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  • Cold Calling by Email

    Cold emailing is not the best option in itself because it will mostly disappear off into cyber space within spam email controllers at the server level, as well as being automatically moved to junk email folders and buckets, and ignored. Additionally, in some countries there are laws against sending spam emails – even though it is largely ignored. A better approach is to use a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) product, not cold call email people, and use some form of subscribed list to build customer relationships with prospects.

    Manage Your CRM Process

    The next step is to locate a free online CRM tool that allows email (preferably hooked into Outlook), which allows scheduling and monitoring of email. I picked a product called Insightly by a process of trial and error, because it provided what I wanted.

    Finding Prospects

    When using lists both in the modern world of electronic mail and way back into the distant past of printed marketing leaflets and surveys in envelopes, by far the best way was focused lists, targeted and people who have expressed interest This is why subscribed online social media companies are so successful because the nature of the data they collect joins together people and what those people like to buy, and thus Facebook can very specifically target market each person specifically. Additionally, networking people together based on who they talk to, follow and add as friends; it creates an entire network of similar tastes, wants and needs. So social media is targeted and specific marketing on steroids!

    How to find prospects is just as difficult as it ever was. I have purchased lists, manually added people, used bots, and done all manner of online marketing things, but the purchased lists are by far the best option. Scraping web pages in my experience is a complete waste of time and can get you into trouble. When purchasing lists, ask for references, check reviews, and research online – it is just like buying a book on Amazon, if a list has no reviews or poor reviews, then be cautious or buy another list.

    Tips for Writing Cold Call Emails

    So here are some useful tips, many of which can be found by searching Google:

    • Know Your Audience. Fit your product or service with the audience you are targeting; don’t buy a list of SQL Server installation contacts and expect a response when marketing your Oracle consulting company.
    • Start Locally. This is the case for brick and mortar industries, and is probably less important for online services, but still meeting a customer face to face someday can help you win a customer who might be cautious in a completely virtual world. Start small but think big! Also, local Google ads can work although online advertising is expensive, but it is expensive because a it works!
    • Connections & Network. Use connections and your network to get referrals and name drop, but it’s a good idea to ask permission of referring persons and organizations first.
    • Your Mission. State your mission as it pertains to the potential customer – be brief! This one could be omitted if it does not present obvious instant benefit to a prospect.
    • Get To The Point. Fast! What can you provide that the prospect wants?
    • Subject Lines. “Hi <name>”, “I have a quick request”, “Tying to connect”, <company name>. “Hi <name>” is by far the best method but keep it personal, simple and short.
    • Be Personal. Talk to people as you would to a friend.
    • Follow Up. But take No for an answer and move on to the next prospect when response is lacking.
    • When to Email. Setting yourself up with a CRM tool that allows scheduling of emails can help to get the attention of your prospects more easily:
      • 6 – 830am. Might get attention of prospects when they are starting their day but might wake others up as well.
      • Just after arriving at work on a Monday morning might work – think about when you answer emails.
      • Just after lunch-time can catch people before they start thinking too hard after a meal.
      • Some people check emails just before lunch.
      • Tuesday to Thursday 10am to 3pm is useful but too large of On Friday your prospects might be getting ready for the weekend, and on Monday they might be recovering from the weekend.
    • Subject vs. Content. If you state something in the subject line, then deliver on it in the body of your email.
    • Content. I like some of these, as retrieved from this blog, but in the business world appearing positive, confident and competent is often more important where a lack of confidence can make people a little nervous sometimes. In some cases it might be best to not attempt to close a project, a phone call or a meeting – simply offer information about the service you provide, expected times to complete, pricing, and so on; and numbers to back it up are useful as well.
    • Contribution. Give a prospect a chance to contribute something unique and they might feel a little more enthusiasm and a feeling of responsibility to help.
    • Name Dropping. Mention the names of and conversations you have had with their colleagues.
    • Get to the Point. Quickly!
    • Be Specific. Do not be abstract or generic – people do not have time to think when reading junk email. No blanket emails that get sent to many people it is obvious. Tailor make each email to each person and build relationships.
    • Call to Action. End an email asking for a call, a meeting, or something where the prospect has to act – the simple act of adding an entry to a calendar to close on a request. Try a simple Yes or No question, such as “Would tomorrow at 2pm be convenient for you?” Or an instruction, “Let’s meet tomorrow on the phone for a quick talk about what your company needs right now”.

