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Listen while Prospecting for New Business

FrustrationLast week I got my first prospecting call from an organization looking to see if we hold meetings or events outside of my immediate area.  While I am sure the owners of our company get these on a regular basis, I was surprised to hear how the call went.

The introduction was perfect. I was even asked if I was caught at an appropriate time.

But the rest of the conversation went something like this:

Prospector: I was wondering if your company held any offsite meetings outside of the Alexandria area?

My reply: Not regularly.  Let me explain – we are a market research and business development firm for the hospitality industry.  Our clients are like you – and come to us when it comes time to fill their funnel with new leads to continue to nurture.  We are their lead generation firm.

Prospector: (Pause) Would it be OK to send you some information by email?
Really?  Did you not hear what I just said?

There are several things I can address in this lead generation scenario, but my top two are:
  1. Did the prospector even look at our website?  While a call may have still been warranted (as they are told to call everyone on the list, I’m sure), the prospector did not seem to have any idea of what our company did.  Research is key.
  2. I raised an objection, and it was not heard.  I clearly told the prospector that we are lead generators ourselves, and that we do what she is doing every workday.  She acted like she did not even hear me, which makes me believe that she was literally working off a piece of paper.
I said that I was willing to receive information by email should they wish to send it through. While I did not get the information I agreed to, I think it may be time to approach this organization regarding a customized lead generation program.  We are in a position to help this organization grow their lists of conference attendees, and generate qualified leads for them.

The simple solution to cold calling

This article was written by Nicholas Button, one of Greenfield's Business Development Specialists.
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In the hospitality industry cold calling is a necessary part of the sales process. Some people have some trouble in this area. They try to come up different techniques. They obsess about when to call, where to call, who to talk to.

As a Business Development Speciality for Greenfield Services, prospecting is what I do for a living. My philosophy about doing business development over the phone is summarized by Occams Razor which states that the simplest answer is most likely correct. Let me explain.

The simplest and probably most important thing that you have to remember when phoning prospects is that they are just people. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or the Administrative Assistant for a company with three employees. They are essentially the same. They expect to be treated with respect, and to be spoken to as if they are the most important person you will speak with (and they are correct). If you can envision that the person you’re talking to is the lead to end all leads, it will come through in every nuance of your voice. Then half the trouble with cold calling is already behind you.

The other half of the trouble, the simple yet deceptively difficult part. You have to sell yourself to the contact. In an initial cold call, you are not really selling a product or a venue. You are selling yourself as that product or venue’s representative. In my experience it doesn’t matter so much what you are trying to sell if the person is already sold on you.

How you can accomplish this is not something you can be trained about, or told how to do it simply because it will vary for every person and sometimes every situation. You will know when you have found it however; as soon as you feel more confident, you will see a marked increase in your results.

So just remember: simplicity is key. Talk to your clients like you would want to be treated if the situations were reversed. You know what works for you when sales people call, use that to sell yourself to your clients. Occam’s Razor says the simplest answer is usually correct; we have all been told to treat people like we expect to be treated, I doubt there is a simpler way to call on a new prospect.

Database Cleansing – We Practice What We Preach

Clean Button
This fall, we decided it was time to practice what we preach, and update our B2B Database by conducting our own data cleansing campaign.

While our main objective was to ensure that our database was as clean as possible (to continue to market to Hospitality & Meetings Industry professionals, as well as Association executives), we recognized that this was a prime opportunity to track metrics and see how our database measured up compared to other data cleansing campaigns.

We selected records we had not connected with in 2011.  These included contacts from independent hotels, chain hotels, Convention & Visitor Bureau’s), the Meetings Industry (Audio-Visual Suppliers, 3rd Party Planners), and Professional & Trade Associations.

A total of 603 calls were placed to update 420 records, averaging at 1.44 calls placed to complete 1 record (strictly data cleansing).  The results were as follows:
  • 276 of the contacts were still with the organization, and updated their information (65% of the total completions). 
  • There were 55 new contacts who had replaced people who we had on file (13% of the total completions).
  • 71 contacts were terminated for various reasons (mainly, the contact was no longer there, but we also found a few who were no longer interested in continuing a business relationship) – representing 17% of the total completions.
  • We were unable to connect with the remaining 18 records (5% of the total completions).  We are keeping these records on file, and will attempt to update the information at a later date.
What did we learn?
The database, once completed, shows that 95% of the contacts we had on file were updated over various results, and we can now proceed with actionable marketing efforts in from our CRM to the right people.

This ratio is much higher than what we typically see statistically (our typical aver is between 60-70% for client projects), however, we clean our database at least once per year, which is why the ratio is higher.

Our goal was to clean up as much as we could in order to create an appropriate marketing approach to re-engage these prospects.

Making an annual data cleansing exercise part of a marketing plan is an excellent way to ensure you keep costs down, and your marketing activities as effective as possible!