One of my companies, tbk Creative, sells web design and digital marketing services. Because we sell our time to produce services, we’re a professional services firm (not too dissimilar to a law firm or accounting firm).
I find with professional services firms, cold calling is like walking on a tight rope. If you cold call your prospects, you run the risk of coming across like a salesperson versus a trusted advisor. Completing the sale and when in the relationship providing your services, being listened to as an advisor (versus a salesperson) is crucial. For instance, this is why you rarely, if ever see a lawyer doing cold calls.
So last fall, I was toying with the concept of targeting new accounts that my company desired to work with but not using cold calling as a method to attract the new business.
I’m happy to report that in a one-month campaign we turned a handful of these accounts into very targeted, highly qualified leads.
This framework is new and in the coming months I’m going to run some additional campaigns, iteratively refining it each time to make it better.
However, in the meantime, I think there’s enough meat here to share with you. This framework or some aspects of it may be useful in your marketing and sales.
So let’s begin. Here’s how I took a list of cold accounts and converted a handful of them into highly qualified hot leads within 30 days all without making a single cold call:
We targeted one specific industry to work with. In this case it was window and door companies on the retail side (dealers). In your business, you’ll likely have your own ideal type(s) of customers you know you can serve well.
2. Lead Lighthouse
The purpose of the webinar was to educate our target audience on how to better use web design and digital marketing in 2015 to grow their web traffic and qualified leads.
The webinar event was to act as my lead lighthouse. Essentially, I define a lead lighthouse as an event or piece of premium content you produce that serves the purpose of generating leads for your company (for more on lead lighthouses, register for Kill The Cold Call’s free 7-day email course: Social Selling 101).
3. Landing Page
I created a landing page in which our target audience could register for the webinar.
To create a landing page, here are three options:
- Use Gotowebinar’s hosted page (out of the box). This is the simplest way. The downsides are it takes your visitors to a domain that’s not yours and you’re limited in design flexibility.
- Use marketing automation software like Hubspot, Infusionsoft, Pardot, etc.
- You can search the WordPress Plug-in Repository for a plug-in if you have a WordPress website. You’ll likely require developer assistance for this last option.
(Note: This landing page was created using a tbk Creative WordPress plug-in. Its not commercial ready yet, but we intend to make it publicly available in the future).
4. The List
My lead lighthouse was setup, but I didn’t have a listing of window and door companies so there was no one to share the event with. I ended up purchasing a prospect list from a print mail house. This is a company who will print and process direct mail orders for you. You can probably find one in your local area.
When requesting the list, we filtered our requirements to include four things:
- Industry (products they sell and where they are in the supply chain – ie. dealer or manufacturer)
- Geographic location,
- Size (in terms of revenue),
- Specific roles in the company
We received a list of 222 leads. The price was $0.20 cents per lead. This meant our total out of pocket expense was $44.40.
As a side note: We had an additional 104 accounts onto our list that we compiled previously. So our list for this campaign totalled 326 leads. None of the 326 were current or previous clients.
For the sake of reporting results, you’ll see in the reporting below I distinguished the results to report on the accounts that were cold (no previous contact with our company).
5. Direct Mail
Next, we launched a print direct mail campaign (postcards and 8.5 x 11 letters).
We figured direct mail would accomplish three things:
- Introduce the recipient to our brand on their terms (when they choose to open the mail),
- Invite them to the webinar,
- Make our first brand touch point light, valuable, and non-sales oriented.
Through this exercise, we sent three direct mail campaigns. In the future, I’m going to test sending a higher quantity (probably around 5x in one campaign).
To do direct mail, you need to have graphic design help.
Here are five options:
- Your company may have an in-house designer who can assist,
- Hire a freelance designer,
- Hire a creative agency,
- Use a website like 99designs,
- Ask your print company if they can provide design.
6. Phone Outreach
Now that the recipients would have received direct mail from our brand and were no longer cold contacts, two colleagues of mine (Regan and Scott) started calling them to:
- See if they received our direct mail,
- Invite them to the webinar
Aside from referencing on the phone that ‘we’re a web design and digital marketing company’, at no point did they talk about tbk Creative’s services, unless asked.
From the list of 325, Scott and Regan were able to call 214 of them. We ran out of time to call the remainder of the list (111 more) as both had other day-to-day functions in the company.
A total of 13 different companies from our list registered for the webinar.
In combing through the data, 4 of the 13 weren’t entirely cold. They came from the second list of 104 (#4 above) and we had some previous contact with them (still weren’t clients).
As mentioned, for the sake of reporting, we’ll remove the four (both from the list size and registration total). This means we had 9 registrants for the webinar out of a possible 322 (this is a 2.8% registration rate). Side note: In reality, this registration rate is likely slightly higher as I could go through the list of 322 and remove anyone else we had previous contact with from the calculation, since if they had registered, I would remove them from the numbers. For the sake of conservatism, I’ll leave the higher list total in.
To a medium or large company, 9 new leads may not sound large. However, this is a good amount to work with for my company. Our websites start at $20,000 and go up in price from there. Our long-term relationships (what we call Managed Services) with window and door companies are usually $45,000 – 70,000 annually. So, converting even one sale from a webinar would show a positive return on investment (ROI).
The day of the webinar, 7 of the 9 individual companies attended it (78% attendee rate).
If you’re interested in what we did for reminding them of the event – Gotowebinar would have sent them one automated confirmation email immediately after their registration and one reminder email approximately one day before the event. From our end, we didn’t send the registrants any correspondence between the time they registered and the event itself.
After the webinar, I went back and analyzed the 9 cold registrations.
Here’s what I found:
- All 9 received direct mail (naturally, because they were on the list)
- 7 of the 9 received one of the invitation phone calls from my team
- 2 of the 9 were direct mail alone (no phone call)
What this tells me is:
- Phone calls played a crucial role in this campaign’s success,
- I have a hunch direct mail plays more of an assistive role in this type of campaign.
In future campaigns of this nature, I’m going to A/B test groups who only receive phone calls (no direct mail) to better ascertain the value direct mail is providing in this framework.
10. Post Webinar
After the webinar was over, I started picking up the phone and I called 8 of the 9 (one we couldn’t contractually work due to a non-compete with one of their competitors).
Out of the 9 calls, 5 expressed interest to me on the phone in our services. From there, I’m taking each through our regular sales process.
As a side note, I reported on the 9 registrations above that were completely cold. As mentioned, in total, 13 companies registered (4 we had previous contact with). Two of those four have also since expressed interest in our services. Overall, this would mean 9 of the 13 registrants turned into hot leads.
I think this framework is promising.
I like it because:
- It established a handful of qualified leads from a list that was initially cold.
- It delivered value to our marketplace which will have greater long-term benefit.
- It maintained my company and myself as a trusted advisor every step of the way from initial contact to the sales stage.
In coming months, I will continue to experiment with this framework, and see how little tweaks to it can make it better.
Have you ever targeted a cold list of accounts and converted a portion into leads without a cold call? What did you do?