Sales and Sales Management Blog

September 30, 2008

What Has Been Your Experience with Cold Calling?

Filed under: cold calling,prospecting,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 11:52 am
Tags: , , ,

A recent article of mine, Why Decision Makers Hate Cold Calls, is creating a number of responses to it on EyesOnSales, as well as a number of emails to me.  The majority of the responses are defending cold calling and challenging my thinking on the subject.

What I find interesting is the article simply related the reasons decision makers hate cold calls and that if one wants to use cold calling as one of their primary prospecting tools, they had better get the best cold call training they can-or, better yet, learn more effective methods of prospecting.

I’m always amazed at the emotional reaction many salespeople and managers, and a great many sales trainers have to anything that might question the orthodoxy of cold calling.  Simply mention that you question the effectiveness of cold calling and the reaction is immediate and vehement.  I’ve been accused of hypocrisy since “those who oppose cold calling are only trying to sell their overpriced, worthless ‘training.'”  Nice to know that the only trainers who believe what they say are the ones who agree with the sender of the email.

And, of course, I’ve been accused of being ‘dangerous’ and should be ‘stopped’ for leading salespeople to believe there are other, more effective ways of finding and connecting with prospects.

We conducted a survey last year that asked business decision makers and individuals a number of questions regarding how they found the salespeople and companies from which they bought goods and services.  Regarding cold calling, of the several hundred people we spoke to at random, less than 5% indicated they had bought anything in the past year initiated through a cold call (slightly higher for businesses than individuals).

My argument isn’t that cold calling doesn’t work-you can certainly find clients via cold calling, and every once in a while, even find a great client.  My argument is that cold calling is inefficient.  Certainly for some companies and even some salespeople selling a commodity, cold calling can be the only reasonable way of operating.  But for salespeople in relationship driven industries, is cold calling really the Mecca of prospecting?

I’d be very interested in getting your cold calling experience.  My only request is that you identify yourself with your real name (too many try to hide behind a screen name), and that you give real experience, not opinion.

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September 29, 2008

September 26, 2008

Bailout, It’s Just a 7 Letter Word–Or Is It?

Your daughter has grossly overextended herself.  Her credit cards, mortgage and car payments alone are three times her monthly take home pay.  Up until now she’s been able to rob from one to cover the other, but it’s now caught up with her.  She comes to you to confess her excesses and ask for help.

As a parent, you have options.  You can, of course, send her on her way to suffer the consequences of her behavior and out of control spending, knowing it will take years of work and self-denial for her to right herself.

You could just take out your checkbook and start writing checks-her bailout, if you will, knowing the likelihood of ever getting repaid is virtually zero.

Another alternative would be to work with her and her creditors to see if you could negotiate either reduced payments which you will make or a greatly reduced payoff-which you will immediately write a check to the creditor for, again expecting little or no repayment from your daughter, but at least giving her the opportunity to start over.

But you also have another alternative.  You could go to her creditors and let them know that you’re going to stand behind your daughter, but you’re not going to pay off her debts.  Instead, she’ll take her monthly income and make every payment she can and you’ll step in and make those payments she can’t.  You’ll only take up the slack in her cash flow and for only as long as necessary.  She’ll still be on a beans and cornbread diet for years, but her creditors will be paid, her credit history will be intact.

As her parent, which would you choose?

Now, turn it around.  You are no longer her parent; you’re one of the credit card companies who extended her credit.  Which option do you prefer?  I’d assume you’d like to see her parent take option number two-just pay the debt off.  You know you have a debtor who is going to default if something isn’t done.  You don’t want to negotiate a payoff unless you absolutely must because that is going to cost you money.  Even though her parent has promised to underwrite her payments, they have no legal obligation-they could change their mind.  Besides, since you have a great many other credit card holders in the same situation, you really want your money now, not later.

Although simplistic, these are the basic options congress is debating to ‘resolve’ the financial markets mess.  Do we simply take the bad debt, do we try to negotiate it down to the bare bones, or do we underwrite it?  I certainly recognize there’s more to it than this, and not being an economist, I’m not trying to argue for one or the other, or to explain the intricacies of the options.  But the language used to present the plans holds an important lesson for us in sales.

Certainly, Wall Street has made their preference known-take the bad debt.  Buy their paper at as close to face value as possible, saving their balance sheet, allowing them to go back, in essence, to business as usual.

