Why I Still Cold Call in Person!

Last month was excellent!  The prior month was not so excellent, thus with the end of the quarter fast approaching I figured I would venture out on knock on some doors after my first two appointments in the AM.

 

I had a plan for three companies that I wanted to visit and then an additional back up plan if I had some additional time.  Random knocking on doors was not an option because I had a plan.  You see, with cold calling you want to be prepared, today, my focus was with wide format devices.  I wanted to find additional prospects with Engineering, Architects and Surveyors.

 

It was either my second stop or third and it was to a Design/Build company that I had never stopped in before. I had been in that building, but a few months ago, noticed a sign that alerted me to that this company would probably have the need for a wide format system.

 

Walking in the door, and there was no one there?  WTF, I went around the back and the walked back to the from and nothing! In one of the rooms I noticed and old analog copier, CAD drawings taped on the walls and then a spiral staircase that led to the second floor.  So, I stood and listened to hear if there was any activity up there.  As I was looking around I noticed about 20 boxes on the floor.  A closer look told me that these were rolls of plot paper (HP), I thought, OMG, they've got a color plotter somewhere and they may be doing a big volume!  Ok, so now it was time to climb the spiral stair case into the unknown. 

 

I arrived at the top of the stairs and was greeted by the owner, I explained why I was there. In fact this customer had an older HP color plotter, was using about 10 rolls of plot paper per month along with 2.5 ink cartridges. Right away I knew that this account had potential to save money and for me to make some commissions!  You see, years ago I developed a spreadsheet cost analysis for inkjet wide format systems.  The breakpoint for an immediate ROI is 7-8 rolls of paper used per month.  (this document is loaded in the clips section of this site).

 

We spent about 30 minutes talking about the advantages, find out his pain points and left with an appointment to review the cost analysis I would prepare for him!  Yea!  Half the battle was done in 30 minutes or less, and there's a potential net new customer, and someone who can realize an immediate ROI by changing systems.

 

In all my years of selling, I've always taken the approach that you never know what tomorrow will bring you. If you do your work, many of those tomorrows can bring new opportunities!

 

-=Good Selling=-

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Oh, I do.. . That’s funny you say, ‘Does the copier just show up?’ Because I hear that a lot and that’s exactly what happens. My questions are a little more involved but I didn’t want to type all of that out. Even the little oilfield services places have HQ’s somewhere else and they go directly to the Ricoh Corp. I don’t say, ‘Is the decision-maker here’, exactly, but I do get to that answer.

FedEx, Wells Fargo, Conoco-Phillips, to name a few of our Nationals, don’t even know they are getting new equipment and they don’t know which machine it is replacing. I tend to do a lot of industry specific network events and tradeshows. We don’t do a booth, I just go and introduce myself to the different companies and collect all the cards I can and add them to my email list. At least then when I visit them in person they at least know me as a friendly face. : )

I too am in non metro area and there is a lot of oil and gas here that are not headquartered here so I understand why you ask if they are a local company. However, you are making a huge mistake if you assume that just because they are not local, that they have no control or influence over the equipment they get. There are a whole host of companies that don't wish to get involved with the purchasing decisions of their outlying branches, especially if they only have a handful.

You still need to ask who, and if they answer with something that resembles a Home Office answer, you need to followup with something like, "So a copier just shows up here without any input from you?" If they say yes, I still ask if they are happy with their service. 

You are there, you might as well ask the questions because I can tell you from personal experience (30 years worth) that you are giving up way too easily. Just because they aren't local does not mean that they have a central purchasing agent who enjoys taking on responsibilities of remote offices.

OH, I’m Miss Eagle Eye when I go anywhere!! The other local dealer lost his partnership with Ricoh (he was selling Kyoceras instead) so I am always looking for his customers to touch base with too. Sounds like you are in a much larger market than I am. Rarely, do I find even an in-house IT person much less someone who is in charge of Office technology. All the larger companies here are branch offices and decisions are not made locally. My FIRST question is always are you a local company?

When I cold call in person, I'm after a few things.  Usually I do not bring a brochure unless I already know who the DM is.

 

Here's what I want when I get in:

 

  • The name of the DM for Office Technology
  • The name of the gatekeeper
  • When the DM maybe available or best time to call
  • Does the DM have an assistant that will schedule appointments, if so what is the name of the assistant
  • I also want to get a good look around, make mental notes of any hardware that I see. My old boss used to ask to use the rest room, this way he could walk around the building. I have never done this, just didn't want to embarrass myself that I needed to go pee pee.

When I'm finished I'll enter the info in the CRM, and then schedule follow up mailer first, research email address and web site, research linkedin.

 

Hope this helps!

Not so much. It’s such a weird deal, like trying to sell cars door to door. I usually say something like: ‘I was in the building seeing…whoever, and thought I would stop by and introduce myself and the company that I represent. Then I leave them with a flyer that shows a couple of different machines and monthly costs. I never got any training so would appreciate any suggestions that you have, Art.

I ALWAYS cold call in person.  No one wants to speak to a disembodied voice on the phone.  Sometimes I walk in and find someone I used to work with in the office.  SCORE!  You just have to get out of the office if you want to make something happen.

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