“You’re not selling the way we want you to sell!”

Have you ever had a job where you said to yourself at one point, “There’s got to be a better way…”?

Years ago I took a job as a B2B sales rep at a local telecom company in my area.

Like how most people get a job, I got that job through a really great friend of mine. One afternoon, we met for lunch, talked about the job and the pay, and then he referred me to his boss who was in charge of hiring.

I interviewed and ended up getting an offer. I was super excited because that job meant I could finally leave my retail job at the cell phone store. It meant I didn’t have to work nights and weekends, and I could finally get my social life back.

However, my first day on the job, I attended the Monday morning sales meeting where management was doing its Monday morning quarterbacking in front of the other 15 reps. It was at this meeting, I realized there was a big problem…

There was only one week left in the month of September and hardly anybody had hit their quota for the month.

Even though I worked in retail, I left a job where leads came to me, and now I had to bust my ass to generate my own leads. I guess life is full of trade off’s.

In my first year, I did alright. My bosses all liked me, but the hardest part by far was the cold-calling.

I basically had to call a ton of businesses and it was truly a numbers game.

If I made 10 calls, it would result in 1 or 2 real conversations. 10 of those real conversations would result in 1 or 2 appointments. 10 of those appointments would result in 1 or 2 sales

Not only did I have to make a ton of calls to generate leads, but I also had to call to follow up after all of my appointments to close those deals.

Which meant a TON of time calling and wasting time. I knew in the back of my mind, there had to be an easier way.

One day I came up with the idea of sending marketing emails to my prospects. My plan was to send great content directly to their email to be helpful, earn their trust and earn myself better positioning.

Those who opened my emails, I would consider warms leads. Those who unsubscribed I considered not interested.

I would still have to make calls to generate more leads because management monitored phone calls like a hawk and wanted cold-calling regardless. No exceptions. They wanted reps to sell their way or the highway.

However, my email marketing plan would definitely save me tons of time following up after appointments, and I could sort the buyers from the tire-kickers, and close my deals faster.

I took all the emails that I saved from business cards, put them in a spreadsheet and uploaded the list as contacts. In retrospect, that definitely sounds spammy, but I didn’t have the luxury or time of creating an offer with an opt-in form at this point in my life.

I wrote my first email and sent it to all of my prospects. I don’t even remember what the email was about. I remember it was just something i wrote that was informative and educational about telecom.

Within a day, I got a phone call from a business owner I hadn’t spoke with in nearly a year, about around the time I started the job. I had chased him down for months after we met but he was never available. And here he was calling me back.

He wasn’t interested in buying, but he referred me to his brother, who was another business owner, and just bought a new building and was looking to get hooked up with phone and internet.

I met his brother, and within a week, proposed a deal to get him service and he was taken care of. A normal deal through cold-calling would’ve taken me weeks or even months to close. Plus I never would’ve uncovered that opportunity by being a stranger.

I knew emails had the power to close deals, but referrals too? Hot damn!

I didn’t generate tons of referrals at that job, but it was the first step of my journey into working smarter and not harder.

John

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