Cold Calling – The Odds – Industrial Sales

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Cold Calling

Cold Calling, what is it good for?

Cold as Ice - Is life underneath?

Cold as Ice – Is life underneath?

The purpose of a cold call is to make an introduction of the company and machine or product, find out if the product has interest to the Industrial customer, and start a sales conversation. Go from a sales conversation to brochures.  From brochure to visit. From the visit to a close. Cold calling is part of the marketing arsenal.  When used correctly, the economics make sense.

How does cold calling work in real life?

(Caution – Unscientific results based on in-house CRM notes).  The accomplished caller gets to a useful person, 33% of the time.  The good caller gets to a useful person 25% of the time.  Less good sales people get less.  Great sales people get more.  Not a lot of difference between good and accomplished.

Salespeople are good at their job.  If the new product has any relevance at all (80% of the time on good lists) the potential customer asks for more information.  Most of the time 80% the additional information satisfies the customer who may or may not open  up the email with the attachment. (Note – see about an email widget that lets you know when prospect opens or deletes the attachment).

Math update. 600 leads = 200 connected calls.  160 brochures sent. 10% = 16 prospects with an interest somewhere between curiosity and seriousness.    Of the 16 prospects, 4 have interest and set an appointment.  One out of 4 appointments with prospects that take appointments ends with a purchase. Calling 600 people with skilled consistent sales people on a good list means that one sale is made.  One-third of one percent of the calls ends up in closed transactions.

The call is important because it sets the stage for the relationship.

Too pushy and sales orientated, and the caller makes his reputation, no matter how good the information, the person is dismissed from relevance.  Too weak a call and the salesperson is dismissed as rambling and unfocused.  Either end of the extreme is unattractive. The correct tone is focused on the job at hand, delivered as an authentic human being.  Everyone takes this sales person seriously except for the front desk receptionist who has been told to reject any and all sales people.  Ever wonder why these instructions come to the front desk?

The brochure is the calling card.

It reaches beyond the point of contact of the sales person into the company.  Does the brochure explain the entire product?  Is it a teaser?  One page chock full of facts? Is the brochure a sample? The answer, “it depends” is unsatisfying.

If the product is part of the COGS (cost of goods sold) then a sample is frequently the right “brochure” to send.  If the product is a new robot, perhaps a teaser and an invite to the factory is best.  If the product is this year’s version of a commoditized product (electric motor, diesel engine, tools, gears, boilers, heat exchangers, etc.) then a detailed spec sheet and a link to an iges (three-dimensional drawing) file is in order.

Send out too little and the brochure is pitched in the trash or deleted.  Send out too little and the sales person is pitched in trash or deleted for not recognizing what to send.

Making the appointment might happen on the first call, but probably not.  More like six or seven calls.

Remember, each cold call leaves an impression too.  Be sure to be sure before burning through your lists.

PS: For fun, check out Scratch Ticket odds

PPS: Check out the post regarding the CRM we use.



Categories: At Work, Sales

Research – Deliverables

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Fast and good internet research requires skill and thought. It is a pressure cooker job because no one in management wants to wait and it takes hours of time to be thorough.

The basics: Start with Searching from the search bar is too vague and provides too many results.  Wikipedia for additional search terms.

When looking for a thing, select the images tab to find a photo of a thing close to the research target.  Click the link, open up the page of the “something close” image and use the description of the image and item as a library of terms for new searches.

Keep records of the sources.  The AP Stylebook  is useful for bibliography styles.  AP Stylebook citations are the common tongue of clarity.  The citation widget that comes with Microsoft Word or a variety of free and freemium browser add-ons are useful.  Some companies require other styles.

Once the initial pass through of the information is done, this information, along with the research assignment is sufficient for a working outline.  MS Word and other programs have long document features that include headings.  The headings automatically insert  into tables of contents.  Navigating the document using headings becomes second nature.

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The outline or headings of the document inform the author and keep the document on track.  Stephen King wrote “On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft”.  The great reviews are well deserved.

If the task is too large for the time allotment it is good to speak up and modify the assignment so that it is doable.



Categories: At Work, Team

Meetings and Phone Calls

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garage band

Ever play with the app “Garage Band”?  It offers a variety of ways to lay down instrumental tracks.  In the drum section, a simple clapping hand, or a syncopated beat with the full section playing is available.  Coming to a meeting or a phone call unprepared is like coming with a simple clapping hand to a jam session with a garage band.  A hand might be well played but how much better is the meeting or phone call with the assets of research, organization, analytics, thoughtfulness and an agenda?  (A lot better).

Research: At a minimum understand the subject’s topology.  Where are the mountains to climb, the valleys of death, the easy parts, the hard parts?  Do not come to a call or meeting without understanding the space, or the “room” or expect to look unprepared, or worse, foolish.

Organization:  Some Millenials and nearly everyone else inscribes what they know into hand-written entries.  Today’s tools (One Note, Evernote, etc.) offer instantly searchable on any device ways of keeping notes.  It isn’t possible to organize hand-written records and index them for immediate retrieval across years of work and multiple projects.  Find an electronic note keeping application and use it.  Not finding data when the moment is nigh is like asking to get engaged, but forgetting the ring.  Forgetting the ring and information are hollow acts, demonstrating a casualness that belies serious engagement (pun intended).

Analytics: Regurgitating data at a granular level and expecting someone else to make sense of it indicates (pick one or more): 1) A lack of ability to understand the information, 2) Laziness, 3) A taker position (vs. giver). It is better to understand the data and give a high-level perspective to keep the conversation flowing.

Thoughtfullness: Think about the meaning of the information and analytics about the subject.  Perhaps, on the face of it, sales are great, but in reality, the product is priced below cost.  Whether or not the idea is the winner, thinking demonstrates focus, caring and attention to detail.

Agenda: Announced or casual agendas each have their place.  An announced agenda is the one that is presented to the meeting, frequently a formal meeting.  A casual agenda takes place in informal settings.  The best casual lists are achieved in the natural flow of conversation without stress or striving.  The leader might have a list and check off items on the list as the natural conversation encompasses them. The leader may direct the conversation if needed, but the feeling is collaborative and not “stiff.”  Other casual agendas are those held by meeting goers, not leaders.  The goers agenda comes up with nudging, still in natural speaking.

Example: In a staff telephone meeting, George says: “I talked to twenty customers and here is what each one of them said, please be patient while I find the notebook (s) and some of the information is scattered so, hold on while I run to the truck to find it”.  Collective groans.  Nancy says: “I spoke with twenty customers too.  The prevailing sense is that our offer is attractive because 15 of the people I talked with gave me their credit card with 50% deposits.  In my opinion, a 75% close rate is too high.  There might be an opportunity to raise the price.”.  While George off the call in his truck is searching, the president says: “Nancy, nice observation, I can tell you are thinking.  Walk us through a typical sale please”  Nancy: “Of course …”  George gets back on the line as Nancy finishes.  The President says “Thank you, Nancy.  Listen, guys, I got to go.  Before I do, Nancy, please see HR about a promotion, you have earned it.”  George says “Hold on, I got my stuff”.  But the President has already hung up and on to his next meeting.



Categories: At Work, Team