So what is your first contact with a new prospect? Another good question to ask yourself is how does that first contact happen? And is it proactive on my part?
David: Hi, and welcome to the podcast. In today’s episode, co-host Jay McFarland and I will be discussing your first contact with a new prospect. Welcome back, Jay.
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Jay: Hey, it’s good to be with you again. David. When you say first contact, I always think about Star Trek with their first contact with the aliens, and I feel like you’re kind of sitting there going, okay, are these going to be nice?
Are they going to try and destroy the human race. You know, there’s a lot of trepidation with first contact and sometimes that first contact, how it goes, determines the whole rest of the relationship.
David: That’s exactly where I stole the term from Jay. That is exactly where I stole the term from. And the way that came about is that I was talking to somebody about cold calling. This was years and years and years ago.
Well, actually we were talking about prospecting and one of the things that this person mentioned to me was something related to cold calling. And I said, “okay, well, cold calling is one way that you can reach out to people.” I said, “think of it like it’s your first contact.”
And literally it was because I had seen that movie about first contact and I thought it’s such a great concept. The idea of whatever, meeting an alien species for the first time is one thing. But for salespeople, you’re exactly right. It’s the same thing. We’re walking into an unknown situation.
We have absolutely no idea how the person is going to react and that. Doesn’t matter whether it’s on the phone as a cold call, whether it’s meeting someone at a networking event, whether it’s through social media.
We have no idea what’s on the other end until we engage. Therefore, the whole idea, the whole concept of first contact, I think is really highly appropriate. It is the very first contact that we have with a prospect.
If you understand that conceptually, it can really sort of open up your mind to the possibilities and to the opportunities. Because there are a lot of people who view whatever it is they do as first contact, as first contact.
What I mean is if all they’ve ever done is make cold calls, they view that as first contact. If all they ever have done to generate customers is through social media, that’s what they view as first contact.
When you recognize, that’s just a method, that’s just one particular method of first contact, and you realize that there’s a whole other universe. To continue the space analogy here, there’s a whole other universe of options. It really allows you to test different things to figure out what’s going to work best for you.
Jay: Yeah. And I love the idea that first contact, when I first thought of this, I was thinking that’s the first time that I meet them voice-to-voice or face-to-face. And in today’s world, that’s probably not going to be the first contact.
In my business, the first contact is our website. That’s the first time that they’re going to see us. Now, in my business, I’m very fortunate that our three main competitors, their websites are awful, David, they are terrible.
They are designed terribly. They’re hard to read. And all the time I get people saying, literally saying to me, “I chose you because I liked your website.” We’re somebody that offers this high level of expertise and you chose us just because we have a really good web designer.
But that was the difference. Their first contact with us is positive, because we’ve spent the time to get that right.
David: Yeah, it’s a lot more than the web designer too, because you could have a beautiful design, but if the words on that design are not resonating with them, it’s not going to work. Which goes back to what we talked about before, the MVPs of marketing.
The message that’s on that website is definitely going to determine whether or not they’re going to be interested in what you say. Now, the way that is presented, which as you refer to the design, that’s all part of the messaging component. But if the words don’t resonate, if the imaging doesn’t resonate, they’re not going anywhere.
But you’re right! So many times, people don’t recognize that first contact is happening all the time. Even with things that you’re not even aware of.
You go onto social media and you post something, whether it’s a picture of your dinner or a comment about politics or something business related, that could very well be their first contact with you. And if they hate it, they’re not going to be revisiting.
Jay: Yeah, exactly. And that’s why there are companies out there that are designed to help clean up your mistakes if you’ve, messed up. You know, we say this all the time. Once it’s on the internet, it’s never going away. Trying to clean that up.
Going back to my competitors. They’ve decided that education is how they’re going to draw people in. And so they have pages and pages and pages of small text, educational information. And it’s valuable information. But I’m telling you, nobody is reading that information.
Because we live in a bullet point world. We want to know within a few seconds what services you offer. And it’s amazing to me, nowadays, how few people, in fact, I would say in the last year I’ve had three people ask me for references. In a year’s time because of our website and how it’s presented. It answers their questions right away. And that’s phenomenal to me that we’re able to do that.
David: Yeah, interesting that the information that’s on the website can be helpful. It can be harmful. Or anywhere in between. Because if you have too much information on there, people can get what they need without ever having to buy from you.
They learn a bunch of things and then they talk to their existing vendor about the things they learn from your website, and then they can either do it or not.
And a lot of the work that we do in the promotional products industry, the websites are very much the same. It’s a lot of the same products from the same manufacturers. There are similar vendors who put together these websites.
So a lot of it is very similar, very cookie cutter looking in a lot of ways. And so one of the things that we do with our Total Market Domination clients is we help them with little tweaks they can make, small things they can do, even within a website that doesn’t allow a ton of customization to be able to switch things up. And change the results.
Because that website, that first page that they see, I look at it like a windshield, right? Are they going to fly off it like a bug off a windshield, or are they going to look into it and say, wow, this is great.
Are they going to scroll, or are they going to just bounce off it? Because if they bounce off it, you’re done.
Jay: Yeah, and it’s amazing to me how many people use tactics that I know that we all deplore.
Like I’ll see, hey, chat with a representative, and I’m like, yeah, I think I’m going to do that. And within two seconds I realize it’s not a representative, it’s a chat bot, and it’s only programmed to answer predefined questions. It’s not answering mine.
And I’m like, come on. And then the other one I ran into just the other day that drives me out of my mind is I was looking for a quote for something. The website says, get a quote in two minutes. An instant quote.
