Cold calling is hard work and very few people like to do it. One reason people don’t like it is that it is hard to get the conversation started – both with the gate keeper and the prospect. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of calling up a stranger and immediately asking for something – time and attention in order to try to sell. Small businesses that embrace inbound marketing can use the assets they develop during that process to make cold calling easier by changing the conversation from one of asking to one of offering something of value.
At the risk of oversimplifying, inbound marketing consists of two major steps; 1) create information that is valuable to my ideal prospects and 2) doing everything I can to make sure that my ideal customers will find that information when they are looking for solutions to the problems I help them solve.
Step #1, creating valuable information, typically includes some marketers refer to as a lead magnet (or bait piece). Lead magnets are often whitepapers or eBooks but can be case studies, webinars, books, ROI calculators, top 10 lists, etc. The information contained in the lead magnet must not only be of value to your prospects, the value must be perceived to be high enough to justify “purchasing” it with their contact information.
One of the drawbacks of inbound marketing is that it takes time to see results in the form of leads. Small businesses can jump start those efforts by having their sales team offer the lead magnet to the people on their prospecting list. Now they have a simple, more comfortable way to start a conversation – “I have a free eBook that outlines the 3 questions CEOs of companies like yours wished they had asked before spending money on XYZ, is that something you would be interested in seeing?”.
It also makes the initial conversation with the gate keeper less adversarial – “I have a free eBook that outlines the 3 questions CEOs of companies like yours wished they had asked before spending money on XYZ that I wanted to send over to Bob. He he the best person to send that to or do you think I should also send it to someone else? Great, which email address should I use? ” .
This approach also make following up less awkward. Rather than “just checking in” you get to ask what they liked, what they thought about X, is that an issue they are facing, and would they like to see more information or additional case studies, etc. In other words, you have a natural way to start having a sales conversation.
Smart marketers will seek out feedback from sales about these follow up conversations so they can produce additional marketing content that helps further engage existing prospects as well as attracting new leads.
Inbound marketing tactics are powerful tools for small business. You can make them more powerful by combining them with traditional outbound tactics like cold calling, networking, and direct mail.
Bill Brelsford Small Business Marketing Consultant