Is cold calling dead?

With the emergence of social media and millennials (who some claim aren’t as phone-savvy as prior generations) flooding into the workforce, small business owners might be left wondering whether cold calling has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

With the emergence of social media and millennials (who some claim aren’t as phone-savvy as prior generations) flooding into the workforce, small business owners might be left wondering whether cold calling has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

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    Not so, says Tom Scully, sales consultant and owner of a Sandler Training franchise in Chagrin Falls, though he admits the practice is evolving.

    “Is the act (of cold calling) dead? No,” he says. “But millennials are inundated with all the social media … and they’ll use those vehicles instead of actually picking up the phone.”

    He says that in the last six months his company has received only about two cold calls.

    So what’s taking its place?

    Cold emailing, Scully says.

    “It’s easier to email through email blasts,” Scully explains, adding that he doesn’t “necessarily subscribe” to the concept over cold calling.

    He recommends small business owners still use cold calling to prospect new clients. He says to get a strong cold calling presence—in other words, a talk track. Scully says this needs to be a 30-second commercial that has impact and spawns interest. A good talk track will take a prospective client from having no interest whatsoever to engaging interest within the 30-second time frame, he says.

    “Inside that 30 seconds you want to put things that can feasibly be missing in that person’s world,” he says.

    The same goes for cold emailing, Scully says. Ask yourself: What are the top three issues that someone would want to correct if he or she purchased my product? Answer this in the printed word, he says. Your product or service is the answer.

    Joe Jurevicius, the former Cleveland Browns wide receiver and current co-owner of WashClub Cleveland, said boot leather is one focus of his business, and the staff works every day to make those old-fashioned sales calls—“but in the least annoying way possible,” he says.

    “We try to quickly express our respect and understanding for how busy people are today,” he says. “Luckily for us, we are not selling a complicated product. We keep everything as quick and simple as possible. Even for large corporations laundry should not be complicated.”

    When it comes to making those cold calls and emails, Jurevicius says he doesn’t get disheartened if he hears or reads “no” and encourages other small business owners to feel the same.

    “When trying to sell and you hear the word no, take it as a win,” he says. “A no is better than a hang up. If they are taking the time to say no in a phone call or email we take it as they have at least some interest.”

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    Next up: Is Email Marketing Going Extinct?

    Is Email Marketing Going Extinct?

    If a recent report by App Annie is to be believed, email marketing may be a thing of the past for younger users. The analysis revealed Android users between the ages of 13 and 24 were 3.5 times more likely to use messaging apps as a primary means of communication, as opposed to those over the age of 45, who were more likely to use email apps.

    If a recent report by App Annie is to be believed, email marketing may be a thing of the past for younger users.

    The analysis revealed Android users between the ages of 13 and 24 were 3.5 times more likely to use messaging apps as a primary means of communication, as opposed to those over the age of 45, who were more likely to use email apps.

    But does this mean email marketing is going extinct?

    The email marketing strategy team at Cleveland design firm Go Media knows there is a wealth of evidence to suggest that simply isn’t true—and we should hold off on the e-mail marketing eulogy for now.

    First of all, the App Annie study is just one snapshot—and it doesn’t even include iOS users. Beyond that, another recent study by Internet Retailer contrasted the earlier report by asserting some 70% of teens prefer to be contacted by email, versus the 7% each who preferred push and text notifications.

    Second, almost everyone still has an email address, and these addresses have so many everyday functional uses. For example: You need an email address to create a social media account. Most college students still use email addresses in everyday communications with professors and fellow students. And any type of e-commerce set-up requires email addresses, too.

    You want to make travel plans? Check your bank account? See about school closings? Order your mom flowers online? Follow up with your boss?

    All of these require email. That means people not only have email addresses, but they are actively using them every single day.

    Not only that, but most carry their email with them wherever they go. It’s estimated that 70% of the global population will have a smartphone by 2020. Meanwhile, a 2015 email marketing study by Yesmail found that over the course of three years:

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    • More than half of all emails were opened on mobile devices;
    • brands that more fully embrace responsive web design (which is mobile-friendly) are rewarded with 24% more clicks; and
    • those with responsive web design have a 55% higher click-to-open rate.
    • Direct messaging—whether it’s through SMS (text messages) or some type of app—can be quite useful in your marketing strategy, but that doesn’t mean you have to eliminate your email marketing strategy.

      Not one of these email platforms or messaging apps exists in a bubble. Sure, some people might use one more than another. But savvy marketers (and designers) need to be thinking about how they can use one on top of the other.