That, of course, isn’t going to happen.  The Paulson/Bernanke proposal is akin to the third choice, negotiating a greatly reduced payoff-with a twist.  As a parent, you would want to negotiate the lowest possible payoff of your daughter’s debt.  You’d want to get out as cheaply as possible.  The twist in the Treasury plan is to hold a ‘discovery auction’ to determine the current fair market value of those debts.  That is the price at which they would be bought-maybe higher, maybe lower than the lowest possible negotiated payoff.  And unlike you when you payoff your daughter’s debt, the Treasury has an asset they would hope to be able to sell at some point in the future and get at least some of the money back.

The Paulson/Bernanke proposal isn’t a straight bailout, although unfortunately for them, it has been presented in the news that way and the major spokesperson for the plan, Paulson, has even used that term on occasion in the past.  Furthermore, the plan’s goal isn’t to save Wall Street companies but to free up the credit markets-to make it possible and attractive for companies to lend money to both business and consumer.  Without access to credit, the rest of the economy will collapse.

Because of how the plan has been reported in the news media, many people view the plan as simply paying off the daughter’s debt, making the creditor whole while draining the parent’s (taxpayers) bank account.  That’s a misperception based on the language used-and used by some of those involved in constructing and presenting the plan.

Bailout.  It’s just a small 7 letter word, one that everyone knows the meaning of.  Synonyms are ‘help,’ ‘escape,’ and ‘rescue.’   Many people are thinking in terms of ‘escape,’ as in Wall Street companies escaping the consequences of their bad investments and those coming to the ‘rescue’ having to payoff that bad debt in return for—-nothing.

Words are more than simply a collection of letters.  They have both positive and negative meanings-and positive and negative connotations.  Bailout, at least in this context, has the most negative meaning and connotation possible for many taxpayers.  Paulson and others have allowed the term to become attached to the plan, even on occasion using the term themselves, thus positioning the plan in the worst possible light.

As salespeople and marketers, we should take careful note of how just one little 7 letter word can completely change the perception of our presentation.

September 25, 2008

Guest Article, “How to Become a Winning Sales Ace,” by Waldo Waldman

Filed under: motivation,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 4:55 am
Tags: , ,

How to Become a Winning Sales ACE
By Waldo Waldman

If you want to test the true character of a person, see how they respond to adversity.  Watch how they handle the pressure of a lost sale, an angry client, or a difficult boss.  What do they say?  How do they act?  What is their emotional state?  Do they freeze up and get angry, or do they buckle down and increase their focus and commitment?

The same holds true for those who would assume the mantle of leadership in business.  When adversity hits, how they respond in the market will determine their ability to stay in business and win. Leadership – both on a personal and organizational level – ultimately drives the actions taken amidst crisis and change.

Today’s economy is full of adversity. I call them “missiles of business and life.” It seems we are being fired at every day. Rising costs of fuel, shrinking budgets, demanding clients, and a lack of qualified (and loyal) employees all create an intense and constantly changing environment. As soon as we think we defeated one missile…BAM! Another one is fired.  As soon as profits start coming in…BAM, another competitor enters the fight.

The missiles will come and you will be fired upon. It’s not a matter of if, but when and how often. The key is NOT to get shot down!

This week we saw one of the most reputable giants in the financial industry – Lehman Brothers – get shot down.  Just a few years ago, who would have thought such a thing could happen?  But it did. And it will happen again. It’s just the nature of business…and life.

In fighter combat, the best pilots who are able to adapt to adversity and change are called ACES. They prepare relentlessly and are the most focused and committed under pressure. They are the respected and accomplished leaders in their squadrons because they don’t run away when fear knocks on their door. They buckle down and ultimately take action.

The right action.

Here are a few WingTips that can turn you into an ACE and help you avoid getting shot down on your next mission:

A: Attitude + Action.  Attitude does not determine altitude. Attitude plus Action does. Being positive and enthusiastic is a critical component of success, but your customer ultimately rewards your actions, not your positive attitude!  An attitude that breeds confidence is a by-product of disciplined preparation and mission rehearsal. When dealing with a price objection, last minute competitor, or late product shipment, it’s the commitment, focus and sense of urgency you have to fix the problem, provide value, and deliver results that counts.

C: Customer: Success in business is not about you, your company, or your product. It’s about your customer.  Prior to each meeting, gather the latest, up to date intelligence (from multiple sources) and commit yourself to meeting the needs of your customer. Be original. Come prepared with questions. Learn about the person you’re meeting.  If you’re not focused 100% on your customer – your target – you shouldn’t strap on your jet to fly. (By the way, it can’t hurt to learn about your Competition too …but only after learning about your customer.

