"An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field."

~ Physicist Niels Bohr, quoted in the Harvard Business Review ~

To Cold Call or not to Cold Call ? A guide for business owners.

Above is a large bunch of bananas. The baubles are the same as your clients in your pipeline. You have to call all  the bananas to get clients. Email will never crack it. Start calling people as if your bunch of clients depended on it. Stop fudging it and start winning. See below:

Many business owners reading this article will be starting with an entrenched and uncomfortable view of Cold Calling.

Interestingly the confusion between business to business cold calling and pestering spam auto-dialler calls and call centre calls to our collective home numbers and mobiles is only one small part of the reason for people, particularly business owners, being so agitated about Cold Calls.

In business to business sales the agitation is more truly to be found around being unwilling ourselves to engage in the process of picking up a phone and calling, say, our top ten new target clients each month. 

It’s not that anyone doesn’t want new business it’s simply Call Reluctance in making such important calls. So we employ others at not much above minimum wage and minimal ability to make the calls ? You know that process? It’s dreadful where your top prospects are concerned. Owners need to man up and call their counterparts in target companies. 


                           A Football Analogy
My example here is a game of football. If you agree to play a game of football you know there are rules and that you are aiming to outwit  the opposition and score goals . If you don’t like the idea you don’t play football. 

Business is the same. Setting up your business and having a phone installed is agreeing to the rules of the game. You call for business and others call you. If you don’t want that freedom the answer is not to have a phone. Complaining and hostility about inbound calls is such a nonsense when you are also looking for new business yourself. I see it everywhere.


A halfway house is getting listed with TPS (The Telephone Preference Service) and that will allow you to miss out on exhibitions and business propositions and other great opportunities that some inbound calls will bring. Being too precious about calls is showing an underlying issue or two . I have noticed many a company man taking an unhealthy  delight in getting rid of callers. This is my opinion.

If all SME business OWNERS  made 10 fresh effective calls a month to their top target counterparts their business would be transformed in 12 months. So much so that year on year you would increase these calls each month . Hardly anyone does it though. I am at the sharp end of helping people get more clients and 30 years later the story remains the same. Owners should make calls to get new clients.

I am not even talking about a Telesales team or procuring an outside agency to do the calls . I am talking solely of business owners making a tiny amount of calls themselves to their main prospects. No stronger call will be made than one MD calling another. That is my advice.

Call Reluctance is the only thing that holds leaders back and allows them to make a dozen excuses every month that permit them not to steer their company by example on the phone.

Some do it. I know many who do and they roar with a sense of well placed derision for those who don’t lead their teams by example .

My career in sales goes back several decades and Call Reluctance has always been noticeable as the least mentioned and yet most prevalent failure in new business ventures. In my experience around 90% of those of us running a business can overcome the problems associated with Cold Calling.

Get a professional to help you set yourself up and your team. Getting the right advice is essential. Where you get it from is up to you.


There are a ton of training companies most covering every subject under the sun. I cover just one subject and yet it affects all that happens. I am not in HR , computer software or an analyst or an Accountancy person I am a telephone sales accountability coach.

                Telesales acounttability coach

I am a Telesales coach and nothing more. Many will look at my Google reviews and give me a call for a conversation. My clients will sell themselves on my help and how it works . Call my office and we can set up a free call. Whenever I give my number out I tend to get emails, thus proving my points above.

How often should you pick up the phone ? At every opportunity is my answer. Call me 020 8720 6567

Choosing an outside telesales trainer well. It’s your choice.


My number one piece of advice is to see the CV of the person delivering the training. You can have the slickest website in front of you based on a training company image. But what about the trainer ? Trainers need experience in sales, solid experience, The old saying is  “ If you can’t do, then teach”. Whilst this motto is not true  it’s surprisingly along the right track with sales training these days.

My history is here for all to see. I work on my own with total reliance on my own methodology to win over and coach trainees into success. All based on my own long and varied experiences on the phone. You cannot beat empirical evidence over several decades.I am not a trained trainer . I am a Telesales expert passing on the information everyone needs to shorten their learning curve.


I do not believe people are trainers in their 20’s and 30’s. Why are they not earning very high commissions in sales on the phone in those years as I did ? Selling is exactly what I was doing then. Teaching and expert coaching based on those years and using empirical evidence is what I do now. Wild horses would not stop me selling to teach.

The next thing to focus on is the type of coaching and training you require.

I will immediately mention online/ E-learning first. This is used by those who want a very low budget solution who hold a bold belief that telesales instruction by E-learning can do the trick and people will read the modules and by magic their performance will change. 

