Small Business Phone Skills

Business Tips and News

Making More Money Next Month

Small Business Phone Skills

This blog post will look at part two in our series on how to make more money next month. We know that picking up the phone can be scary, but we’re going to show you the easy, safe, and fun way to do it.

You will make a little bit more money if you dedicate some time to using the phone. We know many people may not have experience with using the phone to make money, so we want to make it as easy as possible. We’ll also go into some harder ways and how you can grow from there.

Hoping on the phone is the easiest way to reach new customers because you can do it from anywhere.

It’s all about the relationships you can build with your current customers and your potential customers. What’s most exciting is that once you finish reading this blog post, you can take action right away.

We’ve broken it down into three categories for using the phone.

Small Business Funding Hacks

All Small Businesses require some marketing and calling.  Embrace it

Calling Current Customers

This may be the best one, as well as the easiest. A majority of Coldesi’s sales come from customers adding a second of the same kind of machine, or adding a second type of machine to their business. This is the type of business you want to build – current customers making recurring orders.

They can be people who just made a purchase from you, made one a couple weeks/months ago, or made one last year. They’re people who have given you money, you provided them with your services, and hopefully, you did a good enough job that you’re still friends.

You’re going to simply give them a quick call. You don’t have to be nervous because you’ve already had conversations with them and they’ll likely answer the phone when you call. When you call you’re not going to just ask them for more business, or just to say hi, with no goal in mind.

Your first level goal is to touch base, to remind them that you exist. But as soon as they recognize it’s you that’s calling (“Hi it’s Mark from Coldesi.”), that’s done, you don’t need to tell them that’s why you’re calling. You’ll probably want three versions of it:

  • “Hi it’s Mark from Coldesi” – This is for the customers that know you really well. You don’t need to remind them what you do.
  • “Hi, it’s Mark from Coldesi. The t-shirt guy.” – Something like this could be for someone who recently gave an order to you.
  • “Hi, it’s Mark from Coldesi. I did the shirts for your company for last summer’s event.” – This is a company that you worked with a while ago that may need a reminder of who you are.

If you do this consistently the goal is next time they need some custom apparel, they remember you and your business.

But you want something else to happen on this call – find out if they have an immediate need. If you’re calling a company you did work for a year ago for an event, if you time it right you can ask something like, “Summer’s coming up, is there anything I can help you with right now?” Or if you know that late spring is a little bit busier for you, and you’ve got the time now to talk to them, that becomes part of the reason you’re calling: “Last year you had that event and since summer is coming up soon and what I’m doing is calling up now because I get busier during that time too. Do you have some stuff coming up, I’d want to put you on the schedule.” This helps them know that you’re looking out for them as a customer and helps them get organized as well.

If they don’t need anything right now, the next thing you’re going to do is find out if they know anybody else that might be in the market for custom apparel. “Do you know anybody else that might be in the market? I’m trying to grow my business.” Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s transparency in that and because you’ve already built up your relationship with those customers it’s not going to feel like it comes out of nowhere.

These don’t have to be customers you dealt with last year. They could be customers you did an order for last month. You don’t have to ask if they need anything else if they just ordered from you. You can call them up, give them a sincere thank you and see if they can repay you by referring you to someone else: “Hi it’s Mark from Coldesi. I really appreciate your business from last month. I hope everything went well at your event. By the way, I’m anxious to grow my business, who else do you know that is doing what you’re doing, or might need my help?” And then ask the customer if they mind if they use your name when you call or email the person they referred you to. “Hi, this is Mark from Coldesi. Mark from Coleman and Company referred me to you. We just did some work for him. What do you have going on that we can help with?” This way you’re building a relationship with the referred customer.

Talking to Prospects

Prospects are potential customers – someone who is highly likely to be a customer. You’ve either spoken with them before or were referred to them in the past. They could be from when you were going out to create that Active Word of Mouth and met a few people and responded to you positively. It can also be from the referral you just got from asking your existing customers, or from someone else. If you have a form on your website it could be from someone who filled it in.

This may be a little bit higher up on the anxiety level of phone sales. They might not really know you, but it’s not a cold call. They might be expecting your call, or it was a referral so you have a common connection.

What are the goals when you’re calling prospects?

