I'm an "Old School" sales guy using new technology.
My first sales job came about when my boss asked me
to do a market research study. I was working as an engineer for a big company that started as a small metal fabricator, but had expanded into several proprietary product lines. My boss asked me to, "Find out if there is still any market for the custom metal products."
There'd been no new customers for years and no one cared because the company had plenty of other growth opportunities. But the 71-year-old Division product manager was talking retirement and my boss was trying to figure out whether to replace him or just exit the business. The marketing plan consisted of a listing in the Thomas Register- a 33 volume printed industrial directory that was sent annually to every purchasing office in corporate America. It was the pre-internet version of Google Search and it was where companies searched for new suppliers. This ancient Inbound Marketing plan provided a steady stream of request for quotes (RFQ's), but no new orders.
It occurred to me that the companies requesting quotes from us might be a good source of information for my study. So instead of mailing a quote that had been requested by the Kodak Co., I picked up the phone and made an appointment with the engineer who sent it. I climbed on a plane and flew to Rochester, NY where I not only met him, but also got a tour of the facility where the new parts would be used. Over lunch, the engineer told me that the RFQ quantities were actually understated because that order would repeat 19 times over the next several years. And by the way, "Your prices are fine. When can I get delivery?"
I called my boss from the airport and asked, "What do I do now?"
The short answer to that question is that I got the job as the new product manager and grew that custom metal fabricating business from $1 million in annual sales to $75 million. I stuck with my method of face-to-face meetings and racked up plenty of frequent flyer miles nurturing personal relationships with my customers.
Fast forward to the present day. I'm the CEO of Pawntique, an online pawn shop
. We launched this family enterprise last year after drinking the HubSpot, Inbound Marketing "Kool-Aid." The strategy is to bring the traditional pawn shop customers online through Inbound Marketing. Then, we convince them to put their valuable jewelry and Rolex watches into a FedEx package and send it to us with the promise that we will send them money.
Since launching last September, we've seen steady growth in website traffic, leads, and new loans. Our Inbound Marketing program was doing just what we expected. We are on the first page of Google Search for several of our keywords and steadily climbing up the rankings for several others. The information required to make offers to our customers came almost entirely from a calls-to-action, landing page forms, and email follow-ups.
Recently, an article was posted about Pawntique on the Yahoo Finance news blog. That resulted in a spike in website traffic and a flood of new leads from our APPLY NOW call- to-action and landing page. We received more leads in that 24 hours than we had in the previous month!
Knowing that it would take several days to process all the new leads using our standard email process, I did what I've always done. I picked up the phone and started calling people. The results were amazing!
Although they had visited our website and in many cases downloaded eBooks and information kits, the prospects seemed eager for further reassurance and clarification about what to expect. As we chatted, they shared information about themselves, their personal financial situations, and why our service attracted them. Some just wanted to be "courted" a little before they went ahead. Several asked if they could add-on more items to their request or give our phone number to relatives.
Many of them called back a few minutes after we hung up with follow-up questions that had occurred to them.
The net result was that the conversion rate of leads to new customers increased significantly and the size of the loans were often larger than originally requested through add-ons. The phone conversations were an effective way to build trust with the potential customer, answer questions to speed up their decision-making, and increase the size of the sale. Although our Inbound Marketing program can generate leads, there's nothing better than a personal interaction to actually close a sale.
Our guest author is Don Battis, a savvy entrepreneur, businessman and financier that has a great story to tell about experienced salespeople using new technologies. He is currently the CEO and founder of Pawntique, an online pawn shop and serves as a director on the board of Great Island Technologies a Value Added Reseller for Box.net, Hubspot and Shopify.