There it sits on your desk—the telephone. You hold ambivalent feelings about using this device. On the one hand, you hear high-income professionals testify that they “dialed for dollars”—almost fanatically—on their way to the top. On your more successful days, you agree with them. Yet at other times, when you struggle with gatekeepers, voice mail connections instead of live respondents, unreturned calls, refusals, and occasional rudeness, you decide, “I can spend my time doing something else that’s more likely to generate business.”
So, what is the productive approach for you? You'll have far greater success with your telephone marketing if you compare your phone activities to an investment fund. Consider these six similarities:
One: Your returns will depend upon how much you invest. "Telephone marketing doesn't work for me," an entrepreneur complains--then says he places about five to ten calls a week. Low investments limit your returns. Every reputable study of sales success shows a correlation between the number of contacts you attempt and complete, and your ultimate dollar return. Notice: Your phone will "ring off the hook" when you stimulate return calls.
Two: Your telephone marketing will bring long-range results, not instant success. The first-year small business owner threatens to quit when fifteen or twenty phone calls don't generate income for next month. Yet veterans know that two or three years from now, some of those calls can pay off, assuming you cultivate your prospects other ways as well, with newsletters, visits, cards on special occasions, and similar activities.
Three: Some days you will lose, some days you will win. Just as an investor accepts down days, yet stays with a reputable fund, the caller anticipates rejections, and continues her pattern of phoning prospects and clients daily.
Some of your losses and wins will shock you. You hear, “You’ve got a fine offer, but just not right for us” from a “sure thing” prospect. On the same day, a prospect you rate “unlikely” offers you the best contract you have signed this year.
Four: You will want to diversify your phone calls. Imagine that up until September 2001, you had sought contracts with the airline industry, or with "dot com" startups, and no one else. The old adage “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket” makes plenty of sense now. Yesterday’s boom business might become today’s foreclosure.
Keep several options open. My work has taken me into banking, athletics, education, resort hotels, cruise ships, government agencies, health care, state bar associations, utilities, the fast food industry, accounting firms, and newspapers. Chances are strong that not all of these industries will decline at once.
Five: Know when it’s time to pull away from an unpromising prospect. “Cut your losses,” your investment counselor would say. Those who stayed with Enron and WorldCom stock all the way to the bottom would have been wiser to separate themselves from those losers when the ratings were dropping precipitously. You have a finite supply of energy, money, and time. So when a prospect shows little interest over a long period, you’ll be wise to eliminate that company from your list, and instead devote your attention to organizations that show signs of becoming buyers.
Six: Get expert advice. Fortunately, you don’t have to pay for all of it. Rather than just calling potential clients randomly without a plan, join--or even form--what Napoleon Hill called a Master Mind Group, comprised of energetic men and women who will exchange leads. Also, build your calling list by reading the newspaper and business publications, and by searching the Internet.