I think just the idea of initiating first contact versus cold call is a lot more exciting. It’s a lot less intimidating in most cases. I started using that phrase after I saw an old Star Trek movie where they referred to first contact as being your first contact with an alien species. And I just thought, wow, that has a lot of correlations with sales. Where you’re approaching somebody and you really don’t know what you’re getting into. Strange new worlds and all that sort of thing….

David: Hi and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, cohost Jay McFarland and I will be discussing the idea of initiating first contact with a new prospect. Welcome back, Jay.

Jay: I’m so glad to be here, David, and I’m excited to talk about this issue because to me, personally, this is one of the hardest things to do.

I’m fine once that first contact has been made. I feel like I’m really good at building relationships and closing.

David: Mm-hmm.

Jay: But I’m terrified about making that first contact and I’m not really sure how to do it. So I find myself shooting in the dark all the time trying to figure it out.

David: Yeah, well, you’re certainly not alone.

I’ve certainly felt that way myself, and nearly everybody I’ve ever met in sales has had issues with it. And we talked about this in a previous podcast. We were talking about cold calling and the idea that cold calling is really just one form of first contact. And so the reason I thought it would be good to have a discussion on the topic of First Contact itself is to first of all, recognize that, yeah, it’s more than just cold calling.

There are lots of different aspects to it. And if you realize that, then you also realize that you can get comfortable with first contact, generally by engaging in a first contact method that is more comfortable for you. So if cold calling is not your primary thing, you have other alternatives and that should maybe give you a little bit of hope.

Jay: Yeah, that does give me hope and I think the key is to know what the possibilities are. Because like I said, sometimes I’m like, okay, my only option is to cold call, and that’s not working. So really understanding what are the other options available.

And the other thing I found is, lately I’m better at cold calling because you force yourself to do it enough and you can build a skill and you can get over the hump at least I’m finding that.

David: Yeah, absolutely. And when you are good at cold calling, and there are a lot of people who are very good at it, there are a lot of people who actually really like it. They don’t even struggle with the call reluctance and that sort of thing, but for those who do struggle with it, I think just discussing this idea of first contact is going to be helpful.

And if we think about why first contact is really so important, in my mind at least, it’s because it really helps to set the stage for the entire relationship. Whatever it is that they’re going to learn about us or think about us down the road, it’s all going to come from what that first contact is.

If it’s a great experience, they’re going to have good feelings about us. If it’s less than a great experience, then they’re not going to feel as great about it. Since it sets the tone, it’s really important that people become comfortable with it, or at least come up with a form of first contact that they can be reasonably comfortable with.

Jay: Yeah. It’s such a great line of thinking.

I hadn’t really thought about it that, that first moment, maybe the first five minutes,

David: Right.

Jay: That could determine the whole lifespan of the relationship. How they view you. How they respond to your sales pitch. Everything. It’s kind of like we do it in life. First impressions, we know, are everything. Right?

David: Exactly. And now there are so many different forms of first contact. For somebody you’ve never met, their first contact with you could be something they saw that you posted on social media. They may be scrolling on Facebook and they come across something that you posted, and that’s their first contact with you.

You may not even realize this stuff is happening. But when you recognize that it could be happening, and it very likely is happening, then you can start to really think through the communications that you’re engaged in, and how you want to utilize them so that you can create a good, solid first contact, even when you don’t even know for sure that that’s what you’re doing.

Jay: Mm, it’s really great. I think that you can do this on social media now. I always thought of first contact as a phone call, but what if first contact is, they’re watching that video I posted on YouTube. Or they’re watching this podcast that we’re doing right now. They form a friendship with you or an appreciation for you and your information long before you’ve ever talked. And so now you’re way ahead of the game once you have that first contact.

David: No question. And you’ve heard the old adage, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. And my take on that has always been, no, it’s not what you know. It’s not even who you know, It’s who knows you.

Because depending on those different forms of first contact, people can know you before you ever get to know them. In exactly the example you just gave, if somebody sees this video, if they’re watching it on Facebook, or they see it on YouTube, We’ll have to put it up on YouTube. I don’t usually put ’em up there, but yeah, good point.