It is certainly a cheap option but does rest on your audience having some form of desire to read and then magically deduce the best way to proceed. A zero star rating from me. It’s pants. You know it and I know it. I don’t see it as competition so I am not knocking the opposition! It’s all tick box and unrealistic. Ticking boxes does not make a Telesales expert.

E-Learning for sales and any expectations of serious engagement with potential clients is “Strictly for the birds”

Secondly you have generalist seminars on Telesales. Very good for team bonding and you will be exposed to role play, games and other interaction to get everyone in the mood. A shot in the arm, often a day out of the normal routine. Short term it’s good but the issue is within the notion that people return to “type” pretty quickly. It does not treat the universal “Call Reluctance” more than superficially. This is my opinion and may not be shared by others.

🌟🌟 2 star rating from me. I do not do seminars except in specialist areas. It cannot be compared to 1:1 in-depth personality led coaching over a few months not a few hours.

Thirdly you can try it yourself . Again you will probably be let down by a lack of personal experiences which are the empirical evidence needed to really educate and drive a team in the nuances of getting those meetings and deals. A 🌟🌟 star rating from me.

Finally I offer my method of coaching people 1:1 often with outstanding success where the recruitment of satisfactory staff has been achieved. Your team do not need to be geniuses however they need to speak well and be ambitious. I will let others give their star rating on my Google and Yell.com  reviews 

In many, many cases great  results are achieved working with me and my process which are custom delivered to each company. No two companies are the same no two assignments are the same, no two people are the same. 1:1 coaching unearths the true issues and drives performance.

It would be dishonest to guarantee success in advance as much depends on having eager participants. I work on the basis of leading horses to water. Your team need to allow themselves to drink. You may have to accept that recruitment does not always produce winners. Replicating success at an interview on a daily basis is a big ask.

Get in touch. 90% of my clients will not be wrong. The bottom line is results that can be achieved with insightful advice, driving enthusiasm and accountability coaching. My engagement includes 3 months follow up. Usually this is exactly what is needed. Call my office and I will be happy to get back to you to have a discovery discussion with any business owner. 

Closed off to new ideas ? Rugby coaching example.


I heard an interview recently with an
International sports coach commentating on rugby. He was being asked how it is that some sportsmen make it to the top table in sport and how others with real talent and everything going for them miss out on that elite level of sporting prowess. They don’t make the team yet they should make the team. Curious ?

I have seen this question posed many times and the usual answer is around an “edge” that some can deliver to their game through personal disciplines. This is the standard thought.

I was not expecting the reply that this particular coach gave.

He explained how long and how much he had been around the top performers in rugby and concluded on what is the defining point of those that make it over those equally talented that do not make it.

His most valid point was around the best players understanding that every training session and every match is all part of the learning process. You never suddenly know it all. This is true in telephone sales and customer service.

We learn from every discussion on the phone and every meeting with clients. We learn also from others in our organisations that are there to help us. We learn from mentors an trainers too. The day you stop learning, the very day you feel you know it all is when you need the following advice:

The punch line for the international rugby coach when giving his perspective mentioned how so many talented people become “closed off” once they attain a certain level. Once players are “closed off” they are no longer open to advice and improvement. They have become the axis of their own performance (my words here). Simply put they know it all and stop at that level. With nothing left to learn they are overlooked in the superstar selection process.

No truer comparison for this behaviour than an office environment. A sales office in particular and sales managers in many cases. Their development often stopping the minute they tack “manager” onto their CV. I meet a lot of good people who have the sense to ground themselves and be open to help and constructive criticism. I speak with business owners who are open to all the help they can can get. Managers I have met have often been at the top of their game. And yet so many are completely closed off. 

Some give the impression that the sun shines ...........(I shall let you end the very well known saying). They are closed off and often the wrong choice. Once good salesmen rarely make the best managers is my conclusion. 

The world, your world is always changing. Never take success strategies for granted. Never believe your own story that you know it all. I have been in sales a long time. Every year I pick up new things and new ideas. I meet great people and enjoy empowering them and being empowered by them.

The rugby coach is correct. When we are “closed off” at our personal top level much of the processes that used to work gradually stop working as our ego takes over and in telephone sales that means we stop leading by example.


Telemarketing in the UK : Who is making your calls ?

(I am grateful to www.datathatcounts.com for the inspiration and much of the content in this post).


“We tried telemarketing but it didn’t work.” This statement can be heard resonating down the years from companies who should be embracing active telephone canvassing. To put it mildly many, many companies let themselves off the hook preferring the inferior razzmatazz of “social media”. Well, excuse me for disagreeing as follows:

Bearing in mind that despite advances in technology, picking up the phone and having direct contact with prospects is still the most effective method of generating leads, opportunities and sales. 

