Reports are available from the USA comparing digital marketing / cold email campaigns and a host of other non telephone attempts to gain new “business to business” clients. They all have the same conclusion.
Each time it’s the same answer. Nothing beats the telephone for getting new introductions. Network events and business clubs are at a standstill now however even if they were not they will never outstrip the time honoured practice of devoting a good proportion of business time each day to calling prospects.
If in current circumstances you and your team are working from home that’s no excuse for not making calls. Not calling from your mobile phone is no longer an excuse as it was 15 years ago.
So why aren’t more calls being made given the evidence? The reason is that few employees would choose calling up when there is something less stressful to be getting on with. This is a basic truism.
Teams need to be professionally encouraged to pick up the phone and dial a large list of prospects. You will get a tiny % of interest to mail shots and digital marketing however still, to this day, nothing has come close to the telephone with the initial results it can produce.
In the past few years I have visited many sales rooms in the UK. The ones that work have a genuine buzz to them. It’s about one third of them. The rest, to a greater or lesser extent, are as quiet as an empty church.
People gazing at screens, emailing people they should call and filling up an encyclopaedic CRM system with useless information on people who should have been called a lot more than once.
In my world nobody should escape the phone. Directors, managers, team leaders.... BDM’s whatever you are calling yourself you know as well as I do that the compelling function is to be on the phone to open new doors and start forming adult business relationships.
Even receptionists have a significant role in sales where inbound enquiries are concerned. Many a potential deal is lost even before the person picking up the phone in your office has finished that first conversation. Usually through a lack of enthusiasm or just not knowing how to engage a caller.
The cartoon at the top of this blog should be blown up to poster size and displayed prominently in all sales rooms. It’s simply the truth of the age we live in.
You can easily test the theory. Get a well sourced list with 200 names, titles, phone numbers and email addresses. Send your spam email to each of them. So that’s one spam email to 200 prospects. Do nothing for 3 weeks and using the same list pick up the phone to the 200 names. It’s irrefutable that you will overall be more successful with the calls.
Below is an interesting page from a very old sales book. When I find it again I will add a byline for the author/ publisher.
My point is that in the “Sales Guru” universe new episodes/ new mantras / new formulas/ New CRM razzmatazz are flooding the market place during the current crisis.
I never want to be confused with a sales guru. All my work is based on empirical evidence, that’s stuff I have actually done with no mystic messaging from a pyramid perched on the side of the tallest tree in Tibet.
I would remind everyone that nothing is new in sales. Everyone I know who truly demonstrates the points below win without the razzmatazz of New Age selling formulas. Nothing, simply nothing overrides enthusiasm .
Unless you are an estate agent things could be looking quite grim at the moment as far as telephone sales are concerned. My view is that things are usually only grim if you allow them to be. If you are an accomplished salesperson you will know already that consistency in calling is the key as you certainly will not convert more enquiries into business if you start the day thinking it’s going to be very tough.
If you are qualifying leads or booking meetings (appointments) then for sure there are some obstacles to overcome. Remain positive on each new call is my tip !
Zoom meetings, (though I personally dislike them), are an alternative. There is a whole art to Zoom calls and setting up Zoom meetings. I have all the advice you would need in this respect.
However, with modern technology, online brochures and price lists etc I favour the phone every time over Zoom type calls. Call me old fashioned however I am right. Most Zoom calls simply bring distractions to the calls. A chance to show off I read recently.
A little known fact is that in the USA several business polls confirm that around 80% of business owners and decision makers strongly dislike Zoom pitches. Internal Zoom calls within your company are completely different and acceptable. Then it’s useful for morning meetings etc particularly if you are working remotely.
There is now a very different methodology to be used to ensure success in cold calls during what may be a long period of pandemic. Again, to get these skills which truly will make a difference I suggest you ask me about how I help people master their phone calls with confidence and without pressure and despondency.
With a new and more persuasive process your numbers and conversion rates will assuredly improve. Please don’t simply take my word for this - check out my testimonials.
As for the huge swing to telesales departments working from home this presents new challenges for all concerned which includes those making the calls and the management/directors overseeing the operation.
