Archive for the ‘Telemarketing’ Category

To Cold Call or Not to Cold Call?

Cold Calling or ProspectingThe subject of cold calling raised its head again recently. This time it was over at Birds on the Blog where regular visitors here will know I’m a contributing author.

The whole post made almost my blood boil, yet again. Not because of the stance Tessa (the post’s author) took or the content of the post, which I felt was well reasoned. What came across to me, in both the post and the comments, was the fact that it is somehow felt to be more personally offensive when these calls are made to small companies or sole traders by small companies or sole traders – to the likes of you and me by us.

Let’s separate the “offenders” out into two groups:

  1. Sole Traders/ independent consultants or Owners of micro or small businesses who are currently the main (or only) person responsible for bringing in and growing the business
  2. Micro or small businesses where there’s one or more dedicated sales or telephone sales persons

In either case, if the task is being handled successfully, it’s probably also being carried out reasonably professionally so there’s no problem. If it’s not, the best solutions are likely to be very different in scenarios 1 and 2.

Scenario 1
There are many ways to bring in profitable new business – none “right” or “wrong” – and it’s often down to a certain amount of trial and error to find what mix works best in each company, economic situation and industry, to name but three likely contributing factors.

Do you know what activities work best for you?

  • What are they?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How regularly do you do them?
  • How good are you at doing them?
  • How do their results compare?
  • Do they include cold calling?

If your answer is “I don’t really know” then you need to take a deep breath and start finding out – fast.

Your choice regarding cold calling is DIY or get someone else to do it.

I know you have all aspects of the business to run and might well be tempted to go for the second option but be aware that you cannot expect to successfully employ someone either in-house or as an outsourced resource for cold calling without having researched your potential market sufficiently to have at least established your actual target market, the decision makers within it and their hot buttons.

If you know what works and feel your value is now best focused on prospect and customer meetings and delivery of offer, then you should be in a position to set fair and reasonable targets for someone else to do the cold calling bit.

Scenario 2
A dedicated telesales or sales person who isn’t reaching target.

Firstly you, the boss, have to take responsibility for whether your company’s service(s) and/ or product(s)

  • Have a market that needs and appreciates them
  • Are fairly and competitively priced for that market
  • Deliver on your promise

If the answer is “yes” the next questions are:

  • Does the employee have the necessary product service knowledge to do the job?
  • Does the employee know how/ where to access the target market (company & / or individual contact details)?
  • Does the employee have the skills to get through to decision makers and make effective calls?
  • Does the employee know the “hot buttons”?
  • Does the employee have the will to make the calls? (I’m not being funny here, I remember a client whose “keen as mustard” employee was actually using every excuse in the book not to even try because he was actually useless and bone idle!

Let’s put this in perspective
The telephone is just a tool. It’s neutral. As with any tool it’s the skill of the operator/ user that makes the crucial difference. If you’re one who thinks that all cold calling is bad cold calling, have you ever entertained the thought that it could actually be quite pleasurable once you know how? 😉

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS If your business is struggling, why not pick up the phone for a chat on how we can help you turn that around?

Training does NOT make sense…

That’s a bit of a ripe statement coming from a Trainer, isn’t it?

Or is it?

If your business back is already up against the wall, to be honest you’ve left it too late to expect any kind of training to get you through an existing crisis.

Know how on Brand, Business, Finance, PR, Promotion, Marketing, Sales, Telemarketing, Market Research, Advertising, Social Media and so on – they’re each fantastic skills to have and an asset to any company but your chances of mastering any of them from scratch in time to be of help to you right now are probably slim to zilch :-(…

The good news is that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to start reversing your fortunes right now.

Whoever you are, whatever business you’re in, you have skills and assets you can trade – you just need to discover which have the most market value right now. The point is, these particular skills and assets may come so naturally to you – you are so unconsciously competent at them – that you don’t understand their potential value to others and they probably don’t even form a part of your current business offering!

