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Thursday, February 10, 2011

THE COLD HARD TRUTH: Prospecting 101, Part 12

Gabriel SiegelThe Cold, Hard Truth with Gabriel Siegel

THE BOTTOM LINE: To survive and thrive as an entrepreneur in today’s environment, one must be able to:

  • Distinguish your company from the competition (easier said than done).
  • Continually re-evaluate the needs of the market.
  • Appreciate the necessity to shift your marketing strategies to accommodate customers/prospects changing requirements and levels of sophistication.
  • Make a concerted, organized and systematic effort to develop new customers/clients (cold calling/prospecting).
  • Appreciate the growing sophistication of your customers and prospects.
  • Understand that a “one-size-fits-all” solution rarely works.
  • Present a full range of services/products to clients. We’re not mind readers. Don’t presume that your clients are not interested in a specific product/service.
It’s too easy to become, as a friend once told me, “DUMB, FAT AND HAPPY”. An E mail I received summed it up thus:

“When I worked for a company, my job was to make money for them. My job now is to make money for me!”

At a recent PROSPECTING ROUNDTABLE, a web designer shared with the group his new strategy for attracting clients and upgrading existing ones. He told us this came about as a result of one of his clients asking about Google Analytics. His client sells funeral supplies and was trying to expand his range of services and products in an industry where there are few, if any, new funeral homes. His client read about Google Analytics and search engine optimization and wanted input on the value of his web site. The web designer told us that when he created the site for the client, he was given a limited budget. He kept the language simple, refrained from using buzz words and responded to his client’s concerns with specific examples of what can be done to attract more “eyeballs” to the site. After some discussion the client agreed to a major revision of the site.

Taking a cue from that encounter, the web designer created a newsletter which he distributes to his existing customers and prospects. The newsletter focuses on web-site revision and the need for continual updating. Each mailing is followed up by a phone call discussing issues with the site and suggestions for improvements. He reported that 2010 was the best year he had since he’s been in business.


In one of my previous articles, I told the story of the carpet and upholstery cleaning company which was built entirely on cold calls and referrals. The owner read an article in a local paper about allergens in carpets and upholstery which exacerbates allergic reactions in children and adults who are sensitive to dust mite feces. He contacted a local allergist and together they agreed on a plan to promote carpet and upholstery cleaning to the physician’s patients.

I received this E mail from my client:

Dear Gabe:

“I started this new venture in July of 2010 because I felt I needed to expand with a different type of clientele. The Allergist suggested that I visit the local Pediatricians and explain the program to them. I needed to invest in some additional equipment and hire and train a technician. I’m pleased to report that we have, as of this writing, added 35 new clients, each of whom have agreed to a twice yearly cleaning. This can easily become an annuity”.

WRITER’S NOTE: The client called me to let me know that he’s been invited to set up a booth at the local hospital’s annual “Wellness Day”.


In my previous article, I introduced the reader to the manufacturer’s rep group. They were in the process of “re-inventing” their sales organization. Owing to the upheaval in the automotive business, the new owners realized that their survival hinged on cultivating a new breed of clientele; younger, more sophisticated and more demanding. The new owners felt their only alternative was to replace the entire sales force with a different “breed” of salesperson. They were looking for problem solvers who would also prospect, aggressively, for new customers. However, before hiring their new sales force the owners and the sales manager (at my suggestion) became the sales force.

The new owners and the new sales manager did what every successful entrepreneur should be doing. This afforded them the opportunity to learn the demographics of a changing market. They cold-called prospects and set up appointments. And it worked! As one of the owners told me, “This is excruciatingly difficult. But unless we can develop our own base of new customers, there is no way we’ll understand the requirements of this emerging industry. The old system of doing business died along with Detroit’s Big Three. We now have signs all around the company saying “OUR ONLY JOB IS TO HELP OUR CUSTOMERS” In addition, everyone wears a button which says “I’M HERE TO HELP YOU”. I know this sounds corny; but it works”.


There are significant lessons for the entrepreneur. Those lessons are best summed up in a letter I received from the sales manager (edited for brevity):

“Dear Gabe:

Thanks for your help and input. Much was as you predicted. We were perceived as old-line, stodgy and out of touch with the market. The cold calling was even more difficult. But, we did manage some break throughs. And each of those contacts (some of which turned into orders) gave us additional insights into where we need to go and what we have to do to get there. Only by understanding our changing market environment can we properly organize, manage and compensate a sales organization”.

Besides the caveats in THE BOTTOM LINE, the entrepreneur must appreciate the following:
  • There is no such animal as customer loyalty.
  • Your customers are being visited and solicited by your competition.
  • You need to fight for every new order, even from existing customers.
  • Don’t depend on anyone to get business for you. You’re on your own!
In my next article I will share some additional strategies and insights for helping the entrepreneur adjust to and maneuver in changing markets. I will also be discussing the buying and use of leads as well as hiring independent telemarketing companies.

For anyone wishing to share thoughts or comments, the writer can be reached at I respond to E mails quicker and more thoughtfully than I do when contacted on social networking sites.

For more information, please visit Gabriel's TNNWC Bio.

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