Rabu, 16 Juli 2008

Cold Calling for Introverts

In her book, The Introvert Advantage, Marty Olsen Laney talks about the defining moment when she embraced the fact that she was an introvert. It came in the form of a statement, "Oh, there's nothing wrong with me, I'm just an introvert!"

According to her research only 25% of people are introverted which leaves us the daunting task of dealing with the 75% extroverts of the world. And surprising as it seems, there are those of us who have, for one reason or another, chosen to make our living in sales.

Being in sales poses many problems for introverts but probably the biggest is the idea of making cold calls. Now before we look at cold calling for introverts let's look at the concept of cold calling itself a bit closer.

Sales guru, Jeffry Gitomer, says that cold calling is the least effective method of generating new sales. It interrupts the prospect, probably irritating them, and has a fairly low rate of return. Having said all that, cold calling is still needed and sometimes required of those of us in sales.

As an introvert I have always looked with envy at the ease with which an extrovert approaches cold calling. Because they dwell in the outside world (while many introverts find their reality in the inner world) they find it easier to pick up the phone and call. They are usually more outgoing naturally so conversation with strangers is easier. And, darn it, they also don't seem as affected by the inevitable rejection; seemingly able to shrug it off and move on to the next call.

Introverts will sometimes go to great lengths to avoid cold calling. First we have to plan who to call - who is most likely to be positive or at least neutral about our call? Then we have to make sure we have all our information together to handle any contingency that might come up - files, literature, scripts and anything else that might take 5 or 10 more minutes to find. Then we have to think about our prospect's schedule - we don't want to call too early or too late and, you know, everyone is too busy on Mondays and Fridays aren't a good day to call either.

Once we've exhausted every excuse we're left sitting looking at the phone. It's time to pick it up and call. Short of drugs, there's probably no way to completely eliminate the stress cold calling causes introverts. But let me lay out a technique that works for me; both reducing my stress and, surprisingly, producing good contacts and prospects.

As a caveat there is one aspect to this technique that may bother some people but give me until the end of the article to provide some explanation. The underlying assumption here is that someone in the business or company you are about to cold call could have requested information about your product or service. This assumption could include Internet inquiries, "bingo" cards in magazines, inbound 800 number calls, or any other way to request information. It doesn't mean that they actually did ask for information, only that they could have.

We begin by at least knowing what department or area of a business or company would usually be interested in our product. If you sell forms, which department uses those forms? If you sell advertising, would the marketing department be the logical place to start? If you're in industrial sales, which department mainly uses your goods or services?

Take a deep breath, pick up the phone and dial. If you get an automated attendant you can usually raise a "real" person by hitting "0" on your phone. When you get that real person say something like this, "Hello, my name is Joan Smith with ABC Company. I need to speak with someone in your ___ department (that department name being the one you previously identified). In 90% of calls they will connect you without comment. We'll deal with the other 10% in just a minute.

The phone will ring and your stress level will peak. Will someone answer or will you end up in voice mail - what you say next remains the same either way. When someone (or the message machine) answers say something like this. "Hello, my name is Bill Jones with ABC Company. I'm new in this position and as I was going through my predecessor's files I found a request for information from your company but it doesn't have a name on it. I didn't want to throw it away without at least trying to see if the information had been sent. Do you know of anyone who would have requested information on (your product or service)?"

And wait. They may ask for your company name again. They may ask for more information on the product or service you just mentioned in passing. But most of the time their reply takes one of the following forms.

"Well, that would have been (a name). Let me connect you to him - make sure you have a pen ready during this call." When you're connected to Bob (or his voice mail) repeat the thread above, that is, you've found a request for information with no name and you want to make sure that whoever requested the information got what they needed.

Sometimes, the person will say, "Well, that would have been me but I don't remember asking for information." No hostility, just puzzlement. Your response at that time is "As I said, this request doesn't have a name on it so it may not have come from you." Then you can give an abbreviated sales pitch by asking, "Are you already using (your product or service)?" A positive answer gives you the opportunity to ask if they are satisfied. A negative answer lets you ask if they would like to see information.