       “We tried telesales but it didn’t work for us”

Such a sweeping statement deserves closer scrutiny, to establish exactly why “telesales didn’t work”.

What level of preparation went into the campaign before the calls were made?

How was the target market identified?

Where was the marketing data sourced from to ensure that they were speaking with up to date accurate contacts in the right job functions at companies that met the campaigns ideal prospect profile?

What thought went into what was going to be said on the telephone?

How were follow up requests to be dealt with?

What were the objectives of the campaign-appointments-leads-both?

Most importantly perhaps is what  level of competence have the people you entrust with this work ? Have they been trained in the art of persuasion and getting results ?

There are usually a number of holes in the prep phase but also and interestingly, when it comes down to it the person who’s actually been tasked with making the callsoften,  unfairly to them, are inexperienced and poorly prepared for the task.

For some reason telemarketing is often seen as a low skilled task that needs to be done and so an attitude of getting someone junior in a Company to get on the phone and “make some calls” prevails.

Results not surprisingly are often disappointing and so therefore “telemarketing doesn’t work for us”. I like to use the word FATUOUS in response to this phrase. There isn’t a single company that could not improve results if they are in an open market situation.

Some people with basic knowledge can do an oil change on their car, and can also change spark plugs, fit an air filter, and know a bit about basic fault finding but you wouldn’t want them putting your new gearbox in would you ?

They probably wouldn’t know where to start and there’s a good chance that if they did have a go, your car wouldn’t be able to go backwards when they’d finished.

Telemarketing is a tough, professional and skilled job. When carried out in the right way it can be a great addition to your overall lead generation strategy.

Don’t ask just anyone to do it however or you’ll end up with your gearbox all over the floor!

Make sure that the data you are using for your campaign is absolutely spot on in terms of accuracy, and meets all latest marketing legislation which includes TPS checking. 

Then make sure that whoever is making the calls has the ability and experience to engage your prospects in a meaningful two way conversation to uncover genuine leads, opportunities and sales.

With high quality marketing data, being used by a professional telemarketer, you’re well placed to reap the rewards from your next campaign.

☎️ I would like to thank Robbie Stepney of www.datathatcounts.com for his inspiration with this article. Robbie is a very competent list broker and the lists  are high quality (I have used them with clients) and I am happy to truly endorse his services.


Where is your mobile phone today ?


This blog will annoy quite a few and will make perfect sense to quite a few more so on balance I recommend it to you all.

Phones in the office of the mobile variety:

Anyone have a clue how many business days a year are lost to social media browsing and phone chat /texting to buddies whilst at work?

The strange thing is that I never visit an office where anyone mentions or admits this habit, even when asked. It’s collective numbness to the notion that time is being wasted and taken from your employer. Mobile phone use for games, browsing and texting in sales offices is simply embarrassing.

Everyone used to be furtive with their social media browsing at work always or often hiding it from colleagues.

Not so now, mobile phones are in permanent and conspicuous view at all times on nearly all desks. A few companies have the strength to specifically ban them in “work time” as do some schools. 

The most common moan from telesales operatives is not having enough time to do their work. With such indiscriminate use of mobiles it’s no surprise.

Many simply pay lip service to the notion that there is anything wrong about the habit. You all know that if it were your company and your money paying the wages you wouldn’t want it. You would not want your team shoplifting your time is a good way to look at it.

One way for employers to solve this conundrum is from the start in the interview situation. I ask about social media and its relationship to work. When I get the right answer that sets the tone for all future discussion and works every time. I ask people if they need 24/7 contact with their partners or children ? Give me the wrong answer and your interview ends. Once you confirm to me that you will work when you come to work then the issue is settled. We should not need to revisit the subject.

As the old Irish saying goes “There is a time to go fishing and a time to dry your nets”. When you are at work in a Telesales role you are fishing. Those that get this, and only those, are the winners in a team. If you sit at your desk drying your nets ( lazing around on your phone) you need to be moved on to make way for a fisherman. I am ruthless in giving this advice. There is a ton of immaturity around phone use.

In America they go further. Cell phones are often confiscated during school and work time. Emergencies are dealt with via the office phone. They go as far as computer screens switched off for calling sessions with leads printed out in advance. They ban browsing , they ban the time wasting on Linkedin and they refocus teams to doing the job. Making calls.

