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Cold Call Blogging and Effective Selling on Blogs

It always amazes me how badly some businesses interact with potential clients.

Yesterday I had the ‘pleasure’ of receiving three calls in 10 minutes from a tele-sales company where the callers (3 different ones) started their calls (where they were trying to sell me a mobile phone) with these three lines:

1. ‘Hi, who am I speaking to?’
2. ‘Hi, Do you have a mobile phone?’
3. ‘Hi, Can I ask how much you earn?’

Yes – these were their very first words on each of the calls!

I was stunned to say the least – cold callers, ringing with the intention of selling me their product with an approach like that.

Now I do sympathize with the task that the people making the calls had – they are probably working for minimum wages in some other country and have been given the impossible task of selling phones to people on the other side of the world over the phone – but the approach that they had been trained to use didn’t go down to well with me. To say that I became more irate with each call would be an understatement!

As I’ve reflected upon the calls (and calmed down a little) they have left me thinking about the challenge that bloggers, especially those selling things (selling their own products, selling their business, selling affiliate products), have with their readers.

As I reflect on some of the sales and business blogs that I’ve seen over the last few months I have come to the conclusion that many are using a similar technique to my callers yesterday. Ok – perhaps they are not being quite as intrusive (or downright rude) but a lot of the blogging sales technique seems to take a ‘cold call’ type approach – and a lot of them do it badly.

Of course the challenge online is that sometimes you do need to take a cold call approach to your sales, people surf to your site for just a few seconds and so you have a limited opening to get your message across – but for me blogging is not that type of medium, at least it’s not at it’s best in cold call mode.

Blogging is at it’s most effective and powerful when it engages people, when it relates to them, when it provides something useful and when it creates a conversation.

I’ve experimented with ‘selling’ on my blogs via affiliate programs and in ‘selling myself’ as a consultant and I’ve found that it’s much more effective to do so out of some level of relationship with a reader – something that usually takes time. As a result bloggers (whether they are selling things or not) need to learn skills like converting one off readers to regular readers in order to build relationships with readers over time. It’s out of this relationship and trust that real influence happens.

PS: read more on techniques for using affiliate programs to make money blogging here.

About Darren Rowse
Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.
  • Hey Darren, great advice. Having suffered through both sides of that phone call (been victim off telemarketers and having been a telemarketer), I agree that people need to focus a lot more on their content.

    I’ve done sales in a few different settings, and there’s none harder than telemarketing (perhaps selling iceboxes to inuits?) but with sites, and especially with blogs.. content will go a long way I think. I respect professional blogs, or sales sites, but I immediately remove sites from my reader if they get too selly.

    Oh, just an off-topic note… I’ve read this site for about a month and a half or so and I remember you mentioning the doubling of income generated. It’s started to happen for my sites. The figures are low dollars still, but I’ve made more than last month’s AdSense income in the first 15 days of this month… you mentioned this doubling factor… and it’s great to see exponential increases.

  • I wonder if they actually sell something when they start the call with these lines…?

  • I certainly have an opinion on this one, especially having been a salesman of one type or another for years now. In my experience, if you don’t have any understanding for your potential customer and no concept of what they need and want, your sales are going to suffer tremendously.

    It doesn’t involve getting inside someone’s head, it’s just…caring, I guess. Caring enough to know if you should even try to sell them something, where your product might fit in to their lives, etc. I doubt these cold callers are seeing very high conversion rates.

    At the same time I can understand it, since so many of these cold caller types are just going for sheer numbers. The more people they call, the more sales they’ll get. They’re not really worried about one-for-one conversions but rather blanketing an entire small country in one fell swoop. One thing’s for sure, I’m glad I’m not doing it.

  • Very well said Darren. These are still very early days for blogging and most of us are still learning everyday. This is perhaps one good lesson for all of us. Cold call will not take us anywhere. On the other hand, cold calls may be better than no calls.
    I am now a professional blogger for 12 weeks and each day passes, I realize that blogging is a serious business and if you want to shine here you must take it seriously and have a professional attitude.

  • Jessica

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  • Great article. With bloging still developing to what will become a standard much like websites have become. It is good to see bloggers experimenting while there still is the freedom and the ability to actually be read.

    If this cold calling is clumsy, great it only adds to the great experience that is blogging.

  • I work with a Hosted CRM application provider the focuses on the inside sales space ( Our entire application is build and designed to help sales reps (not necessarily telemarketers) effectively sell over the phone. This includes cold calling. I agree with the masses, cold calling is not fun. If done effectively, it can generate effective and somewhat cost effective leads. However, I have found that leads generated by cold calling are on average between 2x to 4x more expensive that a company or sales rep can generate via the web (if also done effectively). This is not the whole story though.

    An example:

    We have a customer that uses our system to power dial a list to generate leads. They were able to generate around 1 lead every 1.5 hours. Considering the cost of employees, systems and overhead, they were paying around $100/lead. From the web (using PPC, SEO, and lead providers) they were paying around $20/lead.

    This seems pretty straight forward, go with the web leads. What’s more, the cold call leads seemed to be less qualified than the web leads. The web leads generated actual buyers. The leads generated from cold calling identified companies that were at the beginning of the interest cycle. Thus, in the short term the web leads closed better and seemed more effective.

    However, they saw an unexpected reversal of value in lead sources. Even though the web leads were smaller opportunities and they closed faster and more often. The leads generated from cold calling we very targeted to the industry and size that that worked for this customer. This customer began to close deals greater than the sum of the smaller deals that came from the web from the same time frame. So in the end, cold calling generated more revenue and held its own compared to web leads (and arguably better).

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