Whether your business is large, small, new or been around the block a few times, every penny in your marketing budget has to work hard and give you a return. Remember though that doors opened through your marketing now may lead you down a profitable path in the future, but not yield a financial return just yet.
Marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune and there are many effective marketing activities that you can do that won’t cost a penny yet will point you in the right direction to get your business to where you want it to be. Here goes …
The best thing to reduce your marketing spend is to Stop & Think before you commit any money. There may be a free or cheaper alternative … effective marketing does not have to cost a fortune.
The growth in the use of the Internet in recent years has led to a huge shift in marketing activities to the online space. This article explains some of the key things for you to focus on to help you market effectively online. Secure that domain name early. The natural starting point is the creation of a website. Once you start your business it is important to secure the domain name in the markets you intend to compete in. We at Palo Alto Software, Inc and Palo Alto Software Ltd have lots of domain names ranging from PaloAlto.com (global), PaloAlto.co.uk (U.K.), and PaloAlto.ie (Ireland). These help ensure that prospective customers can find us easily by typing our name directly into a Web browser.
There are numerous ways you can build a website, from doing it yourself using available software tools, to hiring website specialists. Regardless of the method chosen you need to be completely clear on the main purpose of the website. Is it to sell products or to generate leads? Once the primary purpose is clear, you can then decide on the layout, alongside the look and feel.
Ensure your website is optimised
Given the hundreds of thousands of websites out there, it is worth reviewing a number to get a feel for the type of design and user interface you would like. Finally, when it comes to a website it needs to be ‘search-engine friendly’. This means that searches initiated from the likes of Google (using repetitive software, called ‘bots’) can find your site, scan it and identify the keywords associated with the website. Many firms offer Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) services which are designed to help you achieve high rankings on the search engines, such as Yahoo! and Google. Most of the techniques they employ are widely known so you could choose to do it yourself. However, be aware: anyone promising top place listings on Google should be treated with caution. There are techniques (so-called black hat techniques) which can be used to game the system – however, Google has been known to punish sites known to be using such techniques, as BMW® found, to its cost, when Google delisted them in 2006.
As it takes time for a new website to get indexed by the search engines, it is likely that traffic will be low at the start. New sites tend not to feature in organic search returns for some time, but there are ways to drive traffic to your site using some of the methods described below.
Use Web analytics to improve your site
Once you have set up the domain name and site, you will want to understand how many users you are attracting, where they are coming from and how they are behaving on your site. Google Analytics is the most popular tool to manage this. It is available free from Google, easy to implement and even easier to use. If you want to see where people are going on your site, tools such as Crazy Egg® will help you improve the design of your site by showing you where people are clicking and where they are not.
Once the basics are in place it is now a case of creating awareness of the existence of your site and generating traffic to the site.
Get traffic to your site on day one
The quickest way to get traffic to a website is signing up for Google AdWords’ Pay-per-click (PPC) service. In the U.K. the vast majority of Web searches are via Google so this is the best one to focus on. This service lets you create adverts that appear when people search for certain keywords. You then pay according to each click you receive (hence the name ‘Pay-per click’). The main attraction with this option is that it is a highly targeted form of advertising, and you only pay when the prospect clicks on your advert and lands on your website.
Create unique landing pages
You need to decide where you want to bring the prospect when they click. Dropping users onto a homepage can be confusing, so you need to create a number of landing pages that are highly relevant to both the search term and the AdWord copy. For example, if a user searches for ‘marketing plan’ and the advertising copy is for Marketing Plan Pro® then the landing page needs to feature Marketing Plan Pro prominently. The beauty of running Analytics in the background is that you can measure conversions so you can identify which combinations of advert copy and landing pages are the most successful. After that it’s a case of testing, testing and more testing. A/B testing is a popular method where 50% of the audience is randomly assigned to see page A, and 50% to see page B. Whichever page results in the most conversions ‘wins’ and that then becomes the new default page.