My experience on this subject is total. On average less than 10% (if even that) will operate as well on their own as they would in a team environment in an office unless they get professional guidance. I have all the data anyone might need to prove this point. To get the best from a team working from home why not apply for help from someone who knows this side of business and everything connected to it backwards ? The rewards of working with me are confirmed by the feedback you can read on this website. Do nothing and nothing will change is my suggestion at this point.
Call me on 020 8720 6567 and set up a no commitment conversion. Join those who are not missing much in these challenging times .
My guarantee is that if I feel I can’t help I will tell you immediately in our first conversation. (There are some companies that even wild horses cannot help). Likewise you will tell me if you feel I am probably a cracked record. Working together needs to be a mutually satisfactory arrangement. I look forward to hearing from you without any promise from me or obligation from you.
Which is more professional and effective ? The running of a Telesales room or the running of a well regulated and efficient hospital ward ?
There is no contest.
The first 20 minutes of every day in a hospital ward are not spent on excuses and absenteeism by the nursing staff or eating breakfast at a desk. Or running out for the first fag break.
The next hour is not spent catching up on personal emails, texting friends and clandestine personal phone calls or daydreaming. I don’t care who you are or what you do in sales very few will have the proficiency or dedication of hospital workers. Hospital workers have each other’s backs covered. They are alert to everything around them, everything even slightly out of the normal is noticed. A similar verifiable process of checks and balances in a sales office would profoundly introduce similar positive outcomes. Simply think about what could be checked and verified each day like taking the patients temperature each morning and checking blood pressure of each person on a ward.
Compare the tight knit approach on a hospital ward and many telesales teams put the A in Amateur and the D in Dysfunctional. A month training alongside a team in a hospital ward would show us all what a genuine, concise, precision based professional outlook and approach to professional work is all about.
Think about this as only good can come from such thoughts. Stop being haphazard and doing only what you “feel” you want to do and doing it only when you “feel” you want to do it . Just imagine how long your hospital patients would survive based on your chosen daily activities in telesales. Compare that to what you know needs to be done for comprehensive success .
As for this image. It’s a warning. Be prepared from today onwards for this line about the New Year for a decision.
Winning is what being in sales is all about. It’s not about mechanical dialling and mechanical sales pitching attempts. It’s about inspired dialling and exciting pitching skills and excellent listening skills on top of genuine enthusiasm for a good outcome for your clients. By giving your potential clients what they want you will ensure your company gets what it wants.
Anyone falling for the New Normal ? I hope not .
Everyone should focus on simply getting back to normal. Only the strong will survive. Make sure it’s you and please save me from the media rhetoric of New Normal. Get back to basics and everyone please get serious and ignore the New Normal Nonsense.
Nothing much has changed in the world of persuasion over time. Technology has changed and so have people’s aspirations. Here are a few pointers :
Firstly ignore the messiahs of the new normal. It’s a fantasy . Deep down any new normal is not relevant in telephone sales. Pretty soon people will wise up to the obvious and that’s a return to the straight line structure and processes of telephone sales.
Zoom calls ?
Are you kidding me ? Nothing beats pure mouth to ear communication outside of a personal visit to clients . Make a short product or service video by all means but no Zoom calls. Hard work on the phone aided by a short product or service video is the answer. Zoom and Skype and all their imitators are false prophets as the past 30 years have proven. Simply little traction and now heralded as the New Normal ? Piers Morgan on his breakfast show this week rubbished Zoom calls perfectly after a one month trial. He is right.
Video conferencing has been around 30 years with poor success rates year on year outside corporate clap trap. A recent Hubspot survey in the USA shows only 15% of recipients being more comfortable with video calls rather than phone calls. Fact.
My third quarter tips are :
1. Clean and up to date data. Don’t waste valuable telesales time with “marketing” diversions. Find the best list provider in your sector and pay accordingly. The list will contain everything you need. This investment will always return more than the DIY work. Keep your telesales teams on the phone doing the “hard yards” or grunt work as I call it.