    Qualify Your Prospects

    You qualify your leads to locate customers that need what your company supplies, customers that will assign you the work, and generate revenue for your business – do not waste your time with prospects that you cannot turn into customers. Yes you might lose a customer or two but if they go bust before you get paid then you are out of pocket for expenses as well as having wasted you time on what could have been other good paying customers. If a customer:

    • Does not respond to emails – then move on to the next prospect.
    • Does not have the budget (or a budget) – move on.
    • Needs some service you do not offer – move on.

    If a prospect is not ready to begin working and only wants more information, then schedule a follow up in the future.

    Beginning Working Prospects With Email and Phone Calls

    Here is a list of steps that can help to create paying customers from prospects, bearing in mind that it is an iterative, multiple step process:

    • Get a Plan. Who will you email? How will you persuade them to hire you? Where to find prospects that have a need that you can fulfill?
    • The Problem. Find out what their problem is and offer some useful ideas as to a solution. If you are picking the right clients within your area of expertise then you should already have some useful ideas.
    • Identify Clients:
    • Pick Something You Like. Select an industry or field you Like, or a type of company you like. Growth companies? Startups? Large stable corporate? Manufacturing? Services? The more you like it the better you will do at it and the better you till try.
    • Location (if not local)? Local is always useful when it comes to the sensible approach of thinking big and starting small with less up-front investment risk, but in the modern online world local is no longer always a prerequisite.
    • Startups. If a startup are they funded? Do they actually have some funding? How much funding do they have? Note that startup companies post Series A funded will likely already have recruited needed skills sets apart from some very specialized skills. Some startups wait to hire for specific skill sets if they are expensive and they are more operational than developmental in nature.
    • Money. Do they have any funding? What is their current funding level? If the have revenue is it significant? Can they afford you? Put the subject of cost to the prospect early on in the dialogue if you suspect the company is short on cash – no sense in wasting your energy.
    • Company Size. Very small startups often need people desperately but might be under funded.
    • Identify Who to Email. Target decision makers to either to pitch to directly, or request referrals.

    Knocking Up an Estimate

    Part of turning prospects into customers is about giving them a cost estimate where being too cheap can be as bad as being too expensive. Compile an Estimate at a website such as Ballpark, which can give useful access to estimates and invoices. Bidsketch might also be useful for creating estimates.

    Working in discounts or price reductions somewhere in the process, preferably offering a discount for signing up sooner rather than later can build goodwill, create urgency, and might get more customers when you are first starting out. However, be careful that perceived value can creep into the process and bargaining down your expected price can make you less enthused. When I hire subcontractors to do things for me I generally pay their asking price or hire someone else. If I’m negotiating down the price at the last minute I am ultimately negotiating my resulting value for money into potentially less enthusiasm and ultimately slightly lower quality.

    All estimates should have an expiry date! The sale will either close or it will not and waiting too long might simply increase the chance that the customer will hire another contractor.

    Protect Yourself and your clients legally using a website like HelloSign, which helps cover service agreements between customer and provider. Google Smarsheets is useful for Project Management and things, and it’s free!

    When the Job is Complete

    Ask for a referral because in the age of the internet it is all about online reviews, and online reviews can often make or break a business.

    What’s In an Email?

    Hi <name>

    Touch on a potential need in the first sentence.

    My name is <name> and I run business development at <name>. We are an IT service provider specializing in providing value to customers by way of <mission>.

    Do you have time for a 10 minute call on <date> at <time>?

    Describe how <I can help you bottom line or help your business grow.>

    If you are not the correct person to talk to, could you please direct to the correct person to talk to.

    Close with urgency or call to action <End of quarter discounts available until end of the month>

    Offer technical tips for free.

    Mention something about the person’s hobbies, likes, etc. Do a little online research.