Get websites to link to you
One well-known component of the Google algorithm that decides on the attractiveness of your website (which then correlates to a higher search ranking) is the number of back links to your site. The more sites that link to your website, the better, particularly if the linking site is an academic or government-owned site. Each link is considered a ‘vote’ and votes from impartial sites such as academic ones are deemed to carry more weight.
Seek a presence on high-traffic sites
It may be possible for you to feature on larger portal sites by offering to support them with either new or fresh content or special offers. Steer clear of anyone offering you a tenancy agreement, e.g. you pay £1,000 per month to feature on a third-party website. These offers mean you bear all the risk and they rarely, if ever, deliver any meaningful traffic. Similarly, spending money on banners and buttons is not in vogue like it used to be – for good reason. PPC marketing is where your budget should be going – not on risky placements on websites.
Blogging is not all it’s cut out to be
A number of companies set up blogs to enable them to communicate with interested parties and customers on a more informal basis. Blogs are simply basic websites which contain a list of posts or news stories by an author, typically about a specialist topic. While they are easy to set up and maintain, they do place a demand on the blog owner or blogger to constantly update them. If you do not think you have the time to post news stories daily it is probably best to avoid the temptation of creating a blog. Other, less demanding forms of social media include placing comments on forums and participating in news groups.
The above activities should give you a flavour of some of the types of marketing activities you can undertake online. Others, such as issuing online press releases and creating newsletters, can also help you drive traffic to your websites. From there it’s a case of ensuring the design and offer are compelling enough to entice the user to buy from you, assuming that is the primary purpose of your website.
I specialise in helping self employed people pay less tax and avoid fines - our clients are mainly one person businesses, usually working from home. As such, I am always looking at ways of increasing their profits for a low cost - we have had several start up businesses recently where they are particularly looking for low costs in their first year as they build up the business. The traditional way of doing things when you started a small business was to maybe print some flyers and distribute them, or to take out an advert in the local press or printed listing directory. Vanessa Warwick started an excellent discussion on the propertytribes forum, regarding Social Networking for business, which very much applies to every small business owner. I recently ran a talk on 'Social Media for Business' at the Epsom BNI group, where I am the chapter director, and was surprised by the number of people who hadn't considered the business return that is possible from social networking. This got me to posing the question: How many accountants offer advice on Social Networking to increase their client's profits? Following feedback from the talk I gave to Epsom BNI, in addition to continuing to promote ecademy and twitter for business to our clients, I have decided to offer a simple introduction to Social Networking for Business as part of the service I offer to small business owners, helping them to increase their profits. Social Networking is ideally placed for the type of clients we specialise in, the small self employed business, as there are low costs and great potential benefits for the business. A good example of what is possible is another propertytribes member, Sally Asling, who has in fact generated £6,000 of income via twitter in 3 months.
In the past few months we have witnessed a period of unprecedented economic turbulence and instability. In this blog I will describe some courses of action that may help to reduce the sense of helplessness businesses are currently experiencing.
1. Stay abreast of economic indicators
The global credit crunch and the increased uncertainty affect almost everyone. These are clearly very difficult times and potential solutions are occupying the minds of economists, bankers and ministers alike. Hence it is important to stay abreast of developments to ensure that management decisions are made in the context of the most up-to-date economic indicators and forecasts.
2. Revisit your business plan
It is perfectly acceptable to revise your business plan more frequently than once a year. If you have not done so for some time, it is worth revisiting it now. Business plans are written with certain assumptions built-in and these assumptions are context sensitive. If your business plan is over 6 months old, then it is likely that you will need to revise revenue figures downwards and costs upwards. Do this as soon as you can, and revisit key indicators such as current cash burn rates, debtor days etc. An up-to-date business plan can help ensure everyone is aligned towards the strategic goal of the company; ensure the cash flow is monitored and that the impact of changing assumptions is reflected in the numbers.