E Environment: Every mission is unique. What works with one client or industry, may not work with another. The environment in which you and your customer operate will ultimately determine your tactics.  Was there a recent merger or perhaps some lay-offs at the company you’re meeting?  How’s their stock price? What’s the nature of the industry you’re operating in? Who are you meeting?  Who is the decision maker? What resources (wingmen) do you have that can help you prepare for your meeting? Never sell by the seat of your pants!

Take it from somebody who’s been shot at in real combat, the winning ACE’s in business and life prepare for the worst, but then expect the best. They acknowledge adversity and develop the confidence to overcome it by hard work and focus. But being an ACE is not easy.  You can either “push it up” on your throttle and defeat the missile, or pull it back and risk getting shot down. It’s your choice.

I hope you’ll push it up!

Waldo Waldman builds team unity within organizations as a high-energy leadership and inspirational speaker. A former combat-decorated fighter pilot with corporate sales experience, Waldo brings an exciting and valuable message to organizations by using fighter pilot strategies as building blocks for peak performance, teamwork, leadership and trust. His clients include Aflac, Hewlett-Packard, John Hancock, Nokia, Bank of America, NY Life, and Home Depot. To download Waldo’s Top Gun Motivation mission briefing, visit http://www.YourWingman.com

September 24, 2008

Now Is The Time to Suit Up for Battle


I’ve received several emails and phone calls from clients wanting to know what they should be doing right now.  Should they be battening down the hatches?  Shrinking their sales teams?  Waiting to see what happens in Washington this week?  Heading for the mountains with food rations and ammo?  Others indicate they feel too depressed and fearful to get out of the office and into the field-what good will it do anyway?

As Wall Street smolders, Congress grandstands, and the business community frets, our lives continue.

Are you spending more time checking the news and than finding prospects?  Are you more worried about the economy than your pipeline?  Are you frozen in place, mesmerized by the teetering financial markets?

The spectacle in Washington and New York is important.  What’s going on is going to impact all of us-and we probably aren’t going to like the impact one way or another.  However, no matter our view of the proceedings, we have to continue to sell, to find prospects, to put food on the table.

We must maintain our focus.

When it’s all said and done, we’ll still be doing what we’re doing today-although, admittedly, it may be harder.

Although the future is murky, the present isn’t-our job is still intact, our responsibility today is the same as it was days, weeks, or months ago.  We still get paid the same way.

More importantly, there are still prospects out there.  There are still individuals and companies making money, needing products and services.

There are still prospects out there working hard to grow their families and grow their businesses.

We must do the same.

Put aside the newspaper.

Turn off the tv and radio.

Forget the Internet news sites.

Ignore the hysteria.

I don’t mean forget the issues or stick you head in the sand.  Certainly there are fears of recession-maybe even worse.  But when the work day starts, we have to get to work.

We have to concentrate on our business and let the rest go.  We must focus our efforts on our prospects, our clients, our sales.

If the world comes to an end during the workday, we’ll find out soon enough.

For many of us, this will take a great deal of discipline and self-control.  Certainly we’re all concerned about the economy, our jobs, and our families.  Even though the future may be murky, we know what we must do today.

For those of us who have lived through the turmoil of the economic crisis of the 70’s and the Savings and Loan debacle of the 80’s, we have some history to help bolster us.  For those that didn’t, take some solace in history-this isn’t the first crisis-and it won’t be the last, since we never seem to learn.

Set your focus on developing and expanding your sales business.  Take heart in knowing there is a very good possibility your competitors will be sitting at their desks fretting over the economy, watching every twist and turn of the proceeding in Washington, skipping a heartbeat with the slightest up or down of the big board.  Take advantage of an opportunity to act while your competitor is stagnant.

The more you allow yourself to wallow in fear and become sluggish with worry, the harder it is going to be to break out and get back to business.

Now is not the time to lose your focus.  Now isn’t the time to wallow in self-pity or to succumb to fear.  Now is the time to suit up for battle, to hit the streets harder than ever,  to take advantage of your competitor’s lose of focus.

September 22, 2008

Why Decision Makers Hate Cold Calls

The simple answer to why decision makers hate cold calls is cold calls are one of the biggest time wasters for them.

Decision makers hate cold calls and have no interest in taking your call because all you do is waste their time.  Period.

