New years (business) resolutions

New Year's Resolutions

It’s that time of year when people are making huge, life changing resolutions which, invariably are not kept to after the first week (sorry to be negative but it’s true!)     Whether it’s losing weight, stopping smoking, drinking less or developing some sort of new life skill (I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve stated I’m going to learn french at the start of each year but it’s more than neuf at least!, maybe as many as vignt ) many of us use this period to identify and make improvements in our own lives.   Personally I’m near perfect so I’m not making any resolutions this year other than to be more perfect!

It’s also a great time of year to state your business intentions.  Whether you run a business or are employed it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect over the past 12 months, take stock of all the things you’ve done brilliantly and the inevitable mistakes you’ve made so, in the spirit of sharing, here’s my new years (business) resolutions for Inspired Business Development

  1. Gain double the amount of clients we had in 2013.   As with any business, customers are our lifeblood.  Without them I literally have no business – they’re the entire reason we exist.   We had the most successful year so far in 2013, partly because we do a brilliant job (if I do say so myself) but partly because I’ve been putting more focus on business development.   In the first 12-18 months it was pretty much hand to mouth, not knowing what work we had coming in from one week to the next.  As it was just me at the time, pretty much all of my time was spent delivering the work we had – this is a common situation for many small business owners in the early days, you feel inclined to do as much as you possibly can yourself and, admittedly I kind of resented paying Telemarketers do to the work which, essentially I could do for free myself.  The main danger with that being that, regardless of how good a job you do, the nature of outsourced sales and marketing is that it’s very sporadic.  One month there could be so much work I could hardly cope, the next month it’d be a barren landscape.  Without putting time aside for business development this cycle will continue so I aim to put even more time into developing my business and winning new customer
  2. Keep all of the customers we win.   This is often more challenging than just “doing a good job” and is a process that starts as early as the first conversation I have with the client.  It’s also a matter of realistically setting expectations, being honest, open and upfront with the client.  Even turning down business that I don’t feel we’ll be able to deliver.  Again, in the early days I was inclined to take on every bit of business that I could potentially win, now, 3 years down the line, if I don’t feel we’ll definitely be able to achieve what the client wants, I’d rather turn the business down than take it just for the sake of getting more revenue in the coffers.    In addition to setting realistic expectations, it’s about keeping regular dialogue with the client, being transparent about your processes, letting the client know the bad as well as the good.    As an outsourced sales partner it’s hugely important we build an air of trust – after all the client can’t see what we’re doing, they can only see the result of it so, in 2014 I intend to continually ensure we’re not only getting our clients the results they want but also that we let them in on our processes to continue to build trust and value at all stages of the campaign
  3. Expand our service offering.    Even before I started a Telemarketing business I knew that, at some stage I wanted to start delivering training.   I have a strong background in performing (youth theatre, amateur dramatics as a child and stand up/sketch comedy as an adult) and have delivered many successful sales presentations during my working life.   Couple that with over 20 years of sales and marketing knowledge and, in essence you’ve the perfect recipe for delivering successful Telemarketing training courses.  We’ve already partnered with a local company that offer web/seo/social media so I’ll be pushing that more actively during 2013
  4. Plan more.   I’ve always been more of a “doer” than a planner which is brilliant in some ways but I am often guilty of trying to do too much too often so will be putting more time aside to sit down and plan things – be it work, social media, web development, my own business development, recruitment etc etc.   I’ll be keeping more detailed plans and ensuring I keep a close eye on those throughout the year
  5. Have fun.   Running a business (or working for one) can sometimes be incredibly stressful but it’s important that I remind myself that I’m in this position entirely as a result of my own decisions (as is anyone, employed or otherwise).  If I can’t enjoy myself doing this, what’s the point in doing it?  yes, there’s the financial benefits but I want to ensure I enjoy being at work.  Life’s too short to take too seriously! happiness breeds productivity and I love working in this industry so there’s no reason I can’t have (almost) as much fun at work as out of it.

I’d be keen to hear what your resolutions are for this new year so, do get in touch or add a comment to the blog and, as ever, do share this if you feel it’d be of interest to any of your contacts!

