When I started out in the advertising business twenty year’s ago, I had no marketing budget, no sales staff and not much experience. What I did have was energy and a telephone, using both I would fervently set appointments, take what little graphics we had to show at the time and meet with potential clients to convince them of our abilities.
These people would often hear me out and say politely, “we don’t have a need for your services presently.” The good news is, enough said yes to allow us to build one of the strongest multi-disciplined marketing firms in the southeast. Trying these tactics today would most likely lead to dramatic failure. Due to the “lean” operation, no one has time to take meetings from potential vendors; they happily hide behind their voice mail and don’t return calls unless they know you.
When search engines refined Internet searches they killed the traditional interpersonal sales model. Time starved prospects now “Google” until their specific needs are fulfilled.
This represents a paradigm shift that many in the business community don’t quite “get”.
Prospects are now bought, not sold.
What I mean is they are cruising the web looking for content, if they don’t find it in the first search, they refine the search until they get the appropriate answer to their problem.
For a company trying to attract customers who are now “bought” through random search you must appeal to their sensibilities with outstanding web content. They need to know you are the expert by reading case studies and expert articles. They will read during the “soft shopping” experience on your website, to determine whether your company has the correct product mix, message and most importantly credibility. Your website now has to do the job of new business development. The nice thing about this scenario is it shortens the sales curve. They searched you, they found you, they are interested, and they contact you in person as an educated, motivated buyer. In a nutshell, bury the cold calling and make sure your content is strong enough to be “bought” into by prospects.