The best companies in the US do not allow Email during phone prospecting time and that is a huge step forward on its own. Successful departments are limiting the rat runs from the core function of a Telesales / new business drive. 

If a team is focused on the calls in these sessions then good results flow. All the administration work is done later. You make notes on paper and  your potential clients make notes and you keep calling. You add notes to whatever system you use later and you need to be concise. Time wasted on pointless phone notes is another subject.

I would like everyone to think how often their phone is switched on in a church, in a cinema or theatre and then tell me it’s required whilst you are working in sales ? 

Having a seperate business mobile is allowed but it needs to be business only.

So when you hear the excuse of “Not Enough Time” it’s high time a team realised that time is all they have.

There is simply no such thing as “not enough time” in a sales office. You only have the same amount of time like all of us. Time passes and it’s how we use our time that’s important. Bemoaning lost time is pointless. Time moves on. Check your daily use of your time. It’s easy to improve and you can start with your phone 📱 

Let’s Talk About Talking

You may ask why I am reviewing someone else’s book ? The reason is that I am a great admirer of things well done. I got in touch with Greg with some views on his first edition and we started a conversation.
Subsequently Greg has asked me to write the Foreword to his updated and supplemented book Let’s Talk About Talking. It is newly available on Amazon and here is my Foreword which
neatly doubles as a review.


“I fervently wish Greg’s book had been around when I started out in telephone sales. The difference between his publication and almost all the others of its kind is that Greg is someone who, for a lifetime, has done what he talks about. It shines through on every page. His experiences are recounted in an amusing but clear and satisfying way. No snake oil here.
No one could have written a book like this, unless they had lived the life and dealt with all the obstacles and pitfalls first-hand. There is no psycho-babble or jargon. Greg’s book is exactly what’s needed in this modern age when nobody has time to sneeze. Your performance will be enhanced from day one.
Anyone in a professional environment who uses the telephone to generate business should read this book. Greg’s insight, discipline and intuitive thinking certainly resonates perfectly with my own coaching methods, particularly with younger people, who have grown up with computers.
For business owners this book should be considered an indispensable team textbook. It will significantly help you with new recruits and also with your more experienced sales staff.
Anyone who answers the phone to a prospective client in your office is strongly advised to acquire it.
It’s very hard not to benefit from the wisdom and symmetry of what Greg writes here. If you are in sales or customer services, then for a very small investment, this book will repay you thousands of times over.
So buy it, absorb the advice, apply it daily and watch your garden grow. In my view, this book is unique in its genre and from a true master of the subject.”
————————
The above is my Foreword to Greg Peake’s new edition of Let’s Talk about Talking.
Should you be interested in why I am promoting someone else’s book the answer is simple. I am very comfortable in my own skin and happy to endorse a very good book on the subject of telesales. There are a ton of sales books out there and this one sits neatly on the top for telephone sales. Those who know me would know I would not endorse rubbish.
Let’s Talk About Talking “ dovetails perfectly with my own coaching of sales rooms around the UK and Europe.

THE ESSENCE OF SUCCESSFUL TELEPHONE SALES LIES IN PERSISTENCE

As with all my suggestions, the following is my opinion only.   However, it's an opinion shaped by many years' experience of selling on the telephone and helping to run teams in such a way as to lead to optimum results.   It's empirical advice and it will help you.   Or it won't.   You alone can be the judge.


Depending on the business in question, many sales conversations are initiated by inbound enquiries - by phone, e-mail or via social media.   All can generate enquiries, but how you deal with these first green shoots will determine much of what does or does not follow.
Therefore it's unwise to treat them in an idle or cavalier fashion.   '19 inbound leads today;  spoke to 4 of them.' when you report your daily and weekly activity does not cut it today. In fact  It never has cut it yet in my long experience this is something which occurs in teams regularly.