Now, you don’t see it the same way.  You believe you have something of value to offer the decision maker–actually, you want to see if you have something of value for them.  You have to qualify them and that’s one of the things you’re hoping to begin to do while speaking with them.  All you want is a couple of minutes of their time to set an appointment and learn a little something about whether or not they’re a qualified prospect.

To you, all you’re asking is just three, four, maybe five minutes of their time and a short little 10 or 15 minute appointment.  No big deal–just a moment of their time.

But look at what you’re asking from their point of view:

1.   You’re not the only call they’ll get that day. They’ll get 5, 10, 15, maybe more cold calls on any given workday.  You only want 5 minutes of their time?  Well, that 5 minutes can add up to a half an hour, an hour, two hours or more if they spoke to everyone who called.  Everyday.

2.   You only want a short 10 or 15 minute meeting.  Sure.  They understand that you’re asking for 10 and intend to stay 45.  They learned the BS about the 10 minute meeting their first week on the job.

3.   You just want to ask a few questions to gather information to grab their interest to set an appointment.  You sound like every other salesperson who calls.  That’s what they all want.  They want the decision to educate them about why they called, that is, to give them a reason to try to set a meeting with the decision maker.

4.   When they politely say ‘no,’ you won’t accept it. Instead you try to probe, to flush out the objection, to give more reasons to meet with you.  Finally, they get mad enough to slam the phone down or tell you in no uncertain terms ‘NO.’

5.   When you call, you have nothing of interest to them. They’re not thinking about your great new copier because they still have 2 years on the lease of their current copier.  They’re not thinking about replacing their phone system, they’re thinking about the server that just crashed.  They’re not thinking about a new accounting system because they’re thinking about the big deal they just lost that morning.

How would you like to go through that 5, 10, 15 times a day?  Everyday?  Without fail? What would be your resolution to the problem?  Would you take those calls?  You would do the same thing they do-not take any calls.

And decision makers have made it as obvious as possible that they don’t want your call. They’ve put gatekeepers in place to keep you out.  They’ve got voice mail to filter who they want to talk to and who they don’t.  They put signs on the door that say ‘no soliciting.’  As soon as they discover you’re a salesperson they say ‘no,’ and hang up.

Yet, you think-you hope-that you’re the exception.  That they’ll take your call.  That they’ll want to speak with you despite the signals they’ve given.  That you’re different from other 5, 10, or 15 salespeople who will call that day.

Cold calling is viewed by many salespeople, managers, and companies as the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to find prospects.  It isn’t.  It is in many ways the most difficult and expensive because when you cold call you’re trying to connect with someone who has already indicated as plainly as they possibly can that they don’t want to speak with you.  In order to overcome that, you have to make massive numbers of calls in order to find someone, anyone you can corner.

If you choose to cold call, you’ve a hard road ahead of you.  Few top producers waste their time cold calling because it is so ineffective and costly.  However, if you do choose to cold call, invest in getting the best cold call training you can.  Your investment will pay off with greatly increased results-you’ll still waste a lot of time; you’ll still face a tremendous amount of rejection;  you’ll still have to eventually find better ways to connect with prospects; but at least make your efforts as profitable as possible.

September 19, 2008

Guest Article: “Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity,” by Lee Salz

Successful Selling and the Theory of Relativity
by Lee Salz

Albert Einstein formulated the theory that says that space and time are relative concepts rather than absolute concepts. For example, consider a car speedometer reading at 65 miles per hour. How fast is the car going? This question seems like the beginning of the joke of who is buried in Grant’s tomb and you are expecting a punch line. No joke here, I assure you. As a matter of fact, most would respond 65 miles per hour. This is the correct answer if and only if you are comparing the car to someone who is not moving. However, if you compare that same car to the car driving next to it that is driving 55 miles per hour, your car is only moving at 10 miles per hour.

So, what does that have to do with sales? When you look at your sales performance, to what standard do you compare yourself? Is it to the others on the sales team? Is it to your quota? Is it to a sales record that has stood for 10 years in your company? Maybe you look at your performance relative to your income goals?

While any of these comparative points are important, they all have one thing in common. They limit your potential. How good can you be? If you set a ceiling to that, you will never know. Yes, hitting your quota is important. Achieving your income goal is also important. But could you achieve more? Could you be better? The car moving at 65 miles per hour is moving pretty fast, but only relative to a non-moving entity. Your competitors are moving right along with you. Maybe you are in the lead, but competition does not stagnate. To them, maybe you are only moving at 10 miles per hour.