3. Review current projects and plans
Most businesses have a number of projects and initiatives on the go at any one time. These projects will consume resources over a number of months and years, and will typically involvement investment of time, people and money. The end goal of the completed project will often be designed to help your company generate additional revenue streams or to protect current streams. Again projects that have been planned over 6 months ago, and that take a number of months to complete should be reappraised. It may be more appropriate to defer projects or put them on hold until the economic conditions are more favourable or until the level of perceived risk and uncertainty declines. Any new contracts with third parties need to have additional safe guards built-in. For example, if exchange rates move outside certain agreed bands, it would trigger a renegotiation of the terms or an option to break the agreement etc
4. Communicate Effectively
It is not just management that feel the pinch when economic conditions deteriorate. It is likely some employees may be saddled with credit card debt, or may be sitting on properties with negative equity and may be worried about their futures. Management need to ensure their employees are aware of issues with implications for them. It is also important that employees are fully aware of the wider context so that any legitimate change initiatives designed to reduce costs are accepted rather than resisted.
5. Consider outsourcing some activities
In most industries it is possible to outsource non-core activities. There are many pro’s and con’s for outsourcing, however, if cash flows are under pressure, the inherent flexibility of outsourcing may be more appropriate until economic conditions improve.
6. Assess exposure to known risks and dependencies
In times of uncertainty it is important to step back and identify risks and to appraise key relationships. Is the company over-reliant on one particular company or industry? While this reliance may have been fine in periods of economic growth, it is important to recognise that a dependency on one supplier or customer dramatically increases the risk. Any vulnerability in one particular industry sector can lead to knock-on effects in the most unexpected of places (as well as in the more obvious areas). A diversification strategy can help to mitigate against an over-reliance on one supplier or customer.
7. Consider Scenarios
The importance of scenario planning grows when uncertainty increases. Scenario planning consists of management considering a range of plausible future outcomes ranging from a ‘small stretch of the imagination’ to the ‘outlandish’. The aim is to think through the implications for the company if certain scenarios came into effect. So for example what would happen if sales decline by 20% or if oil doubled in price in 2009? By thinking through a number of plausible scenarios, and designing strategies to deal with such eventualities, companies will be better prepared if indeed one of the scenarios does in fact occur.
8. Continue to Innovate
While it may be tempting to ‘tighten up’ it is important to recognise that increased uncertainty also brings opportunity. If competitive brands reduce marketing spend, it may be an opportunity for you to grow brand awareness. Similarly as companies advertise less, rate cards typically drop so it becomes cheaper to communicate with potential customers. Tougher conditions may force you to assess ways to reduce costs across your value chain or to innovate so as to reduce the cost of your product or services.
9. Don’t assume cost cutting is a panacea
Another common reaction to a downturn is to reduce costs through trimming wage bills by making employees redundant and cutting back on marketing activities. While reducing these costs may have a short-term effect on the P&L, they are not without their risks. Redundancies typically have a negative effect on the remaining employees that now feel less secure about their jobs, and are not happy with the extra burden placed on them with a reduced headcount performing the same activities. That said, downturns can legitimately be used to exit serial underperformers.
10. Keep an eye on the cash.
Given the ubiquitous impact of the credit crunch, it is likely that the cash positions of some customers will have deteriorated. If a majority of sales are on credit, it will be necessary to manage Invoices, and accounts receivables (debtors) to ensure that your cash position does not suffer also. Keep an eye to ensure your ‘debtor’s days’ figure does not creep up i.e. the amount of days on average it takes to get paid for a credit sale. A strong cash position is what you need to aim for.
The increased uncertainty in our environment means that planning for the future has become more difficult. However, it is how we deal with this extra risk will determine how our businesses fare over the coming months and years.
The phone rings. Your prospect is busy, but they lift the receiver, secretly hoping for an interesting opportunity to distract themselves from another daily task. As they answer, they hear a brief silence while the auto dialling system finds an available telemarketer to take the call. IF, and only IF you STILL have the prospect on the phone at this point - you must capture their attention, or risk wasting the chance to convert the captive listener.
At this point, 9 out 10 telemarketers make a mistake that lets the potential sale slip through their fingers. By making any one of the following TEN disastrous mistakes, you can squander important sales opportunities.
