Cold Calling Success

I say every week when talking at conferences as a sales motivational speaker that you have to Share Sales Success Stories (my powerful 4S Principle) with yourself, with your sales team and within your organization and yet, I don’t share very many with you.

So I thought it was about time that I rectified that so here’s one that I got a couple of days ago. It says all there is to say about cold calling when it’s done right (which is of course what I teach) and from the right sales mindset so I suggest you read it several times, imagine what these kind of results could do for you and then take massive action!

Hi Gavin,

Thanks for your message and for connecting. Who said that cold calling was dead? Recent apppointments set with senior finance contacts;

– a major international fast food chain
– a sizeable UK NHS trust
– one of the UK’s largest housing associations
– one of the UK’s biggest network rail operators
– a large Welsh City Council

Qualify well, be polite, project confidence, know your pitch, engage the client and persist. Managing to set appointments often with people that previously said NO!

Regards

If you want to be getting results like this and be one of the many, many people writing similar letters to me, then you need to be checking out my books, audios, webinars and seminars with particular regard to No Fear Cold Calling :-).

The Sales Apprentice 2011: Sales Training & Business Development Tips From The Hit TV Show, Week 11

So it was week 11 and Jim was first up to answer the ringing phone which was put down on him when he asked if there was any dress code for the forthcoming task. I mean, seriously, if that’s how Lord Sugar’s PA treats you before you even start working for with him, I’d be checking out the small print.

Tonight’s task was to set up, brand, briefly run and then get assessed on a new fast food shop with the potential to become a chain. Another convoluted task with not enough time to get things done. Was this task about creativity? Was it about branding? Was it about operations? Or was it about product? Well, supposedly it was about all of these things but with barely enough time to boil an egg let alone set up an empire the two teams had little chance to do any of them properly but, despite that, one team massively outperformed the other and produced a decent concept…

Team 1: Jim, Tash and Suzy. Jim started the proceedings with his usual verbal gymnastics, “If you don’t  mind, I think you’ll agree, I’ll lead this one.” An NLP expert would have a field day. And thus Jim was elected to lead Suzy and Tash into battle against Helen (project manager) and Tom.

Team 2: Helen and Tom. From the off, Helen and Tom worked together well. They allocated roles and bounced off each other with a positive energy.

Jim on the other hand was too busy patronising his team to the camera, “I’ve got two girls on board who’ll appreciate a bit of direction.” Hmmmm, patronising and maybe even a little sexist Jim. ..

Helen and Tom quickly decided that they were going to create a contemporary British fast food outlet focusing on pies. I travel a lot as a sales motivational speaker and if the business of the Cornish Pasty shacks around the stations in the UK is anything to go by, this should prove to be a good idea. Tom volunteered himself for the creativity and branding side of the business saying that this was what he does and Helen stepped into the breach to sort out the menu and the food. Maybe, finally, we will get to see how Tom fares in an area he considers himself skilled in…

Over on the other team, Tash was shouting her mouth off as usual saying that she had a BA Honours in Hospitality and that she had actually done a project similar to this one in university. She really has to go this week, not least because later on in the board room she claimed that she might have done a hospitality degree but that she did not focus on this area. What???!!)*&^!&)*!

After some debate, Jim’s team team decided to go with a Mexican theme and Jim suggested that they should call it Caracas. He had been thinking of Maracas but got the word wrong so they decided to stick with Caracas anyway, not realising that Caracas is the capital of Venezuela! Clearly, they had not seen an atlas or a globe in their lives… or even Gregory’s Girl. And then, they wrote it as Caraca’s anyway. Who the heck is Caraca? And for a second season on The Apprentice the “cream” of British “talent” showed that our education system doesn’t teach the basics as well as it might.

But “Eats, Shoots & Leaves!” aside, what was Jim doing? He seemed to be running around trying to do everything whilst Suzy and Tash argued. If he was to be measured tonight on his team leading abilities it was a hands down failure. But he needn’t have worried because Tash and Suzy were at each other like a couple of mewling felines arguing about whether they should use a Sombrero or peppers as the “iconic” image. Yawn!

“I don’t mind someone saying I have another idea. I ‘aint got a problem,” pointed out Tash. She clearly did have a problem, as she did last week… and the week before… and the week before that. And will someone please tell her to stop saying, “Yeah?” And whilst you’re at it, tell her the word is, “Yes.”

