Showing posts with label customers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label customers. Show all posts

A little doldrum: the top-down has turned from the bottom-up

A culture to be considered
I've been quite enjoying the start of a four-day weekend.  The first day spent taking care of me.  I went for a mani-pedi.  I started a marathon of paint-ing while today I took my dog Buddy for a long walk, with ear buds setting pace to my walk and singing to my spirit.  You'd almost think that it would be classical wouldn't you?  Nahhhh, it is more rock.  Not pop music, country or ballads for me.

When writing slows down
I want to take a look inside and reflect upon why that would be so?  I maybe feeling uninspired?  That can happen to the best of us.  Pulling yourself out by the collar, takes strength, resilience and determination.  I have taken a break from painting and nothing of interest draws me to the TV.  (I've heard enough about "Brexit" for years, not even days, never mind hours).  

In keeping with the positive
An attitude adjustment may be in store.  Which is where I will write about "theCLUBHOUSEproject" I'm about to embark on later on.  Am I feeling melancholy?  Fed up? or Flipping out?  None of the above.  Just nawhthing that is rocking my boat of late.  I got a nice note from a colleague that I had written a recommendation for, and that gave me some umphhh:
there is hardly a better way of springboarding out of the doldrums than making someone else feel special.  If they happen to notice, or better yet, respond with a positive vibe, I know I have hit my mark.  It does make me feel better.  

A reflection from within
surfaced a concise take on a situation with these words:

I'm sure you'll go far now you're out in your-new-land, circulating
 around the head honchos.  I still get the giggles over that email that was sent out that day from your computer because you left it on .... "tomorrow pizza's on me!!"  Too funny eh?  I hope you will check out my blog
 and share it around your circles.  It is the truest to who I am,
 not the stifled version that works at a company
 we both know, that's for sure. 
 They put me on a new team and it is like working
 under a vice grip.  My TM is just waiting for me to mess up
 to enable it to pounce on me.
  I find it hard to believe that they are trying to make people
 when it looks like they really want to break them.  

Do you really know your cultural?
Or is it an image drummed up by the marketing and creative types?  I keep trying to tell people who are not listening carefully:  if you say it is so, it does not make it to be.

Who mans (or WOmans) your ship?
I sure hope it isn't a 20 something who can't get a grip on what your customers want, and cannot relate to who they are.  That seems to be the most common.  The value an organization puts to their social media is atrocious for the most part.  I'd bet they are paid less than your receptionist.

The value of first impressions
Centrically lies at your front door, who people see first when they enter your castle.  In today's world, I'm going to guess that something like 75 percent (conservatively speaking) outsource their reception kingdom.  Chances they are very young, very poorly attired, misappropriately mannered.  

A call for Ms. Manners
Do they even have such a thing around anymore?  Golly, we all remember Audrey Hepburn in that role about a rough-around-the-edges girl turned into a lady!  Yet we park the "before" version as the first person your very best customers, investors, creditors, shareholders, potential employees see.  

The tables are turning
The potential investor, customer, shareholder, sought after graduate is going to cross you off your list based on how important everything is in your organization, where responsibility lies at the top-down, not the bottom-up.   

A Sergeant Major leading troops
Belongs in the army or marine corp, not your company!  Yet, so many top organizations lean on to lean into the masses, push the bad ones out and the good ones too, where the mediocre survive, deafened or immune to management style that intimidates or incriminates, bracketed by a title that would indicate is your support person or advocate but is more inclined to promote themselves long before anyone else, unless it is one of their cohorts in the middle management aisles, defending each other, protecting themselves.

What is your personality?
We know what you tell the shareholders and the media viewers who skeptically buy everything you dish out.   If you were to walk into your company fresh tomorrow, as though you were looking from the outside, what would you see?

People friendly and engaged
Falls far behind stats, metrics, diplomas or degrees.  You really aren't looking for anyone that can think for themselves when you've kept the guard strong, stifle any ingenuity because that would only threaten the troops and take the majors off their game, briefly, before they are marched out or escape themselves.