A third response you might get would be this, "Well, that would have probably come from Anne Adams and she's not here. Would you like her voice mail?" Your reply something like this, "Yes, please, but do you mind giving me Anne's email address as well? That way I can send her a link to our website just to be sure she gets the information requested." Again in most cases the person on the phone will give you their name, their email address, and maybe even this most coveted of responses, "You know, this is a timely call. We just brought a project off the back burner that uses (your product or service). Can you come by to meet with us?" For an introvert, this is the Holy Grail.

Let's back up a minute to the 10% of operators or receptionists that don't put you right through. They may ask, "Can I ask what this is concerning?" At this point I give a short version of my original thread, that I have a request for information from my company but no contact name and that I don't want to simply throw the request away. This will usually disarm the screener and get you a name or at least a ringing phone.

Those few that you get through to who say, "nope, wasn't me and we have no need for that" are the ones you let go with a brief apology and thanks. Don't let it rattle you.

Now back to the ethical question that this may raise for some of you. "I'm really telling a lie - no one asked for this information" and that is true. For some of you that point may eliminate you using this technique but first ask yourself this question. If you believe in your product or service, then you feel that the companies you call on can benefit from what you sell. If they knew they could benefit would they ask you for information? If they could and should have asked for this information that could benefit them AND if they were aware of your company, they would have asked, wouldn't they?

So using this line of reasoning you can make the jump to the idea that they would have asked if they'd known to ask. So you are simply making them aware by your call.

I realize this is rationalizing - but 90% of the people with whom I have used this technique are polite, interested, and give me excellent information. And many of them have benefited from the information I give them. And the alternative is to grit your teeth, call a receptionist, stumble through an explanation of who you are and what you're selling, hope they don't tell you to call purchasing, or put you through to someone who doesn't want to talk to a sales person AND who is in an irritable mood today.

What makes this approach less stressful to the introvert? For whatever reason it is easier for me to call someone who first called me. If they called me first then they must be open to talking with me and I find this an easier call to make. This technique simply assumes that the person you're talking to would have called you if they had known of the benefits of your product or service.

So give it a try - call a couple of people who might have asked for your information. Offer them the chance to really see your information. Then go lie down for about 10 minutes to let the stress go away. After all, we still are introverts!

By Hal Warfield

Predictive Dialers - Human Interaction Maximized

Predictive dialers are many steps removed from their predessors, the automatic dialers of the past. Whereas automatic dialing allowed callcenter agencies to dial numbers quickly and efficiently, predictive dialing also processes and makes use of a whole range of information, linking callers to live voices every single time. In fact, with predictive dialing, agents' 'talk time' has increased from an average of twenty minutes per hour to fifty minutes per hour. This is a fabulous rate of improvement - instead of wasting more than half of their time on listening to busy signals and answering machine messages, agents now spend the majority of their time engaged in producting interaction. The dialer also manages the line to agent ratio by pacing the call rate at the desired level. In this way, quotas are met, and agents are neither idle nor overwhelmed. In other words, because the hardware and software does its job, agents are able to spend much more time doing theirs. And of course, increased contact time means that the center's goals are reached much more quickly.

In many ways, it is still true that the real value of a call center depends on its 'human capital' - the agents who interact with clients and potential clients. The more the center's human capital is brought to the forefront, the more everyone benefits. The aim of technology, therefore, is to maximize the time that agents are able to spend doing what only they can do - conversing, communicating, interacting. Predictive dialing and other call center technology represents a perfect symbiosis between person and machine.

A predictive dialing system is able to keep track of which agents are available, while monitoring the responses to the outgoing calls that it makes. Numbers that are busy, disconnected, fax lines, or calls that are answered by machines or voicemail systems are not connected to an agent. Only the calls that are answered by a live voice are put through to an agent, which means that the agent spends almost all of his or her time on the line with a live person. Facilitating and maximizing talk time is the goal of every call center.

The hidden benefit in all this is the fact that the agent is much less likely to get bored or disheartened. Human contact is important to everybody, and particularly to those who select careers that highlight communication. Many of the agents who choose to work in call centers are there precisely because they are attracted to the work due to the fact that they have excellent communication skills and enjoy interacting with people. An endless stream of answering machines or busy signals is bound to frustrate them. When they are able to spend fifty minutes out of each hour actually interacting with clients, however, the agents find that time goes by much faster and their workday is more varied and interesting. Furthermore, they know that their skills are valued, and that their company supports them by investing in the appropriate technology.