Happy new year!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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What makes a great Telemarketer

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Telemarketing, as with many sales and marketing activities, at it’s core is a very easy job to do.   You sit down (or stand if you’re trying to be healthier) in a nice warm office, dial the phone, ask a few questions and move on.   In reality though, it can be a very challenging job and, although many of the required skills can be learned and honed over time there are certainly distinct qualities as to what makes a great Telemarketer so here, in no particular order are some of those qualities.

This is to both act as help for anyone working in or planning on working in telemarketing and as an indication as to the sort of qualities I look for when adding to my team.

1 – Resilience.   There’s a huge amount of rejection involved in making Telemarketing calls.  You have to be able to firstly deal with the rejection in terms of not taking refusals personally but also be able turn that rejection into something positive.  Remember – it’s most likely the concept that’s being rejected, not you.   Although it might be you!

2 – Adaptability.  A great Telemarketer needs be hugely adaptable.  Over the course of a typical month you’re likely to be selling lots of different services or products on behalf of lots of different clients, likely to be talking to a wide variety of people in various levels of seniority and will have to constantly adapt your approach to suit those situations.   Whilst I’m a huge believer in having a structure to a sales/marketing call, scripts don’t work in the real world as every call will be different.  If you can’t adapt your approach, you won’t get very far

3 – Motivation.  It’s a phrase as old as the hills, but Telemarketing, cold calling and sales in general really is a numbers game – the more calls you make, the more chance you have of success.   It takes a lot of motivation to dial number after number and still sound as fresh and enthusiastic as you did on the first call

4 – A great voice.   This kind of fits in with adaptability but you have to adopt a tone of voice that suits the person you’re speaking to.  People read an awful lot into the voices they hear over the phone – do you talk too quickly? too slowly? is your accent too strong so prospects can’t understand what you’re saying? A clear, friendly yet authoritative voice works wonders.   You’ll never know exactly what prospects think of you (unless you ask and you may not get the answer you want!) but, try to put yourself in their shoes – would you want to buy from you?

5 – Computer skills.  This can cover  the operation of CRM systems, spreadsheets, invoicing/payroll platforms and use of the internet in general.  It’s important to know your way around google, linkedin, jigsaw, duedil etc etc as research can be a vital tool in helping you achieve success.  Do you know how to get hold of an email address if reception won’t give it you?  can you easily and quickly find the name of a facilities manager in a large organisation.   Less time spent researching = more time on the phone

And, lastly, – experience.   I’ve spent nearly 20 years selling over the phone and have probably learned more in the last 3 years running my own business than in the previous 17 working for other people.  There’s so many different approaches and methods I’ve picked up from doing this full time that I could easily write a book  (I might well do one day so, watch out) but, nothing makes you better at doing this job than just doing it.  You’ll learn to get over your fear of cold calling, you’ll learn what phrases work and what don’t, you’ll learn what questions to ask and when to shut up and listen and a whole lot more.  Practice makes perfect!

Happy calling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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Remember remember to still work in December

 

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This kind of follows from one of my telemarketing blogs from earlier this year  “why there’s no bad days to do telemarketing calls” , all about how there’s a common misconception that there are “bad days” to make sales and marketing calls.

We’re coming up to the Christmas period – yes this is written in November but that’s how things are these days; the second Halloween and Bonfire night are out of the way, to quote Noddy Holder ITTTSSS, CHRISTMASSSSSSS….     Now I’m a fan of Christmas, it’s a great time of the year, food, drink & Michael Buble (he doesn’t come round, we just listen to his music) but the one thing that the Christmas period does bring is the yearly festive “slowdown”

That time of the year when, for no given reason, a huge portion of the working world decides to slow down – mainly because they think that everyone else has slowed down and this is no more apparent than in sales and marketing.

The whispers have already begun, rumours that “it’s not worth calling in December” are starting to circulate like wildfire due to this perception that, from December the first all workers in all companies are going to be down their local Wetherspoons, drowning in cut price booze.