Here are some ‘down and dirty’ suggestions (there’s nothing wrong with ‘down and dirty’ in this context – it just means don’t wait till everything’s perfect, just get on with ideas you can gainfully activate and use to your advantage):

  1. I’d suggest you go outside your inner circle to get help identifying what your greatest skills and assets are – those close to you, just like you, may be so used to them being part of you, they take them for granted and don’t see anything particularly special in them. So go a little more distant – colleagues and clients who aren’t your best buddies and see what their feedback gives you. Be prepared for some surprises ;-)…
  2. Next: Now you know where you have added and marketable value, who could you trade that with who’d bite your hand off and provide you with something valuable in exchange – something you desperately need but cannot provide for your business?
  3. Do your due diligence to make sure it’ll be a fair trade. I’d say forget competition for now – unless it’s ferocious – if you’re both still around as we come out of the recession, maybe that’s when to go back to the snarling gladiator routine if you must…
  4. Once your immediate crisis is over, take a deep breath or three and then take a good look at where skills training could or would help you avoid a similar situation in the future. Then may I, with all due respect (anybody who’s been around any length of time knows precisely where I’m coming from ;-)), suggest you put that training into place rather than waiting for the next hole to fall into…

What have you got to lose by giving this a try?

Or, to put it another way: What have you to gain by doing nothing :-( ?

Linda Mattacks - Small Business Training

PS: Let me know how you get on…

Pain-free selling: Jeffrey’s view

I just received the introduction to an article by Jeffrey Gitomer in my mail box and would love to link you to the full article but, sadly, the site won’t allow it. So I’ll direct you to his site home page instead. You might want to see other stuff there.

Anyway, in the article I’m referring to he talks about how the whole idea of basing a sale on identifying pain is maybe not the best premise. On first read I found it hilariously spot on the mark.

On second read I realised how many people have ‘jumped on the band wagon’ of identifying pain to the exclusion of virtually any other reason as to why a customer might buy. Trouble is, unless you’re very, very good at this technique, you end up coming across as a snake oil salesman.

I’ve met one guy who is very good yet, without exception, anyone can spot the people he’s trained a mile off and they don’t have anywhere near his finesse. And guess what? They sound phoney, nobody likes their attitude or approach and they fail.

“… if you want to find pain, become a doctor” – is Jeffrey’s sound advice that really hits home.

So, if you’ve been going down this path and getting nowhere, why not STOP right now? Adopting this no-nonsense approach can free you to instead use sensible, gentle conversational questioning techniques to find positive bases for people to buy from you…

How much do first impressions count – update

When I grow up I’m going to be-.

I thought I’d check out the mobile airtime company that was hassling me. I found two different sites on the Internet, both in the same style, though different colours, and identical head office contact details. Neither had information about key people in the company (so maybe the guy who called me really didn’t know the name of the Managing Director) but that was easily overcome with a little help from Google.

On one site the company described itself as one of Europe’s leading contact centres with capacity for more than 600 operators over 36,000 square feet of office space and a turnover in excess of £22+m.

On the other site it was one of Europe’s largest and most respected mobile phone specialists with capacity for more than 300 operators over 16,000 square feet of office space and a turnover of in excess of £20+m.

Something was niggling away at the back of my mind so I went back to double check my facts a few days later and discovered that the two sites had “morphed” into one!

The company has apparently decided that it is first and foremost a contact centre and adopted the size and number attributes from that site. So that settles it then. However, it obviously decided it liked the colour and content of the mobile phone specialists’ site. And it has kept the gem that was on that site last week:

“We genuinely believe our people are our most important asset and our highly trained and motivated team is committed to supporting the companies principle’s of providing the highest levels of customer care” (the bold is mine).

Out of interest, how many people, at what level in the company, do you suppose were involved in contributing to that brand identity exercise before it got sign off?

I’m happy to admit that my English grammar is by no means perfect but, please, nobody spotted that “companies principle’s” should have read “company’s principles”??? So the tips that emerge from this example are:

  • Don’t rely on spell checks to pick up grammatical clangers
  • Get a third party who hasn’t been involved in crafting your wonderful words (someone whose command of the language you respect) to proof read for you before you “go public”

Meantime, the activities of my fast-talking female “friend” at the company have, so far, been effective. No more calls trying to sell me an airtime contract!

#7 of 10 Telephone Sales Tips on how to create a positive image

Prepare yourself for making your calls by getting into the right frame of mind

Be sincere

This one is pretty self-explanatory:

If you don’t believe in what you’re doing it’s a con, plain and simple.

