Raise your hand if you enjoy making cold calls! I don’t know about you, but I have yet to meet a person who actually enjoys calling strangers out of the blue to sell them products that they may or may not want. Sure … it must feel like a rush when someone actually takes your call and makes a purchase, but more often than not, cold calls feel like an exercise in accepting rejection. Receiving cold calls is no fun either – more often than not, they feel like a waste of time for both parties. No wonder cold calls have a paltry 1-3% success rate.
Instead of relying so heavily on cold calls, consider cultivating warmer leads – people who are already familiar with your product or service and have a greater disposition to buy from you. Below are some ways to achieve this:
- Create a Referral Incentive Program for your Business – Prospects are more likely to buy your products when your products are recommended by people who they trust. That is why it is so important to cultivate and reward trusted referral partners for your business. These referral sources could be your customers, but also your strategic partners and collaborators. A good referral program not only incentivizes successful referrals, but also delineates the roles, responsibilities and expectations for all parties. It also provides your referral partners with the knowledge and tools they need to help them help you. But what if you don’t currently have a large network of referrals partners? You can find referral partners and promote your company’s referral incentive program through services like Collaborate.Biz, a matchmaking platform for businesses that are looking for strategic partners and referral sources. Click here to learn more!
- Become a Thought Leader in Your Field – I believe that education can be a powerful selling tool and it is under-utilized by most businesses. When you educate prospective customers, you not only gain credibility in their eyes, but you also get to shape how they think. In the long run, an educated customer is the best type of customer. These types of customers understand why they need your product and why they should pay more for what you offer. And if the information is compelling enough, they will share your educational materials with others, helping you promote your brand. So what are some tactics you can use to promote yourself as a thought leader? How about inviting current and prospective customers to a live training or webinar? Why not write a few blog articles on topics that interest your target customers and generate demand for your services? As with most things, you can start small and build from your momentum.
- Develop a Strong Online Presence – In this day and age, this is a basic expectation for your business. It not only means having a website, but also paying attention to your SEO and your Social Media. You should be easily found, and ideally reviewed by your customers. There is a plethora of options to get started on this.
- Give Back to Your Community – Find out what organizations are important to your customers and make sure that you support them. Community organizations give you yet another way to engage with potential customers and to show that you share their values. It will also make them more likely to think about you when they need your services.
- Collaborate with Complementary Businesses – Aside from your customers, your collaboration partners can be one of the most important sources of referrals and repeat business. They can also pull you into projects that fit your capabilities, helping you establish profitable new customer relationships that would otherwise take years to develop. That is why you should make it a priority to build new collaboration partnerships in a systematic way. Services like Collaborate.Biz help you find the right collaboration partners to help you grow your business. Click here to join for Free!
Although some cold calls are inevitable, you can proactively take steps to build your sales pipeline through warmer leads. What are some other ways in which you can build your sales pipeline without cold calling? Tell us what has worked for you.
Ramon Rodriguez is the Founder/CEO of Collaborate.Biz, a B2B matchmaking platform that helps businesses unlock revenue through strategic partnerships. It’s “Match.com meets LinkedIn,” but instead of helping people date, it helps businesses collaborate. Join for FREE at https://www.collaborate.biz
Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash
I was recently asked by one of our users: “What can businesses do to make sure they connect with the right partners?” My answer: “Make sure that you are clear about your business strategy.” When businesses are clear about their goals, the customers they serve, and what they stand for, they are more likely to find partners who can help them grow. This may seem overly simplistic, but in practice, getting strategic clarity requires businesses to look deeply within themselves and to make tough choices.
In Collaborate.Biz, the first step to find and attract the right partners is to complete a strong Business Profile for your company. When you take the time to build a complete Business Profile, you help prospective partners more easily understand what you need from them, but also, what you can offer them. Strong Business Profiles can also help reveal hidden opportunities for collaboration, helping you find partners even in different industries or geographies.
So how do you write a strong business profile in Collaborate.Biz? It might help to look at a couple of Collaborate.Biz members, to see how they do it.
To access the Business Profile page:
- Sign On to Collaborate.Biz with your username (usually your email) and your password
- Select your business from the ‘My Businesses’ page
- From the main menu at the top, click My Biz -> Profile – This will open your Business Profile page
Once you access the Business Profile page, then it’s time to update it with the most complete and up-to-date information for your business. You will find a number of sections, each containing specific information about your business. Click on the links below to learn more about each section of your Business Profile:
Once you have completed your business profile, it’s important that you keep the information up-to-date.