I have often speculated on what becomes of those potential clients who are not spoken to directly ? Are they eventually called again, e-mailed an estimate, or are they simply left to crumble into dust ?
I know what frequently transpires after one inbound call - the enquirer gets an e-mail response and that's it.   Big Mistake.   
This may sound extreme but I recently worked closely with a company in which this was almost standard practice.   E-mailing quotes to potential clients based on inbound calls, e-mail or social media enquiries has to be the most misjudged response any telephone salesperson can make.   So I hope this person is not you.
The company I refer to  deals with inbound enquiries in a competitive arena, handling a steady stream of enquirers all looking for a quote -  Put simply,  the sales' team does not value the enquires they are getting.  Not replying to an inbound enquiry directly and personally, by phone, is  poor business practice. If teams cut this out more sales would be made. More up-selling and more cross-selling would follow too.
If time permits, those making the enquiry should all be called back on the day of their initial approach.  You need to speak to them directly - that’s the business you are in.  So keep calling until you're able to speak to them or they have somehow disqualified themselves.   Do not take the easy route by resorting to e-mail. Email is not better than email followed by an email.
The best sequence of action - and the only one that I personally advocate - is Phone-Mail-Phone. Opening your relationship with a potential buyer is nearly always best done by telephone, since in that first call you get the who/what/ where/when, at which point things can generally be effectively followed up with an e-mail confirmation.   By contrast, responding to an e-mail with an e-mail is not only lazy but more significantly it means you entirely bypass the opportunities created by a direct conversation.
Assuming you know what your correspondent wants is never, ever, good enough. You have to speak to them to know for sure what their intentions are and how best to deal with them.
Therefore, try very hard to answer by telephone everything in your Inbox which looks as if it could turn into income for your company.   Only resort to e-mail if you really, really cannot reach the person you need to speak to by phone.  
And start calling immediately, since the first two days are critical in terms of response time.   Make this an absolute priority if you are working on an inbound desk. Remember you can never call an inbound enquiry too soon. 
After all, you have a perfectly legitimate reason to be ringing if the person in question has contacted you in the first place.   You are entitled to follow up and saying so should get you past the most obstructive gatekeepers.   You are responding to an enquiry, so use that advantage.
In summary, call all potential clients who approach you and speak to whomever you need to with confidence.   Come the end of the month, you'll be pleased that you did.   Don’t be fooled by the temptation to e-mail rather than picking up the phone.  You need to establish a person-to-person relationship and this can only be achieved through direct human interaction.

So put my counselling to the test and surprise yourself.   If you apply it correctly, you will open several new accounts each month. You will also sell more to new accounts and gain opportunities to cross-sell other lines and services.   Take it from me, e-mail is not the effective route to success:  a voice at the end of a telephone is.

TELLING YOURSELF A STORY


The above is as true in sales as it is in most aspects of life. We all tell ourselves stories, on every subject imaginable. As an avoidance technique, it sometimes works. However, in the area of sales, it generally needs scrutiny.

The default position for most in sales is 'the lazy person's way': a reliance on being fed leads; reliance on e-mail; on using a CRM system as a prospecting tool; on not picking up the phone to inbound inquiries and simply bouncing an email back to the enquiring potential client. I could go on.

I come across a large percentage of people who are too busy doing 'stuff'  to get on the phone and drill down on their leads. The excuses run as easily as an open tap. I've heard them all.

Business-owners are amongst the biggest culprits. Do they have any idea how much of an advantage it gives them to call back prospective customers themselves? It seems not. If I had a small business, I would be monitoring all inbound inquiries like a hawk. I would select a few and make the return calls myself. Why not ? It’s a way of monitoring. Please don’t cherry pick the best leads as that is counter-productive. Just pick a couple and do them yourself. 

Telling yourself a story can also be applied to researching leads, increasing the number of dials, making strong and effective drive calls, clinching deals, following them up to make sure the client is happy and will return and ultimately.

Telling ourselves a story is universal so don’t suggest to yourself that the foregoing does not apply to you. It applies to you, me, your boss, the owner of the pub, the estate agent, the window cleaner, even the dog. 

We all tell ourselves persuasive stories, stories which allow us to project an image enabling us to do things in exactly the way we want at the time. However, that thought process is often very wide of what we should be doing. I hope you agree so far ? Here comes my point.

It’s why so many of us need to stay on track so we employ coaches, advisors and trainers to help us in so many areas of our lives - fitness, diet, sport, hobbies, complexion  and, of course, business. 

You are not obliged to take my telephone sales advice, but you should be reaching out to someone to help you keep on track. I learned this lesson about storytelling a very long time ago - and this solution works.


What you and your customers should know to achieve a great sale with help from the 19th century.

An interesting aspect of sales is VALUE and whether both you and your potential client understands the same points of value.





Do you understand the value of your offer? Is it a valuable offer for example? Does the customer see the same value as you communicate? Do you struggle with your value statements where compared to the competition? Do you even know that perhaps others are “cheap” or “cheaper” or even “more expensive” for specific reasons“?

There is often a huge gap in company training on this subject. The end result can be a race to the bottom in the marketplace of selling your stuff! Discounting, shaving margins of service and reliability to a minimum is certainly a style of doing business. It’s pretty lowly when you should be standing tall.