As the economy rebounds
Many will have good memories.  They will recall the mishaps they scanned a while ago and have your company on the "stay away from" list faster than a nod on the "apply inventory".   

Respect, professionalism, ethics
Will far outway corruption, politics,  nepotism,  favoritism.  The leaders of those gangs exhausted and put out to pasture to make way for energy, enthusiasm, ethics, put out the steam of egos.

Roll up your sleeves and work
Without concern for who gets credit, because credit will always fall on the most deserving, not the stolen ideas.

Where training prevails
 Not as a fake lost leader but a real orchestration of talent pooling and magnetic to only the best of the best surface from.  

Do you have INTENTIONAL retention?

"There is only one boss.  The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." 
~Sam Walton (Walmart) 

What are you doing to keep your existing customers?  If you haven't examined your organizations behavior in this regard, it is time to wake up and stop being complacent.

I've sold for many organizations and been involved with keeping customers happy (key ingredient to ongoing relationship) with diverse structures in sales coverage, territories and managing relationships.  However, I have to say, very few had, if any, had a retention strategy.

Most organizations leave it up to their sales and marketing teams to be the keepers of customer perception.  Some even have pow wows with the big wigs to shake hands and hob nob to convey appreciation for the business.

Yet what happens if there is a savvy organization out you by savvy marketing message or a sharp sales pro who can infiltrate the fortress of your customer, shed doubt on the relationship, offer a better "deal", make you look bad?  Can you withstand it?  In the wide world of business, especially with economic turmoil, expenses are scrutinized relentlessly.  

I am going to hazard a guess, that most organizations are able to easily provide proof and documentation on the following:

  • go to market strategy
  • sales structure
  • customer profile
  • delivery
  • pricing 
  • marketing
  • web presence
Do you have a strategy to retain existing customers?

Far fewer can articulate their strategy to retain  existing customers.  If so, more than likely it falls on marketing and sales:
  • face to face appointments
  • reviews of service delivery commitments
  • warm and fuzzy outbound marketing programs
  • direct mail, email, and campaigns to keep in touch with the customer
  • events, promotions, webinars, technical support
It is great if you have all of those going on and those responsible are held accountable for:
  • increasing revenue
  • building client base
  • brand awareness
  • referral programs
But what about plain old retention?  How do you define your program?  Do you leave it up to your customer to ask for more help with:
  • frequency discounts
  • options to upgrade 
  • changing needs:  growth, technology, globalization
  • evolving regulations impacting them or their industry
I have to tell you honestly:  if your customer is going to go through all the trouble to ask you for your help, they may as well put it out there to see if anyone else can provide better options.  What does that spell for you: RISK.

The 80% / 20% Rule

It is a known fact that 80 percent of your sales comes from 20 percent of your customers. So why aren't you protecting that 80 percent?  Are you doing everything in your power to ensure that those 80 percent are serviced the hell out of?  I'd bet 90 percent would say yes.  I challenge you to define how?  Do you have a retention program?  Can you answer:

  • How you ensure that your customer is 110 percent completely happy?
  • How do you prevent your customer from going to market to price shop?
  • How do you measure customer satisfaction?
  • How are you proactively helping your customers?
What I am talking about here is "intentional retention".  You aren't leaving it up to any scapegoats in sales or marketing if you lose a customer or even a major account.  You have the support and a standalone program in place that outlines and defines how you keep those customers.  Savvy retailers, airlines and the like have loyalty and/or reward programs to assist with repeat customers.  However, in business, you don't have the luxury of having the numbers to have a sophisticated program that is intricate within your systems, web, marketing and sales systems.  Don't make any excuses:  you don't have time, you aren't that big.  That isn't any excuse.  Your survival depends on it!