Now, it’s time to start looking for partners to help you grow your business!
Next: Home Tab: WHAT your business is all about
The Home tab is where you explain what your business does and what makes it unique. The Home tab also helps other members understand what your business stands for – a sense of the meaning behind your brand.
To update the information on your Home tab, click the ‘+Edit Business Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.
Although not all fields are required by the app, the strongest Business Profiles provide as much information about your business as possible. At a minimum, we strongly recommended updating the following fields:
||Basic overview of your business. This is a required field.
||“… I help people get results through better communication, across all relationships … I help people become more resourceful through better communication…”
|Products & Services
||This is where you list, in some detail, what your business sells. Collaborate.Biz uses this field to match you with businesses that offer complementary products and services.
||Coaching, Training, Consulting, Assessments, Team Collaboration, Conflict Management, and Tension Management. If you don’t polish the diamonds, you look like a lump of coal.
|My business excels at
||This drop down field gives other members a sense of what your brand stands for – the one thing that sets you apart. We know it’s hard to make a choice, so just go with your best judgment.
Next: Ideal Partner Profile : Where referrals and collaborations come from
It’s no secret that Collaborate.Biz takes inspiration from dating websites to help you network. Much like in a dating website, where users can specify the physical and personality traits of their desired partners, we use the information in the Ideal Partner Profile to match you with potential partners.
But what do we mean partners, and how are they different from customers? In the Collaborate.Biz parlance, a partner is another business that can become either a source of referrals for your business, or a business you can collaborate with on projects or initiatives. Although your customers can be an important source of referrals, we generally think of partners as other non-competing businesses who either share similar customers as you or offer complementary services. They are the types of businesses that you want to “team up with” to achieve your goals.
To update the information on your Ideal Partner Profile, click the ‘+Edit Partner Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.
Below is some guidance on how to fill your Ideal Partner Profile.
||Provide a brief description of the types of businesses that could be good sources of referral for your business or with whom your business can collaborate.
||Coaches, Project Managers, and Business Analysts who do business with corporate or government clients.
||Your partners can be in your same industry, but many times, partners can also be found in adjacent or related industries. This field allows multiple selections.
||Consulting – Financial Services – Government – Human Resources – Manufacturing – Technology – Other
||If your business has no geographic constraints, then check ‘Seeking Partners Nationally’ (default) and you can ignore all other geography related fields. Otherwise, specify the general location where your partners should be located (city, state, zip code, and maximum distance).
||‘Seeking Partners Nationally’
||Check these optional fields if you are looking for partners who can help you meet diversity goals. When these fields are marked, potential partners with these certifications will be ranked higher in your dashboard feed, but this will not prevent you from meeting other potential partners who do not have these certifications.
||Minority Owned Business, Woman Owned Business
Next: Ideal Customer Profile: WHO your business sells to
When you have a good understanding of your customers, and can clearly communicate who these customers are, you make it easier for your partners to give you qualified referrals. That is why at Collaborate.Biz, we ask you a series of questions that help you paint a vivid picture of your customers, their needs, and why they are a good fit for your business.
The more precise you can be about the types of customers you seek, the better we can match you to referral partners who can reach them. There is no limit to how many customer profiles you can create.
To add customer profile, click the ‘+Create Customer Profile’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.
Below is some guidance on how to fill your Ideal Customer Profile.
|Customer Profile Name:
||This is a required field. Pick a name that helps other members remember who you to sell to.
|How would you describe your target customers to a friend?
||Provide a brief description of the types of businesses or consumers that stand to benefit greatly from your goods or services. You could include demographic / firmographic information if you know it, or simply describe, in layman’s terms, who these customers are and how to recognize them,
||Senior management and leadership at mid-size companies (~100 MM in sales), with at least 25 professional employees.
|What goals are yours customers trying to achieve?
||When you can explain what your customers are trying to achieve, you make it easier for potential partners to identify good referrals that would benefit from your services.
||They want to see tangible results around:
– cross-functional communication
– from stagnation to momentum
– effective presentations
– better collaboration
|What problem(s) are your customers trying to solve?
||Problems are pain points that your customers experience and that your business can help relieve. When partners can sell your business to customers in pain, it makes referrals more likely to succeed.
||Lack of employee retention, lack of engagement (especially on day to day tasks).
|Why do your customers choose your business?
||This is your chance to explain why you are a good fit for your customers, which partners can use to sell you to their contacts.
||– Always start with a discovery conversation, where issues bubble up
– Consequence and values
– Ability to build trust rapidly
– Vast experience in corporate, non-corporate, and non-profit
|What are your customers expectations in terms of service?
||Do your customers expect white glove service? Do they expect a fast response time? Do they require a lot of education? Sometimes, how you interact with customers makes all the difference.
||– Adaptable should never mean vague. We offer a clear process on over deliver on expectations.