We’ll have to put it up there on YouTube, but that could be their first contact with us. It would not be our first contact with them, however. So when we get to that point, they’re already going to feel like they know us. We’ve already got the advantage, because they feel like they know who we are.

And if you think about music artists, the people who got rich selling records didn’t get rich because they knew a lot of people. It’s because of the people who knew them, right? You buy an album, whoever your artist is. That person doesn’t know who you are, but you know who they are and that’s what works.

And it’s exactly the same thing in sales. So if we think in terms of first contact, instead of just cold calling, then it could mean networking. It could mean getting referrals. It could mean a post on social media, could mean a video on social media. Could be an audio, could be a podcast, could be advertising, direct mail, in-person canvasing, trade shows, attending or exhibiting at a trade show. It could be self promotional items.

There are lots of different methods that we can use to initiate that first contact, to set the stage, get people comfortable with us, and then when we do eventually either pick up the phone or drop them an email or send them an instant message. They’re much more comfortable and confident with us than if we were to simply start out with that cold call.

Jay: Yeah, I think that’s so important. But it’s also important if you are trying all those methods that it’s really important to track what’s working and to figure out, what kind of percentage am I getting here?

We talk a lot about cost per acquisition, right? I think following that information so that you don’t spin your wheels in areas that they may feel like you’re doing well because you’re talking to a lot of people. But those aren’t turning into customers. So having that good system, I think, has got to be part of honing your first contact skills.

David: Yes, exactly. And another thing that you can look at is, what is a good follow up to that? So in a cold call situation, we’re calling somebody on the phone. We’re trying to establish rapport, we’re trying to qualify them in or out, to determine whether or not they can use the products and services we offer.

And at that point there’s either going to be a second call, there’s going to be an additional follow up, or we’re going to essentially qualify them out, disqualify them so that we don’t have to follow up with them.

If your first contact is something like a social media post and someone comments on that, well, now you’ve actually had an interaction.

You put something out, they they send something back to you. It’s a little bit like ping pong or tennis. You hit something across the net. Are they going to hit it back? And if they hit it back, now you’re actually in a conversation.

So if your first contact is a video or a post on social media, somebody likes or responds to it, you could then, perhaps, direct message them back and continue that conversation, which could lead to qualification and eventually having that person become a client.

And it seems a lot less threatening in a lot of ways. It’s also a lot more professional in a sense. Because you have the authority advantage. They’re looking to you as the authority because they saw whatever it was that you posted. They’re either liking it or asking a question about it.

And so then at that point, for you to respond back, it’s more like it’s their idea. Which is beautiful because technically, it’s not really their idea. You put something out there to begin with, right? But they’re responding to it. So then at that point, they’re engaging with you. It feels more like their idea, and they’re just a lot more likely to continue to engage with you when it has that sort of really organic feel.

Jay: Yeah, I agree with you, but I’ve also had the experience where I’ve watched a YouTube video. I comment on something, and I never hear back because they’re not watching their comments. They’re not using it that way.

David: Right.

Jay: Responsiveness is such a critical part of this. If somebody’s reaching out to you, you’ve got to have a way to get back to them immediately, because otherwise they’re off to the next person. Just that fast.

David: Absolutely. And I think a lot of people, myself included at times, probably don’t really think of it that way. If somebody is commenting on a YouTube video that I posted four years ago, I might not see that right away.

And if it’s not part of your plan, if it’s not part of your strategy for initiating contact and creating conversation with people, then it’s very easy for that type of thing to sort of slip off your radar and not be aware that it’s even happening.

Jay: Yeah, I’ve got a system right now that is working really well. Because we provide valuable content online and then, if they want to talk to us, we offer a free consultation. And they use a Calendarly link, and it appears on my calendar. When I talk to them initially, it’s like they know me because they’ve watched these videos. So we already have this relationship that the whole, “how are you,” all that stuff, we skip right past it and we get right to that business.

Because that relationship was formed and it’s just because I posted good content.

To me, the technology of today, if you can tap into it and use it that way, it’s fun and it’s exciting because I get to wake up every day and my calendar’s already full with calls. I just love that so much.

David: Yeah, and I think just the idea of first contact versus cold call is a lot more exciting. It’s a lot less intimidating in most cases. And I started using that phrase after I saw a science fiction movie. It was an old Star Trek movie where they referred to first contact as being your first contact with an alien species.

