Friday Q & A: The One Thing Most Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing But Aren’t, Virtual Assistants, and My Approach to Cold Calling
Every Friday, we’re answering your questions about business, startups, customer success and more.
In our new Groove Friday Q & A segment, we’re answering any questions that you have about, well, anything.
A huge thank you to Ka Kei Ho, Larry and James McBryan for this week’s questions.
Check out this week’s answers below, and jump in with your own thoughts in the comments!
What’s One Thing Most Entrepreneurs Should Be Doing, but Aren’t?
So many of us, especially without marketing backgrounds, assume that marketing is about telling people your story. That it’s about selling. Convincing.
And it is about those things, but that assumption often causes us to overlook the MOST important part of marketing that far too few companies practice: listening.
Unless you listen to your customers very closely – long before you try to sell them anything – you’ll never understand the right way to sell your product.
Ask your customers a lot of open-ended questions. Learn about their needs and challenges, their fears and hopes. Do a ton of customer development.
Listen. Listen. Listen.
And then – but not before – carefully consider and act on what you learn.
Do You Have a Virtual Assistant?
I don’t have an assistant, virtual or otherwise, though this will likely change as we grow.
The reason I haven’t considered one is simple: having to do menial tasks on my own makes it easier to say no to things that I shouldn’t be spending time on.
I don’t go to many conferences, because I don’t want to deal with making travel arrangements (and then actually travel, which is incredibly time-consuming in itself). I don’t book a calendar full of meetings, because I don’t want to manage a calendar full of meetings, and I’d rather have time to work in and on Groove.
Ultimately, not having an assistant serves as a forcing function for me to spend my time more wisely.
That approach may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
When Cold Calling, Should You Only Call Warm Leads?
As with many things, I don’t think there’s a single right answer here. Mine would be “all of the above.”
In the early days, I called and emailed plenty of people that were completely cold (i.e., had no idea of my existence, and we knew nobody in common), tepid (perhaps I send a warmup email) and warm (we’d had a friendly conversation before or been introduced).
The reality is, you’ll likely need to do all three, especially at the very beginning.
But the most important thing to understand here is that you can’t use the same pitch for all three.
Even if a lead is cold, you can still do research to try and get a handle on what their needs and goals are. For example, if I was cold-calling a retail business, I’d look at their online reviews, any news stories about them, information about their partnerships, team bios and anything else I could get my hands on. That way, you can tailor the pitch much more effectively.
This obviously doesn’t scale, but that’s okay; as you get more and more customers, the need for true cold-calling goes away.
But in the beginning, you’ll likely be doing it a lot. And it helps to develop a thick skin, because you’ll be hearing “no” a lot, too :-)
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Your Turn: Ask Groove Anything
I’d love for this new weekly segment to be successful, and provide a valuable repository of answers from our entire community for entrepreneurs everywhere.
To do that, I need your help.
Here’s what you can do to get involved:
- Ask questions. Post them in the comments of this post, or Tweet them to us at @Groove.
- Answer questions. Every Friday, we’ll post a new Q&A segment. If you have anything to add or share regarding any of the questions asked, jump in! Many of you are far more qualified than I to speak on some of the topics that people ask me about.