Meanwhile, MyPy was coming together well under the stewardship of Helen and Tom. I was liking this idea and their pies looked good. I’d give them a whirl! Particularly that Northern looking one with the mushy peas in a box! Deciding to give all of their food names they had the idea of using names of great British people. A good idea let down slightly by the fact that they called their mash Columbus Mash, Christopher Columbus unfortunately (for them anyway) hailing from Genoa in Italy.

Sales training tip: Do your research. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, research is critical for business success. Research is critical for sales success. Research is critical if you want to become a sales superstar.

“It’s either utter madness or it’s complete genius,” mused Tom. I thought Dave Gorman might well pronounce it “Genius” but I wasn’t sure and that about sums Tom up… If he is what he might be then he looks like a contender but how do we know if his inventions are more Apple IPhone or more Sinclair C5? I guess we’ll find out next week, eh?

Back on team Jim, Tash and Suzy were notable mostly because of their conspicuous absences and even as the hired help cut up salad in the kitchen Jim was scooting around the place whilst they seemed to be seriously under-employed.

Sales leadership tip: Sales leadership isn’t about fast talking. Sales leadership isn’t about superlatively crafted lines. Sales leadership isn’t about hot air.

Sales leadership is about inspiring and guiding your teams. Sales leadership is about getting the best out of your teams. Sales leadership is about communication, direction and strategy.

And Jim wasn’t achieving against any of these measures. And after their trial run to 100 customers saw “fast food” coming out served by snails, Suzy was quick to hand yet another “monkey” (read Ken Blanchard’s “The One Minute Manager Meets The Monkey”) to Jim by telling him that he had to make sure that their food was hot. Jim popped it in the cage with the rest of the monkeys he was caring for and Suzy wandered off… presumably to read the paper and put her feet up. A busy week compared to sleeping on the job when selling last week!

By contrast, Helen and Tom’s trial went well apart from their ridiculous opening question to their guests of, “Have you ever eaten 100% British before?” “Err,  yes thanks,” would have been my reply.

Sales training tip: Don’t try to be too clever. Engaging customers is not about slick lines or party piece questions. You don’t have to be sharp, you just have to genuinely care about your customers. Smile. Be interested in them. And get yourself into a tip-top mindset.

Trial done, Lord Sugar rocked up with Ronald McDonald, Colonel Sanders and some bigwigs from the fast food chains to try the two restaurants, hear the sales pitch and ask a few questions of the Apprentices. Apart from Jim’s elementary maths error of 60 meals at £7 each is £4800 (and then, when corrected, £4200) this was uneventful although it was clear that the MyPy idea had Caraca’s cracked. Jim claimed that his mistake was out of character as he was good at maths. I wondered whether that was at the same school where he had been taught how to use the apostrophe?

It’s £420, okay Jim?

In the Boardroom…

In the boardroom the teams had been marked out of 10 by the industry experts in each of four areas… brand identity, customer experience, food quality and business viability. The scores were in…

Jim, Tash and Suzy had averaged 4 out of 10.
Helen and Tom had averaged 7 out of 10.

For the first time that I remember Lord Alan added nothing and did not say that the decision was his. I couldn’t help but wonder whether if Helen and Tom had been in the losing team he might have said that the decision was his. But he didn’t need to. Helen and Tom were told not to pass Go, not to collect £200 and to go straight to the final.

Jim, Tash and Suzy looked uneasy.

Back in the Boardroom…

Lord Sugar asked the losers whether they had a business plan? You know, sales, costs, customers, margins… that sort of stuff.

They didn’t.

Seriously. Sack the lot. You’re one week from going into business with one of these people Al and they didn’t have a business plan! Tash and Suzy were arguing, Tash can’t stop saying “Yeah”, Suzy thinks she is good at selling and yet has tanked the sales exercises and Jim totally failed to manage this task or give the “girls” any direction.

But the TV rules must say that they are going to tear apart three business plans next week and invest in one so two  must go through to the final.

“Suzanne, I like you. You got yourself through school. You’ve set up a business. You’re in the final. Jim, you can sure talk but you’re alright I guess. Tash, I’ve had it with you, yeah? You’re fired, yeah!”