ONE: Failure to Introduce - You know the old adage ‘People Buy From People’. It’s vital to connect with the human being at the other end of the telephone, to communicate with them. If you begin your telemarketing call without properly introducing yourself, you will experience a long pause, followed by:
“Sorry! Who are you again?”
Having proven yourself incompetent of even the civilities of a basic conversation and being embarrassed by your mistake, you’re unlikely to turn the conversation around and sell the prospect anything at all.
TWO: Failure to Improvise – They say in the Military, that no battle plan outlives first encounter with the enemy. In other words, if you follow your pre-planned strategy, without being prepared to shift and adapt your tactics to your opponent’s manoeuvres, you’re dead meat.
The same goes for Telemarketing. You need the capacity to go with the flow of the conversation, rather than be restricted by a fixed script. The prospect may challenge you, they may attempt to distract and hinder you, you must be prepared to adjust your strategy and adapt your response likewise.
THREE: Pretending – One of the stupidest mistakes that a telemarketer can possibly make is to pretend to be someone they are not. They sometimes elevate their status or plainly lie about who they are and why they are calling. It may well work initially, you may get past the gatekeeper and you may even connect with the prospect. However, the moment that your prospect finds out the truth, your credibility will crumble and your chances of converting them into a sale will disappear.
FOUR: All Talk – Everyone has experienced the telemarketer that doesn’t even wait to hear if you are ‘Mr Jones’ before they begin force-feeding you their scripted rant. Does that technique EVER work? Telemarketing is not just talking, it’s also listening, and it’s communicating and connecting with a person. If the first time you give the prospect a chance to speak is after you’ve spent 30 seconds talking at them, consider the following words as the appropriate response from the prospect:
People like to believe that someone actually wants to hear their thoughts and find out how they feel. If you do all the talking, you’re simply cutting them out of a conversation that ends with the prospect making the desired decision.
FIVE: Getting Stumped – If you do not know all the possible objections to the prospect taking the desired action, you are not properly prepared to do your job.
Poor Telemarketers learn the top objections, but occasionally, a witty and observant prospect throws an objection or question at you that you’ve not covered in your weekly sales meetings. The weak telemarketer stumbles; they fumble the call, mumbling a feeble excuse. Another lead wasted. Preparation is everything; you can never do too much homework on the product or service that you are selling.
SIX: Cost Too Soon– A common mistake of the telemarketer is to start discussing price long before the prospect is ready to hear it. The greatest and most insurmountable objection is the cost.
If this topic is proposed too early, without the value being felt by the prospect, without the objections being fully and thoroughly dealt with, then you will scare away your potential sale talking about the cost too soon. It’s a matter of timing and it’s easy to make a mistake.
SEVEN: Missing the ‘Yes’ – Another common mistake of the incompetent telemarketer is a failure to engage the prospect in a positive chain of responses, in other words, having them say ‘Yes’.
The primary aim of the call is to set up that Yes Chain and make a sale. If you allow the prospect to set up a Chain of No, or you fail to stimulate the prospect to say Yes, you’ll struggle when the moment of decision arrives.
EIGHT: Fear of Asking The Big Question – If you’ve done your job well, if you know your business, you will not fear to ask for the sale. Professional telemarketers reach this point with the confidence of a job done well.
But inexperienced or incompetent telemarketers are often afraid of this moment. That’s patently ridiculous, if you’ve engaged the prospect in a Yes chain, if you’ve dissolved any objections, if you’ve helped them to imagine, consider and feel the value, all you need do now is ask.
The weak mistakenly make this part of the telemarketing conversation the most tense, uncomfortable moment for all concerned, seriously diminishing their chances of making the sale with yet another disastrous telemarketing mistake.
NINE: Eating – A telephone mouthpiece amplifies any sound that it picks up. This means if the telemarketer is chewing gum or eating, the prospect is treated to an audible irritation, projected straight into the brain through their ear. Not only is this a sign of gross professional incompetence, it’s rude. Plus, it’s very hard to make a sale with someone you’ve just irritated.
