I’m an “Old School” sales guy using new technology.
My first sales job came about when my boss asked me to do a market research study. I
was working as an engineer for a big company that started as a small metal fabricator,
but had expanded into several proprietary product lines. My boss asked me to, “Find
out if there is still any market for the custom metal products.”
There’d been no new customers for years and no one cared because the company had
plenty of other growth opportunities. But the 71-year-old Division product manager
was talking retirement and my boss was trying to figure out whether to replace him or
just exit the business. The marketing plan consisted of a listing in the Thomas Register-
a 33 volume printed industrial directory that was sent annually to every purchasing
office in corporate America. It was the pre-internet version of Google Search and it was
where companies searched for new suppliers. This ancient Inbound Marketing plan
provided a steady stream of request for quotes (RFQ’s), but no new orders.
It occurred to me that the companies requesting quotes from us might be a good source
of information for my study. So instead of mailing a quote that had been requested
by the Kodak Co., I picked up the phone and made an appointment with the engineer
who sent it. I climbed on a plane and flew to Rochester, NY where I not only met him,
but also got a tour of the facility where the new parts would be used. Over lunch, the
engineer told me that the RFQ quantities were actually understated because that order
would repeat 19 times over the next several years. And by the way, “Your prices are
fine. When can I get delivery?”
I called my boss from the airport and asked, “What do I do now?”
The short answer to that question is that I got the job as the new product manager
and grew that custom metal fabricating business from $1 million in annual sales to
$75 million. I stuck with my method of face-to-face meetings and racked up plenty of
frequent flyer miles nurturing personal relationships with my customers.
Fast forward to the present day. I’m the CEO of Pawntique, an online pawn shop
We launched this family enterprise last year after drinking the HubSpot, Inbound
Marketing “Kool-Aid.” The strategy is to bring the traditional pawn shop customers
online through Inbound Marketing. Then, we convince them to put their valuable
jewelry and Rolex watches into a FedEx package and send it to us with the promise that
we will send them money.
Since launching last September, we’ve seen steady growth in website traffic, leads, and
new loans. Our Inbound Marketing program was doing just what we expected. We
are on the first page of Google Search for several of our keywords and steadily climbing
up the rankings for several others. The information required to make offers to our
customers came almost entirely from a calls-to-action, landing page forms, and email
Recently, an article was posted about Pawntique on the Yahoo Finance news blog. That
resulted in a spike in website traffic and a flood of new leads from our APPLY NOW
to-action and landing page. We received more leads in that 24 hours than we had in the
Knowing that it would take several days to process all the new leads using our standard
email process, I did what I’ve always done. I picked up the phone and started calling
people. The results were amazing!
Although they had visited our website and in many cases downloaded eBooks and
information kits, the prospects seemed eager for further reassurance and clarification
about what to expect. As we chatted, they shared information about themselves, their
personal financial situations, and why our service attracted them. Some just wanted to
be “courted” a little before they went ahead. Several asked if they could add-on more
items to their request or give our phone number to relatives.
Many of them called back a few minutes after we hung up with follow-up questions that
had occurred to them.
The net result was that the conversion rate of leads to new customers increased
significantly and the size of the loans were often larger than originally requested
through add-ons. The phone conversations were an effective way to build trust with the
potential customer, answer questions to speed up their decision-making, and increase
the size of the sale. Although our Inbound Marketing program can generate leads,
there’s nothing better than a personal interaction to actually close a sale.