If you’re offering anything of any worth, chances are you going to need to speak to more senior members of staff than those down the Wetherspoons – they’ll be at work, at their desk as they’re less likely to be called off into meetings around the country or dealing with as heavy a workload

When you get through to them, which you’re more likely to do as the receptionist will be in a more relaxed and friendly frame of mind (apart from being disappointed at not being invited to Wetherspoons), the prospect will be happier to talk for the same reasons (probably didn’t want to go to Wetherspoons anyway)

Their diary will be clearer for January so you’ll be more likely to get a meeting

It’s easy to think of reasons not to do something, particularly when it comes to making cold calls but the only way you’re going to achieve is through ACTION

Look for reasons to do it – December is a perfect time for making calls, take a month off and you’ll be quiet in January, catching up in January then just about starting to get busier again in February

Put in the work now and you’ll see the results in the new year, and beyond!

Happy calling!

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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Cold calls – they’re not as scary as Halloween

Grinning Halloween lantern vector illustration.

Halloween is just around the corner or, as I like to call it “kids begging for sweets night”.

The evening will be filled with ghosts, zombies and scary things that go bump in the night but, every single day, in offices around the world people are gripped with fear, fear about making COLD CALLS! (queue dramatic music)

But this is clearly an unnecessary fear – whilst ghosts, zombies and scary things that go bump in the night are real and can hurt you very badly, cold calls can’t.   If you get rejected as a field sales rep, it’s face to face,  cold calling from an office is far easier to deal with, just stare at the picture of your cat you’ve got on your desk and think happy thoughts.

Seriously though – there’s 2 main reasons people hate making cold calls

  1. Uncertainty
  2. Rejection

The uncertainty – or lack of confidence if you prefer can cover many areas – lack of confidence in the product/service, the business, the prospect, your knowledge, you.   All easily remedied (unless the product/service really is terrible, in which case you should probably get a new job) – do some research – google is your friend.

Research the company you work for – look for positive press, customer reviews, company history, anything to increase your faith in their offering, research the company you’re calling – understand what they do and what they’re looking to achieve as an organisation.

Same again for your product knowledge – the more you know, the more confident you’ll be.

For yourself, there’s a ton of resources available on personal development, sales development, coaching – some of the worlds most successful people publish blogs and articles – learn from those who’ve done it!

Rejection then will become less likely – naturally there’ll be people who aren’t interested in what you have to offer, don’t worry about them, let them carry on doing whatever they were doing.   Acceptance is a big part of dealing with rejection – know why you’re calling and how you can benefit them but also know that there will be some people – possibly a large portion of people, who just are not in the slightest bit bothered.

It’s not a personal rejection.

So, to summarise,  to banish the deathly fear of COLD CALLING – Increase your knowledge & accept the likelihood of rejection

Don’t have nightmares…………………..

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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How NOT to do Telemarketing

 

telemarket

This week I made the rather monumental step of moving into new offices, having started and run the business from a home office for the last two years.   The positives are currently far outweighing the negatives but, one of those negatives I’d perhaps not allowed for, as a moved business is the amount of Telemarketing calls I’m receiving, mainly from utilities companies.

Now, as someone that spends the vast majority of their working life on the phone I’ve no objection to people calling me but it has become apparent how bad the standard of calls from the average telemarketer is and, how, despite the fact that I tend to take much of our approach and success for granted, we’re actually pretty blummin good at this.

I’ve written before about some of the pointers for delivering Telemarketing or sales calls successfully so now, after 4 days of receiving some appalling calls would like to share how to do it badly:

1 – Don’t bother doing any research – pretty much every call I’ve had this week has been from companies offering utilities services – namely gas and electricity.  A little bit of research would have shown that the building I’m in is a serviced office.  20 seconds on google could have given you this information and saved both you and I some valuable time.   This also applies to ensuring you’re talking to the right person in the right position and, if you don’t know, treat the call as an enquiry/information gathering exercise

2 – Ask the prospect how they are – I’m busy, I’ve just had my day interrupted by a sales call, if you truly want an answer to the question “how are you today” the answer is most likely to be “rather annoyed, I’m busy and you’ve just called me up trying to sell me something I don’t want/need”.  Gone is the time when this works.  This leads us very nicely onto point 3