You’re going to do a similar thing as the previous type of calling: “Hey, it’s Mark from Coldesi. We talked last month/so-and-so gave me your name, in regards to custom apparel and today is my phone call day. So I just wanted to give you a call and find out what I can do for you.”

You’re trying to move them up the scale of the likelihood that they’re going to do business with you. It doesn’t have to be, “what do you want to buy from me right now?” You can ask them if they think they’ll need anything in the future. Going back to one of the techniques above you can say, “I’m planning out my schedule for the next couple months, is there anything coming up that you think you might need apparel for?”

Going back to the goals we established in Creating Active Word of Mouth, where you went out and talked to 20 people, and you got 10 prospects, and now your goal is to turn those 10 prospects into 1 sale. So when you call those 10 prospects you want to get a better idea of when they’ll be ready to buy. Your goal could also be to find out what kind of custom apparel they’re looking for – embroidery, DTG, rhinestones.

When you’re getting into calling prospects a really good idea is to set small attainable goals because for most people calling is discomforting. So if your goal is to simply find out when they’re going to need custom apparel, some may need some now, but others may not be ready to buy until a future date and that gives you a time frame to follow-up with them again. You can ask “When do you think you’ll need something, and I can follow-up with you a little before that.”

If you call anyone and they indicate that they’re just not interested, sometimes those people are good contacts to just email something to.

Whether the prospect is interested or not, your next sentence should be: “Do you know any baseball teams, church groups, clubs that you or your family might belong to that might need custom apparel that I should be talking to?” Your prospects might be less likely to give you a referral, however you get zero referrals if you don’t ask.

“Likely” Customers

These are people that you don’t have a referral for, that you’ve never met, but are like your current customers. If you do apparel for your church, there are other churches in your town who you can reach out to. These are colder calls, but you know the business, they’re like your customer so you have a reason to call them, “I go to this church, I do all the apparel for them. I was just calling up a few other churches in town to see if you might need some custom apparel too and I might be able to help you out.” The same thing applies to whichever niche market you’re in, or that you service.

The goals when you call these people are similar to the previous people, but also slightly different. One of the initial goals is to actually find out who the person is in that organization that you really have to talk to – who is the decision maker. If the person is there that you can talk to, great, if not and you get a name and contact info it goes into the prospect list.

What else can you talk about when you call?

When you pick up the phone you have three sentences that you’re going to say – whatever variation it may be. So it becomes easier to do each time. But you can add onto that call with other pieces.

Let them know you’re thinking about adding another service to your business and ask them if that’s something they may be interested in. “I’m thinking about adding vinyl, or rhinestones, or embroidery. Do you think that’d be something of interest to you in the future?” Even if you’re not thinking about adding it, yet, you get an opportunity to see if that’s something customers want and would be profitable for you to learn.

Talking about local events is a great opportunity as well. Whether it’s a local event that they might be attending that they might need apparel for and perhaps haven’t thought of. Perhaps there’s a parade or festival coming up. “Strawberry Festival is coming up in a few weeks. Are you guys doing any promotion at the festival?” Or if it’s an event that you’re going to, that also interests your clients, and you can say “Hey I’m going to be at the car show next weekend. I know you often check them out. If you can, stop by our table and say hi.”

Next Steps

Now that we’ve established the three types of calls you can make, we want to take some of the systems we talked about in the last blog post and apply them here as well.

  • Set aside times when you’re normally slow to make those calls.
  • Dedicate a block of time, so no other distractions (emails, Facebook) will interrupt you.
  • Listen to the Podcast on Wasting Money on Marketing – this talks about how you’re going to keep track of all your customers and when you’re going to need to call them again.
  • Don’t stop if you get one person who’s rude.

Picking up the phone and calling people is something that few custom apparel businesses do. The best way to make more money is to start with your current customers and ask them to buy from you again. Then call your prospects and see when they might need something. Then call businesses that are likely to need your services.

This is something that you are going to need to do a bunch of, just like hitting the pavement and going directly to businesses. It might not be fruitful at first, but if you do it enough, you have more people to call next time and more people who recognize you and your business.


Like what you see?

Choose to subscribe below and we'll keep you up to date with Success Stories, Business Tips especially for apparel decorators and our special pricing deals.