In 6/12 years of running Proof, I’ve never, not once, cold-called. We’ve been blessed to gain new business almost entirely from word-of-mouth referrals (knock on wood). When it comes to generating quality leads, cold outreach doesn’t work in our space. To quote Jon Westenberg:
“Cold outreach is about throwing random shit at a series of walls to discover if their surfaces are adhesive. And for the most part, you are going to find that they aren’t.”
In Jon’s article he goes on to relay that building relationships and finding organic ways to build connections – as time intensive as it may be – is the way to go. I concur.
Here at Proof, we pride ourselves on being transparent. Offering our community a clear view into who we are – what we care about, think about, and what we’re working on in a given day is one of our marked distinctions. We want people to feel like they know us before they actually get to know us.
From a sales perspective, we carry through that transparency and honesty and focus on building a sales pipeline that, unless otherwise fueled by word-of-mouth and referral business, is backed by an organic, natural, sales process that doesn’t come across sales-y at all.
And it doesn’t come across sleazy or sales-y because we’re really not “selling” so much as sharing what we believe in. When you believe in what you’re selling, it doesn’t feel like “selling” at all.
At the end of the day, effective selling is about confidence and a belief in what you sell. For myself and our team, we believe in what we do, through and through.
Those warm and fuzzies aside, let’s not forget that effective sales, regardless of how natural or non-sleazy it may be, relies on a sound strategy and a lot of behind-the-scenes planning and research. CRM’s, to-do lists, and regular reminders are a way of life for me.
But when I reach out to someone I don’t know, I want to make sure I am taking steps to build a real, authentic relationship from the start. Who do I know that they know? What am I excited about that they are working on? What is the common ground I can connect and resonate with?
If you’re reading this yourself and find that you’re working on selling a product or service, keep in mind that the shotgun approach of cold-calling hundreds of contacts in a spreadsheet is likely to lead to a very, very low return. And I get it, it feels like you’re doing something right and productive by reaching out to all those contacts, hitting a quota, and playing the “numbers game”. But taking time (more time) to approach sales in an organic, focused way will lead to a much stronger, albeit not immediate, return on investment.