Cold visits to local small businesses were once a regular activity for sellers. The pandemic halted these, forcing salespeople to use virtual channels to connect with advertisers. Now that the world has gone back to work, it could be time for the return of cold visits.

It’s a good time to retool your approach so you make a positive impression and begin to create a connection. Here are some tips.

Know the Business

Prepping before your visit is a must. If you get the chance to talk with the owner or other decision-maker, you only have a short time to convince them of your value. Familiarize yourself with their online presence, looking at their website and social media profiles.

If the company previously advertised with you on the air or with digital products, remind them of those campaigns. A primer on what they sell, who their customers are, and the competitive landscape will also be valuable. If you can immediately make it clear that you understand their business, they’ll be more apt to continue the conversation.

Be Ready to Pitch Ideas

If you’ve got their ear, go ahead and throw out some advertising ideas. You can base these on similar businesses and what you’ve helped them achieve. You can also get a lot of great campaign inspiration from Aspire.

Also, be sure to emphasize integrated campaigns that include radio and digital. Let them know that radio ads lift digital tactics. Maybe they didn’t think they could buy both from you. You can now advise them they only need one partner for both!

Mention Shared Connections

If applicable, you can always begin a conversation with familiarity. Maybe a neighboring business is a current client you could reference, or you know someone who once worked there. It could even be as simple as saying you’re one of their customers. Inserting something personal into a cold visit will certainly make it feel warmer.

Plan to Go at the Right Time

If you’re walking into an open business, you’re not going to get a chance to say hello if they’re busy. The time of day that’s the busiest depends on the type of business. You wouldn’t walk into a local café during the lunch rush, but by 3:00 p.m., things calm down a bit.

Retail has different windows of peak traffic. It might be a good strategy to walk in right after they open, as it tends to be slower. Get the timing right to ensure you have at least five minutes to chat.

Ask the Right Questions

Your initial meeting with a prospective advertiser should involve a lot of talking from them and interest in the responses from you. After you briefly introduce yourself and share a few insights about what you learned in your prep work, ask them a few questions.

What’s most critical at this point is finding out their advertising goals and challenges. Do they need more new customers? Staff? Brand awareness? You can also inquire about how they advertise now and if those efforts resulted in revenue or helped them meet other goals.

You can tailor your questions to fit the business. For a local hardware store, you could ask about how they do seasonal promotions. If talking to the owner of a plumbing or HVAC service company, you might pose the question of how many new customers they need per month to be profitable.

Check out these questions we put together for first meetings to get started.

Propose You Continue the Conversation

If things are going well, but the advertiser is pressed for time, see when they’re available for a follow-up chat either in person or by phone. They may not always commit to something that easily. If they don’t, let them know you’ll check in with them in a few days. Leave behind your card and anything else about your station and advertising opportunities.

After leaving the cold visit, you should do a few things:

  • Send a calendar invite if they confirm a meeting.
  • Make a note in your CRM system or calendar to follow up in a few days if you didn’t set a second meeting.
  • Look up the person on LinkedIn, and send them a connection request with a note. Doing so demonstrates your legitimacy, and the prospect may see that you have mutual connections.

Cold Visits Are Back: These Tips Can Drive Connections

If you feel comfortable going back to cold visits, these tips can help you start building a relationship. Remember that people buy from you primarily because of who you are and if they like you. Being genuine, interested and respectful in interactions shows that quite well.

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