Monthly Archives: February 2010

Cold Calling?

So there has been NO shortage of responses to my Feb 18 blog, on cold calling.
I probably should have explained that my title came from how most people feel about telemarketers. My tone was ironic, but obviously that does not always come across in print.
Cold calling gets a bad name from the people who do it badly.
Like I said in my blog, who HASN’T had one of these calls? You know the ones: they call right in the middle of a meal; they get your name wrong; they don’t take no for an answer; they’re pushy & rude.

And then we wonder why sell is a 4 letter word.

Done right, though, a good sale is good for everyone. The seller benefits; the customer benefits: & as long as the deal is legal, everyone benefits: that’s how economies grow, since an asset is being moved from lower to higher value.

The good news? It’s easy to sell, since you just have to remember: always be the opposite of those people who phone in the middle of a playoff game to ask if Mr or Mrs Wrongname is happy with their current brand of toilet paper.

My Rules For Selling:
1) Be firm, but never pushy.

2) Gracefully take no for an answer if the customer is sure. Forcing a sale never works in the long run.

3) Be friendly & polite. A joke or two doesn’t hurt, if you keep it short.

4) Believe in the product. If you believe what you’re selling can genuinely help people, that’s 3/4 of the battle.

5) Keep positive. Every once in awhile you will get someone very rude. But that one rude “NO!” just gets you closer to your next “Yes.”

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More Lowlifes?

So there has been NO shortage of responses to my Feb 18 blog, on cold calling.
I probably should have explained that my title came from how most people feel about telemarketers. My tone was ironic, but obviously that does not always come across in print.
Cold calling gets a bad name from the people who do it badly.
Like I said in my blog, who HASN’T had one of these calls? You know the ones: they call right in the middle of a meal; they get your name wrong; they don’t take no for an answer; they’re pushy & rude.

And then we wonder why sell is a 4 letter word.

Done right, though, a good sale is good for everyone. The seller benefits; the customer benefits: & as long as the deal is legal, everyone benefits: that’s how economies grow, since an asset is being moved from lower to higher value.

The good news? It’s easy to sell, since you just have to remember: always be the opposite of those people who phone in the middle of a playoff game to ask if Mr or Mrs Wrongname is happy with their current brand of toilet paper.

My Rules For Selling:
1) Be firm, but never pushy.

2) Gracefully take no for an answer if the customer is sure. Forcing a sale never works in the long run.

3) Be friendly & polite. A joke or two doesn’t hurt, if you keep it short.

4) Believe in the product. If you believe what you’re selling can genuinely help people, that’s 3/4 of the battle.

5) Keep positive. Every once in awhile you will get someone very rude. But that one rude “NO!” just gets you closer to your next “Yes.”

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Bold Calling- Are you trying to hide?

Got quite a number of responses on my latest post, a sneak peek from my book, so I thought I would give one more!

Cold calling is one thing. Bold calling is when you….actually have to go & talk to someone. So would anyone besides print sales people or candy salespeople bold call?

For even moderately shy people, this can be very tough. Why? Because there’s no telephone to hide behind.

But there is no better way to learn sales & get to know your customers.

Here is how I tell people to get started. E.g., you are selling business insurance.

Find a group of businesses near your area that seem to be doing well. Pick one to start with; breathe deep; walk right in the door. Be friendly, smiling. Say hi to the first person, introduce yourself, ask if you can speak to the owner. Two things happen here:

1) the person says yes, you are speaking to him/her. In this case, great. Say: “I’m just in the area introducing myself to the local businesses. A lot of the ones I’ve spoken to mention they have real problems getting good deals on insurance, since the neighborhood had crime problems years ago. Are you finding the same thing?”
The answer will probably be yes, since who has ever heard of an insurance company with reasonable rates? Then you say–“I’m having a free workshop in the area soon to discuss this problem. Can I send you some information about it–do you have a business card?” The owner will almost certainly say yes. If they say no, smile, shake hands, very friendly, & leave. Or let’s say you are a business coach You can ask “how has the economy effected your business? After the answer you can mention you are having a workshop on how businesses can get things moving despite the economic downturn and could you get there contact info so I can send you some information about the seminar?”