Jay: Mm-hmm.

David: And I just thought, wow, that has a lot of correlations with sales. Where you’re approaching somebody and you really don’t know what you’re getting into. Strange new worlds and all that sort of thing. And I thought, for me it was a great analogy. It’s our first contact with this prospect and what’s that going to be like and how can we make it count?

How can we make it positive and memorable? Not just memorable, right? Because you could create a really terrible first impression that would be really memorable, but not good.

Sometimes when I’m doing live trainings, I talk about the fact that first contact could be a note, wrapped around a rock, thrown through a window, right?

That will definitely be memorable. But it will not be positive. And so when we can make that first contact both positive and memorable, then people can really start to make some strides.

And then, if we really look at having our follow up connect right where that first contact left off and build from that relationship, it becomes a conversation. It feels a lot more organic and you can make a lot more sales that way.

Jay: Yeah, so true. And I do want to go back. You mentioned something that I really, I don’t want to skip over, and that is helping them understand, making them feel like it’s their idea. I think this is so important with sales. The minute they feel like you are a salesman and they’re somebody you’re trying to sell, that becomes adversarial. Or it has a possibility to do so.

So if you can help them come along on that process and avoid that adversarial nature. And I think you do it in a lot of ways just by asking questions, instead of telling them things.

Just ask them questions. Get to know them. Get to know their needs. Then help them to that conclusion that they might want to talk to you about this. I think it’s easier, right? It’s a lot less rejection. And I think you’re going to get a much higher close rate that way.

David: Absolutely, and I think for anyone who’s watching this, if you’re trying to think, “okay, well how do I apply this? How can I do something with this?” What I would encourage you to do is just jot down the different types of first contact that you think you would actually enjoy doing and that you’d be happy to engage in.

Is it cold calling? If not, is it networking? Going to different networking function s and meeting people in person. Is it referrals? You know, getting referrals, but not just waiting for them to show up.

Can you put something together that would be designed to get yourself referrals proactively where people you know are providing it to you because you’re initiating contact with them. So that you’re not just waiting for them to stumble through the door.

If it is social media, if you look at the fact that when you post something on social media, other people can see it. You can post it as public or you can post it just so that your friends can see it. If you post something on social media that you want to be a good, solid first contact with you, then it should be really decent quality content.

You should make it public. Maybe some people will come along, see it, interact with it, and that can start a conversation.

If it’s advertising, what can I do to put out advertising that will make a great first impression that will actually get people to respond? Because if you’re just putting stuff out and they don’t respond, then you don’t know who they are and it’s wasted money.

Jay: That’s right. It is wasted money for sure. And one other thing that should be considered. If you’re going through all these motions and you’re still not getting a response, maybe you have a product problem. Maybe you don’t have something that people want. Maybe you need to tweak your offering or something like that. It’ s not always on your sales system. It could be on what you’re actually offering.

David: Exactly, and if they don’t even know what your product does or how it helps, it may be a matter of conveying the solution that they’re looking for. Because you may be providing a solution they don’t even recognize they need it.

I do a lot of work in the promotional products industry and promotional products salespeople are talking about the products. Well, if a client doesn’t understand that that product can get them new leads, can open doors, can introduce them to people, can create all sorts of benefits that they’re not even aware of, they’re not going to want to buy it.

And that’s where I think if we’re able to lead with a solution, find out, “do they need the solution,” and then, if you can connect the dots between the solution you offer and the products that you’re selling, they’re going to be a lot more likely to buy it than if you say, “Hey, you want to buy a shirt with your logo on it?”

Jay: Yeah. Such powerful information. How do people find out more, David?

David: You can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team, and we can just sort of talk things through. Try to find out where you are, where you’re looking to be, where you’re struggling. If you need to bring more clients through the door and you need help with your first contact, that’s all part of what we do in our Total Market Domination course.

So if you go to TopSecrets.com/call, we’d be happy to have a conversation.

Jay: Unless your first contact is with aliens that’s a little bit different story.

David: That’d make a fun conversation too. I’d like to hear about that. .

Jay: Yeah, absolutely.

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