Telesales Teams love doing “research “ during prime calling time. The reason being you pay them a salary for this work and it generally means plenty of time can be spent on research rather than picking up the phone. Good lists are a no-brainer. I know all about Pipedrive if you are using this system. I am both a fan and not a fan as my clients know. Don’t ever
use it as a stand alone system is my advice.
1a. A good LinkedIn survey published today confirms that real time calls made in Telesales departments has dropped by 20% since the year 2000 with the advent of CRM bells and whistles. I often spot more activity in a public library than many phone rooms.
2. Employ the right people. It’s really not hard once you know who you are looking for and pay a reasonable basic (never a high basic). Put in a proper and worthy commission structure. Be very careful about long term bonuses. They do not motivate sales teams. Open ended uncapped Commission is the key. Finally look at your offer. Would you take the job ? Often you wouldn’t so get back to the drawing board.
3. Every day should kick off with a morning meeting and this way the stragglers are embarrassed into coming to work on time. Plus you inspire everyone and notice the weak links early in the day and deal with the situation.
4. Afternoon meeting as above. Short and sharp.
5. Training ? Training is what you give your team as regards products , services and company process. Equally important is sales coaching on a regular and individual basis over and above team talks, away-days at seminars and the carrot and stick approach.
Professional time tested coaching from someone who has had a lifetime on the phone may be as good as it gets.
The best paid employees in the USA are major league sports coaches. That’s for a very good reason and we should all know that telephone sales is a contact sport. I do not need to recommend myself as my clients do that for me. I am, by no means, for everyone. There are plenty of teachers of sales out there for you to choose however few with a long term personal experience of telephone sales.
6. The tip here is to get a professional (with many miles of telephone sales under his or her bonnet) to coach your team. It’s very different from “managing” a team. Sales managers not 90% on the phone themselves are a waste. Nobody in successful commission only sales would ever dream of being a “manager”. Be careful of what I call “management creep”. It’s similar to Poison Ivy in the gardening world. Your best salesperson leads by example not by a meaningless title.
7. If you have a sales team that needs to be managed you are way off course.
8. Telephone sales is not the generalist subject so many think it is. It’s a specialist subject. The difference solid individual coaching can make is enormous. External coaching can set a team on fire.
9. (That’s enough plugging myself.) Simply ask to speak to my reviewers if you are “on the fence” on external help ).
10. Read the above 9 points again and get back to normal.
Video Calls ? No thank you.
I am currently getting a number enquiries around the subject of video calls for telephone sales. Many will encourage you to slip into this style of communication in current circumstances.
My simple suggestion is do not entertain the idea
if you or your company have always worked via the telephone for opening accounts. This may be the view of a dinosaur as it goes very much against the current trend.
As a substitute for a face to face meeting everyone needs to make their own decisions regarding face to face being substituted by video. In these circumstances I will agree that it’s a fair proposition. For regular clients who are comfortable with video - no problem.
However for phone sales you will simply be introducing limitless distractions to your presentation. I do not buy any of the bells and whistles . One suggestion has been a Green screen and a good lighting set up. Even with this I am going to suggest that video calling is an unnecessary addition for SME new business account opening calls There are several variables in the decision taken by different companies and everyone will choose their own options.
The current situation does not change the value or structure of proven cold calling techniques. Adding a running stream of your face and background as you pitch clients will invariably be no great advance to the spoken word and could well lead to delay, prevarication, image rejection and often counter to the presentation you infer in simple a phone call. Video adds a subjective level to your new business calls.
Making a short video presentation of your products and services is a big step forward for some and I am the first to appreciate this.
However for new conversations with prospects I suggest video conferencing / individual video presentations will not achieve more than the time tested 1:1 mouth to ear conversation. That, for me, is the time honoured and most effective route. What happens after the first call is up to you. However I am a committed sceptic on the value of setting up video calls to introduce yourself and your company.
You need to think about it and draw your own conclusions. Mine were formed a long time ago and nothing will sway me away from “mouth - direct to ear” conversations.
That’s a big question. Anyone who has met me in the course of their business life will know I have plenty of tips, plenty of process and a good degree of integrity to pass on to open minded young people who make their living on the phone .
