Sometimes when you’re trying to ignite your viral engine (as we’ve been doing throughout this section), you need to give it an extra firm push in the right direction to get it going. That means getting your hands dirty (figuratively) and grinding it out. When it comes to non-viral marketing no better avenue embodies doing this more than direct sales.
Direct sales is a niche marketing channel that isn’t appropriate for everyone, as it involves real human beings reaching out to other real human beings. And getting the occasional “door” slammed in your face. But it can be very effective in driving new traffic so long as you’re committed and go about it in the right way.
But which way is the right way, you ask?
Let’s meet our contenders!
Direct Sales: Feed Your Virality Engine By Hand
Direct sales comes in a variety of forms, such as:
- Cold Calling: Calling actual prospects on the phone in an attempt to have a conversation. (Also includes going door to door, which isn’t done often today, but happened a lot more frequently back when vacuum cleaners were a hot ticket item.) This ideally comes from a targeted list generated in a way that ensures the calls you’re making are not just random people. Rather they are your ideal customer who would theoretically benefit from your product based on who they are and what they do. The speed at which those calls happen – as well as the economics of paying good people to make them – is what limits growth most for this channel.
- Automated Cold Calling: Similar to cold calling, but done with robots and pre-recorded messages. This channel converts at a far, far lower rate, but the economics are more favorable in that you don’t need to employ a large sales force to make it happen. The lack of personalization or permission to contact prospects is what limits this channel.
- Cold Email: Similar to cold calling and automated cold calling, but done via email. This can actually convert higher than automated cold calling if you craft the subject and copy well. But it can also be flagged as spam – which can be filtered out of prospects’ inboxes. The risk of coming off as spam can be a serious limiting factor, so I don’t recommend it.
- Direct Mail: A very effective, yet undervalued channel IF done well. What you don’t want to do is send direct mail that looks like junk mail. Instead, send direct mail that looks like a real person sent it and spent time on it. Make sure you let the prospect know how you got their contact information.
These are just 4 of the more common direct sales examples out of the dozens. But the pattern that exists between all of them is that your team is proactively reaching out and initiating a conversation with a prospect that has granted you little or no permission to do so.
What could go wrong?
Stand Out From the Crowd
Direct sales is a unique marketing channel because it can become saturated by other marketers from completely different industries, and you can get negatively associated with them. If a prospect is getting pummeled with direct sales offers by other marketers that they deem aren’t relevant, they often build a blindness to other efforts as well.
How often have you received a call, heard an automated voice on the other end, and promptly hung up without learning what they had to say or who they were? We’ve all been there.
It’s therefore very important that you make sure your direct marketing efforts do NOT follow the same old templated approach. Prospects will ignore your efforts completely if you try to blend in. Take the initiative to offer them something new that is worth their time.
And that won’t get the phone slammed in your face.
Direct Sales and Virality
The most obvious – and therefore most overlooked – method of sparking viral invites from this channel is asking for referrals.
Yes, I’m being serious. Just asking. Plain and simple.
That said, this ask must come later in the process. Ideally, after you’ve sold the prospect on your product. When the prospect fully believes in what you’re selling and is ready to buy, that’s the perfect moment to ask something like:
“I’m excited to get you started using [PRODUCT]! Before we get started, I wanted to let you know that most of our growth comes from referrals. This means our satisfied customers are really happy with their experiences, and they want to introduce their friends and colleagues to the same great experience. Now this is totally optional, but if [PRODUCT] exceeds your expectations and we make sure you get a great experience from it, would you be willing to introduce us to two people you think would enjoy the same great experience?”
This does a few things:
- It ensures the prospect understands that this ask will ONLY occur if they love their experience.
- The fact that you’re saying most of your growth happens in this way makes the prospect more pre-disposed to expecting to like their experience.
- If they do say yes, it makes it a lot more likely that they’ll send you an additional few referrals both during the process and after you deliver the value you’re promising. Especially if you call them again later on and ask them about their experience, and then for the referrals.
This is a great example of how, in marketing, you’ll get something way more often if you simply ask than if you just hope and pray somebody will give it to you.
So don’t be shy, virality waits for no one.
Let’s face it. Cold calling and emailing is hard. (Not to mention often boring as heck, as Red in our nifty top graphic is expertly demonstrating.) So as the saying goes – when the going gets tough, get someone else to do the work for you.
Not always, of course. That would just be irresponsible and too enjoyable. But outsourcing the selling (or promoting) of your product can be very lucrative and another great way to boost virality. So long as you do it correctly.
Want to learn how? Join me in our next chapter.
Do You Know How to Turn Affiliate Marketing Into Viral Success?
Affiliate marketing can get a bad rap. Particularly since it’s very often associated with “As Seen on TV” ads. But with the right approach it can red line your viral engine. So put away that My Pillow and get rid of your ShamWow, we’re about to get serious about sales reps.
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