Compare that same car to a jet. The speed of the car is not overly impressive. The jet can get you from New York to Florida in a couple of hours. The car needs 24 hours to reach the same destination. Competitors get smarter. Customers get smarter. And you have to get better if you are going to be successful. What worked yesterday is not going to work tomorrow. Self improvement is the only way to do it.

There are no ceilings in sales unless you place them there. One of my favorite quotes is, “When someone says it can’t be done, it only means that HE can’t do it.” Every day people accomplish the seemingly impossible. How do they do it? Simple. They don’t compare themselves to any standard. They have no limitations. As I write this, I’m flying on a plane. If the Wright brothers believed in ceilings, I’d be driving. If Bill Gates believed that people would never own a personal computer, I’d be writing this on a typewriter.

To further make this point, I thought I would share a personal story. When I was in the eighth grade, my family moved from New York to New Jersey. (Where to start with the jokes…) At the time that we moved, I was an excellent student, A’s across the board. Shortly after moving, I injured my knee playing baseball. I ended up having two knee surgeries and spent my entire freshman year of high school on crutches. Here I am living in a new state, going to a new school, knowing next to no one. I lost my focus.

I became friendly with a few kids who were not very good students. They were nice kids, not troublemakers, but they did not perform well in school. During my freshman year of high school, I set my personal worst records for grades, but I was able to rationalize my performance. My grades were nothing to write home about, but I was scoring better than my friends. From that relative point of view, I was doing fine.

Towards the end of my freshman year, I became friends with a different group of kids. These friends later attended Wharton, Harvard, Emory, and Bates. All prestigious schools…  Relative to them, my grades were a disgrace. They never made me feel badly about it, but I felt uncomfortable. Their success drove me to rediscover myself. During the remainder of my high school and collegiate career, I elevated my game to top of the class. I credit much of that with changing my approach to relativity.

Nature also uses the theory of relativity. If you put a fish in a 10 gallon tank, the fish will only grow to a certain size. The surroundings of the fish limit its size and growth. Put that same fish in a larger tank and the fish will continue to grow. Want to get better at golf? Play with better golfers. Want to run faster? Train with better runners.

What limitations are you putting on your sales success? Are you failing to achieve your quota? Are your friends on the team missing their quota too? Do you accept that because you are all failing? Or do you compare yourself to a higher standard? What are you doing each and every day to improve yourself? Is your goal just to be better, or is it to be the best?

You are the only obstacle to your success. Get out of your own way and enjoy the results.

Lee B. Salz is a sales management guru who helps companies hire the right sales people, on-board them, and focus their sales activity using his sales architectureR methodology.  He is the President of Sales Architects, the C.E.O. of Business Expert Webinars and author of “Soar Despite Your Dodo Sales Manager.” Lee is an online columnist for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine, a print columnist for SalesforceXP Magazine, and the host of the Internet radio show, “Secrets of Business Gurus.” Look for Lee’s new book
in February 2009 titled, “The Sales Marriage” where he shares the secrets to hiring the right sales people. Lee can be reached at lsalz@SalesArchitecture.com.

September 17, 2008

Hearing and Seeing is Believing? Hardly.

Communication is at the core of what we as salespeople do.  We have to find a prospect and then communicate who we are, what we do, how we can help them solve their problems or meet their wants and needs, and we have to do so in a manner that builds confidence, trust, and respect.

This should be a rational process-communicating factual information; demonstrating our trustworthiness by what we do, what we say, and the advice and guidance we provide the prospect; and putting the good of the prospect first.

As a rational process, we should be able to use logic, facts, and figures.  Our trustworthiness should shine through based the actions our prospect sees.  Our desire to seek what’s best for the prospect should be easily discernable based on the quality of our guidance and recommendations.

If only it were that easy.

Many of us make a critical mistake when we assume that our prospect hears what we’re saying and sees what we’re doing.

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.  Prospects see and hear what they want to see and hear.

Nothing demonstrates this more clearly than the current presidential campaign.  There are hundreds of examples of people hearing and seeing what they want to hear and see, not what is actually being said or done.

Although I go on all day with examples, let me give a couple of examples, one from each campaign:

Pigs and Lipstick.  Everyone has seen the clip of Obama discussing the policies of John McCain during a campaign stop where he stated that you could put lipstick on McCain’s (i.e, Bush’s) policies and you’d still have a pig.