There is no one tip that is top of a list as my help is very much horses for courses. That’s an old racing metaphor. Certain horses do particularly well at certain racecourses and that’s a fact. For example a few courses are left handed (so anti-clockwise) whilst most are right handed ( so clockwise ). Some horses cannot race to their potential on left handed courses whilst others have a distinct advantage. It’s curious and totally true.
As for my best “tips” I do have one for almost everyone. When people meet me or send their weekly emails they get lots of personal ones. However if I were in front of a judge I would have to give the following as the single most useful tip and it applies to everyone.
Sales and telephone sales have not changed much from the dawn of telephone time as it’s all about persuasion . Persuasion has been around since human times began. It’s technology that has changed dramatically and particularly over the past 25 years.
Email is the focus of my “tip” : What every person responsible for new business should do is look forensically at each and every email they receive. The judgement is then “Can I call this person ?” Or more precisely should I call this person? Make a brief mental plan for that call before you dial. Keep going until you reach the person who placed the enquiry or the order.
The opportunity to upsell and cross-sell is in every call you then make. Most people appreciate the call. It often secures a deal which is equally important. The value of a telephone call before any email confirmation is missed all day and every day by many companies.
The very weakest will be replying to emails with your own emails and then a long chain of email can happen. Ping pong. Total nonsense . I encourage everyone to reply to almost all sales related emails with a call.
Most of your potential and existing clients will appreciate the courtesy of these calls and after doing a hundred of such calls you will quickly see the advantages of improving the customer relationships and improving your own sales figures.
You don’t need to trust me on this you simply need to test and measure to confirm the process to yourself .
Here is my suggestion on finding cold calling leads and a process on obtains the leads. If you even remotely trust the above graphic there is a surprise for you in this article.
You may already have staff doing their own research before calling potential clients. This is certainly not the best use of their time if employed to get you new business by phone.
Very valuable time, often hours on end, are spent searching websites, LinkedIn and entering non clients onto a CRM isystem. ( The polar opposite to what CRM is all about and what it was really created for). CRM is a Customer Record Management system - not for recording prospects).
My solid advice for most is to buy in good data lists. Your team then spend their day doing what’s important- calling prospective clients. Those hours spent researching? Generally a fudge for not being active on the phone and an extension of Call Reluctance. Buying a good list pays for itself in time saved and new clients.
Economically it’s such good sense to buy good data. Here is another consideration:
When you do your own research and make lists you need to be careful.There is no way of knowing if the target company is on the CTPS. (Company Telephone Preference Service).
Apart from any potential fine from calling such prospects, it really isn't an ideal start to a call when the person on the phone explains that they are on the CTPS list and that you shouldn't be calling.
I prefer to "call with confidence" - Know, without doubt, that your data has been sourced in the right way, is of high quality and meets all of the latest UK marketing regulations especially since GDPR. ( General Data Protection Regulation ) was introduced.
You also need the backing of knowing that the data has come from one of the UK's leading B2B data houses. My contact company is a founder member of the DMA (Data and Marketing Association) and is a multi award winning in their field.
Correctly sourced lists are presented in neat Spreadsheets with columns showing all sorts of key information about the target Company. Over and above the basics of address, phone, contact name etc, other metrics such as turnover, number of employees, year established and more specific data.
My own contact is as safe as houses with all of the above so if you have need of good, clean. CTPS checked lists then please get in touch with me for details. I do not make anything from the introduction. It is part of my service to clients. You do need to be my client though🦉
Using such lists is far more economical, trustworthy and positive than all that time spent with telesales doing their “research” or calling very dormant old customers .Take my advice I have seen both sides of this coin for a very long time.
Oh yes, the surprise I promised you ? The graphic above is legendary in one form or another. However the statistics are not true for sales calls, not true at all ! The basis of these types of list are based on a myth. Back in the 1950’s a research company produced some strong data for a branding agency. The rough figures were for how often it takes people to respond to billboard adverts around the city of New York. How often it takes people. to remember the brand name.
The relevance, in particular for telephone sales, of this table is non-existant.
Since then the table and many chewed up variations of it as above have been wrongly attributed to the sales industry which is very different to the Branding detail used by marketing companies.
