You should check out John Barrow’s “Filling The Funnel” blog if you’re not familiar.

He gives good, practical sales advice in a straightforward style-well worth a read.

Specifically, his post, Pick Up The Phone, resonated with me.  The phone gets short shrift these days as a sales tool and that’s a mistake.

When agency principals think about calling as a prospecting tool, it’s often considered an anachronism, or unfairly labeled as ineffectual cold calling.

John lays it out this way:

The lack of calling is somewhat justified since it seems like most people rarely pick up the phone anymore. Response rates from voicemails average in the .02% range. The younger generation even admits they think an unannounced call is an interruption and is rude. This perception coupled with the low response makes the avoidance of the phone understandable, but it doesn’t make it right.

Calling isn’t going away, at least not right now, but it has to be integrated into your new business strategy as one channel of many.

why-arent-you-using-the-phone-for-agency-new-business

In our own new business programs for agencies/marketing services firms, we subscribe to the methodology of using every channel in concert with each other-meaning phone, email, social (selectively) and yes, even direct mail.

And in regards to email, an excellent point from John’s post:

E-mail is obviously the number one way of communicating in business today but in my opinion it should really only be used for two reasons: 1) as part of a contact strategy to set up phone calls/meetings and 2) to follow up from phone calls/meeting. E-mail should not be used as a form of conversation or a qualification method. With that, our initial e-mails to prospects should be short and to the point (think: 2 scrolls on your smartphone), should add value, and should have a strong call to action. They should be coupled with effective phone calls as part of our overall contact strategy. Everything we do through e-mail should be to drive to calls or conversations.

Your new business strategy should be a blend of outbound, inbound and referrals, and above all, per the quote above, needs to have some kind of value in every touch-showing your prospect that she or he is not just a name on a list-there’s a valid and substantive reason you’re reaching out, because your agency is an expert in the space, for example.

And if you’re consistent in using multiple channels, and if done correctly, you won’t typically have to make a true cold call.

You’ll build up awareness through all these channels, and the phone becomes one of your most valuable tools.

Something else to leave you with via John’s post:

And, by the way, like it or not, the decision makers in today’s world grew up before social media and e-mail.

True, that.

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Lee McKnight Jr
VP of Sales
I'm the VP of Sales at RSW/US. We specialize in working with services firms to help drive and close new business-if you need help with that, email me at lee@rswus.com. What I actually do: drive sales efforts to bring ad agencies and services firms on board with RSW, create content around successful new business tactics and help drive RSW/US marketing objectives, including social media channels, blog content, webinars, video and speaking engagements. Dig it.