After asking for more information about why it was wrong (her word) to immediately let people know what one’s business is and then ask if they could use a service or product, a woman said to me, “With all due respect, you don’t have a sales background, so you have no context for what constitutes great selling practices and process.”
It is true I do not have a sales background like her, but after being in business for myself since 1992, I think I have some experience in finding out what managers, department heads, CEOs, and small business owners need, and whether or not what I have can fulfill that need.
If I was the only person having a major challenges with growing their customer base, then I would give much greater credence to what this woman, a social media relationship marketing expert, was saying.
But I’m not the only person having these problems. I know and constantly meet smart, highly successful people in a wide array of industries from manufacturing to product distribution to entertainment. I always ask what their biggest challenge is. Without fail they say the same thing: Finding more business.
When I ask for details as to what that means for them, bar none I get the same answers. One: How to get in touch with old customers who have moved on to new companies because of downsizing or rapid technology changes. And two: How to find new prospects who are willing to pay for their awesome experience or established product.
I talked to a man the other day who works for one of the largest commercial truck manufacturing companies in the U.S. It is his job to find companies who will buy what most people call big rigs. He told me that he was tasked with finding brand-new business. So what did he do?
Why, he got a list consisting of non-customers, that is those who could use his product, and he hit the road and cold called. One month he did this and guess what?
His company was over the moon with the amount of new business he found from more companies than anybody knew about, and that had never had anybody ever call on them and say, “Here’s what we do. Here’s what we have.”
But according to the woman I was talking to, this man was doing it all wrong. She told me that “cold calls, cold emails, and showing up in someone’s office isn’t how it is done these days. Not if you want to move sales opportunities along quickly.”
Yet, the man did move sales along quickly, and very quickly, at that.
Granted, I know and can appreciate that for quite a few it is hard to find their ideal customer on any list because they don’t have a very specific product that answers a finite need like the man above. But the point is still there: If all the man did was pass out his business card and bring donuts without giving them information about what he did, no sale would have happened.
The woman then made what I believe to be a completely asinine statement. She said, “FYI, while technically a first contact with someone you don’t know well is cold, it isn’t cold if you take time online to build rapport, trust, and credibility before you ask for the opportunity to talk about what you offer.”
I would like to break that down the core of her statement: a first contact with someone you don’t know well.
Don’t know well implies you already know them a little bit. Therefore, how can further conversations about specifics of products and services ever be called “cold”?
How can you build rapport, trust, and credibility if the other person has no idea what in the hell it is you do?
As a writer, I can showcase my writing skills by posting well-written opinion or knowledge articles. But because social media and business networking sites manipulate when, how, and who gets to see what, I can never be sure who sees my articles. Therefore, I often feel like I am just twirling in the breeze.
Yet I am being told I’m rude if I send to specific people links to my personal website whose content is completely under my control, and say, “Hey this is what I do. Here’s how to get in touch.”
Rude? Wrong? It makes no damn sense.
One size does not fit all, and doing things social media relationship marketing expert way has done nothing but slow down business opportunities.
I’m ready for a revolt.
I’m ready to find what will work in this new business environment.