                                                                                             ~Henry Ford

What I am recommending you do is assemble all the chiefs in your major areas (accounting, operations, sales, marketing, technical, production, labor), bring out the drawing board, split into groups of three or four and ask everyone to answer the following questions:
  • Identify who your best customers are:  create a profile
  • Who pays well? 
  • Who is not always asking for discounts? 
  • Who are you best able to provide service for?
  • What are the frequencies:  daily, weekly, monthly, annually?
  • Do you have measures to identify churn risk (will leave you for the competition)
  • What do you do if a customer is identified as a potential loss?
  • How do you communicate with your customer?
  • How would your customer identify in its importance to your organization?
  • Who is involved when a risk is identified?  What is done?  Is there a process?
Define a clear objective

Bring forward each team's contribution then extrapolate what everyone agrees upon.  Of course, there may be some who are inclined to defend their stance.  Regardless, the discussion that will evolve should be eye opening, the heated debates unsettling.  While it may take a few sessions, you must create a clear objective consistently held out front:

  1. The goal is to understand everyone's perspective (it's going to be a mish mash to start with) 
  1. What is your retention strategy?
  1. How are you going to provide a loyalty or retention program?
Let me tell you.  You can often capitalize on the big boys.  Granted, they have at their disposal lots of research, intelligence, structure, programs that you simply don't have because of your size.  What I'm proposing is you to decide how you can carve out that information into a niche that helps your company. 

Define your niche 

If so many big guns have loyalty or reward programs ask yourself what the purpose of it all is?  Then set out to define your own niche and create something that fits in with your size, capabilities and financial resources.  If you don't think this is important then I should have asked at the start:  what will it cost your organization to lose a customer ... if you don't have an intentional retention strategy?

 "The well-satisfied customer will bring the repeat sale that counts." 
~James Cash Penney (JC Penney) 


 "Let's take care and protect our customers -- or someone else will." 

Customer cycles or sales funnels?

"The top salesperson in the organization probably missed more sales than 90% of the sales people on the team, but they also made more calls than the others made."
                                                                                    ~Zig Ziglar

The difference between a customer journey and a sales funnel - is your perception of either.  Inexperienced sales rookies are coached to label what phase their customer is at in their buying cycle by their management and/or organization.  The most definitive one you tend to see is divided into thirds .... commonly referred to as "the sales funnel".

The top third and widest with the most numbers is "Suspects".   Otherwise referenced as leads.  You are at the beginning, likely haven't met with a decision maker, or even understand why or how they buy.  They  have been identified as a potential customer by:

  1. Cold calls
  2. Lead generation
  3. Referrals

The second tier is "Prospects" or called opportunities.   Are a mid-volume of numbers.  Prospects have moved from being a "Suspect" to a "Prospect" because they have been qualified.  The sales professional has identified them as a potential customer from a number of avenues: 

  1. Web contact inquiry contact 
  2. Inbound telephone call asking questions 
  3. Internal leads:  referrals, heads up or personal recommendations
  4. That first meeting, cold call
  5. They've been identified as having a need that your company can fill
  6. Follow up from cold call, or investigative meeting
  7. Someone has read or shared information that shows where growth may be
  8. Knowledge of key players are:  decision maker, influencer, user, authority, payment
  9. They have the ability to pay for your service or product
  10. Who you are speaking to has  the authority to make a decision to move forward or will simply be making a recommendation or gathering prices
  11. What internal endorsement is required to proceed with providing a solution, quote or proposal or be established as a vendor, provider or partner
  12. A decision will or can be made based on the need you can fill

The final third tier is "Customers".   These are the fewest numbers.  They have traveled through the funnel to arrive at a transaction, contract or agreement to buy.  They have satisfied your organizations criteria to do business or you have met their's:

  1. Set up an account: met credit requirements:  credit check, references
  2. Have the ability to pay:  financial resources, how or when and authorized by someone
  3. You have identified that your prospect wants or is willing to pay for your service or product
  4. You understand their buying frequency:  one time, annual, intermittent, monthly, daily, etc.
  5. You understand how they work and how to work them within your own system or processes ... sometimes customized
  6. You know their structure and where they may buy from:  global, national, or local 
  7. They have issued a purchase order (PO#), requisition or cheque to buy
  8. You have broken them down by value to your organization:  major account, corporate, enterprise, business, entrepreneur, consumer
  9. You have systems or structure to match their buying:  an account executive, major account representative, territory manager, sales representative, customer service
  10. You have adapted your structure to mirror your customer's behavior:  single point of contact on major accounts or enterprise sales, business to business local or global points of contact, order forms, web order systems, incoming telephone orders, fax'd orders (forms), catalogue, directories

The most successful sales professionals or sales oriented organizations match their behavior or identity system to that of the potential customer.  They understand where their customer is in the buying cycle:

  1. Research
  2. Information gathering
  3. Price shopping
  4. Vendor qualification
  5. Who can provide the desired product or service to match what they think they want
  6. Criteria outlined on how they will decide to act (make a purchase)
  7. Established approved list of vendors or providers authorized to be purchased from
  8. Budget accounted for
  9. Approval process (by transaction or by location or by authority)
  10. Payment structure
  11. Review structure 
  12. Service structure
  13. Support to maintain orders
  14. Ability to meet needs
  15. Reputation to meet requirements or identify unknown needs and proactively fix gaps
  16. Established trust

How you identify where you are at is important to create a language among your team as to where you are at in a sale:  are you on a fishing expedition or are you assembling your team of resources to put all heads together to put together a win-win proposal?

"If eighty percent of your sales come from twenty percent of all your items, just carry those twenty percent."
                                                         ~Henry A. Kissinger

Customer relationship management (CRM) systems have these areas identified and can populate into graphs or graphic funnels to help those:

  1. Forecasting potential revenue, profit margins, marketing efforts
  2. Budget resources:  people, equipment, processes, tools, systems, 
  3. Have all the systems and resources in place or easily activated responses
  4. Policies and procedures in place for escalations or when things go wrong or extra assistance required for customer are in place
  5. People resources match customer orders:  equated to response time, hours of operation, scheduling

It is the footprint of your sales efforts success:  as both an organization and the customer facing personnel status in the customer's buying cycle.  I recommend that you break it down into bite size chunks so that they can be addressed.  If you are writing a business plan, a key component is answering:  "where and how will you get or retain customers?".  This should be long before you are looking for investors or financing to launch or continue operations.  I liked this diagram via Google by Andrea Callahan:

Ironically, most start ups and entrepreneurs gear up on marketing, outbound campaigns, telemarketing, sales coverage long before they have answered any of the above.  It can easily foreshadow failure over success.  Yes, you need to walk before you run.  However, assembling and identifying who are suspects, prospects and customers and where they are in the funnel, and the numbers associated with those numbers, clearly outlines the road map to monitor and manage growth.

It takes patience, practice and precision to be able to do this automatically.  The more adaptive or fluid you are in meeting demands are going to allow you to pinpoint the when, who and how to focus on your grow and ability to flourish.  If you recognize how you will move and keep pace with your customers at their speed, not your own, will signal a mature organization with a clear understanding on who is their customer and how great the relationship can be.

"Pretend that every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says: 'Make me feel important.' Not only will you succeed in sales, you will succeed in life."
~Mary Kay Ash

Turn Adversaries Into Advocates

"Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity."



