streetlightsYou’ll close more deals with prospects who actually want to hear from you.

“It’s better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” Many of us adopt this mantra as we progress in our careers and work our way through a steady succession of titles with ever-increasing demands and responsibilities. In the workplace, with the pressure to get things done and meet deadlines, we often skip the clarifying conversations and make our own “executive” decisions.

However, begging for forgiveness doesn’t work in marketing and sales. Without permission (or a referral), you’re just pestering people. No one wants your spam emails or cold calls. You just interrupt peoples’ day. If you actually get someone on the phone or leave a message (which most cold callers don’t), you sound like you’re reading off a script, and you probably are. You know nothing about your prospects or their businesses. Your outreach is ice cold.

Business is about engaging with people, not constantly blasting them with garbage. And the first—most important—step in engagement is asking for permission. Read this important reminder from guest blogger Megan Totka, chief editor for

The art of the sale is something business owners and marketers alike have struggled to master since the dawn of commerce itself. In the present day, we have plenty of buzzwords to keep us busy (from ‘engagement’ to ‘viral’ and everything in between). That being said, the term ‘cold calling’ should not be in the modern marketer’s vocabulary.

Instead let’s focus on a seemingly ordinary term that’s anything but a buzzword, yet still manages to resonate in the lighting-fast, digital era.


The Reason Your Marketing Fails

The concept of ‘permission’ is often lost on sales reps attempting to acquire new leads and seal existing deals. Perhaps it’s easy to overlook the importance of users allowing us to market and sell to them in the midst of the many moving pieces—websites, social media, blogging—that make up the modern marketing sphere. Regardless, piquing the interest of our audience has always been the cornerstone of the sale, and is especially critical as marketers become increasingly competitive and cutthroat.

Popularized by entrepreneur and author Seth Godin in the late 1990s, ‘permission marketing’ experienced an explosion in the wake of the Internet. Despite its relatively recent emergence, the concept is not rocket science. The heart of permission marketing is this: Leads should be acquired and nurtured with permission in mind (by opting in, for example) and not through interruption (e.g., cold calling, pop-up ads, spam emails).

Interruption marketing is a poor use of time, energy, and resources. According to a recent consumer survey:

  • 59 percent of consumers feel very strongly that they must give permission prior to being marketed to via mobile.
  • 80 percent of consumers feel very strongly that making a purchase does not constitute permission to be marketed to.

The Value of Permission

The golden question remains: How do you obtain permission from your users? In addition to engaging them with relevant content and then allowing them to opt into your funnel, permission can be obtained—or at least kindled—by breaking down these three barriers.

  • The Trust Barrier: Often foiled by tactics such as cold calling, your leads want to be able to trust your company and product. Always approach leads in a welcoming, respectful manner if you expect to be welcomed in return.
  • The Price Barrier: In today’s economy, many buyers are turned off by bloated price tags. Don’t lose your leads due to price; stay competitive when it comes to your industry but bear in mind that price can make or break a deal.
  • The Quality Barrier: Companies should be welcoming and present affordable products, yet those products should also be up to snuff when it comes to quality. If you undersell your customers, it’ll come back to bite you.

The Bottom Line

In short, cold calling today’s users is like trying to huff, puff, and blow down their doors. Permission marketing allows you to step right through without any resistance. Finding ways to incorporate permission marketing into your small business’ strategy can help bring in new leads and boost your company’s reputation in the process.”  (2)About the Author

Megan Totka is the chief editor for She specializes in small business tips and resources. helps small businesses grow their businesses on the Web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.