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In our last article, we talked about cold calling. Today we will look at how we can make the process easier by warming up our prospected leads.

Again, this approach should be used when the transaction amount of each customer warrants it. This is not a mass marketing strategy. For mass marketing, there are other options.

I have had a good rate of success in the past sending communication either via email or snail mail before contacting the client for my business-to-business (B2B) advertising campaigns.

Two main types of messages were used: a generic message; only the contact information is changed, and a very personalized message.

When your typical customers are similar, sending a generic message may be appropriate if you did your research well and it addresses the needs and realities of your audience. In my case, the department was human resources and what I was selling was corporate training. So, the message was written to speak to the trainer component of human resources by emphasizing the advantages we offered to them: small groups, specific vocabulary, personalized training plan focusing on their needs, etc. When the target is specific, the message can be the same since you are speaking to a similar person, from one company to another. This is the advantage of segmentation. If your segment is very homogeneous, then your message may be standardized.

What should be included in the message?

  • In the first paragraph, say what you do (or what you can do for the company).
  • Very quickly, use your competitive advantage (since XXX we have been working with companies like yours, we have had more than XXX satisfied customers, etc.).
  • Offer a call to action, something to get things going; an audit, an evaluation, a consultation, or any other ideas that lead to action. Make it for a limited time.
  • Say what commitment are you making. I often write: I will contact you in the next few days to discuss this further with you.
  • And that is it! Simple.
  • The letter/email is not used to sell, but to prepare for the telephone conversation.

    The personalized approach was to sell marketing consulting services. To write the letter, I reviewed the website and the social media presence of the target company and, gave my recommendations on what I saw, examples of similar companies, and what could be improved. About an hour was spent analyzing and writing the letter. Less productive than only having to change the contact info in a generic letter, but the results were good when I followed up with phone calls. People saw what I meant, and they were generally very receptive.

    In my two examples, my last initiatives were done on paper. But the same can be done by email. If you have the email addresses of your contacts and you have permission to send electronic communication (check the rules in your area), go ahead. I used paper for several reasons:

  • In Canada, we have some of the toughest anti-spam laws in the world and the penalties are important. Things have progressed, but these rules have had an impact on my way of doing things.
  • Decision-makers are often inundated with emails. If you are not doing volume, then you want to make sure that the person you are targetting, receives your communication. Because you are going to follow up with it.
  • It is getting harder and harder to find people's emails online.
  • What about social media? Is this a good option? It all depends on how you use the various platforms. I think the same tips can be used, a more generic message for specific segments and a personalized message for a less focused approach. Also, be wary of robots offered to do volume approaches, especially on LinkedIn. I have never used them, but I have received several communications from these bots. How did I know they were robots? The response time will tell you. Or some errors in the message. But the response time is an important factor. Imagine, someone approaches you on LinkedIn to suggest something that looks interesting. You answer, and the reply comes after several days! All that effort to warm you up and then having to wait a few days. You have time to cool down.

    If you are in the business-to-business world, LinkedIn is a great tool. Not only can you find the contact’s name in some companies, but you can approach them directly on the platform. Use the same message tips as above, and most importantly, respond promptly if you have any feedback.

    Another great way to warm up your potential customers is with voicemail. You sent a letter/email and you are following up with your phone call, but the person is not available; what do you do? Do you hang up or do you leave a message? I always leave a message. A call back from your potential customer is a nice way to warm them up. But there is a downside; you do not know when they will call back. Having a good system in place, keeping track of your efforts will help you quickly put your prospect in the right context. There are several advantages to having a callback:

  • The potential client usually calls you back because they have an interest. But not always. I have had callbacks that cut short the sales process all the while being courteous.
  • Also, the potential client calls you back when available, so they have some time to talk to you.
  • There is also a strategy of maximizing callbacks. It consists of calling after office hours and leaving a message on the voicemail. This is another way to warm up potential customers. I have not used this technique. But I learned about it while reading an article on cold calling. I am sharing the information. If it is for you, let me know how it works.

    No matter what strategy you use, cold calling is about volume; to be successful, you must do a good volume. But do not do it blindly. Measure your efforts and see what works. Then adjust to improve your success rate. Critics are sometimes good for evaluating certain aspects of our initiatives. A message that is written over and over can be clear to us, but it may not be clear to everyone. The target in the company may not be the right one; If you have multiple comments like “I am not the one doing this, but contact the person in charge of XXXX”, then change your target. Is nobody there when you call on Tuesday afternoons? Change the day/time.

    If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Stéphane Elmaleh-Riel, B.Ed., MBA
    Marketing consultant