TEN: Time Wasters – This mistake refers to both the telemarketer and their prospect. Do not waste time on people who cannot buy. If you called a house and a ten-year-old child answered the phone, would you try to sell them something? Of course not! Don’t waste your time. Only connect with the decision makers. Otherwise, you’ll just be wasting your breath, and making another big mistake.
At Virtual Sales Limited, we ensure that all our staff are highly trained, so that they avoid any of the above mistakes, and represent your company on the telephone in a professional and credible way.
Outsourcing makes sense in a downturn because…
No company can escape the current financial downturn that’s affecting the global economy. Europe has slipped into a recession and the United Kingdom may shortly follow suit. In order to make the most of these tough times, many companies are looking to outsourcing specialists to provide much needed specialist support to maximise their efficiency and ensure their long-term survival?
Outsourcing is not a new phenomenon; it’s a tried and tested model. In the early part of this decade there was an economic slow down. During this time, outsourcing companies found more than ever that they were able to assist and support other businesses in times of trouble. Some companies are cautious about outsourcing in the current financial climate, mistakenly assuming it means an additional expense, but there are many reasons why outsourcing makes sense in a downturn, and here’s 10 of them:
ONE: You can cut costs without cutting corners. Outsourcing allows you to provide the same level of provision to your customers or clients without having to compromise or cut back on the quality of experience/service they receive. At the same time, because some core costs are reduced such as equipment, advertising and recruitment – you maintain your standards whilst reducing your costs. This will have a positive effect on your bottom line. If you’re in danger of dropping the level or standard of service that you offer your clients, you are in danger of losing those clients to your competition. Don’t even consider cutting corners – you can’t bounce back from this without the support of your clients/customers.
TWO: You can focus on your core concerns, the things that you are best at. Outsourcing is not just about saving financial cost implications, but also saving time and allowing you to focus on your core business issues. If the downturn has made you feel that there are no longer enough hours in the day, (were there ever?) then you’ll know that outsourcing could free up more time for you and your staff to spend on the central and fundamental concerns of the business. Decide upon which activities require your greatest focus and efforts, and free up your time by outsourcing the rest.
THREE: You may need to lose staff, but you don’t have to lose your shirt! There may be a need for redundancy, or saying goodbye to casual, temporary or part time workers. Outsourcing can cost you less than the cost of retaining those non-business critical staff/employees. You are doing this to safeguard your present full time employees, but it may be frustrating to see them go because you don’t know what’s around the next corner. When you outsource, your business remains effective, despite the reduction in numbers. If you’re ever to return your business to its pre-credit crunch glory, you may need to outsource to secure your current employee’s future.
FOUR: You can more efficiently manage your Human Resources. During this downturn, you may need 100 telemarketers for one campaign but only 10 for the next. Regularly, you’d have your remaining staff draining your budget. When you outsource, you can add or reduce your staff as and when you need them. By reducing some of your fixed operating costs you can deliver greater economic freedom to your company. With completely flexible staff numbers you can increase or decrease the workforce to whatever size you need to meet your current challenges.
FIVE: You can change horses midstream. When you outsource your needs, you can make amendments immediately, make a decision, change your mind, improve equipment, increase staff, decrease equipment – do whatever it takes, whenever necessary to keep your business afloat. Your outsourcing contract should be flexible enough to make a decision immediately in order to respond to necessary demands.
SIX: You can outsource many more services than you realise. Payroll, Sales, Marketing, Secretarial, Reception, IT, Lead Generation, Telesales and Telemarketing are among the many services that could all help you cut your short to medium term costs in a downturn. Telemarketing and Sales are particularly important. To effectively see your way through this economic nightmare, you need to bring in business – whether it is from new or existing customers/clients, you must increase sales and reduce costs in order to sail safely through this financial storm. Outsourcing can be used to achieve both of these goals.
SEVEN: Outsourcing is targeted professional activity. You can only go on losing money for so long before your business will start to collapse, so take action now! Whatever cuts you are going to make, you need to make them with the full knowledge that they are best for the future of the company. Outsourcing allows businesses to take proactive steps to maintain their status and trading capacity during difficult times.