2)The owner is not in or on break or on leave or on vacation or on lunch or is gone indefinitely. No problem. Two quick questions–“One, can I get his or her card? Two, can you suggest a good day/time to get in touch?” 9 times out of 10, people who work at a store will cheerfully answer these questions. Make sure to follow up on those cards, within the week, if possible.

3) Happy hunting!

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Filed under Business, Cold calling, Economy, Financial services, Insurance, Recession, Sales, Telephone

Let’s Face it: Only Low-Lifes Make Cold Calls

Here’s a sneak peek from my forthcoming book!

In the days before call display and handy screening,  did you ever answer the phone, especially when you were busy, & have someone say, quickly & almost mechanically–

“HelloamIspeakingtoMrorMrs

fill in the blank – usually mispronounced!

What was your first reaction?

I thought these people were pond scum. I hated telemarketers so I would tell them what I thought and I hung up on these people. No doubt so did you.
Now, if you work in the public sector, you will probably never have to make a cold call. But in the private sector, they’re not uncommon. Why? Because–done correctly–they work.

I am the CEO of ActionCoach in Canada. I have made hundreds of sales in my lifetime. All of them are a result of cold calls. All of them.

All of the top people in business, no matter what they sell, have excelled at cold calling. It’s part of the job.

How do you pick up the phone & make those calls? Here are 4 tips to get you started:

1) Take a deep breath. If you do it right, all the responses will be polite. Sure, 1 in 100 people will swear or get mad. But to be good at sales means you have to forget or ignore that one. And remember: to overcome your reluctance to cold call, no one is “above” doing it.

2) Referrals. Do whatever it takes to get a name. Try to start with something like this: “Hi John, my name is Greg. Robert Smith at Edmonton Auto said it would be ok if I gave you a quick call. Could I get a minute of your time?” And obviously offer to reschedule if they cannot speak right this second.

3) above all, if nothing else, GET THEIR NAME RIGHT. Don’t say “Mr Woods” if their name is Mr Wood. Don’t say ‘TRU-ang’ if it’s pronounced “True-ANG.” If the name is foreign or unfamiliar to you, find out how to get it right. You won’t get Mr Rheaume’s business if you ask to speak to Mr “Rume.”

4) No matter if people say yes, no or get lost you were who you were before you made the call and you are still the same person after you made the call. The only person who can change that opinion is you. You may have to get 100 no’s to get that one yes. In the end it is worth it!

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Filed under Audit and Purchasing, Business, Canada, Economy, Government, Private sector, Public sector, Rheaume

3 Steps that will Benefit Small Business

You might have seen this in the Financial Post, about the newest member of Dragon’s Den:
http://www.financialpost.com/small-business/entrepreneur/story.html?id=2227778

In the interview, he says a lot of useful things. I especially appreciated this, when asked about encouraging entrepreneurs in Canada:
“I’m very excited about what’s going on in this country. We don’t celebrate the entrepreneurial process as much as we should, and there is a lot to celebrate. We tend to focus on large companies and forget about how nimble, dynamic, and important small companies are. I have seen some wonderful examples of small businesses growing into big businesses. But growth for the sake of growth is sometimes a waste of energy. You don’t always have to get bigger to be better. You should just focus on getting better to be better.”

I couldn’t agree more. If Canadians as a group have a flaw, it’s that we are too safe, too formulaic, and too insular. Economies (& to a certain extent, countries) are built by people having ideas & then carrying them into action. People forget that large companies like Microsoft, GE & Ford started as one or two people selling a vision. McDonald’s may have served umpteen billion by now, but they started with just one location.