The Sales Apprentice 2011: Sales Training & Business Development Tips From The Hit TV Show, Week 10

So, it’s week 10 of The Sales Apprentice and we’re down to six; Natasha, Suzy and Jim facing off against Helen, Tom and Melody. Just looking at the last six I was left feeling pretty uninspired. They are none of them without their shortcomings and I don’t think I would be investing £250k into any of them from what I’ve seen and that’s before we see them torn limb from limb in the interviews and hear what crackpot business ideas they might have…

And I wasn’t that inspired by tonight’s task either!  I have to admit that I think it would have been better weeks ago as a warm up and I’m not sure how much value it was adding at this late stage in the game unless Lord Alan is planning on setting up a market stall!

Lord Alan was in his element tonight but then he loves to talk about his roots trading, restocking and buying more tat to shift on to some other hapless punter. Tonight’s task? To sell £250 worth of stock provided by Lord Alan, notice what was selling, buy more of it, sell more, invest in more etc. No need to worry about left over stock as Lord Alan would add this into the final figures. Thed team with the most stock and money after two days would win.

Simples, you would think, but not for our Apprentices…

Sales training tip: Don’t make simple things complicated. Stupid people make simple tasks appear really complicated. Clever people make really complex tasks seem really simple. On tonight’s task the Apprentices strayed away from what was a simple task and made it all rather more complicated that it needed to be.

As a sales motivational speaker, I see this all of the time…

Melody stepped up to be PM saying that she had not been PM for weeks and was duly elected. Over on the other team, Tash stepped up but was challenged for the role by Suzy. Jim had the final vote and he cast it for Tash perhaps sold by her bragging about “operational experience.” She doesn’t striike me as that being her strongest suit and I’m not sure if her comment to Suzy about being “over the moon” that she was in her team because of her sales skills was ironic or serious. I thought it was serious which, if so, is an opinion based somewhere near the capital of La La Land as Suzy has looked distinctly rocky in this area previously, most notably in her total screw up in a market she should have known well in Birmingham.

Out on the street, in what was effectively a glorified car boot sale, Jim was knocking out nodding dogs and cheap looking brollies. Again, I am struggling to understand why Lord Alan thought that at this stage yelling, “Roll up, roll up and buy my brollies and tacky nodding dogs,” was of any use to anyone?! Surely, this is not what he has planned for the winner!

Jim was getting into it and proved yet again that he is the master of the meaningless encounter. Give him a stranger, a quick impulse purchase and the opportunity to give it a bit of blarney and he’s off. Nick smiled (no really, he did) and said he was beginning to like him… well… a bit anyway.

Suzy, meanwhile, was wandering around affluent West London streets trying to sell duvets and blankets door to door. I am not quite sure who she thought was going to buy these but none of that mattered because she gave up far too easily before returning to the car and falling asleep!

Sales training tip: Know your product. Know your customers. Know where your time is best spent.

Bad salespeople waste their time knocking on every door and speaking to every prospect. Bad salespeople wear themselves out and make few sales.

Good salespeople know their product, know where there customers are, know why they are going to buy and know how and when to approach them.

But if Suzy has got it wrong, Helen and Mel had lost the plot entirely and were wandering into retail outfits trying to sell their wares. Clearly, this task was about selling to the public and this HUGE faux pax would no doubt cost them dearly.

Over on the other team, Tasha was trying her best, yeah, to give them a run, yeah, for their money, yeah. But as a leader she was coming across as a bully. She appeared disinterested in her team, what they had to say or their feelings. And she was defensive too. Plus she totally missed the whole point of the task to the extent that she was still defending her refusal to reinvest in new stock even after Lord Alan told her she had missed the point in the boardroom!!

But, whilst Tash was patronizing Suzy, Mel and Helen were gifting the task back to her by not only continuing to promote their just plain daft idea of selling to retailers but by also not reinvesting in the nodding dogs as Tom had asked them to. Infact, Helen was so unimpressed by Mel’s lack of strategy that she attempted a coup at the end of the first day, suggesting Mel should sell and she should take over as PM in charge of strategy.  As you can imagine, Mel was not impressed.

Sales training tip: Have a strategy. Without a strategy salespeople run around like headless chickens. Without a strategy salespeople waste time, energy and effort. Without a strategy you are unlikely to hit your targets, maximise your sales or develop the business that you want.