EIGHT: Outsourcing can protect your company culture and staff morale. You shouldn’t force your existing staff to do more work for the same wages but without outsourcing, you may have to do it. It’s bound to happen if you have to reduce your staff numbers. As your workforce decreases, you still need the same tasks completed. Asking your current staff to take on these additional roles and tasks may cause problems in the workplace. You should expect an increase in the number of sick days, a decrease in general morale and this can affect your company’s productivity at a time when it matters most. Outsource before you drive your staff into early retirement.
NINE: Outsourcing helps you do more of what you do well. If your business isn’t badly affected by the downturn, you need to make hay while the sun shines! You’re lucky, you’re in one of those areas that people cannot do without, you’re a niche or a necessity, and perhaps you’re making even more money. Outsourcing can help you respond to the increased need for your product or service and allow you the room to do this without increasing your fixed operating costs.
TEN: Model other successful organisations. As the credit crunch takes a bite out of British commerce and despite the evident slow down in the economy and the threat of recession, billions of pounds in outsourcing deals are being agreed in the UK. If other companies are taking advantage of the benefits of outsourcing, then your business should be considering it too. Don’t be the last to realise that outsourcing solutions could save your business before it’s too late.
For expert advice on outsourcing your business needs, speak to a representative at VSL, the downturn doesn’t have to be a disaster for your business.
Follow Andy on Twitter! http://www.twitter.com/andydickens
In a world of increasing complexity and one with growing demands on our time, it can be challenging to create a business plan. In recent years, however, there has been a growing trend in the production of 'simple business plans'.
What is a simple business plan?
A simple business plan is a business plan typically produced by start-ups. You write your business plan as normal but you reduce the breadth of content in certain sections of your business plan.
Why would I write a simple business plan?
Simple business plans are appropriate when there are a lot of unknowns or when you are simply at the idea creation stage. At this point you do not want to invest significant time and resources in a full blown business plan, but are looking to produce a business plan that will enable you to forward it to interested parties for further consideration. Once you have received feedback you can then proceed with a full blown business plan.
What does a simple business plan contain?
The simple business plan contains much of the same content of a standard business plan but certain sections can be put on hold at this point e.g. cash flow statement, balance sheet etc. Sections can be skipped and a greater emphasis can be placed on the idea, the market opportunity, the likely demand, the routes to market etc
What is the point of a simple business plan?
One frequent problem entrepreneurs have is that they can keep ideas ‘in their head‘ rather than commit them to paper (or to a PC). However, ideas are practically worthless when they relate to a product or service in isolation (or without providing a market and commercial context). By producing a simple business plan, the entrepreneur is taking the next step towards their idea reaching fruition. A simple business plan will ensure that there is a holistic view of the business opportunity and an assessment of whether it is commercially viable or not.
How do I create a simple business plan?
Business Plan Pro has the option of a simple business plan built -in. By selecting the option within Business Plan Pro, the number of tasks you need to undertake is reduced from the number needed to produce a standard business plan.
Over on the Marketing Donut we are always keen to impress upon small business users to make the most of Twitter in their efforts to engage with their customer base. For a start-up or someone thinking of starting-up we would advise that you use Twitter to your great advantage also.
Once you are established as a business and everything is in place, you would use Twitter to market yourself, to give your brand positioning, voice and personality. For a start-up it would be recommended that you use your Twitter account in order to put out feelers into the market. Use your Twitter to network furiously with like minded individuals and organisations, learn from them and engage with them. It is good to ask questions.
In order to get the most out of Twitter as a start-up, you may want to target the people that you follow. There are a number of ways to do this. The key method would be to use a Twitter Directory, for example Twellow. Simply insert the keyword you wish to base your outreach around and add Tweeple to your ever-growing list of contacts.
Once you have added people around the industry, keyword, activity or interest you are looking to connect with, engage and start-up that networking engine in order to launch your new business on a basis of a like minded community!
