I was feeling very popular earlier. I’d just successfully fielded something like my twentieth unsolicited sales call of the day. But I was curious. Why all this sudden love from suppliers whose names all sounded vaguely like teams on the Apprentice? Impact! Check. Progress! Check. Vanguard! Check. (I’m making these up, but you get the general idea.)
With a rather heavy heart I realised that the latest Research Magazine has just arrived and inside there’s a programme for the forthcoming Research 2011 annual conference. I have a very peripheral role, which means my name is listed there in very small print. But that was enough to trigger a deluge of cold calls, as though somehow only the presence of my name in size 7 font on that page formally confirmed my existence. Which is rather depressing, but proves the old adage that pride comes before a fall.
Anyway, today’s cold calling tsunami reminded me of a couple of important rules about selling.
1. Sell benefits not features. Most research sales calls still attempt to sell features that they’re clearly very excited about. (We’ve got 10 million people on our panel! We can do surveys on mobiles! We can do focus groups online! We can script our surveys in Flash!) There’s got to be real potential to grow this industry by taking five minutes to think about why a prospective client might benefit from the service you are offering.
2. Know your target. It’s hard to chum up to a prospective client with any real sincerity if you’re doing it on exactly the same day as everyone else. And even harder if you know largely nothing about them. Whisper it quietly, but I’ve heard research can come in quite handy.