3 – Don’t get to the point – the second you called, the overriding thought in my head is “what does this person want” so, by asking how I am, umming and arring, seeming unwilling to actually tell me what the benefit is to me of continuing the conversation, again you’re wasting yours and my time.  Get to the point, tell me what the benefit is of that point and if it’s useful to me, we’ll carry on talking, if not, you can call someone else who might be interested

4 – Tell me how amazing you are – if you’re really determined on carrying out sales/marketing calls badly, way before you’ve established my need or whether I’ll potentially be interested, rattle through as many benefits of your product/service as soon as you can in the conversation in the hope that one of them will hit the spot and result in a sale.    You don’t know who I am, what I do or what my pain points are so why do I want to hear everything about your offering?  Answer – I don’t!

5 – Really obviously read from a script.   I appreciate that many large call centre operations will have automated systems to help them maximise the impact of their offering whilst reducing the need for training/development but if it doesn’t sound as if you know what you’re talking about, why on earth am I going to buy from you.  I know this is probably the 50th call you’ve made today and that you’ve had to say the same thing to the previous 49 people but, for heavens sake, put some personality into it.  Learn your script to the point where it sounds natural, mix it up a bit, tailor your introduction but, above all, sound like someone I’d like to talk to

Other than that, I’m happy for you to call me, just be good at it!

 

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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The Apprentice – would you buy from the candidates?

The-Apprentice-Candidate-group-shot-1861092

Every year as I witness the new series of the apprentice I’m constantly amazed at how these people can ever succeed in sales when the majority of them are, well let’s just say not very nice people.  Arrogant, vacuous, disingenuous horrors.    I cannot believe that people will want to buy from

For me, I personally believe that a key skill in sales is the ability to be able to build rapport.   If you come across as a pleasant, helpful, personable human being, everything else will fall into place.  Yes, you don’t want to just be calling up prospects to have a pleasant conversation about last nights TV or the state of the weather but if you’re not liked by the prospect they’re not going to care a jot about what you’re selling.

This is even more applicable in phone selling.   You don’t get the same opportunities you get when meeting face to face as a large portion of the usual communication tools (body language, facial expressions, general appearance) are lost so it’s all the more important you do all you can to be liked way before you start thinking about “closing the sale”

So, with that in mind, here’s 5 tips to help you build rapport over the phone, get the prospect on your side and get them buying!

1- Be nice.   This possibly goes without saying but I personally believe the whole self help industry could be summed up with these two words.  Don’t push your own agenda too much, be pleasant, be polite, be approachable, be willing to help.   Even the harshest of prospects will be easier to deal with if you just treat them pleasantly which leads us very “nicely” onto point two

2 – Be appreciative of their time.   For phone selling this is perhaps the most imperative starting point.   So many people don’t respond well to introductory sales calls because so many Telemarketers/telesellers have no consideration for the fact that, essentially they’re barging into someone’s precious time.    I’ll always use phrases along the lines of “are you ok to talk for a short moment”  ”just a very quick call”, “just a quick enquiry”.  Ensure that you formally introduce your company, include a brief couple of words that cover the reason you’re calling and what the benefit is to them then, once you’ve got permission to continue the conversation, do so with a mindset that they’re quite possibly very busy and quite possibly don’t want too much of their time taken up.   Once you’re past this stage you can ease into the questions and further build rapport by offering genuine solutions to their problems but, in the early stages of a call all the prospect is thinking is “I’m busy, what does this person want?”