Predictive dialing technology is improving all the time. One problem that we occasionally still encounter is a short lag between the time the outgoing call is answered and the time the agent gets on the line. Generally, this is only a matter of a few seconds, and some systems play a short recorded message during this time. Nevertheless, any sort of lag time increases the possibility that the potential client will become confused, and that part of the agent's talk time will be spent sorting out the confusion. There is also the chance that the client may hang up. Therefore, measures are being taken to speed up voice connects and minimize this lag time to the point where it may become imperceptible.

Predictive dialing has revolutionized call centers, and has the potential to continue doing so. Calls are made much more efficiently, employees are happier, and the goals of the call center are likely to be me much faster. Now that this technology is readily available (and improving all the time) it would be almost unthinkable for any sizable call center not to invest in predictive dialers.

Overcoming Objections Over the Telephone

In sales, one of the things you will be doing a lot of, is making phone calls. You can't escape it. It just comes with the territory.

Making phone calls is really not all that bad. The thought of having to do it, is actually much worse than having to physically sit down and do it, and once you get on a roll, it's never as bad as it seemed.

The part of making cold calling sales calls that you will find to be most painful are the objections you will be faced with, such as, and most annoying, is the hang up, which doesn't happen as often as people think. In this particular case, I have no answer on how to meet this challenge, my suggestion would be, not to stress over it, just move onto the next phone call.

Another objection you will be faced with is: I'm not sure. I have to think about it.

My suggested response to this objection would be:

I understand that you need to think about it, but perhaps there is something I did not explain clearly enough, is there anything you would like to go over one more time?

Or . . .

I know when it comes to making a commitment over the phone that it is easy to become lost in the confusion of everything that has to be done and understood, is there anything I can go over with you one more time.

If that doesn't get them talking again, then let them go by politely asking for their permission to follow up with them in a few days, and, if you could possibly send them out some literature, along with your business card.

Another common objection is:

I have to ask my spouse.

A good response to this objection would be:

Is your spouse available at this time? I would be happy to speak with him/her.

Again, if this does not work, then let them go, and politely ask to send out literature, and follow up with a phone call.

And one other objection you may run into . . .

I have already taken care of that, or I am working with someone else.

If you are hit with this objection, it is most likely your prospects way of telling you they are not interested.

On the other hand, if they tell you they are working with someone else, it never hurts to take a chance, and ask your customer if they would like to see if you could get them a better price, or even a better product. It can't hurt, and if they are interested than go for it! If not, than let it go right there, and move onto your next prospect.

And remember, challenges are nothing but obstacles on your path to greatness!

By Jay Conners

Generating Leads Through Telemarketing

Telemarketing is one of the most common ways that a business can generate leads. It is a versatile approach. Lead generation telemarketing can be inbound or outbound, meaning that systems use prerecorded messages and can dial either random numbers or numbers from an imported list.

Telemarketing is one of the few lead generation techniques that is flexible enough to be immediately adaptable to new situations. The telemarketer can answer questions or provide additional information as needed in response to the potential customer's comments. Also, while prospective buyers may ignore direct mail or advertisements, they will not ignore a ringing telephone. Once the person answers the phone, a good telemarketer can generate a lead.

Inbound lead generation telemarketing involves the prospective customer calling the company to find out about their products or services. This is the best kind of lead generation telemarketing because the potential buyer has already shown interest by making the call. It is then up to the telemarketer to say the right things in order to retain the prospective buyer's interest. Often, people will call for information about certain products or to see if there are any sales or discounts available. It is up to the telemarketer to be able to provide the caller with all of the necessary facts that the caller asks for.

Outbound telemarketing is less successful than taking inbound calls. It is difficult because it often involves what is called cold calling. This is when a lead generator makes an unsolicited call to a potential customer. The person has no idea who is calling them or why. A high percentage of people react badly to being cold called. It takes someone with great communication skills and the ability to handle rejection to make a successful cold caller. Other times, the callers are equipped with a list of potential leads. The caller's responsibility is then to verify that the person is indeed interested.