In another section of the paper, they do a short profile on a guy in Ottawa who in a few short years created his own little pizza chain from nothing. Customers are lining up. And all from the efforts of one person.
We need to do more in this country to help small business, not just talk about it. At election time, some politician somewhere says, correctly, that small businesses do most of the real hiring in this country. Everybody applauds but nobody fixes anything.
Here are three reasonable steps, I think that small business could benefit from:
– No income tax on a business that takes in less 30k gross a year
– Stop making small restaurants jump through hoops every time they want to add 2 mm to their patio or serve wine on the weekends.
-As of jan 1, 2011, no more “service fees” from banks/credit unions on small business accounts. Every ad for a bank or credit union in Canada goes on & on about their love for small business. Make them prove it!

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Filed under Business, Business and Economy, Canada, Dragons' Den, Income tax, McDonald, Microsoft, Small business

Is Facebook good for Business?

Facebook—Great for Business Leads

Last December I wrote about the pros & cons, mostly pros, of being on Twitter.

Today I’m going to do the same for Facebook.

If you are not on Facebook, there are probably some reasons for that. I’m a relatively new member, but I have to say that I’m beginning to see the merits of being on this social media site.
At first my thoughts on the social media were like the following:

Objection #1: “It wastes time.” So does the telephone; are you going to throw it out? Objection #2: “I get a lot of meaningless status updates from people.” Ignore them, or de-friend them. (Either is very easy.)
Objection 3#- “I hear it brings people together. That’s the last thing I want.” Fair enough– there are a lot of people in high school I never, ever want to see or hear from again. But again, FaceBook makes it easy: either ignore the friend request in the 1st place, or de-friend them, if you already have. Both are easy.

Anyway, even at its worst, FaceBook is a superb tool. It makes it easy to keep in touch with a number of people you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. I have a little over 223 friends on FaceBook; given my schedule, I’d be lucky to keep in touch with half that many without FaceBook.

No one who has a small business can afford NOT to be on FaceBook. It is such a great tool–and free! A number of clients found me that way; it’s the easiest pitch in the world.
And if you are really interested in making connections, check out all the ActionCOACH groups available.

Before I go, a few dont’s on facebook:

1) Don’t make your status updates completely irrelevant. People reach for the ‘defriend’ button when they read for the umpteenth time that you prefer sunshine to rain.
2) Don’t ignore anyone. That person writing you might be a potential customer; ask questions if you are not sure. (FaceBook makes that easy.)
3) Don’t spend all day on it. FaceBook can be a real time-sucker.
4) Don’t friend everyone. These people are called ‘friend-collectors’ on FaceBook & heartily despised.

Oh by the way, Facebook now has close to 200 million users, so how can you and your business not benefit from it?

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How do I increase sales for my business?

In a recent poll by ActionCOACH over 25% of business owners were apathetic to making money. That is they really weren’t going to do anything about their situation.
Why? Because for the most part they are putting their trust in the wrong people hoping for a quick fix that’s not going to come.

A lot of my clients run small-to-medium businesses. And they come to me because there is so little help out there for the small business owner. So if you aren’t one of those business owners that like to sit back and wait for help, what do you do?

1) Is everybody doing their job? Half the time I can increase sales at any company by just making sure people do their job & leave other people’s alone.
2) Is there a plan? The other half of the time I can increase sales by asking people–What good will this do? If it’s not doing anyone any good, consider cutting it out.
3) Breathe. Everybody who runs a small business is perpetually worried. This is natural. But just stick to your strengths–hard work has a way of paying off, even if you don’t see results right this minute.
4) Coaching. If nothing else, a good coach is someone who is not you. That is, someone who has not been immersed in your problems for years. The best feedback I’ve had from a client? “I’ve never thought of it that way before!”
5) If nothing else, be the kind of boss people dream of. Not a pushover. I don’t mean that. I do mean the kind of person who actually listens when his employees talk, as opposed to that mindless nodding we’ve all been exposed to

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