3 – Match their tone.   This is, to an extent a learned skill but do what you can to gauge their tone of voice and use a similar tone yourself.  If someone sounds busy and rather short with you, don’t wade in with too much enthusiasm.  Likewise, if someone sounds very jovial and humorous, don’t come across as too formal and monosyllabic.  The more the prospect feels you’re “their kind of person”  the more chance you have of success

4 – Use humour (appropriately). Humour, when used correctly is a great uniter of minds, again it’s best to ensure that the person you’re speaking to is likely to be responsive, gauge their tone and use your own judgement to determine whether or not they’re likely to respond to the occasional funny comment.   There’s more details on this in my previous blog post, Make ‘em Laugh 

5 – speak their language.  I don’t mean that literally although obviously that’s a great help.  I’ve tried introducing myself in Kurdish but for the average UK based prospect it rarely gets as good a response as speaking “The queens”.   What I do mean is using the same terminology that they use, not only is this incredibly useful for building credibility, particularly if you’re selling a niche product or service but, from the prospects perspective if you’re using the same words, phrases and abbreviations as them it demonstrates that you’re of a similar mindset.

The important thing here is not to be too overt.  It’s all very well using the word “great” if they use the word “great” but say it too often and it won’t sound too “great” but it might “grate”.

5.5 – Use their name: I figured that this final one deserves a notable mention as people love to hear their name in conversations, just don’t use it too much.  This is incredibly useless of me but I do recall reading of the percentage of impact of using someone’s name in a conversation and how, the impact reduces the more you use it.   I believe it might have been Richard Wiseman, that’s Richard Wiseman in his book 59 seconds but, as I write this I can’t find the copy I’ve got to be able to confirm that.  But, rest assured, names, used minimally can hugely help to build rapport.  People tune in whenever they hear their name but, use it too much and it doesn’t sound genuine.

Hopefully these tips will be useful for you in your daily selling life.  Do pass them on if you feel that’s the case.  If not, just ignore me, I’ll go away eventually

Happy selling!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

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Telemarketing Campaigns – making them work for your business

Frustrated.

“We’ve tried Telemarketing before and it didn’t work” – a phrase that I, and I’m sure many others in my industry hear from prospects on a very regular basis and an objection which it’s very hard to handle without sounding facetious.    I recently used the line “well, maybe you used the wrong company” and immediately wanted to kick myself in the backside but refrained, partly because since I stopped the yoga classes I can’t stretch my leg round there and partly because, although there’s clearly an element of truth in that statement my comment kind of suggested it was the prospects fault for picking the wrong company.

In my opinion, one of the main reasons that Telemarketing campaigns fail is the lack of preparation put in at the start.   Too often, companies will promise the earth (to get the clients business in the first place), will launch at the calls like a bull in a phoneshop, taking a scattergun approach with very little thought or strategy put behind it and have little or no focus on the main reason that the campaign has been launched in the first place – to get results!

We’re here to generate business for our clients and unless that’s the primary reason the phone is being picked up, you might as well not bother.

So, in light of that I would like to offer some brief suggestions as to how you can ensure that a Telemarketing campaign gets the results you/your clients need.   These are in no specific order but are all as important as each other:

Data – ensure you identify your “ideal customer” and ensure that you have relevant, current, clean data specifically for that campaign – it’s no good pulling out a spreadsheet that you’ve generated from google searches 3 years ago – it’ll be out of date and just wastes time having to clean it

Call structure – anyone that says they don’t use scripts is not maximising the chances of success.  Yes, you don’t to be sitting there robotically reading out a list of questions but you do need to ensure you have a strong structure to how you intend the calls to go and need to ensure you absorb that structure to a degree where the contents sound natural and unscripted

Practice – once you’ve written your call structure, with lots of lovely interest-generating questions on it – practice it.   It’s like learning lines for a play or, in my instance, a stand up comedy routine.  Understand your offering, practice your objection handles, say it again and again and again until you believe in your offering and your ability to sell it

Voicemails – lots of decision makers, particularly in larger companies live on voicemail – have a strong, enthusiastic pitch to leave on voicemails, back this up with an email to further outline your offering, state that you’ll call them back to discuss once they had chance to read it – that way the email isn’t unsolicited.