One of the big themes of today was that neither team leader had a strategy… or if they did, they were bonkers! Mel reinvested in totally random products that just made no sense and she had no idea how she was going to sell them. Tash refused to reinvest sufficiently and missed the whole point of the task.

Jim though was continuing to charm the birds from the trees with his own slick patter. Nick was feeling the love. “He’s found his forte,” he said. I’m not sure it’s what he meant to say but his “compliment” was effectively endorsing Jim as a market trader. Nothing wrong with that but maybe not what Lord Alan wants to invest in…

Let’s face it, making impulse sales in the street is more about upbeat attitude and engagement than anything and it most certainly does not require advanced selling skills but you might have thought it did to hear them talking about how Tom had stepped out of his comfort zone to make sales, blah, blah. For goodness sake, so he smiled and spoke to a couple of kids selling what…? Three nodding dogs!!!

Enough.

In The Boardroom…

Both team leaders were disliked by their teams but who had won? I won’t keep you waiting… drum roll… the winner was… Tash, with a final asset value of £751 to Mel’s £728.

A slim win and you’d expect a far more competent performance from the winning team and the winning project manager this far on in the competition but this task was not won by one team, it was lost badly by the other.

And Lord Alan thought so too, cancelling the winner’s treat for the first time ever…

Back in the Boardroom…

Helen looked shell-shocked. Nine wins and now this… she realised her own mortality. And she was deservedly in the boardroom too having been party to most of Mel’s bad decisions and having totally missed the point of the task. Mel had been poor too and Tom, well he didn’t screw up as such, but then again I don’t see selling three nodding dogs as any kind of great achievement.

So it was down to Lord Alan. What would he see in them? Who would he like to work with? Frankly, I’m struggling. Not just with these three but in general. I’m not feeling it. But who would go tonight? Our Al wasn’t sure. And it was a tough one. Who was more at fault?

“Helen. Frankly you have let yourself down girl. You just didn’t get this. I wasn’t expecting to see you here and you is just an assistant really, innit? Tom, I’ve seen you in here more times than I have eaten jellied eels recently but then you did sell free (3) nodding dogs yesterday and I can’t scoff at that. Melody, I like you one week ‘cause you’re gusty and selfish and the next I don’t. Being frank, I’m holding out for Tom just incase he has some invention tucked away that makes me even richer and I obviously ‘aint gonna sack Helen ‘cause that might mean I might have to go into business with that quick-talking-Jim so I’m afraid, with regret Mel, you’re fired.”

He flattered them all as having exceptional abilities and it being such a hard decision. Odd, given they’d just been beaten by a team that he refused a treat to because they did so badly. And odd because he must be watching different footage than me.

The Sales Apprentice 2011: Sales Training & Business Development Tips From The Hit TV Show, Week 8

Week 8 of The Sales Apprentice and it’s time for our two teams to head over La Manche to sell some wacky British products to the unsuspecting French. With only 8 Apprentices left, tonight’s task saw Suzy leading Jim, Helen and Zoe facing off against Tom “leading” Leon, Melody and Natasha.

It also did a lot to clarify my thoughts about the candidates and I’m sure by now you must have your favourites too. First task of the night was to pick two products to sell. After some deliberation and some bizarre questions from Suzy (“Do the French like their kids?”) Suzy settled on a portable child’s car booster seat / rucksack and a gadget grip that would hold a mobile device and attach it to your car, desk etc. Over on the other team, Tom also wanted the car seat but, after being pressurized by his team, he went for a pop up greeting card in which you grow cress (better than it sounds) and a bone china teapot shaped light…

And this lack of any backbone or any sense of leadership summed up Tom’s whole contribution as leader. He’s obviously a nice guy, he appears smart, he has been quite astute at times during this series and his hankering for the haversack tonight was spot on but he shouldn’t have let his team walk him down the wrong path.

But they did and primarily because of Melody’s input. Melody decided right from the start that the rucksack seat was a bad idea despite not seeing it. On being asked by Tom to research La Redoute (“part of the world’s 3rd largest home shopping organisation”) where Lord Alan had set them up a meeting she decided to do “market research” in the street instead. This seemed to consist of asking a handful of people and “filtering” their answers to agree with what she wanted to hear… namely that the French had no need for a rucksack / booster chair because they didn’t drive. What?!