One of the best advice ever received while in sales was when I was distraught by negative feedback while subjected to customer escalation after they experienced below performance by me, my team and my company.  Virginia was an excellent leader whom I am always graciously thankful that she took me under her wings and made me a protégé.  She taught me lots!  What mattered, was at the threashhold of an exploding career, she advised me:  "People don't evaluate you based on the negative experience, they gauge your response to a negative situation and how you react to make it better."
Yes, I took/take negative feedback to heart and took it personally.  No, I didn't spin around and point the finger.  It all came down to moi, me, it, she, the person being at fault for letting the customer down on an important project, document, promise for quality and deadline.
Spiral forward today.  It makes perfect business sense that no person, department or company is perfect.   Those wise words jump out to emphasize that what sets all of us apart is how we handle adversity. 
Call it a good characteristic or bad, but I always care.  I have always wanted to give customers the best experience, deliver on my promises (which 9 out of 10 times had operations endorse and support in advance or be savvy enough to know our capabilities so that I wouldn't want to set up our organization for failure) so that they would continue to buy from us, and even better if they would recommend and send out accolades on not where we fell short, but how we stepped up to the challenge to make amends for our mistakes.
Regardless of who you are, the team that supports you, or the company you represent ... mistakes DO happen.  I can chuckle at my earliest naïve junior experiences where I wanted to control everyone and everything to guarantee that what I promised to the customer would be carried out.  Maturity and experience today underlines how unrealistic that is.  Bottom line, you can't do everything thus You have to TRUST your TEAM.  You don't or won't have a team to support you if you throw them under the bus when matters go askew. 
Yes, those projects,  performances or promises fall on your shoulders.  Regardless of how high you sit, from the executive suite, to the middle on sales or customer service shoulders, lower to the personnel responsible to make it happen ... you CANNOT make your problem your customer's problem!
I shudder recalling an executive telling me we lost their business, not because we were priced so high per se, but because our competitors proved that we were complacent and were not proving value for what they were paying that was wisely proven by a competitor.  Yes, I was exuberant when I won business from a competitor because we showed more value!  Yet I never forgot the corporate executive who had enough to show me that we had let them down.  No, it wasn't about price.  Yes, price made it enough of a factor for them to pay attention when the service fell.
My goodness, how I remember being held accountable for my team when a customer told me that it wasn't their job to train my people.  Lack of CRM (Customer Service Management) system to streamline transactions  or avoid gaps amongst those interacting with a customer was one area that could have improved matters.  Preventing turnover is certainly a no-brainer!
Soooooo .. what do you do when you fail?  Do you offer a discount, refund or gesture of goodwill that more often than not represents a complete redo, re-engagement for free?  That is often the dilemma that falls on the shoulders of those wiping up the mistakes and trying to restore goodwill.  Whatever you do, don't send in your most aggressive barracuda to match wits with the customer and out aggressive the customer so that they back down on expressing their disappointment.
At minimum you should review projects, promises and performance after each single transaction!  There is something to be learned, improved upon each and every time.  Mandate debriefs with your team, your client every single important transaction.  At least it would show you are not complacent or take your customers for granted.  Don't wait for them to complain or demand retribution/refund/replacement.  Be proactive for heavens sake!
When a customer complains, they are actually handing you an opportunity to make improvements on a golden platter.  Pay attention.  Mandate that any online or otherwise feedback be communicated upstream not just to management but to the executives as well.  Don't have your CSRs tell a customer that it has been taken care of and communicated to management.  If that is all you do, there falls the lack of accountability.  Unfortunately, if management knows that executives will be informed they just may pay attention.
Pay attention to customer feedback.  Document it, incorporate actionable improvements, communicate it to executives so the entire organization can debrief and formulate a proactive plan.  HR has enough on its plate to make it their mandate, examine training, communications scripts, and get everyone involved. 
You can turn an adversary, complaint,  into an advocacy.  It IS within your control.  If you just channel the communications or put it on yourself to contradict the customer, you are not turning them into advocates, you are championing the spread of their discontent.  In today's world of social media, discontent or controversy spreads faster than good news.  Be proactive in your good news.  Remember, we all mistakes, nobody is perfect ... but how you handle adversity totally reflects on how important it is for you to turn it into making those people advocates based on how you handle it.

"There is no better than adversity.  Every defeat, every heartbreak, every loss, contains its own seed, its own lesson on how to improve your performance the next time."

~Malcolm X



Knock off JOBS!

“Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life.”

I certainly was expecting that sooner or later someone would start bashing Steve Jobs, as most, if not all, icons have their weaknesses, nor are perfect.  I'm respectfully ascertain that most have even done the appropriate amount of research before publishing their article.