Getting a real understanding of where your product or service fits in on the value scale of comparison with alternatives is so important. The desirability of your offer is really helped with your understanding of why people should pay a little more. The following quotation (written before 1900) exemplifies what you, the salesperson, and your customers, the buyers, need to know. 

In getting this understanding you will go a long way in dispelling the “too expensive “ rejection statements. You need to be able to justify the notion that is expounded in this quote. If you can, then Bingo! I promise you this following paragraph is the perfect business sales strategy as set out by John Ruskin (1819-1900):

“ It is unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money - that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot - it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is as well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

———————————————————————————————————

If you know implicitly what advantages your company and your particular offer to potential customers are then an understanding of the above really helps you. Part of the sale is getting your customers to understand the same thing! We have mainly all bought cheap stuff at some time or other and later regretted it. Not every time on small items maybe but often on more substantial investments.

Stating your case quietly and efficiently is the key. Let clients know what risks they are not taking by dealing with yourselves rather than what they are taking elsewhere. 

Build the value of your offer. This process is helped by inviting a little (a lot) of doubt in the buyer's mind on the “cheap” option they may tell you they are considering.

Think long and hard on value statements.
Being local would be one.
Being a family business would also be one. (Many people like hearing this, they really do. They associate family values with this statement.)


Free delivery is no longer a value statement. For a start everyone knows there is no such thing. There is cost involved in delivering so that cost comes from the price they pay. As I say, nobody is much persuaded by “free delivery”.


You should sit down as a team and work out your values and any hidden reasons people should trust and do business with you. Any guarantees should be exploited as a value.

Political blog

Long term Boris supporter Dennis the dog has now been brought in to help his hero Boris tie up a Brexit agreement with Europe in 99 days.


It is also noteworthy that Boris has recently said in an interview that the retribution scene in the film The Godfather is his favourite The way he has culled his enemies in parliament has been very swift and final. Al Pacino would smile. 
The immediate future is bleak and Boris may need a General Election to crush Labour. Many if his own supporters will be nervous but the Labour Party are shot in the foot with Corbyn. An election later this year will bury him everywhere except London. 

Meanwhile, summer is properly here everyone. I will not deny the next several weeks up to the second week in September will be tough for getting hold of people. It is always a tough time for contact. Resilience is the name of the game. Keep up your call rates.

Please remember that your work is a “contact sport”. Initially, it’s all about getting through to Mr. Big without being delayed and fobbed off. “ Does he/she have an assistant? ” can bring the required advance in a call. Also, try hard not to ask for “a good time to call”. Pause and let them tell you or simply ask what time does Mr. Big get in? You are probably one of many trying to get through so politeness and honesty and resilience are essential. 

Receiving That First Enquiry

Receiving That First Enquiry


I would like to pass on something really useful to each of you dealing with enquiries from potential clients . You know them as "inbound" enquiries.

I know them as gold dust. That's because most of my career was spent earning commission payments making "outbound" calls and making a living the hard way. Inbound enquiries are simply the best.

You should be making the most of these enquiries. Salaried telephone agents make it so easy for themselves with email responses. It is simply not the best way and never was. People buy people and they genuinely buy into constructive call backs. When you see an intriguing email always call it. If a company wanted an email robotic clerk they would not employ sales people. Sales, good sales, up-selling and cross selling are best done on the phone. Deep down everyone knows this.

The way so many people deal with inbound enquiries remains seriously unprofessional to me. Many people are flawed where such enquires are handled so lazily, so often and by so many. Allow me to explain my method as this will improve your conversion rate and in turn your KPIs be they weekly, or monthly. The end result is more commission for you which is what you ultimately care about, whoever you are.

Let me set the scene : You are now having a weekly check on your figures (KPIs) and you end up with a percentage success figure which you go away and try and improve for the next week. Or this is done monthly. Correct ?

Every huddle or sales meeting ends with a promise or thereabouts to improve. Whatever way the KPIs work out you can't just look at them and say or be told they need to be better. You need to take action....you need a plan to make advances to improve these figures.

Just saying that KPIs will improve never cuts it. I say that again, saying something will improve will not make it happen unless you change something around what you are doing. It's about process.

Where my help can come in is in what you do to improve. What I do for myself is also what you can do. I do it very well [my former and current clients often say] and you could do it very well. It's no good just thinking and agreeing you need to be better. Have a plan.

You set your sights on increasing the conversions from leads/ phone enquiries . You will maybe say you do that now, but without much tangible change in what you do each day. You may well focus better on the people you speak to and well done for that.

I have a process that will guarantee you increased conversions from people you currently do not speak to. It's no good just telling the sales manager or director that you will improve unless you have a process of improvement . Are you with me so far?