      At the same time, consider that your ability to market in apps such as WhatsApp or Snapchat—which mostly involve direct messaging—is going to be somewhat limited. That’s another reason email marketing isn’t going anywhere.

      So, let’s put the dirges on pause for now because email marketing isn’t dying. It is, however, evolving. Those who are going to be successful in their email marketing campaigns are going to need to take a mobile-first approach.

      From a design standpoint, that means we want to think about:

    • How is the campaign going to translate onto a smaller screen?
    • How can we make our designs more simple?
    • Is the call-to-action clear and does it have an easily-tappable button?

    Consensus: Email marketing is alive and well—and not going anywhere. 

    Article provided by the design and marketing experts at Go Media Inc.

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    Next up: Is Your Workplace Ready for Legalized Marijuana?

    Is Your Workplace Ready for Legalized Marijuana?

    The potential for wide-scale legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana in Ohio is just a few months away. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that small businesses could be doing today to prepare for the possible legalization of the drug. With that in mind, employers should look closely at their business and prepare to make changes as needed. 

    The potential for wide-scale legalization of medicinal and recreational marijuana in Ohio is just a few months away. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things that small businesses could be doing today to prepare for the possible legalization of the drug.

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    With that in mind, employers should look closely at their business and prepare to make changes as needed. 

    First, take a look at your prescription drug policies. If passed, the amendment language requires employers to treat medical marijuana like prescription drugs and it could require employers to accommodate marijuana use in the workplace. Therefore, employers need to take time to review and update their human resource policies and how their business treats the use of prescription drugs. 

    Specifically, employers should look at their substance abuse policies to be certain it is transparently stated that employees are barred from working while under the influence of any state or federal controlled substance or any drug that could impair their performance, including marijuana. This policy should also state that this prohibition is in place regardless of whether marijuana has been certified for an individual’s medical use.

    And a sentence should be inserted into the company’s substance abuse policy that very clearly states that marijuana is an illegal drug pursuant to Schedule I of the Ohio Civil Rights Act and it is also a schedule I illegal drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

    Testing for marijuana

    Being ready for legalization isn’t limited to just updating workplace policies, however. If Issue 3 is adopted, employers could be required to adopt broader testing protocols and acquire more sophisticated drug screens. Because marijuana stays in the body longer than other drugs, such as alcohol, it can be difficult to say with certainty whether an employee is actually impaired or not. But, that doesn’t relieve employers for potential liability for the actions of employees that test positive for the drug.  The Occupational Health and Safety Administration maintains it is the employer’s broad duty to maintain a safe workplace, and that includes accounting for substance abuse issues in the workplace.

    It’s important that small-business owners and entrepreneurs not be caught flat-footed should blanket legalization be granted. Addressing business policies and practices today is an essential step toward ensuring a safe workplace and protecting your interests as an employer.

    Stay tuned, we’ll continue to keep you advised on this issue and will be providing education, information and support for you should Issue 3 pass and make marijuana legal. Also, be sure to join COSE on September 25 for the 12@12 Luncheon Series: Marijuana Legalization in Ohio when a group of small business owners will come together to discuss the ramifications of legalization as it impacts small businesses.

    For now, make sure you get the word out to other business owners and urge them to take the time to get out and vote against the marijuana legalization monopoly effort in Ohio by voting NO on Issue 3 on November 3rd!

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    Next up: JobsOhio Talks Successes, Core Strategies with GCP Member Companies

    JobsOhio Talks Successes, Core Strategies with GCP Member Companies

    GCP hosted John Minor, President and Chief Investment Officer of JobsOhio for a morning conversation with GCP members and a briefing with the Northeast Ohio state delegation. Minor, along with JobsOhio’s senior director of strategy, sales and research Andrew Deye, discussed the organization’s niche focus on business development and growing efforts to address talent attraction for companies through tailored solutions. Minor highlighted the organizations efforts to continuously boost Ohio’s brand and the competitive advantage the state – and its unique regions – have for companies that are looking to locate and grow here. 

    JobsOhio was created in 2011 as the private economic development entity to drive business growth in Ohio. According to statistics from the organization, more than 459,000 new private sector jobs have been created since 2011. GCP was a vocal supporter of JobOhio’s creation and is a key player in the regional network of partners that work with the organization to drive business attraction, retention and expansion efforts in Northeast Ohio. 