Another option for lead generation telemarketing is to use a lead generation system. Lead generation systems are machines programmed to dial phone numbers and deliver a recorded message when the phone is answered. Many people hang up on these machines, but they are a cost effective way to generate leads. Some lead generation systems can be given a list of potential leads to call, thus increasing the chance of success.

Lead generation telemarketing is a great, flexible, adaptable way to gain new customers. People with good communication skills are often very good at this type of work.

The Cold Calling Conspiracy

A consipiracy exists in the world of selling. A cold calling conspiracy.

What I'm talking about is the requirement by most sales organizations to make cold calls on your time and at your expense. They say that cold calls equal appointments equal sales, but that's not true anymore. All sales managers are guilty of teaching it, believing it, and using it. "Increase your activity and increase your income" are the mantra. We're told to do the sales math to "motivate" ourselves. Have you heard this one? "If you make five hundred dollars commission per sale and it takes five appointments to get the sale and twenty calls to get an appointment, then each cold call is worth five dollars in your pocket."

Did anyone ever really believe this?

Hey boss, put your money where your mouth is! If that were really true, companies would pay us the five dollars per call! They don't because that equation never works in the real world... for anyone. The simple fact is that we are only paid for completed sales, not for attempts. Directing salespeople to make more calls and increase activity is a weak excuse for a sales manager or trainer to justify his or her job. Cold calling is an expensive waste of your time. The reason companies have you cold calling is because it is a waste of your time and your money, not theirs. You only make money when you sell something, yet over eighty percent of most salespeople's time is spent looking for someone to sell to.

The bottom line is that we, as salespeople, cannot afford to continue fooling away our time on low-percentage activities like cold calling. It's a way for companies to save money at your expense. We must focus our attention on activities that get real results in this new Information Age economy, and the effectiveness of cold calling fell dramatically when we left the old Industrial Age and entered this bold new era. Forget cold calling and learn how to market yourself intelligently, systematically, and automatically. Self-marketing is the key to success in today's selling environment and the "secret" of all those top producers who obviously don't cold call and won't tell you what it is they're doing to make those huge numbers every month. Remember, Napoleon Hill's great work is entitled "Think and Grow Rich," not "Work Harder and Stay Broke." Don't become a victim of the Cold Calling Conspiracy - learn to market yourself successfully and join the elite club of top producers. I did it and you can too.

By Frank Rumbauskas

K.A.R.M.A. of Phone Prospecting

Do you ever wake up on the wrong side of the bed? Does the rest of the day just follow suit? Have you ever thought that your attitude towards the day might just be coming back to you through misfortunes and bad things through out the day?

Well it happens and it is called KARMA.

KARMA is defined as if you put a negative out there it will come back to you in the form of another negative. So you could say you get back what you put out there.

So lets relate that to your calling of leads.

If you put out a negative presentation you get back a negative result commonly phrased as "I am not interested", "Is this a pyramid scheme", "Is this MLM", or "does this cost anything". So how do you create a positive presentation in order to get back a positive result?

Let call the process of creating an effective phone presentation the K.A.R.M.A. of Phone Presentations.

KNOWLEDGE of the industry is the first thing you need to consider when putting together your presentation. You see if your prospect doesn't have a basic understanding of the MLM business model it will be virtually impossible to develop a successful downline partner. You need to be sure they have an understanding before you can expect them to be productive in your downline. The best way to find this out is to ask early on in your conversation if they could define MLM or Network Marketing.

ACTION step is required at this point. You need to go one of two ways. If they understand MLM or Network Marketing you can move onto the next step. If they don't understand the industry your best move is to educate them before you move into any kind of presentation of your company or product. Make sure you have some websites or emails that you can send them in order to educate them about the industry. Wouldn't you agree that if you were going to start a restaurant business you ought to know something about the industry? So why should it be any different in our industry? Once you provide education for them then you can follow up with them and move onto the next step.