Emails – put together email templates outlining why you’ve been trying to reach them, what the benefit is to them of continuing the contact.  Personally I compile 3 different templates, 1 detailed email for those I’ve spoken to and 2 very concise ones for instances where I’ve left voicemails or not actually spoken to the prospect.   Keep them brief – people are too busy to read long emails from sales people they’ve not yet spoken to

Options Make sure you’ve numerous options available should the initial call not result in a lead/appointment.  Is there someone else it might be relevant to?  would you like to see some information first?   if it’s not suitable now – could we agree on a time to talk in the future? etc etc – I always believe that “no” is rarely an absolute.  Unless you’re calling completely the wrong industry (go back to the point about data) or the person has died (how selfish when I’m looking to sell you something), there’s always another option

Targets  set yourself (or your team) high (but achievable) targets.   At it’s most base level, sales is a numbers game – the more calls you make, the more chance of success.  If you’re not making the calls, you’re not going to get the results

In some circumstances, Telemarketing (or any type of marketing for that matter) wont’ get the results you’re after but it’s important to maximise the chances of success and, hopefully, this train of thought blog, written at the end of a particularly challenging day, will help!

Keep smiling and dialling folks!

Dan

Dan Smith 
Inspired Business Development
Unit K9 Cradley Enterprise Centre
Maypole Fields
Cradley
Halesowen
B63 2QB
T:01384 566 078
W: www.inspired-bd.com

 

 

Dan Smith

Inspired Business Development

 

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Get targeted twitter followers

Image

So, Dan, what on earth has this got to do with sales and marketing you may be asking yourselves.   Have I become so disillusioned with the world of Telemarketing that I’ve decided to pledge my allegiance to Mr Bieber and his teen-entrancing pop?

The answer – you may be pleased to find out is No.   I do have extremely varied musical tastes but not that varied!

Let me explain – as well as running a telemarketing business and having a near obsessive interest in the sales process I also use social media to promote my business, gain knowledge & build relationships.  I’ve had a twitter account for a couple of years but, if I’m honest didn’t really begin to harness it’s power until around 3 months ago.

It all seemed very one sided – I’d post tweets and get no replies to them.  I’d reply to other peoples tweets and get no response back.  All of this was taking up valuable time that I could have better spent on some other form of marketing or social media.  So I neglected my account.    My tweets diminished to around once a month, my new followers to 2 or 3 every couple of weeks and, as a consequence I received a total of zero new enquiries as a result of twitter.

I then had a bit of a revelation – I’ve been involved in comedy for years and currently perform and write as part of a sketch group that – if you’re interested – will be performing at the Edinburgh festival this year (3-14th of August, 9pm at the Jekyll and Hyde) and was given the task of increasing our twitter followers to help promote the show.

Being as I was so lacking in faith about the potential of twitter I knew that the one thing I had to do to get the message out there was to increase our follower numbers so I got online and researched ways of legitimately increasing our followers.  In the end I settled on a site called tweepi which, I have to say has been exactly what I was looking for.

Without wanting to seem like I’m promoting the site too overtly (other twitter tools are available), what I found particularly great about it was the ability to follow followers and analyse their statistics to maximise the chances of being followed back.  Most notable were the last tweet dates and the percentage of followers to how many they were following.  Tweet dates being a good indicator of activity and therefore likelihood of following you back, percentages being an indicator again of how likely they are to follow you back.

Ideally you’re looking for a 100% follow ratio – this shows that the person is very likely to follow back anyone that follows them

Most importantly though I was following people who followed people in the same business as me so, rather than just following other comedians I followed the followers of those comedians – the logic being that if they’re following Michael Mcintyre , they’re interested in comedians so could well be interested in us.

This can obviously be applied to the business world – if you run a cleaning company, follow the followers of other cleaning companies, follow the followers of Facilities Management companies, follow the followers of letting agent associations etc etc

Which takes me back to my initial point.  There are tons of companies offering the ability to buy twitter followers – in an instant you can pay £30 and immediately look more impressive but, unless those followers have an interest in your product/service, what is the point?

Whilst there may well be some Bieber fans that have a need for Telemarketing services my gut feeling is that they’re probably not my ideal target market.   Make sure you’re engaging with companies and individuals that want to hear what you’ve got to say.   After all, you can’t sell to Justin Bieber fans – unless you’re selling Justin Bieber merchandise

 

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Iron Man – Business Lessons from Tony Stark

 

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I took my son to see Iron Man 3 yesterday, had to go along on the first day of release, being the geek that I am and, to be honest I think I was looking forward to it more than my son was.