I enter in my information and then it says, okay, one of our representatives will be back with you in two days. And I’m like, I am so angry when that happens because you lied to me.
Jay: You told me you were going to give me a quote in two minutes. You completely boldface lied to me, and I am done with them at that point. That was my first contact with them. I don’t want anything to do with them because I feel like that’s a dishonest practice.
And when you start that way with me, forget about it. I don’t care how many other contacts we have, I’m not going to choose you.
David: Exactly. So a lot of times when people are thinking in terms of first contact, well, first of all, it’s a matter of deciding to do that. Thinking, what is my first contact? What am I currently doing? Or what do I think I’m doing in terms of first contact?
Now, if you reach out to somebody and they say, oh yeah, I saw you on Facebook, or I saw you on LinkedIn, or whatever, then that’s not your first contact. Whatever they saw was the first contact. So ask yourself, what is it that you want to be your first contact, and then what is the actual first contact that they’re having with you?
And if you find out that there are some commonalities that a lot of what you thought was first contact actually isn’t, then you want to go back and say, all right, well what are they seeing first? And how do I need to adapt that or change that to reflect what I would like for them to see first?
So what is your first contact? Another good question to ask yourself is how does it happen? How does that first contact happen? And is it proactive on my part? Is it something that I posted that I wasn’t thinking of as first contact and it just happened to turn into that?
Was it that somebody saw an ad that maybe wasn’t even related to them or maybe has some sort of messaging on it that was designed to appeal to a different group of people, but they happen to see it, so now they have a misconception about who I am or what I do?
There are so many different elements to this. But when you just sort of take a few minutes to try to analyze it, it becomes a lot easier to see where things could potentially be going wrong, even when you’re first interacting with someone.
Jay: Yeah. And the other thing I would say is don’t squander your first contact. If you’ve got a first contact and you’ve got them to dial the phone
Jay: or something like this. We’ve all had the experience where we’re like, okay, I’m going to pick up the phone. And the person who picks up the phone is unfriendly, they’re curt, they’re not informed. And you’re like, this is the person that you put on the phone to first talk to me?
You have to be very careful with who you put as the receiver of that first contact. Because if that’s not a good experience, I’m done right there again, I’m moving on.
David: Yeah, and when you talk about phone, a lot of organizations will do everything in their power to keep you from talking to a human being. And I am not naming any names, but specifically the banks and the communications companies, the, you know, the cable companies, the telephone companies. They are just, and these are people you’re already paying.
I’m not talking about when you want to sign up for service, when you want to sign up for service, they’ll take your call in a second. But I’m talking about after you have the service and you’re trying to get an answer to a question or resolve a problem, they will put so many robots in front of you. It’s not even funny and it’s nauseating in some cases.
It’s really annoying in a lot of cases. And you could be saying into that phone, “representative, representative, customer service,” and it’ll just keep routing. Yeah, it’ll just keep routing you back and saying, first I need to get some information. And it’s brutal. It just makes you think, if I could do business with anyone else but this company, I would absolutely do that.
And I don’t know, I think huge companies can get away with it to some extent because they are getting away with it. And if they have limited competition and in some areas, there’s no competition.
There are still monopolies in some of the communication sectors because there are limits in terms of who you can get for your cable or your phone. It’s not a complete monopoly anymore, but it’s darn close to it. And so, they can get away with it to some extent.
But most small and medium sized businesses, the kind of companies we deal with, you can’t do that. You can’t do anything close to that. Because if you do, you are never going to have a shot at that business.
Jay: Yeah, you’re exactly right. In fact, just the other day I went through the phone tree, it probably took me 15 minutes. The phone finally rings. I finally have a live person, and then they’re like, “oh, I’m sorry, that’s this other department. Let me send you over to that department.”
So now I’m back on hold again. And I’m just like, how do they think that this is going to keep their customers? But you’re exactly right. They know you’re not going anywhere else. But if that’s a process of first contact, then how many people are you chasing away?
Especially if you’re a small company like you said. There’s no way to me that any potential cost savings could outweigh the loss of potential customers.
David: I agree. Again, for the type of businesses we deal with, we have to be better than that. We absolutely have to be better. Now that’s well beyond first contact. Now we’re talking about in the trenches, the day to day and all that sort of thing. But yeah, that’s sort of a given.
If you’re the kind of business who wants to get to the point where you can start treating your customers badly. You’re not going to do that from the get go. Hopefully, that’s not what you want to do anyway.
But ideally, what we need to be doing is taking the opposite approach, getting people what they want, reaching out in a way, initiating first contact in a way that positions us as somebody that they actually want to do business with as opposed to somebody who’s just annoying.
Jay: Yeah, absolutely. How do people find out more, David?
David: Well, you can go to TopSecrets.com/call, schedule a call with myself or my team. We would be happy to walk you through a conversation. Try to figure out where you are now versus where you need to be in terms of visibility. Are you getting in front of the people that you need to get in front of?
In terms of sales. Are you generating the sales you want to generate? In terms of profit. Are you generating a bunch of sales but not making any money on those sales? Right? So we’ll look at those three things. And just have a conversation to see if or how we can help.
Either way. We talk to people all the time. We might not end up doing business with them at all, but almost inevitably, I’d say pretty much inevitably, they’re glad they had the conversation because it’s designed to be helpful. And if we work together, great. And if we don’t work together but you got some help on the phone, that’s great too. So we’re happy to have those conversations.
Jay: Fantastic. As always, it’s a pleasure talking to you, David.
David: Thanks very much, Jay.
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