Now you know.
This is a short real life story that illustrates persistence when you really do need it. The following, like all my blog posts is my opinion only. An opinion shaped by 30 years on the telephone and running teams. Make your own mind up to see if this works for you.
I have many examples but this one is current. One of the things I hear a lot of is people referring to dials , dialled calls to clients in their lead lists. Dials are nothing. Anyone can do dials. It's conversations and conversions that count. Also the interim figure which is advances from that first call. Forget about dials completely. It's a number not an activity worth recording. Sales is not and never has been a numbers game. We all need to make calls. Making plenty of calls is the process. But you don’t win just by “doing the numbers”. Success is far more subtle. My border terrier could do 400 dials a day. It’s not the metric to measure.
Many conversations, depending on your business, are inbound enquiries as they have been trying to get your company to answer by phone or an emailed enquiry. So it's really not good enough to give up on them too easily.
Saying "19 inbound leads today and spoke to two of them.” Is something I heard from the team of one client last year.
I have my doubts on what happens to the other 17 enquiries ~~ so they get called again, emailed an estimate or left ? I know what happens after one call !
They get an email and that's where you can make the biggest mistake on inbound calls.
They should all be called several times in the first day if they contacted you.
The best telephone method and the only one that I promote is Phone-mail-Phone. Starting a relationship with a potential buyer is best done by phone and in that first call you get the who, what, where, and when and followed up by email confirmation and then phoned again to close or make significant advances.
Just guessing what you think they want and quoting is often not good enough. You have to speak to them. Often your questions should be around why they want something. That allows you to make better or different suggestions . These suggestions help the client. When you are helping a client get what they want you are also helping yourself get what you want.🦉
Try really hard to phone everything relevant in your email inbox.
Even if you do feel the need to email as you cannot get them by phone keep trying to get them even when you sent an email. You have good reason to be in hot pursuit on the phone if they made the enquiry. It is permissible for you to keep calling but maybe not badgering to get through -they made an enquiry. You have questions.
The next step :
The best set up for a close is when you get the potential client to agree to call you back. When he does, happy days. When he does not you call him. There is a real technique here that is part the of my coaching that gets this system running like a Swiss watch.
Here is my example. After 30 years with the same father and son medical practice I have had to change to one nearer where I now live. Registering was easy but making that first meeting with a doctor took skill. I was told that once on the system I could call back that same day around 4 pm and make the appointment. Except they then told me they didn't have any for a month and to call back at 8am sharp each day to see about cancellations. This is a regular occurrence for everyone using GP services.
I did not want an appointment that day I wanted one next week. The process to get through at that time is one I know well. You continually dial from 8am or you never get through. I did this. 60 dials and redials then it answered and cut me off. Another 7 minutes more dialling to get through . 26 minutes continuous dialling. That is the persistence I refer to. They don't know me at all at this stage but then ten minutes later a doctor was phoning me back and our meeting for the next week set up. You don't count the dials just the fact that I made the calls and got the advance.
I am not attempting to be a smart Alec here. This actually happened and went my way ? Why ? Well firstly I had a strong desire to see a doctor as I was in considerable pain
So that made it important to me to get through. That was a lot of dials and no luck. Persistence did pay off. 26 minutes consistently redialling an engaged number.
You will each have similar situations. Problems with your children at school / getting home. Car in a garage/ deliveries at home . You get the picture ? With all these you don't give up and you rarely email. This is my approach to leads and I doubt emailing the surgery would have done me any good at all.
I would suggest that dud leads with no number or the wrong number be returned. It's not a lead and should be replaced. A lot of figures are based on leads that are issued when KPIs are measured. Make sure you get the dud leads replaced.
When you get to the office and others spend the morning looking at LinkedIn, checking the CRM and doing email ping-pong you are on the phone cranking up the interest with new prospects. You will be at the finish line far quicker than the others. This is like ABC to me, and yes it did take me quite a while to learn the best way of working but I have it now and have had it for many years.
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
My number one piece of advice is to see the background 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 professional 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.
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 is 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 have a ton of enthusiasm and be ambitious. I 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.
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.
(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.
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 📱
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.