In essence, it was all I expected it to be; lots of explosions, lots of gadgets and technology and a ton of witty quips as well as brilliant performances from the cast – in particular Sir Ben Kingsley who was, surprisingly, hilarious.

Most importantly though, I have always had a tremendous amount of admiration for Robert Downey Juniors character, Iron Man himself, Tony Stark.

For those of you not in the know, Tony Stark is the Billionaire owner of Stark Industries – a huge company with some rather suspect interests in developing technology for warfare – essentially he’s a very rich arms dealer.  In some ways he’s a combination of Batman and James Bond with all of the best elements of both turned up to 11.   Despite finding himself in frequent danger, he always finds time for a humourous remark and never stops having fun, whether he’s zooming around the skies in his metal suit or being locked up and tortured in a cave in Afghanistan.

Without spoiling the plot too much, right at the end of the movie, when he’s lost his house, given ownership of his business to his girlfriend and has blown up all of his million dollar Iron man suits to save his relationship he is left with nothing but a trailer on the back of his expensive sports car which contains various fragments of what was formerly his workshop.

You know that, regardless of how little he is left with, how terrible his current plight may seem that, deep down, the passion he has for creativity and the faith he has in his own abilities to deliver the goods, he’ll be back on top in no time.

For me, that’s the big lesson to learn from Iron Man – however bad things get, however little you’re left with, as long as you’ve got belief in yourself you’ll be back on the road to success before you know it

So ask yourself the question “What would Tony Stark do?”

 

 

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Allow me to introduce myself

 

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Whilst there are many elements to a successful sales call, one in particular has a very strong bearing on the eventual outcome – the introduction.    First impressions count as they say – especially in telemarketing/telesales so do all you can to ensure you make the best possible start to that call.

So here are a number of things to consider if you want to ensure you get off to a good start and end with, erm, a good end!

Firstly, develop a strong introduction, write it down if necessary – make sure you clarify that you’re speaking to the right person firstly then ensure it includes the company you work for, your name if you feel it’s neccessary (although personally I find the “Hi, I’m Dan and I’m calling from….. introduction a little tired these days so typically don’t give my name until later in the conversation), why you’re calling and what the benefit is to the prospect of continuing the conversation.  In addition I always ask if it’s a good time to talk.  Be aware that they’re probably very busy so by asking for permission to continue the conversation you’re showing firstly that you empathise with their situation but are also making it known that you’re not going to outstay your welcome.

If at this stage they say they’re too busy to talk you can always very briefly explain why you’re calling then agree on a time to call back.   If they’re not interested, they’re not interested about it, forget about them and move on but if they’ve given you the opportunity to call back then all good!

If the company you’re calling from/on behalf of are well known then I’d advise using the company name in the introduction, if not I would usually substitute it a brief description of what the company does.

So, to briefly recap a successful introduction I frequently use would be

“Good morning/afternoon is that xxxx?” (wait for response)

Just a very quick call (again reassures them that you’re not going to take too long)

I work for a (insert industry) company called xxxx, have I called at a bad time?

(assuming they say no, continue. If it’s a bad time, arrange to call back – and stick to the agreed slot!)

We work with a number of organisations in helping them to (reduce costs, improve service in whatever industry you’re in) and I would like to find out if we might be able to assist you in this area as well

(and then go into your structured sales call)

I’d advise practicing your initial introduction to the point where it sounds completely natural – rehearse it over and over again, in the shower, in the car or any moment where you aren’t likely to get sectioned for talking to yourself.  Nobody likes the sound of a scripted sales call, everybody likes speaking to warm, natural, confident people – Know why you’re calling, what’s in it for them and have a good, strong structure to continue the call.

 

This is by no means a comprehensive guide but having sold over the phone for nearly 20 years it’s an approach I find works the vast majority of the time.

Keep it short, keep it natural, match your tone of voice to theirs as much as you can and practice, practice, practice!

Good luck!!!!

 

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