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Coffee Shop Prospecting the Guerrilla Way

By Benjamin Holmgren

A few years ago, I fell into a habit of working from coffee shops.

I feel like there’s only two types of people who work at coffee shops: a) those who are subtly flaunting their ability to work remotely to the white collar workers in line for their morning coffee and b) freshmen students from a nearby community college. No shame or blame.. I’ve been both!

So I used to spend a morning or two per week at a local coffee shop, chipping away at articles, invoicing, or working on emails.

Just a few miles from my house was a cute little coffee bar in the parking lot of a Home Depot. One morning, as I sipped on my boiling Americano, I noticed a work van drive by with a logo on the side: Premier Plumbing, LLC.

At the time, my focus was 100% on coaching for small contracting companies. As I watched the work van roll by, I had a eureka moment: “That guy is going to Home Depot” And fifteen minutes later, I saw him drive by the other way on his way out.

As I sat there, I realized that gobs of perfectly good prospects were driving right by the coffee shop window.

In my excitement, I changed my entire prospecting strategy. I opened a blank spreadsheet and filled in a few columns with basic info.

Then, I waited.

The prospecting process was really simple.. When a work truck would drive by, I would:

  • Google the company for context (how big, local or not, etc)
  • Enter their info into the prospecting spreadsheet
  • Send them a cold email introducing myself

When I emailed them, I’d let them know how I found them and that I was hoping to set up an appointment to talk more.

In fact, here’s the actual script.. It read:

Hey there, I’m Benjamin Holmgren. I just saw your van by Home Depot here and wanted to get in touch.

Over the last few years I’ve been working for and with business owners on systems and strategy and I keep seeing a common thread: The business owner works too much for too little money.

I’ve spent the last few years streamlining systems at my old job in landscaping, and now I’m out on my own helping other companies implement the same simple process I used.

I’m connecting to see if we can set up a 5 minute phone call so I can share what I learned and how it can help your business?

Admittedly, the email was poorly written. But (to my delight) it converted! I bet I set up eight appointments from the Home Depot Prospecting strategy.

And the process was so simple: I’d sit by the window, sip my coffee, and wait for prospects to drive by.

I used this strategy for a few months, spending a morning per week doing guerrilla sales and marketing out a coffee shop window.

Today, I’d do a few things differently:

  • Learn to use Google/LinkedIn more effectively to find prospects
  • Learn to write better copy for my emails
  • Learn to effectively follow up on cold leads

But the biggest take away is, you don’t know what you don’t know..

So try it all!

Was my early strategy the most effective? No. Most efficient? Not Really.

Did it move me in the right direction? Absolutely.

I encourage you to look at your prospecting process and see what’s working – whatever is turning results right now, do that.. Even more!

In our sales training, we share a quote by hedge fund manager Ray Dalio from his book Principles:

Pain + Reflection = Progress

Try things. Fail. Try again.

Go go go.

This article was generously composed while in a reflective mood by Benjamin Holmgren, sales coach from Vancouver, Wa.

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