What I despise and would expect is "professionalism".   Meaning respect for those that knew him personally (wife, children, inner circle, colleagues) who loved him intensely, warts and all, and allow them time for grief ….   Before having to face the ugly side that was sure to emerge.

To assume that anyone of us is perfect is naive.  Give people credit.  The wide world of web means access to a ton of information, opinions, truths, and lies.  Very few faced with so much information, believe everything they read.  About Jobs already?  All I know, is very little is accomplished without a lot of sweat and tears.   Many of us have had teachers or bosses that seemed impossible, didn't always communicate in the best fashion yet we look back at them with respect to the degree in what they taught us.

My own naivity continues to believe in the best of people.  Yet, I would still expect grace to allow the mourners the time to reflect on wonderful memories before having to face those that want to be the first to “expose” Steve Jobs weaknesses.   I guess there is that notch out there --  to be recognized as one of the first to uncover the ugly side of Steve Jobs.   We all have our choices.  My choice is to think about the magnificent impact he did have on my life.  i.e.  a colleague sending me his “Stanford address”  around 6 months ago so I could pass it on to my 18 year old daughter who was trying to decide what to do with her life, what to take in university, etc.  I forwarded it to her, we discussed it, saying:  “don’t worry so much about figuring out your whole life, start by understanding what you are interested in, want to learn, and go with that”.  That is what Steve Jobs’ address inspired me to say to her.

Uncovering the commentaries on who, what, where the iPODs, iPhones, iPADs are manufactured.  China:  imagine that!   Look at what you wear, where you shop.  I could pretend that I’m brilliant to say that there is a pretty good chance many are “Made in China”.   I certainly hope those same authors are asking people to boycott places that sound like W-mrt.    Let’s see, 1 billion people, minimum wages unheard of in North American terms, an outrage!  Teens and younger having to work instead of going to school, that is beyond fathomable!   I have had teens who turn up their nose at washing dishes in my own home, never mind at a restaurant.  Who are we fooling here?  Give credit that there are people out there that respect, help out their families, placing others before their own desires, just to put food on their tables by everyone pitching in.   Those same articles and beliefs are where all this self-entitlement comes from.    We push our kids off to university, let them live at home, while their degree measures up to working at a fast food restaurant because if the job isn’t the CEO, then they’ll bide their time.

So those that do want to continue to bash Steve Jobs.  Continue.  I’d love to see you wrestle the iPhones and iPADs away from your kids.  Do you think they care who, what, where or how they’re made?  If you do, hats off.  If you don’t, I’ll root for the long climb ahead of you.  Those that say “huh?” well, ‘nuff said …. Perhaps controversial readership is where its all at?

At the end of the day … when my time comes to pass,  I would be thankful if people celebrate the good that I’ve done, respect my family and loved ones mourning.  Thinking about it, perhaps obscurity won’t be such a bad thing.  At least, there won’t be an “a-wake” to what I could have done better.

“Be a yardstick of quality.  Some people aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected.”
Steve Jobs

Cool calling

 I am an advocate of cold calling.  Cold calling IS necessary in today's uncertain, competitive climate. To rely on warm leads aka referrals is simply unrealistic. My cold calling techniques change based on who/what I am targetting, but I'll try to give you some ideas on how to tackle it and take the COLD out of CALL:

1) INTERVIEW  existing satisfied customers

  • Your best source of informaton is already using your services
  • Take the stance that your are new and interviewing them
  • You'd be amazed how many time you hear from them how nobody else has taken the time to ask
  • They may ask you why you are doing this, and end up offering referrals
  • They will want you to succeed now that you've taken the time to understand their success
  • Don't forget to ask for that "testimonial"
  • Make sure you put some of those quotes on your website
  • Ask for examples of ways your company/service/product has helped them
  • Use those as "case studies" on your website on how you solved business issues
2)  NARROW your targets
  • Visit website, pay special attention to company announcements, "in the news" areas
3) PERSONALLY visit prospect's office/place of business
  • Hand business card right away - Be upfront about who you are and state that you are just doing research or there to ask questions
  • 9/10 times the receptionist knows more than anyone what is going on in the company
  • Be respectful of the gatekeeper, their time, be pleasant, avoid sales pitch, be confident
  • Use their nametag or nameplate or ask for their name, people are always more receptive if they hear their own name
  • Observe if they have to take calls, are hurried, act accordingly
  • Go with the attitude that your objective is not to sell something TODAY
  • Be honest:  you are there to drop off information and confirm your information/contact
  • Ask questions in an interested, non-threatening manner
  • Observe (i.e. Trade Magazines) and/or gather material ( i.e. Annual Reports
  • Share some of the information you've gathered  to create comradery
  • Confirm point of contact -- where so many reps fail -- another gatekeeper is not who you're looking for -- ask very specific who makes the "decision" for your product/service is helpfu
4)  Have a MARKETING kit with you
  • A flyer is not a marketing kit
  • No need to have a letter
  • Information on your company
5) Give kit, saying you want to drop it off in advance to follow up with whomever is in charge of what you're looking for, asking for confirmation whether it is the person you sourced -- specifically ask for a business card, if not, their full name, title, telephone and e-mail
6) E-Mail contact that you're following up the package that you left off because you appreciate how busy they are and respect their time, what you want to share (remember 1?  share those stories or how you helped them)... then say  you will follow up by telephone at a certain time to arrange a meeting.  If you haven't been able to access e-mail, resort to snail mail ... except hand write the envelope (greater chance at it being opened) and mark it CONFIDENTIAL.
7) CALL them at that time (don't fail at this)
8) They may be EXPECTing your call or ready to refer you down the ladder.  This depends highly on how you've done so far.  Sometimes there is someone else that does make that decision.  If they have a subordinate, you want them to refer you down the ladder.
9)  If they are REFERRing you down, confirm that they will be passing your package over to that person.  Also ask when would be best to follow up, if you can push your luck ... have them tell that person you will be calling at a specific date or time.  They may offer to have them call you back (best).
10) They may AGREE to meet with you at that point or ask you what your value proposition is over the phone.  The higher up you are, the more direct they are because they despise people who waste their time or can't help them.  Remember 1 again?  You can clearly articulate  your value proposition (solve their business need, fix a problem, give them insight,  etc.)
11) The  person who has been "topped down" will  meet with you because their boss handed your package to them, told them you would be calling or have them calling you (best).  This all points to a direct request from the boss.
12)  If you get their voicemail:  State who you are (you don't have to say company), that you are following up after leaving information with *insert name* to pass on and that as promised you are calling  to schedule a brief 20-30 minute meeting (if you ask for more, you're nixing your chances) to share ideas that will improve (what benefits have you come up with?).  If you have to call two or three times, don't worry.  Keep reinforcing that you are following up, what your benefits are, and also express empathy for how busy they are after the 2nd or 3rd call.  I spend more time on this on my other Blogpost:  "How many times do you call?"
13)  Up until this point, you really haven't even attempted to sell anything.  You're objective in cold calling:
  •  Pre-qualify (have a general idea they will benefit from your "pitch")
  •  Confirm who the decision maker is (not another gatekeeper)
  •  Create enough interest that they will agree to meet with you
There are several steps in cold calling.   There are numerous hypothetical situations that haven't been addressed.  The point is, statistically most sales people give up after one drop in or telephone call, maximum three at most.  That is why only 20 percent of all sales people are successful.  The other 80 percent won't bother to even follow up, want a magical formula to guarantee results or may just be too lazy. 

I will share my biggest secret for free:  The attitude is about having FUN!   Imagine you're a bumbling inspector or searching for the key for endless wealth.   Your finesse will come from practicing, failing, trying a new approach, failing, trying something else, failing ..... THEN  noting what has worked and why.

If you want to give up after 3) you may want to reconsider your occupation .... because treasures can only be found after DIGging!