And I don’t think this was deliberate. I think she genuinely thought she did ask the questions genuinely and that she did do proper research…

Sales training tip: As individuals we all have our beliefs about what is and what is not true. Once we get beliefs we tend to stick to them and then we only hear what we believe rather than believing what we hear. If you want to be a sales superstar you need to start hearing what your clients say, not what you thought they said or what you had already decided they were going to say. I’ve heard clients say, “Yes, I’ll take it” and yet the salesperson carried on selling because they didn’t hear what the client said because they believed that they weren’t ready to buy yet.

But in other ways, Melody was kicking some ass and showed it by getting on the phone and setting up 6 appointments to attend the next day…

Sales training tip: Cold calling done right works. I really don’t want to get into it (again) in this post but it really does. I’m not saying that it’s harder or easier than it used to be and I am most certainly not saying that it is right for everyone or every situation. Nor am I saying that everyone could or should do it. And nor am I saying that you shouldn’t be doing lots of other things too (like blogging, lol!)…

But at the right time, in the right situation and done in the right way cold calling works. Make it PART OF your route to market and do it right and you’ll thank me. And don’t listen to naysayers. Most never liked cold calling anyway. Many are in markets where it doesn’t apply. Some have other ideas to sell. And plenty couldn’t / can’t do it. And some are just plain wrong.

I have people on every No Fear Cold Calling seminar who set up meetings the very next day. Melody set up 6 in France on a mobile in the back of a car.

Meanwhile Leon sat there like a spare part. “I don’t speak French. I cannot contribute,” he said. Next to him Melody was speaking English to someone… you hear what you believe remember. And Leon believed he could not contribute, ergo he was right.

Sales training tip: Failure is not an option. Drop your head, lose your attitude, give up and you are done for. Getting a knock is fine. Getting a push is fine. Being bowled over is fine… but you have to get up again.

Leon didn’t get up again for the whole show and signed his own death warrant. In the Hall of the Mountain King he will not get a nice word and a sandwich… the best he will be able to hope for is a merciful beheading.

And then the coolest thing of the night happened… Gendarmes on roller blades… whipping down the street. I rewound the Sky box and watched them again… awesome!

But awesome was not a word you would use to describe Natasha’s pitch to La Redoute. It was not engaging. Frankly, it was boring and she clearly had not done her research. And as if “merde” did not do a good enough job of describing things Tom pitched in by suggesting they make a trial order of 10. Picking up that 10 was too few for La Redoute Natasha intervened suggesting a “high” volume of 50. Of course, part of this issue lay with Melody not doing the research she was asked to but then why did Tom and Tash go in without doing anything themselves? OK, so they had asked Melody to do it but would you show yourself up to be a fool and go in unprepared and pointing the finger at someone else or would you have just done it yourself?

Sales training tip: Do your research. I say this every year, several times and it seems darned obvious and everyone knows that they ought to… and yet… And it’s not just on The Apprentice either. I see lack of research, lack of preparation and lack of practise hampering salespeople and businesses every day. How hard would it have been to research La Redoute? There… follow this link and I did it for you!

Representing team Suzy however Helen’s pitch was a class apart. Starting with an engaging smile she said that she knew their product lines and had bought off their site. The panel smiled and voila the Entente-Cordiale was restored.

A little research and preparation goes a long way. It’s not rocket science.

And neither is selling, something that Melody was doing a good job of in several of the sales appointments that she had set up, selling the somewhat bizarre teapot in reasonable numbers. OK, so she was a bit greedy but then if Lord Alan had wanted them to play as a team he should not have made such a point of them having individual order books. And Melody made a good point when she said that the others had singularly failed to set any meetings up (remember what I said about not everyone having the right skills, attitudes and strategies to set up meetings?)…

But selling or not, Melody was unlikely to finish this task on the winning team so she’d better hope that Lord Alan overlooks her obvious flaws (full of herself, doesn’t listen, does her own thing, ruthless…) in favour of her bullish, self-belief and sales success. Because Tom, Leon and Tash were making a cochon’s ear of this one…

Tom couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag and was totally out of control of the whole team and spent most of the task looking like he didn’t even know quelle country he was in. Leon showed himself up as out of his depth, beaten and defeatist and Tash did, well, nothing much.