The process is easy. Every day you may get leads and you may get inbound emails. The aim is to speak to them all. That's certainly not possible with bad numbers and the odd hours people make themselves available so you email confirmation of the enquiry. Never, ever try to sell in this email. Now, the important part is what follows.

Check with yourself how long you currently leave them if you have not had the first conversation.. You don't have to tell others just yourself. This is where serious improvement can be made. My guess is that you currently leave them as long as you would leave someone you have spoken to ? That's after you send that first email. So this is what you change. This is the one specific aspect that you change.

By all means send the email but carry on trying that number over 2 days. If you get hold of the enquirer then well done. However, if you don't someone else from somewhere else may step in and take that order is the most likely outcome. Never give up on an enquiry.

Try early, try late. Try every couple of hours. Where you need to tell anyone who questions you that you are responding to an enquiry (so it's not a cold call). The proof of this paragraph is that when you do eventually get back to Mr Big a week or longer later without having spoken before (Just his enquiry and your email reply ) you find he has bought elsewhere. Maybe no fault of yours, in your opinion, but you missed the chance. This happens to all of us. That's why you need to be fully on your best game with the initial enquiry to prevent this happening. The main thing to stop is the easy life of responding to an email with a sales email. That's the bad practice you need to hound out of your working day.

The above paragraph is key to improving performance. Salespeople, managers and directors are all as guilty as each other in very often only half doing the follow up job. I base this on knowing hundreds, yes hundreds of sales people, managers and directors. I have been there myself. Sometimes I am still there myself, all of us in sales get trapped in this one. The improvement I outline above is always the way to make a conscientious advance and replaces where we let ourselves off the hook. If we drive ourselves to make that contact back after an inbound enquiry results over time will always be better than thinking and acting by email alone. The email ping-pong trap is the easiest to fall into with sales and it is generally a poor strategy.

For me personally it will rarely happen now as I know the game and my part in it. A lead is like gold dust and I treat them all that way until that person verbally disqualifies them self. Anyone who has gone so far as making an enquiry is a VIP for me. So you treat these leads accordingly and you won't go far wrong. You make a point of getting them speaking to you in the shortest possible time frame. Email if you must, but still hammer your phone for a conversation within a day or 3 at the outside. It should be a reflex action. The enquiry is your passport to getting put through.

Every enquiry should be acknowledged by phone immediately you see it. That's another golden rule. You do send an email confirming receipt if you cannot speak instantly to the enquirer. So many make the mistake of thinking they will look too eager with a quick call back. Not true, it will make the sale easier. Email does not replace the power of a good call to an enquirer.

You cannot call a lead "too quickly".

Two points I am not covering here. One is where the enquirer is not the decision maker which you don't know in advance. All the better for hammering for the conversation. The second point is I am not mentioning is how you structure the call and draw people in. I naturally reserve that for those I am working with. It varies from case to case. I do usually manage to nail the process for clients that results in a higher percentage of enquirers going for the next step. I have many compliments on the strategy I can help with.

The bullet point in this blog is that whilst you may have to email some people through necessity it's very important to get that conversation with them in the quickest possible time. Please don't leave them alone by thinking they will naturally call you following your email. You have to persevere as explained above.

When implemented for all call backs and contacts this is the surest way of increasing conversions , making advances and lessening the likelihood of the potential client going elsewhere. The answer Is the phone in your hands. I hear all the emailers responding in horror. My reply remains the same as ever ; The lazy man's way forward is email.

Please don't just change your methodology for a week and then slip backwards. Backsliding to your default position at your sales desk is what 90% of salespeople people do. Get yourself into the top 10% zone.

Backsliding into old habits, old behaviour is very common unless coaching is being provided on a regular basis. As mentioned KPI meetings where everyone agrees to do "better" next month is the oldest and most redundant line in the sales manual . Implementing change in process and moving callers on your team through the gears is how you do it.

THE CHALLENGE OF IMPROVING RESULTS (and Simon Kenna's theory on time where salespeople are concerned)



The challenge you have when you decide to improve your results is NOT that there isn't information available to you that would help your progress—and quickly. There is more than enough information, and every resource you need to know about for sales, already well known and published many times over. If a lack of information was your obstacle, it would easily be overcome. The Internet has every sales tip known to man on it. Every single tip is within your grasp already. How to use those tips is where coaching comes in and having a good coach is important. It's important for education, for style, for content, for serious financial benefit and for the good growth of each company. Selling without a coach on board is like sailing without much of a rudder. That's where I like to think working with Simon Kenna comes in. The results you want are not out of reach because you say you don’t have time to achieve them. All you have is time. Nothing has changed in centuries. Everyone has the same amount of time, it's the one thing we share. It does not matter how wealthy or poor you are we all share the same time. Big people, small people, male or female, young or old ...we all have the same time.