You may get away with it for a while but you’ll be found out sooner or later. Insincerity is pretty easy to pick up by voice so, unless you’re an accomplished actor, I wouldn’t even try it! 😉

Avoid Business Growing Pains

We all know people who’ve lost or nearly lost their business.

We hear how they’ve been “stitched up” by rogues or, at the very least, let down by incompetents whom they’ve charged with responsibility for sales, marketing, financial, legal or IT issues and it’s all gone horribly wrong.

So how did they allow this to happen? Well, in hindsight they’ve obviously made the wrong choice(s). Brilliant. We know that in hindsight we all have 20:20 vision. So how do we get the 20:20 before we get to the potential disaster?

The two obvious ways are:

  • You buy in the expertise you need from somebody proven to actually be able to do the job well (outsourced or employed)
  • You learn how to do it yourself from a reputable source

Yet there are two potential flaws in this (somewhat flippant) answer.

The first assumes that you know at the very least what questions to ask and what answers to expect in order to ascertain whether an individual claiming expertise in any of the essential areas is actually any good at what he/ she does and whether you would be getting value for money in the service you’re paying for.

The second presumes you know where to go, whom to go to, have the time and can make the commitment to learn how to perform these functions to the best of your ability and to the credit and success of your company.

Once again good old common sense has an often sadly ignored role in this. What about a middle ground where you could pool teaching and learning skills, gradually building mutual trust and without anybody spending huge amounts of money :)?

Networking groups abound yet they seem to be set up with the prime reason (if not sole purpose) to introduce and refer business rather than trading skills and services.

You may have tried networking and love or hate your experiences of it. It doesn’t really matter for our purposes here because, regardless, you will know at least some people whom you trust and who can either help you directly or put you in contact with someone who can.

  • Start inviting people who are each as good in their field as you are in yours to come and talk to each other
  • Ask how willing they are to help each other
  • Find out what additional help they in turn need and build a group that ultimately can fulfil all, or at least most of your collective business skills needs

It’s a good idea to agree a unit value for each function – an hourly, daily or part-day rate is usually favourite. Then barter time where possible either to perform the function for each other or use that time (where practical) to teach/ show how to do it. I prefer the latter for reasons I’ll go into further down the line.

Introduce members gradually and monitor the value of their contributions. Some may turn out to be mainly “takers”: They’ll pay for the services on offer that they need rather than really enter into the spirit of the group. And that may be perfectly acceptable until somebody else comes along and wants to join who does what they do but wants to give, too. You just have to decide as you go along what’s in the best interests of the group.

Try it out and let me know how you get on :).

What’s in a name?

Quite a lot, it would appear!

Our Selling For Business sales and marketing communications skills course is well established. Yet it has always been a Big Thing for the owners of micro and small businesses (that it’s aimed at helping) to take on board and commit to somebody in the company doing.

So we thought long and hard, talked to customers, business associates and fellow networkers to get their input.

As soon as one of them pointed out the fact that our training is always designed to be within the comfort zone of any delegate, it was as though a veil had lifted. The working title for that course was originally Comfort Zone Selling. We only changed it because we were transfixed back then (as was almost everyone doing any amount of their business via the Internet) with having a dot com address, which we couldn’t get. We still kept the comfort zone approach and our company name, CoZo, came directly from that

We also finally accepted that there are some people who will never be comfortable with the idea of selling, no matter how simple and pain-free we know we can make the activity.

What’s more, we now knew that those people could make huge leaps forward in their business profitability without ever overtly selling. People who take the Selling For Business course have told us they have done so even before they reached the modules on the more traditional sales communication skills.

As the result of practising what we preach, (listening to the market needs and wants and responding to them) admittedly somewhat belatedly, we now have two new courses:

Comfort Zone Soft Skills Training and Comfort Zone Selling

And guess what? People relate to them easily, see immediately what each is about and can choose which one is more relevant to their situation, their market and their needs.

Our company name now also makes a lot more sense…

If you’re having a problem with any obstacles that are making it difficult to gain acceptance from your market of something you know will help, don’t keep trying to push a snowball uphill, instead learn from our mistakes, talk to your market and sort it out sooner rather than later!

All the best

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"I was very impressed by Linda's determination to help and the constructive, but persistent, manner in which she identified issues and then tried to resolve them. After recent progress I was again reaching a stage where I seemed to be spinning my wheels, and she has given me fresh impetus to start moving forward again."