If you are involved in the Telemarketing industry, you will undoubtedly be familiar with the term ‘The Gatekeeper'. This is the individual whose job it is to prevent people getting access to the Decision-Maker. Typically, this is a personal assistant or a secretary, but in some companies, it is even the receptionist or switchboard operator.
Here are ten top tips for getting past the Gatekeeper:
Whoever is acting as the Gatekeeper between you and the Decision-Maker (DM) is just doing their job. Part of that job is managing demands on the DM's time. Seeing the Gatekeeper as the enemy creates a self-imposed psychological barrier that it will be difficult, if not impossible to remove.
Management never gets treated the same as the workers. If someone believes that you are important, they will treat you differently. Using a relaxed and calm voice, speak slowly and articulately and don't divulge more than is necessary. During the opening seconds of your conversation, if the Gatekeeper senses that you are their senior, they will not risk offending you by probing too deeply.
Remember that whilst the Gatekeeper's role is to restrict interruptions to the DM's daily routine, they do know a great deal of important information about the DM and the business. Use this opportunity to check that the person that you want to speak to IS the decision-maker. Check your facts with them. Ask simple, non-intrusive open questions to try to build up a picture of both the Gatekeeper and the Decision-Maker.
The Gatekeeper has several distinct ‘powers'. One of them is the power to connect you with the right person. However, they do not hold any decision-making powers. When the Gatekeeper asks ‘Can I tell him/her what it's regarding?' - do not try to pitch your product or service to the Gatekeeper. Firstly, it will waste your time. Second, it will irritate them because they will just be waiting for an opportunity to tell you that they cannot help you. No matter how desperate to connect with the DM you are, do not sell to the Gatekeeper.
Don't be awkward, don't try to sneak past the Gatekeeper, the chances are you'll get cut off at the knees. Actively engage with the Gatekeeper. Don't get too personal, don't pry, but you can gently probe. If you can't get through to the DM, engage the Gatekeeper so that they have a positive and friendly attitude towards you when you call again. You're unlikely to become best friends, but building a relationship and a rapport with them will help them want to help you.
If you are nervous, stressed or tense, you will transfer those feelings to your voice, your behaviour and choice of words. All of these will make an impact on how the Gatekeeper perceives you and therefore how they receive your request for access or information. Take some deep slow quiet breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth to put yourself at ease. When the Gatekeeper answers, smile and confidently greet them with energy and ease.
Unless you are a particularly good actor, don't use a script on the Gatekeeper. They are likely to hear the scripted tone in your voice. Instead, plan how you will approach them; what approaches you might take depending upon the range of responses that they might make. Plan your responses to key objections but leave yourself room by improvising the dialogue.
Do you know that whilst you are speaking to the Gatekeeper, you are consciously or unconsciously employing a transitive verb to do something to them? A transitive verb is, if you don't know, a verb that can be done to someone else such as ‘I CHARM You, I AMUSE You, I PRESS You'. In Oral Communications, verbs are used as tactics to get results from other people. It's essential that you be in control of the tactics that you are playing. Think about what tactics you will play throughout your PLAN.
This is largely irrelevant because you want to speak to the DM nonetheless. However, in order to bypass the Gatekeeper, use the DM's first name only. Ask ‘Can I speak to Jenny please?', it sounds like a personal call. Remember your goal is not to inform the Gatekeeper; your goal is to bypass them to get to the DM. Next, they might ask ‘Is she expecting your call?'. Simply and easily reply ‘Yes, I sent him some information through from our Head Office, we need to discuss it before close of business today'.
It's not the best solution, and this tip often splits Telemarketers down the middle. You can always ask if you can be put through to the DM's voicemail. Just like in a sales environment, quickly point out a benefit for the Gatekeeper of doing this. If they say that the DM is ‘out to lunch' or ‘in a meeting' and you've already called several times, point out that you've already taken up a lot of their time and ask if they can put your through to voicemail to save bothering them further. Of course, Marketing is a personal art and what works for one, will not necessarily work for another. These Top Ten Tips should be the starting place for developing your own personal method of bypassing the Gatekeeper, rather than seeing them as cast iron instructions to be rigidly followed.