My very first sales job out of college was selling discount telephone services to small businesses in Connecticut. The required process for prospecting was to arrive at my office every Monday, which looked like a call center, sit down at a terminal with a green screen, the yellow pages, desk phone and make cold goals. My goal was to generate 20 meetings or 5 meetings per day for the remainder of the week. If I fell short that Monday, I was required to come back on Tuesday until my objective was completed. Today when people tell me cold calling is dead, I laugh. They have no clue what they are talking about. Two things will remain true as long as sales remains a profession: the phone is still your most powerful weapon for prospecting and the personal letter remains the most underrated form of communication.
I like cold calling because leaving a voice mail, when done right, is the easiest way to get your value proposition into the ears of your desired buyer persona. For example: I am a desired buyer persona for organizations selling sales enablement tools. Whether it be sales automation, data or call recording software I get a TON of emails asking for my time. I rarely ever read them let alone respond. As you soon I start reading product dumps I press DELETE. However, when I get a voicemail I listen to it. The emails to voicemails ratio I receive per month is about 25:1. I always listen to voice mail. Knowing this as a sales rep, why aren't you making more phone calls? "Because Ryan, no one answers their phones anymore". That may be true, but we all listen to our voicemail. We all read our emails. We just decide who we should call back or not and why we are doing so. Here is a tip: send a well written email composed of research and value. Use that email as your voice mail script when you follow up with your prospect the next day. The goal is deliver consistent messaging to your prospect. Trust me, your prospect knows when you have your shit together and consistent messaging goes a long way to building trust through value and earning ones time. This is why, the next second most powerful weapon to unleash in sales and business in general is the hand written note.
There were days when cold calling and door knocking just didn't work. No matter how hard I tried or how many repetitions I'd put in, I was unable to gain meetings with key decision makers. One day my manager saw me struggling mightily and stopped by my work station to ask me if I'd heard of a V.I.T.O Letter. Of course I responded with, "no". He told me V.I.T.O. stands for Very Important Top Officer. He continued to tell me that if I had ever wanted to get in front of a top officer then I would have to circumvent the gate keeper and send personalized letters to my desire makers. Um, what? You want me to send a personalized letter like in an envelope with a stamp on it? He said, "Ryan, I've been doing this for over 20 years and personalization goes a long way." I decided to give this a try. I sent out 10 personalized handwritten letters to small business owners. I got 5 meeting. It f*cking worked! Later in my career I attempted to get freak nasty and started sending V.I.TO. letters via FedEx. I wanted my letters dropped on the desks of C-levels with "PRIORITY" stickers on them. Who doesn't love getting an express letter sent to them? The response rates were mind blowing. 50% conversion rate. Conversation equaling a meeting.
Should you add the V.I.T.O. letter to your process?
Ryan Lallier is a proven sales leader and builder of high velocity sales machines.