REASONS for each person vary. But as you and I both know there are several reasons that are common and it is important that you begin to find out why they want to start a home-based business. This will begin to make a connection between you and the prospect. You may even find out that you have the same reason as your prospect. This stage is really a stage where you get to know the person. Be sure to NOT ask how much time and money they have to invest when getting to know them.

MATCHING the prospect to your business is the next stage of an effective presentation. Use what you have learned about your prospect and create a bridge between where they are today and your opportunity. Let them know with confidence that with all you know about them at this point you feel your company is a great match for them and it would be worth it to take a closer look.

ACTION time is again upon you. You must now give them the next step in the exploring process. Your company most likely has a process laid out for you whether it is to do a 3-way call with your upline, connect them to a live presentation, or simply send them to your website for more information.

Follow the K.A.R.M.A. presentation and you will be on your way to getting the positive results you desire when calling your leads.

Make it the Best Day Yet,

By Scott Adams

How to Make Sales with Noisy Kids in the House

Kids play hard, and sometimes that means they play really loud in the midst of exploring their worlds and role playing with siblings and friends.

I know with my kids, if I'm not hearing some degree of noise; [i.e. play], from them, it probably means one of them is not feeling well, or they are coming down with a cold.

My world is blessed with two very artistic and rambounous boys; 5 years and 2 1/2 years old. With their play and with their singing; [they love to sing Country music at the top of their lungs!]; they have the ability to raise the noise level in our house to a "heaven-bending" volume in 9 seconds flat!

And while I loved to hear them hard at play, the sporatic and unpredictable noise [play], posed challenges at times when I was doing sales calls, or when clients called with final questions about starting a business relationship with me.

Clients don't wait, when they want to have questions answered and they don't always call at the best times. Sometimes these calls would come through when the kids were eating or doing activities that were not so noisy. Great! But.... most of the time, they did not!

5 year olds are pretty predictable. You basically know when they are going to make noise. But, if you know anything about the 'terrible 2's syndrome', you're already familiar with the unpredictability of when the next scream, or loud laugh will erupt!

Some clients understood. I would say: 'yes I know you can hear kids in the background. That is why I do this business. So I can be at home with them". For other clients, that was not okay. I had some near misses and some fair size loses in bringing people in, to work with me in my business because of this home-based situation.

Over the course of working out of my home, I have had many a conversation with other work at home Moms [WAHMs], and at times have doubled over in laughter at some of the ingenious, and sometimes silly tactics they've pulled just to get a moment of quiet when they needed to portray the illusion of "executive-office professionalism" for the really important calls.

Some of them would hide in the bathroom. Others would sneak downstairs, or sneak out into the garage. The funniest one I heard was the hiding in the closet trick... so the kids would not be making noise right under-foot. That one really made me laugh, because I have pulled similar tactics just trying to get a moments peace! And, yes, I have to admit, I have used them to make my business workable too!

Oh I know... I hear some of you saying... why don't you just get your kids into daycare, or find a babysitter or a Nanny to take them. Well, that makes perfect sense of course. But for the many WAHMs who have given up jobs to work at home, first, they do not want to be giving the majority of what they earn to those services; although they are very valuable services. And, second, there's that guilt.

The guilt we feel because it was our choice to stop working at jobs and stay at home so we could be with our kids. That was a conscious choice we made. So when we start looking at having to farm our kids out to daycare, babysitters, or bringing in a Nanny, guilt; as to the purpose of why we were staying home in the first place starts to manifest.

So what is the solution? Is there really a solution to how to make sales with noisy kids in the house? Well, I don't know if this solution is for you... But I do believe I found the right solution for me!

I don't have to hide in the closet anymore. I don't disappear into the bathroom to talk muffled into the towels, lol! I no longer work 5 to 9 hours a day on the phone during play time, or any time, doing follow ups and sales calls.

Clients no longer call the house at unpredictable times, or at all for that matter. My kids no longer have to worry about how much noise they make in the house! And, I'll still make a nice 5-6 figure contribution to my family's income this year!

What did I discover to make my sales business work for everyone in the household? Well.... that's another story that needs to be explained at another time!

My typing time is up - and my kids are calling me to come outside and play water-bomb balloons with them! Got to go ; )!

By Tracey DePaoli