives.

      The small to medium sized biz owner often rifles through the mail personally, looking for checks, signed purchase orders, etc.

      In fact, you'll often get calls from small to medium sized biz owners during the lunch hour when the employees are not bothering the boss.

      If you are going after an executive in a big business, try a letter in a window envelope. It looks official enough that the secretary will pass it to the intended party.
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      • Profile picture of the author hometutor
        Originally Posted by OutOfThisWord View Post

        Postcard marketing is a fast, inexpensive way to get leads from biz owners.

        And the ones that don't call still have been served an impression of who you are and what you can do for them and that often helps the next time your postcard arrives.

        The small to medium sized biz owner often rifles through the mail personally, looking for checks, signed purchase orders, etc.

        In fact, you'll often get calls from small to medium sized biz owners during the lunch hour when the employees are not bothering the boss.

        If you are going after an executive in a big business, try a letter in a window envelope. It looks official enough that the secretary will pass it to the intended party.
        One thing I like about postcards is they don't get put back into an envelope or folded where the prospect cannot see what they are. If they're in plain sight the ad is showing as well.

        Rick
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  • Profile picture of the author SiteSmarty
    Warm call. The pro looking mail goes in the garbage.

    - Get a white envelope
    - Hand write the contact persons name and address
    - Place your pitch in the envelope
    - Mail it
    - It will get opened because it looks like it's from someone they know personally (don't mark personal) Just the name and addy. Woman's handwriting is better.
    - Call that person after you know they received the pitch and speak to them about the letter you sent them
    - If they have a gatekeeper and they ask tell them you sent Joe Blow a personal letter and you're calling to follow up
    - If you can get weird stamps even works better

    Think about it. What mail do you keep, what mail do you garbage?
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  • Profile picture of the author PanteraIM
    Try calling early in the morning (7 to 8am) and later at night (7 to 8pm).

    Also try researching for a business owners name by googling at the very minimum.

    60 dials is the minimum amount of activity you should be doing each day.

    If it were 600 then maybe you would have a reason to reconsider what you are doing. You have a long while to go before then.
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    I have no idea what I'm doing.

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    • Profile picture of the author midasman09
      Banned
      Holy Camoly! You GOT be kidding!

      Waay Baack when I started my first business (Burglar Alarms for Small Business) after 3 or 4 calls trying to "get the GUY WHO WRITES THE CHECKS"....on line (emphasis on 3 or 4 calls NOT 60)..I figured I had better find a way to get the "Rejectionist" to get the BOSS on line... otherwise I would have a very tough time getting my new bizness going.

      So....I discovered 2 things (re: my Burglar Alarm biz for small biz)

      1) Small Biz PLANT OWNERS are ....ALWAYS IN ON SATURDAYS! (My Niche Market was small Mfg businesses in the suburbs of Chgo.

      and....
      2) I could VISIT my potential prospects by driving to the Industrial area they had built their "1 story plant" (Wow! This brings up many memories on what I did to get my first accounts)....walk in the BACK DOOR and.... well.....Heavens To Betsy (an old saying)....by Gosh....THERE WAS THE OWNER OF THE BIZ (usually in Shorts)

      So.....I was able to build my "Burglar Alarm" biz from scratch by going to potential clients ON SATURDAYS!

      Now...understanding that you folks reading this today, in the year 2013 do NOT want to "visit prospects" IN PERSON....my suggestion to "get past the Rejectionist" (on your COLD calls) is to....GIVE THE REJECTIONIST A REASON TO CONNECT THE BOSS.....to your call!

      And....one of the "Reasons" to connect ME is, .................

      It depends on the servce or program I'm trying to sell BUT.....I can GUARANTEE you this....if you will research your niche.....you WILL find 1 or 2 "GRABBER" words to use to GET THE ATTENTION OF THE "BOSS"!

      Don Alm....Grabber from Waay Baack
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      • Profile picture of the author midasman09
        Banned
        Holy Camoly.....I just remembered how I was able to get the UNDIVIDED ATTENTION of some "Jewelry Store Owners" in a small town.

        I sent an email to the store with this "Subject Line";

        "Need Help Finding a 5 Carat Engagement Ring!"

        You Kidding ME! I got OWNERS of every Jewelry Store I sent this to to CALL LITTLE OL' ME!

        So....what I'm trying to tell you; IT'S ALL HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AND....THE WORDS YOU USE....to succeed in Biz!

        Don Alm....wordsmith from waay back.
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        • Profile picture of the author BlogDiva
          Originally Posted by midasman09 View Post

          Holy Camoly.....I just remembered how I was able to get the UNDIVIDED ATTENTION of some "Jewelry Store Owners" in a small town.

          I sent an email to the store with this "Subject Line";

          "Need Help Finding a 5 Carat Engagement Ring!"

