"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 ~

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.

Leaving messages: Ten Personal Observations.

The following is pretty good advice on the thorny issue of leaving voicemail and sending email. It is all about attitude and persuasiveness. Here are ten observations. They are not rules. Your own company may give you rules, mine are simply experienced suggestions:



1. Number one is to never usually email when you could call first. Why would you email someone instead of a friendly, businesslike callback ? Sending email to inbound enquiries is lazy. A call sets the whole transaction on the right rails. Before email, it was the priority for everyone when they got written or faxed enquiries to call. Please don't even think of questioning this advice. Take the conversation onwards from their enquiry to a call. However, there is another tip in here. You may not be able to reach Mr Big when the email enquiry comes in so please acknowledge with an email and encourage a call back. Meanwhile keep trying. Don't rest on relying on your email reply. This is sound advice.

2. You may have to try several times over several days to get hold of the person you need. You should send an email to confirm receipt of the enquiry or order. Call backs are routinely needed for orders too. These call backs give the opportunity for cross-selling and up-selling. Both extremely important. No matter how well you think you know the buyer or how insignificant you feel the enquiry is you should call them to "open" or "confirm" the sale. Don't, avoid the callback is another suggestion. You are letting your company down when you do this. Top of the list for this is best practice and it's also very courteous.

3. The email you send has to have one key ingredient at the end. That ingredient is "a call to action" . However obvious the enquiry is you need to acknowledge it by phone and by email first sometimes. This is my personal rule and served me and still serves me extremely well on the phone. Sending the email is a fall back when you cannot immediately get through and must be done the same morning/afternoon of the enquiry. Email is not a substitute for the phone call. No "call back " is a missed opportunity that sometimes up to 80% of company sales staff fail to acknowledge. Mainly through a fear of flying or simply being lazy. It's different for customer service. For customer service you and your colleagues need to be selective on who gets a call and who gets an email.

4. Competition . There are always several people waiting to take your clients and your prospects away from you. Don't forget this and never take a client or a prospect for granted. Another big reason people change suppliers is that your opposition slips in with a very enticing phone call.

5. Your best competition will be trying to get an edge over you, trying to be more competitive and will take even your most seasoned clients given half the chance. A major reason for continuous dialogue. Dialogue is your insurance policy. Please try hard not confuse regular conversations with email. Do not call too often.

6. The opportunity to "up-sell" and "cross-sell "can only be fully exploited by a personal visit or a phone call. Thinking email will sell for you is the biggest single mistake being made by internal or "inside" sales agents. I run into it a lot . My suggestion is that phone calls sell and persuade people whereas as email confirms everything and is great for attachments. Don't swap these two around.

7. Instead of asking when someone is likely to be available (which is a rubbish question) ask what time they get in. That's the great question to ask. You allow people 10 minutes for Mr Big to settle in and you call. This may involve you making early calls. There is real value of having this as part of your routine.

8. The strength of calls following enquiries is very powerful. Now you can really motor past any barriers raised by gatekeepers and their colleagues. You have a passport to speak to the person who got in touch. Accept no pushing away tactics. The power is in your hands this time. My line is nearly always "This is Simon Kenna (K-E-N-N-A). I am returning Mr Bigs's call or email. It's all about how you say this with confidence and really does work.

9. Planning. Please don't pick up the phone like Dolly Daydream. Make sure it's a positive and persuasive sales call that you make and not a bored clerical call. Plan each call for several outcomes. You all know this to be true. Once you have your call plan it can be repeated again and again when you get a great workable template.

10. Finally, be the person that your clients want to deal with. Don't be haughty, dull or ineffectual. Be persuasive, go the "extra mile". Typically buyers jump out at you if you find their pain and help them. You really must sound as if you care. Unless you have any contrary advice from your own company I urge you to trust me on the above. There are many more things to know and put into practice but this list is an encouraging starting point if you are new to sales on the phone and a good reminder if you already "know it all". Thirty years later and I am still discovering new ways into conversations so keep your mind open and that is the trusted way of closing the sales.

Making That First Call

The process outlined below will guarantee you increased conversions:



I would like to pass on something really useful to each of you dealing with enquiries from potential clients. You may 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 that way.

The way so many people deal with inbound enquiries remains seriously strange to me. Many people are palpably mad where such enquires are handled so lazily, so often and by so many. Allow me to explain as this will improve your conversion rate and in turn your KPIs be they weekly, or monthly.

Let me set the scene: You are now having a weekly KPI check on your figures and you end up with a percentage figure which you go away and try and improve for next week. Or this is done monthly. Correct? Trouble is the number of leads vary each week. Some convert long after the week they were counted for etc etc. So it's in no way acceptably accurate. But it is the best system you have maybe. Or you have a truly reflective KPI figure and still you are looking to improve.

Every huddle or meeting ends with a promise or thereabouts to improve. Either way the KPIs work out you can't just look at them and say they need to be better. You need to take action...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.

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 you need to be better.

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. Correct?

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, the odd hours people make themselves available so you email a quote if you have the information. Now, the important part is what follows.



Check with yourself how long you currently leave them with the quote 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 ? So this is what you change. This is the one magic aspect that you change.

By all means send the email but carry on trying that number over two to three 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 one likely outcome.

Try early, try late. 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 but you missed the chance. This happens to all of us. That's where you need to be fully on your best game to prevent this happening.

The above paragraphs are 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 so on. 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 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.

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 gold dust. 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 timeframe. Email if you must, but still hammer your phone for a conversation within a day or three at the outside.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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