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    Next up: Join Your Cause And Make Your Voice Heard

    Join Your Cause And Make Your Voice Heard

    Ohio’s Primary Election has concluded, but the General Election will be here before you know it. No matter your personal political beliefs, choosing to exercise your right to vote is central to what defines our country as a democracy. While some might have already grown tired of the constant campaign coverage at the federal level and believe their individual voice is not heard throughout the process, there are concrete actions you can take as a member of the business community to ensure we help elect state and local candidates who support your work.

    Ohio’s Primary Election has concluded, but the General Election will be here before you know it. No matter your personal political beliefs, choosing to exercise your right to vote is central to what defines our country as a democracy. While some might have already grown tired of the constant campaign coverage at the federal level and believe their individual voice is not heard throughout the process, there are concrete actions you can take as a member of the business community to ensure we help elect state and local candidates who support your work.

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    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is non-partisan and serves as the respected, unified voice for businesses of all sizes and industries in our region. Our role is to provide you with a vehicle for concerted political action and the GCP PAC provides an opportunity to educate key decision makers on the issues that are important to you. The dollars contributed through GCP PAC are used to provide support for state and local governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests. 

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), and our partners advocate on your behalf, for your public policy priorities, and on a daily basis while you focus on achieving success for your small business. The key ingredient to our success, however, is your participation. Consider joining your cause and contribute to the GCP PAC today

    What questions do you have about the GCP PAC?

    What can we be doing better to serve your advocacy interests? Tell us.

    Please note individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships can legally make contributions to a PAC. Contributions must include itemized allocations by partners in partnerships or members of a LLC. Ohio law prohibits other corporate political contributions.

    Your participation in the GCP PAC is completely voluntary. Donations are not tax-deductible and will be used for political purposes. An individual may contribute up to $12,532 annually to an Ohio Political Action Committee. You may choose not to participate without fear of reprisal. You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or decision not to contribute.

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    Next up: Tips for Your Business: Keep Up With Your Growth

    Tips for Your Business: Keep Up With Your Growth

    In the 25 years I have worked with business owners, coupled with my role as an active COSE volunteer and leader, I’ve met few business owners who don’t want to see their business grow! And, I’ve met a lot who have been able to find a way to engineer that growth. But, growth can result in things that don’t fit anymore. Unfortunately, some owners don’t recognize they have to make changes to what they do so their financial management practices can keep up with their business success. What are some of the challenges an expanding business can face? Here are three of the most common traps I’ve found. 

    In the 25 years I have worked with business owners, coupled with my role as an active COSE volunteer and leader, I’ve met few business owners who don’t want to see their business grow! And, I’ve met a lot who have been able to find a way to engineer that growth.  

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    But, growth can result in things that don’t fit anymore. Unfortunately, some owners don’t recognize they have to make changes to what they do so their financial management practices can keep up with their business success.

    What are some of the challenges an expanding business can face? Here are three of the most common traps I’ve found. 

    Failure to keep up with your growth. With new sales, client demands, needs to staff up, produce more or expand suppliers, the basics of billings and collections can sometimes be neglected. Owners need to have just a few basic reports that they look at least weekly to identify these “cash killers.” Getting too far behind is going to require taking a break from growing the business to just putting your financial house back in order.  

    Not knowing when to ask for help. At some point, the owner of a growing business realizes they need help but sometimes it’s not soon enough. There are a lot of advisers out there you can get engaged in your business. While you might not think you need an accountant because you’ve got it covered with QuickBooks, there is a lot more an accountant can bring to your business that will help you keep your eye on growth. Get someone involved early to avoid problems later with accessing capital, managing cash processes or worse yet – dealing with an audit or other consequences of growth.  

    An inability to let go. Too many owners hold on too long to the detailed operations of the business. There are technologies and processes that can be easily outsourced and don’t need daily attention. Payroll, accounts payable, bookkeeping – these are all time consuming beyond their value as a function for the owner going through growth. Look for ways to put these processes on auto-pilot so you can get back to driving the growth of your business. You don’t need to hire more people for a lot of these things – so much can be easily outsourced and still under control with parameters the owner sets.

    If you can avoid these traps, your business should grow and improve. Connect with your trade organizations, COSE or other business owner groups to find a group of advisers and partners that can help you focus on what you do best and accelerate the growth of your company.

    Rion Safier is the owner of Rion Safier Accounting LLC, providing accounting, tax and outsourced services to businesses, 
    organizations and individuals.

    Want more expert advice? Check out Linktunity, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions for the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the August 17, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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