          You Kidding ME! I got OWNERS of every Jewelry Store I sent this to to CALL LITTLE OL' ME!

          So....what I'm trying to tell you; IT'S ALL HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AND....THE WORDS YOU USE....to succeed in Biz!

          Don Alm....wordsmith from waay back.
          What you say in the body of an email like that? I'm sure they would be expecting someone that is really looking for a ring....LOL
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        • Profile picture of the author isosales
          But they called you because they thought you were looking for a ring and were a potential customer. The real question is how many clients did you acquire and how many did you just plain piss off?

          Originally Posted by midasman09 View Post

          Holy Camoly.....I just remembered how I was able to get the UNDIVIDED ATTENTION of some "Jewelry Store Owners" in a small town.

          I sent an email to the store with this "Subject Line";

          "Need Help Finding a 5 Carat Engagement Ring!"

          You Kidding ME! I got OWNERS of every Jewelry Store I sent this to to CALL LITTLE OL' ME!

          So....what I'm trying to tell you; IT'S ALL HOW YOU PRESENT YOURSELF AND....THE WORDS YOU USE....to succeed in Biz!

          Don Alm....wordsmith from waay back.
          To the OP; I'd agree with the other replies. You need to call, mail, reach out more and in a more personal way.
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  • Profile picture of the author AndrewCavanagh
    This might be a radical idea to some who thing cold calling
    is the be all and end all of everything (what a laugh that is).

    Perhaps you could consider using another first approach
    so that you get those business owners eager to contact
    you first or at least eager to talk to you when you call.

    You can do that with well designed direct mail, email,
    even by personally dropping something into the store.

    You could also work on being introduced to business owners
    by someone they know and trust (their accountant for
    example or a retired business person with contacts...even
    a local elected council or government member).

    Kindest regards,
    Andrew Cavanagh
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  • Profile picture of the author ewenmack
    Originally Posted by John Martinez View Post

    Hey guys,

    I'm trying to promote my service business to local small business owners, but the problem that I'm having is actually contacting the business owner. Every time I call them, they are either never there or very busy.

    Is this common for some of you guys? Is there a way to get around it?

    I've also been trying direct mail with no avail. I was sure cold calling was going to work, but now I'm starting to really doubt it. After 60 calls I got a hold of 2 owners.

    Let me know what you guys think.

    Thanks so much,
    John
    John, In my business which supplies paper receipt rolls to store owners
    the phone script goes like this...

    "Hi Sally, who should I be talking to there about
    getting you people a better deal on [X]?"

    Come up with your strong "what you get".

    The common reply is the persons name and then I ask...

    "When is the best time to catch him in?"

    The bigger companies tend to get me transferred straight away.

    The real key is having that big advantage you
    can offer. Your tone and strength on the call becomes
    your pathway to speaking to the decision maker.

    This is the most successful method we use to land the
    #1 brands in different categories as well as small shops.

    Best,
    Ewen
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  • Profile picture of the author davehayes
    There are some great replies to this thread, awesome answers.Like the original poster, I was experiencing the same problem, initially.So I know how he feels. What I found was that phone calling doesn't work ( too easily dismissed) whereas a call in person and by being polite definately does.

    From experience, I am UK based, but the principle would apply in most other places I am sure, most business owners are best approached either before 11am, or between 3&5pm in the afternoon.

    If you are dealing with Retail fast food outlets, then the period just after they have opened, say 5.30~ 6.30pm should find them approachable. I have been having good sucess with this myself, plus it gives them a chance to 'buy' you

    As someone else has rightly put, be open, genuine and honest. It will always go down well and use phrases such as, would it be okay with you, to see you next XXX or is XXX better for you.Your responses will be much improved.

    Applied education is the difference
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    • Profile picture of the author nyk24
      Hey Dave nice to hear of a fellow uk warrior's own personal experience but it is your own experience and if done right every form of marketing can work if done correctly (some work better for different industries).

      Anyway my point is that getting hold of the owner on the phone does work, particularly in smaller businesses. You will find a few threads on here on to do it, my advice to the OP is not to give a $h1t when making those calls asking for the owner. I usually go with the mantra of a slightly disgruntled customer who is asking for the owner and the gatekeeper senses that I am not trying to sell anything and I am not chasing them for money owed!

      Remember you aren't a pissed off customer once you get through to the owner. Owner not in? As mentioned in this thread ask when he will be next in? Still not getting any joy as a last resort I ask for their email.

      Then comes the killer email attention grabber, no joy still? Send something lumpy in the post?

      My point is this you need to have several marketing strategies as like a temple if one of them goes down the pan then you have other pillars still earning you money......some folks in this forum have been burnt by a google panda updates in the past and this was their only marketing funnel!

      hth

      Nick
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