Time is all anyone has, not just you. That's a very simple concept. Not having time is an attitude you may have to what needs to be done to achieve your goals. Not having time is the oldest and weakest excuse in sales. You make time and you use time effectively and it's a constant challenge. Prioritising your time, making time, having time, call it what you will.

What you do with your time is a decision that only you make. It doesn’t matter where you are now or where you want to go. You have the time to accomplish much, much more than you believe possible. Did Shakespeare have time ? Did Michelangelo have time ? All of us have time. In sales what is not acceptable is knowingly not making time to prospect, to cold call and to really get to grips with new business and new clients. Way too much focus is placed on doing 'stuff' and focusing on existing clients ... all too easy. Researching leads should be a criminal offence when it takes all day and doing this instead of mainly making calls in that time. Researching people to call is homework. When you are at work you need to be making money. That means making calls. Do a stack of homework, don't overdo it but cut out one hour an evening or early morning instead of some other activity. That behaviour separates out the winners from the pack.

The distance between where you are now and the results that you want are also not likely the result of your inability to do what is necessary. It is almost a certainty that you can do what you would need to do to have what you want, if only you had the time ! What prevents you from having what you want ? What's the real answer ? Is it really time or is it this :

The comfort zone :

The answer is an unwillingness to do what is necessary to have what you want out of your sales funnel. That unwillingness often comes from the strong desire to seek comfort over discomfort. Even if you have the information, the time, and the ability, the pull of what is comfortable drags you right back to doing what you’ve always done. It’s familiar, it’s easy, and it requires little effort—and all without the discomfort that goes hand in hand with growth. Stop right here and re-read this three times. It is the truest thing you will read about salespeople. It is also the truest observation I know of people in general where lack of achievement is concerned.

What should make you uncomfortable is being comfortable. The real danger isn’t in failing, losing, or taking more time than you expected to produce the result you want. The real danger is slipping back into what is familiar, and in doing so, producing a result that is far less than you are capable of and living with the regret of not becoming the person who comes after the one that is reading this article. I defy anyone who knows sales and salesmen to tell me there is any single word in this synopsis that is not 100% correct. I meet a lot of comfortable people, I really do. Successful sales people are edgy , always looking for the advantage but maintaining an excellent status quo with clients, prospects, and those they work with.

My pet theory on time. : The most common excuse for everyone in the 21st Century is not having enough time. But time is here and it is here now. We all have plenty of time but how we use it is the issue. Claiming not to have time is something all your clients will be telling you, you will be telling your boss, your boss will be telling me and I will be telling my dog, Dennis, when he wants a good long walk. Time and lack of it is simply turned into an excuse. Please see it as that when people say this to you. It means you are not important enough, that is all it means in the 21st Century. So you have to make a strong enough case for people to give you some of their precious time. There are a host of reasons there is no time in an office. It's too dull and meaningless to list them. What you need to do though is prioritise phone time. Get off the computer inbox for 90 minute bursts of undistracted phone time and watch your results grow. For a telephone conversation you do not need three screens open in front of you. To focus properly on the call you need none. You need to focus. Be prepared with several calls to make. Making calls is about rhythm. You build a rhythm by allocating solid blocks of time.

I have said it before but lack of time and saying you don't have time for certain aspects of work is a reworking of the school story when homework was not done. "The dog ate my homework" was a common excuse. That is what we must all conquer now with the process of getting ourselves out of our comfort zones to do what we must do to get new business from new clients and not rely on new business from existing clients. Everyone has the Hunter gene in them. Not having time to hunt means you go hungry in most situations.

Bottom line is not to use time as your excuse and not to let others off the hook with their " no time issues" I am a serious believer in the very old saying " If you want something done then ask a busy person ". Stay with the genuinely busy people over the daydreamers because they will get things done. Put my thoughts into action over just 4 weeks and you guarantee yourself more business. Just reading this blog and agreeing with me means simply nothing happens. Use your time wisely and be your own time keeper.

A rhythmical series of calls over 90 minutes is a great use of time in your prospecting. Simply no distractions, call after call and you slow down when you gain interest. Clients of mine will know my process for making these prospecting calls and recording results in a way that allows you to keep the sustained rhythm throughout a calling session. As clients know, there really is a process for doing this and making best use of your TIME.

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