– Approachable, accessible, and adaptable.
Next: Collaboration Ideas: HOW your business can collaborate and grow
Collaboration Ideas are initiatives or projects in which your business can benefit from partnering with others. By proposing collaboration ideas, you help potential partners understand not only what you can do for them, but just as importantly, what your business can do for them.
So what makes for a good collaboration idea? Good collaboration ideas:
- “Expand the pie,” helping all partners benefit by achieving things they couldn’t do on their own
- Clarify each partner’s roles and responsibilities
- Play to each partner’s strengths
We highly encourage all members to propose collaboration ideas. There is no limit to how many collaboration ideas your business can propose, and best of all, they can lead to meaningful, long-term partnerships.
To propose a collaboration idea, click the ‘+Create a Collaboration Idea’ link, at the bottom of the page, as shown below.
Below is some guidance on how to fill the form to propose a collaboration idea:
||This is a required field. Pick a name that helps other members remember what you are proposing.
||Provide a brief description of the initiative that may help potential collaborators visualize what you are proposing.
||Services package where we help companies going through mergers and acquisitions with both their operational and relationship strategy.
|Type of Collaboration:
||This is a drop down field that helps frame the scope of the initiative. Collaboration Ideas can be as tactical and informal as a ‘one-off’ Event, or can be as long-term and formal as a Joint Venture.
||Project Proposal / Bid Team
|How it benefits out businesses
||This is where you explain how this collaboration idea “expands the pie.” Will collaborating result in savings for your company? Will it bring new customers?
||Additional source of revenue
|What I bring to the table
||Share how your business will contribute to make this collaboration successful
||Experience in M&A and how to package communications. Expertise in relationship strategy, presentation, persuasion and influence.
|Types of Business
||A brief description of the types of businesses that you want to collaborate with for this initiative.
||Organization Development, Business Analysts, Project Managers, 8A Companies (Veteran, Minority, or Women-owned) who can bid on specific projects.
|What Partners bring to the table
||Describe how partners can contribute to make this collaboration successful
||Analytical and operational skills.
|Partners are in any of the following industries (choose all that apply)
||This is a multiple drop-down field for the industries where partners can come from. Consider adjacent industries that can help your business grow.
||Consulting – Human Resources – Other
Next: DBE Certifications: Unlock Opportunities While Promoting Diversity
In many cases, government agencies and large corporations set aside projects for businesses that can help them achieve diversity goals. This provides an opportunity for small and disadvantaged businesses to compete effectively and win projects. It also provides an incentive for larger businesses to partner with smaller, disadvantaged businesses in order to access opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to them.
When you certify your business as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or a Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE), you are providing evidence to both customers and partners that your business is eligible to compete for these opportunities. The most common types of certifications recognized by government agencies and large corporations are:
- Minority Owed Business
- Woman Owned Business
- Disadvantaged Owned Business
- Veteran Business Enterprise
- Small Business Enterprise
Your business may be eligible for one or more of the above certifications, so we recommend all our members to look into these opportunities. There are many organizations and government agencies that can help your business with this process, including the Small Business Administration, the Women’s Business Development Center, and the Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among many others.
To update your DBE Certification section in Collaborate.Biz, click on the ‘+Edit DBE/VBE Certifications’ link, as shown below. To Update or Remove your certification files, however, click on the respective ‘Update’ or ‘Remove’ buttons.
Below is some guidance on how to fill the DBE Certification section of your business profile:
|Is Your Firm Certified As Any of The Following (Please Check All That Apply)?
||Check any of these optional fields ONLY if your business has obtained the official certification. When these fields are marked, it flags your business to potential partners who are looking for partners that meet these certifications.
||Minority Owned Business, Woman Owned Business, Small Business Enterprise
|Is the company qualified by any agency to perform work as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or Veteran Business Enterprise (VBE)?
||This Yes/No radio button tells prospective partners if your certification has been qualified by a specific government agency.
|If yes, Please list the agencies below.
||This helps prospective partners understand the agencies you can work with.
||Illionois Tollway, IDOT, CDOT (City Of Chicago), Metra, CTA Chicago Public Schools, and more
Additional DBE/VBE Information
|This where you upload your certification files, so prospective partners can see them.