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How To Win Sales With In-Person Cold Calls

Can walk-in sales calls still work? You bet -- if you put a unique spin on them.

Kimble Bosworth’s outbound marketing strategy is all about the “RBOI” – or Random Bag of Ideas.

Annually, the president of Proforma Printelligence (asi/491390) and her team fill about 100 Proforma-branded bags with about $200 worth of promotional products – items that represent the various categories they sell. There’s everything from apparel, drinkware and magnets to food items, writing instruments, keytags and much more. “There are almost 30 items in the bag,” says Bosworth, noting preferred vendors freely donate products of theirs that they’d like her to sell.

Through the course of the year, Bosworth and her staff take the bags on in-person cold calls at various businesses. “Typically we stop at the receptionist and explain that it’s for the director of marketing,” says Bosworth. “However, since the person is not expecting it, we invite the receptionist to pull out what they like – ‘the manager will never know.’”

The “here’s-something-for-you” strategy immediately gets the gatekeeper on Bosworth’s side. Impressively, about 60% to 70% of the time the receptionist starts sifting through the bag before then calling a decision-maker to come check it out. “We usually get a meeting that day,” says Bosworth. “About 40% of the time we walk out with a list of things to quote for.”

Those quotes often lead to sales. Recently, for instance, Bosworth used the RBOI to earn a $3,000 order from a commercial cleaning company. “We did table covers and different items for their trade show,” she says.

Of course, Bosworth and her team have their bases covered if they don’t get an immediate meeting. The bags contain a promo stress reliever – Proforma Pete – and a letter that explains that Pete is stress-free because he relies on Proforma for his product and print needs. “We explain that this is their bag of ideas – selected completely at random – and that they should call us if they need more ideas because was have 949,772 more that we couldn’t fit into the bag,” says Bosworth.

Every year, the RBOI helps Proforma Printelligence obtain scores of new clients. From law firms, title companies and banks, to radio stations, television stations and bars/restaurants, the distributorship targets a wide variety of customers. The added bonus is that Bosworth’s preferred suppliers, which provide swag for the bag, like that she and her crew are out generating sales of their products, making them eager to support Proforma Printelligence’s prospecting efforts. “The vendors want to send us good stuff because they know we’re going to get them orders,” says Bosworth.

Even when the RBOI doesn’t influence a prospect, Bosworth and her team don’t give up. “We may not get them one year, but we come back the next year with new items in the bag that might get their attention,” Bosworth says.

3 Tips To Get The Gatekeeper On Your Side

1. Be polite and calmly address the person by their first name.

2. Ask if they might be able to help you. This sets a casual tone and establishes a dynamic to which many people are apt to respond positively.

3. Have a self-promotional item you can give to the person. Everybody likes free stuff.