Lessons Learned Approaching 100 Potential Clients a Week
This week we reflect on a direct marketing approach that was outlined in detail in “6 Easy Steps To Landing Clients With Email.” This approach has been highly successful for us and increases our monthly reoccurring revenue by $2600-$4000 each month. At this point we have not lost a client but are starting to consider that may be a weakness.
Many lessons were learned along the four months that this sales process has been in place. As always we take a rigorous, results-driven approach and strive not to let so-called common knowledge invade our thoughts. We strongly believe in testing all assumptions and letting results and common sense dictate the path forward.
This is a list of those lessons learned from a direct approach email campaign.
A Cold Approach Email (That Provides Value) Is Not A Nuisance
I learned this long ago from in a previous life as a technical sales professional. I had good faith this rule applied to other domains as well, but I was hesitant. The motto is respectful and goes as follows:
“Approach only those that directly stand to gain from what you offer and put yourself in front of them often.”
I truly mean only those that directly stand to gain. Set your ego aside as this must be a no-brainer for those you approach. Your rigorous test on this matter is simple. Are the vast majority of the replies rude or polite in nature? Here are some real-life examples of replies as a result of our campaign:
“We are all set in this area Mike. If anything were to change we will get in touch with you. Thanks”
“Hi Mike, thanks for reaching out. I signed up for a trial and paid on PayPal. Just thinking of topic.”
As of now we aren't looking for any such service, however if any such requirement arises I will get in touch”
“Hi Mike, thanks for your email - we’re currently not looking to work with any services but will keep your info on hand for the future. Best,”
Can we discuss sometime Friday before noon?”
If you’re regularly getting rude replies, then you must have a look at those you are approaching. This is great feedback that your offer is not a clear win for those people.
There’s No Best Day
Again much of the literature surrounding the direct approach is focused on open and click-through rates. There’s more to establishing a repeatable sales process than percentages. You must ensure this process works for you and your business as well.
At the early stages of our reach out effort, we were so focused on any engagement that we were ecstatic at the hint of it. It sounds simple when verbalized, but you only want to hear from those that are likely to move forward with your product or service. We quickly realized that we didn’t get any positive or negative engagement on Mondays and stopped reaching out that day.
Engagement on the remaining days of the week was consistent except for Friday. We received engagement on Friday beyond anyone’s expectation. But the majority of that engagement was people politely declining. Our success metrics didn’t change, only the polite declines of service increased drastically. It seems people had time on Friday to send a reply.
If you are a professional you will reply to a person kind enough to reply to you. So we quickly stopped emailing on Fridays to reduce the effort required.
Time Zones, Not Open Rates
As touched on before, you can shape your business with the list of people that you approach. With many businesses, including STU Media, we approach a worldwide audience.
Most of the literature surrounding a direct approach discusses how to increase your click through rate or your open rate. Yet most ignore that you can shape your business by shaping who you approach. If you are going to be talking to these people by Skype or a telephone call, ensure they are in a time zone close to you.
I don’t want Skype calls while my son finishes supper and then watches TV alone. Those are precious times for the both of us and it is a quick lesson that the process must serve you.
The Emotional Side Of Sales
This point was made in a previous article for Reply entitled “6 Easy Steps To Landing Clients With Email.” Yet, the emotional side of entrepreneurship is so powerful it is worth repeating. Crafting an email to each potential client, replying back to those who haven’t responded all requires effort. For each bit of effort, you will have an emotional investment. This investment adds up quickly.
A big emotional investment coupled with a low success rate equal burn out. Most cannot keep this process going and will quit within two weeks. The key to managing this emotional toll is automation. The Reply application automates the email sending process and the follow-up process, on top of your existing Gmail account. Removing this emotional burden through automation is the only way to sustain your efforts. And your efforts will pay off.
The Value Of High Open Rates
Go into your Reply application contact management system and sort by the amount of opens. A very distinct trend will appear. Those clients that have expressed interest in your offer will have the most opens. This should spawn a question:
How many of those that I’ve approached have not made contact? And can I win these high open clients with a personal email approach?
I cannot speak for your results, but we were able to close at a much higher rate with a simple and personalized follow-up. We can speculate many reasons:
- Those that express interest by opening an email lots are secretly interested and need a push.
- People need to feel unique before buying.
- There is some sort of barrier with high open clients that a personal approach can remove.
You can rationalize this in many ways, but we love to remain data-driven and let the results speak. We may let this knowledge influence further hypothesis, but our faith remains results driven.
A Scalable Customer Acquisition Process
You must realize that any marketing method will have a poor success rate. All convert at a very low rate, generally less than 1%. Content marketing is a long-term approach and we offer it as a service. Each post will generate leads, but it takes time to build an inventory.
Advertisements have never worked so poorly. They are expensive, often hard to measure and considered passive. Open source AdBlock software is popular among consumers and thwarting advertising budgets. This is a tough result of an over-marketed society.
Don’t be discouraged, as acceptance will yield certain simplicity to the path forward. If you have accepted that you are not a nuisance, and you’ve accepted that all marketing results are poor then there are only two (maybe three) things left to do:
- Work to refine the list of potential clients that you approach. Ensure it is a no-brainer decision for them and you’ll see your close rate increase.
- Approach a lot more of those people that stand to win and you’ll see your client base grow rapidly.
- Optional - Refine your sales skills and approach. This is far less powerful than the fist two steps.
That’s it and that should make you smile. There are only a couple things to focus on and you now have a repeatable and scalable process. A scalable sales process is the mecca of any business that wishes to grow rapidly.
by Mike Grossman
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