Case Study: The Human Touch

Face-to-face interaction has immensely benefitted this distributor’s prospecting.

The Pro

Name: Amanda Dudek
Title: Owner
Company: A Dudek Promotions (asi/101207), in Maple, ON

When Amanda Dudek started in this industry, she did what a lot of salespeople do – she pursued anyone she thought could possibly be a lead. Cold-calling, sending email blasts, searching Google, marketing through social media. You name it, she tried it. And it wasn’t working.

“I was spinning my wheels,” she says. “I realized I had to narrow down my target audience and understand their industry. Now I pursue mostly construction clients, and I know all about safety apparel and the certifications they require.”

While Dudek maintains Facebook and Instagram accounts to lend credibility to her company, she doesn’t lead-generate or make hard sells there. She also doesn’t spend money on Google Adwords. “I’m small and I’m competing with companies that spend thousands of dollars a day to be on the first page of search results,” she says.

Instead, her husband Tom generates leads the old-fashioned way: by going door-to-door to local businesses and introducing himself and the company. Once he has data on leads, he sends them over to his wife, who immediately follows up with phone calls and starts moving them through the sales funnel. She says it’s a much quicker way to gauge interest and qualify than sending email blasts to anyone who visits her website. “Face-to-face interactions work the best,” Dudek maintains. “Old school still works! He can see if they’re interested as soon as he walks in.”

After speaking with company representatives, her husband enters all their information into a spreadsheet, including the name of the person he talked to, their response to the information he gave them, what they might need and if they could use immediate follow-up. He also color-codes the leads into “hot,” “warm” and “cold” categories, and Dudek uses the ranking to prioritize follow-up. Regardless of their lead category, her husband always leaves a business card and industry-specific brochure from A Dudek Promotions; if he deems them “warm” or “hot,” he leaves a pen and tote bag.

But that doesn’t mean the process is foolproof, since it’s also harder to say no to someone who’s looking you in the eye. “Sometimes they’re really nice to my husband when he’s in front of them, so it looks like they could become a prospect and then when I reach out, they’re not actually ready to buy,” says Dudek. “You dive deeper with them on the call to find out if they’re qualified or not.”

While each and every lead is unique and different, Dudek always follows up with a phone call first, since “emails tend to slip through the cracks.” Once the conversation gets going, she uses the phone and emails to converse with her prospects. But she always begins with a voice-to-voice conversation.

“The phone has been the best avenue for me, and it usually takes about two to three touches before I schedule a meeting,” she says. “I reach out immediately to set one up. It has to be a quick response. I also ask them if I can add them to my distribution list, since we have very strict spam laws in Canada.”

But if leads aren’t responsive to Dudek’s overtures, she knows when to throw in the towel and move on. “If I call them and they continually say, ‘Call back later,’ that’s a red flag,” she says. “Then I’m done. Or a receptionist answers and keeps saying, ‘They’re not available.’ There’s little to no potential there.”

As leads become prospects, Dudek still has to watch for people who are only too willing to take advantage of her time. Sometimes, as she builds a relationship with a prospect, the latter asks for more and more expertise without committing to the sale, what she calls “sitting on the fence.” While she’s willing to be a consultant for them to a point, she refuses to give away her time for free.

“They want to pick my brain and I want to help,” she says. “But sometimes they say they want to do big promotions, so I spend hours putting together a presentation for them, and at the end they say, ‘Wait, it’s how much?’ So you have to start the process by asking probing questions: What products do you want? When do you need it? What’s your budget? That’s the best thing to do.”

There are those who say social media and paid ads are imperative for prospecting, but Dudek begs to differ. “I’m pretty young compared to the rest of the industry, but I like old school methods,” she says. “There’s nothing better than face-to-face interaction, hearing voices, seeing facial expressions. So much is lost in the social media realm. These marketing companies say they’ll help you with SEO and social media marketing so you’ll break through the noise, but I find that hard to believe. You need to have human interaction and you need to show them your expertise.”

Takeaways:

  1. Hire someone to focus on qualifying leads.
  2. Know when to move on and replenish your funnel.
  3. Don’t let prospects take advantage of your time.