When should you write, phone or visit — rather than email — someone?

Does "dialing for dollars ever succeed?" Perhaps -- but much thought needs to go into the process.
Cold-call telemarketing should have limited application for virtually any architectural, engineering or construction business. In general, don’t do it.

Brian Javeline
in an article posted on LinkedIn answers the question (for residential remodelers): “When is the best time to call someone?” His answer (below) sets the stage for some thoughts about non-email communications from a business development and marketing perspective.

When is the best time to call someone?

Too many people like to strategize the best time to call another business person. Some like to wait an hour after the business day starts, others wait for early lunch time, late lunch time, middle of the day or even end of day.

The fact is, the best time to call someone is as soon as you want to update someone, and the sooner the better if you are looking to explain a problem. Better to explain a problem rather than wait until later in hopes of having the problem go away or be resolved, especially if a customer is aware.

A friendly voice or message goes a long way in today’s age, especially when most like to text and email. So if something is going wrong, or you are running late, better to just make the call and “I know you don’t want to hear this, but I’m running into a situation, and rather than email you I figured I would call ….”.

Hearing a voice and emotions can go a long way, and better to do it whenever the issue presents itself rather than waiting for later.

So the best time to call is immediately when you need to, do not wait since your customer’s mind may be making up all sorts of circumstances on why they haven’t heard from you.

Javeline, of course, suggests the time to call relates to the relationship you have with your existing clients — and generally to put some humanity and urgency into taking responsibility for (and solving) problems.

But what about the beginning of the process — the initial communication?

In the past few years, I’ve assessed my inbound phone calls (which have diminished greatly) and discovered more than half of them are from telemarketers — worse, with predictive dialing technology, so when you pick up the phone there is a pause before the call centre system can connect you with the “sales agent”. Usually, when I see that happening, I hang up right away. And when the telemarketer calls, I am brutally unfriendly. (I do not need investment broker dealers pushing scam penny stocks, nor is my “Windows software” in danger of crashing — and I certainly don’t need to lower my credit card interest rates!)

Clearly, what we see here is a desert of flawed and ugly intrusive marketing; constrained by do not call legislation and the convenience of voice mail to avoid actually listening to people who have nothing more to do than to sell what you don’t need to buy.

Obviously, even more intrusive, would be the door-to-door or uninvited sales call from a stranger without an appointment. This (for our business) is harder to do now — we have moved to a virtual office model and anyone who visits our company’s street address will discover a storage locker establishment (with mailboxes, a boardroom and work room for times when we need an office.) It’s a pretty good deal at less than $300 a month including, of course, the storage locker.

So how do you reach out to people when you really need or want business?

The answer: If you can’t create a compelling marketing model where people email or call you, would be to ask the question: “Is there something unique, special or highly personalized we can bring to the table?” and then — and only then — should you?initiate contact.

The challenge here: You really need to research and understand the story and of course you cannot simply call the potential client to ask the research questions (though sometimes you can gain insights, if not available from public material) from the prospective client’s sales department and/or receptionist, such as for example, learning the name of the relevant leader’s executive assistant — the best person to approach if you need to make a connection with a busy person.

In conclusion, the answer about “When to call” for business development would be “never” — at least unless you have a compelling and individualized reason.

Do you have thoughts about intrusive and irritating marketing and sales initiatives? Please post your comment or email buckshon@constructionmarketingideas.com.

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