In the Boardroom…

The results were in.

Tom and Logic had made E11,705 sales to retailers they found and 0 to La Redoute.
Suzy and Venture had made E14,699 sales to retailers and E214,000 to La Redoute.

Oh la la! A fabulous result for Suzy based mostly on the cracking pitch from Helen who is looking like a really strong candidate this year (although we are missing a huge piece because we know so little about what Lord Alan is looking for)…

Suzy, Helen, Jim and Zoe headed off to fly planes no doubt glad that they had Helen and not Tom and Jerry (Tom and Leon) on their team…

Back in the Boardroom…

Tom elected to bring back Leon and Melody. Lord Alan looked crestfallen that he wouldn’t get to tear a strip of the sullen looking Natasha and consoled himself with laying into the others. Tom immediately tried to blame Melody and the rest of the team for not supporting him in wanting the rucksack. Part fair I agree as he did want the rucksack but there were 9 other products and had they got the research and the pitch right for La Redoute, who’s to say that they might not have sold more?

Sales training tip: Bad salespeople blame their products. Bad salespeople blame the markets. Bad salespeople blame their clients. Good salespeople, do their research, do their preparation and work out why their clients want and need to buy their products and services and then sell them. And that’s it!

But no-one was blameless here. Melody had forged her own path, ignored instructions and hogged the sales opportunities. Leon had wilted, folded, shrivelled and given up. Tom had lost never had control.

Melody fought her corner. Lord Al kind of liked her chutzpah. She was safe.

Tom decided to lay his credentials on the line… he had invented stuff, patented it sold it. Yes he might have got this wrong tonight but he was bidding for Lord Alan’s attention. And he had it. (We wants it). Even Dragons invest when they see good ideas they can sell. (We needs it). Lord Alan might say he wants something (Must have the precious) but if Tom really does have good ideas worth money then Lord Alan can always structure this thing differently.(No-one is going to steal it from us).

Leon would need to kick some ass now…

But he didn’t. He blushed instead. I could kind of see him wondering if he could hold Lord Alan’s pinky like he had in the B’ham Bullring with all the nice ladies. He thought about it… Probably not.

“Look Leon. You’re a nice geezer but you’re the nice kid who always gets flattened in the East End movies and I’m afraid I ‘aint gonna do no different so you’re fired.”

The Apprentices left. Lord Alan turned to his sidekicks. “She’s a tiger, She’s ruthless. She’lll walk all over anyone. That’s what I like about her.” Nick looked coyly at Karen Brady, “Leon and Tom should be more manly if I can put it that way?” he half asked. She smiled and bared her fangs.

And you know, it’s a shame that this is what gets lauded on TV as good business. Melody has some good traits and some that are running out of control and need taming and they’ll probably only be worse next week.

The Myth Of The Perfect Client?

Last night I was watching The Apprentice and I got thinking about when you should and you shouldn’t take on business and when you should and you shouldn’t turn down business. On my travels as a sales motivational speaker I see a lot of salespeople, business owners and entrepreneurs who take on business that they should have never taken on.

Business that is unprofitable. Business that is unpalatable. Business that is unmanageable. And most importantly, business that is unprofitable.

When I ask about this people say things like, “Well, it’s a loss leader”…  and list all sorts of reasons as to why they continue to work with and sign off “the wrong” deals.  When I was first in sales, I worked really hard. I made lots of calls, I visited lots of clients and I signed lots of deals. But I wasn’t making enough revenues. I wasn’t making enough profits. And I wasn’t making enough commissions!

And I had lots of reasons for why that was! But at the end of the day, they were just excuses…

If you continue to work with the “wrong clients” then don’t be surprised when you have the wrong business, the wrong finances in your bank and you’re not satisfied. And don’t think this is just about money either. Would you rather work with people you don’t like working with and who don’t appreciate you and what you do? Or would your rather work with people you do like working with and who really value you and what you do for them?

No brainer really isn’t it. Here’s something for you to ponder on…

Who is your perfect client? What business would you do with them? What would they pay for that? How would you work together? Why do you both value the relationship?

Answer those questions and you are well on your way to designing your dream job and your dream business.