Within context it is obvious that Obama wasn’t speaking about Sara Palin.  He was speaking about the policies of John McCain.  But the reactions to this statement are very interesting.

The reactions of the Obama supporters at the event were the exact opposite of what Obama intended by the statement.  They began to laugh uproariously as soon as the word lipstick comes out of Obama’s mouth.  They immediately thought the statement was going to be an attack on Palin–because that’s what they wanted to hear.  They didn’t hear what Obama said; they heard what they wanted to hear.

Likewise, many of those opposed to Obama heard the same thing-an attack on Palin that didn’t exist-again, because that’s what they wanted to hear.

McCain and Economics. McCain has had the same issue arise with his comment that he wasn’t as well versed in economics as some other areas.  He never said he didn’t know anything about economics, he said he didn’t know as much about economics as he did other areas.

As with the Obama statement, the video clip makes it very evident the meaning of his words.

Many who oppose him didn’t hear his statement.  What they heard was that he doesn’t know anything about economics-again, they heard what they wanted to hear.

In both of the above instances there are those who honestly misunderstood the comments.  There are certainly others who intentionally misunderstand them and have twisted them for their own use.

Both men sought to communicate in a relatively straightforward manner.  McCain made a simple assertion that he didn’t know as much about economics as other subjects.  Obama used a common expression that at one time or another most all of us have used.

It can be argued that both men’s speech was ill conceived.  McCain should have known admitting he wasn’t as well versed in economics as other areas would open him up to criticism.  Obama’s use of the lipstick on a pig expression was ill timed due to Palin’s joke at the Republican convention.

But McCain and Obama are trying to communicate with other humans-and doing so with thousands of words everyday.  As such, each will find words coming out their mouths that are less than optimal to advance their respective causes.  Although both have speech writers, both must speak extemporaneously-and that can be dangerous ground for a presidential candidate–or a salesperson.

Each must take great care to phrase their statements precisely, to insure their statements are placed within a context that fully explains them and insulates them from being misunderstood.

We face the same obstacles Obama and McCain face.  We have prospects who hear what they want to hear, not what we say, who see what they want to see, not what we do.

“But,” you say, “they’re dealing in politics where listeners have pre-conceived ideas and agendas.  I’m selling copiers.”

That’s precisely the point.  Our prospects and clients also have pre-conceived ideas.  They also have agendas.  They also hear what they want to hear, see what they want to see.

Just as with McCain and Obama, we must be vigilant in our discussions with prospects and clients.  Fortunately, our job is easier.  McCain and Obama must understand and appeal to their immediate audience while formulating their words for a much larger audience that is present only via the eye of the camera and the microphone of the recorder.

That being said, we, like them, must be intimately tuned into our audience.  We must understand our prospect’s pre-conceived ideas and agendas if we want our words and our actions to communicate what we want to communicate, not what they want to hear or see.

September 16, 2008

Need Cold Calling Help? Listen to Wendy Weiss Talk About Cold Calling College

Filed under: cold calling,prospecting,sales,selling — Paul McCord @ 5:56 am
Tags: , , , ,

What would happen to your business if you were able to double the number of qualified prospects you are able to reach?

How would it affect your bottom line if you met with and/or had comprehensive telephone conversations with twice the number of qualified, decision-makers?

How would it feel to have qualified, decision-makers eager,willing and delighted to meet with you?

Join Wendy Weiss, The Queen of Cold Calling, as she discusses cold calling and how she helps entrepreneurs, business owners and sales professionals prospect fearlessly and schedule more new business appointments in less time.

The Cold Calling College Free Preview Call is on September 18, 2008 and details can be found HERE

Prospecting is perhaps the most important skill that entrepreneurs, business owners and sales professionals must master to be truly successful. Let’s face it, without customers you don’t have a business, and without prospecting, you don’t have customers!

Many people struggle with prospecting by phone.

The reality is that prospecting can be difficult, but it doesn’t need to be. The good news is that cold calling is a communication skill, and like any communication skill, it can be learned and improved upon.

If you struggle with prospecting, you too can see amazing change and terrific improvement in your ability to connect with multiple new prospects on a personal level, and have them agree to sit down and have a further conversation with you.

The Cold Calling College Free Preview Call is on September 18, 2008
and details can be found here

Here’s what people are saying about ‘Cold Calling College’:

‘I recently called six companies and was able to get four solid introductory appointments on my calendar with minimal effort! If I can keep up this pace I can make more money in less time.’
–Tracy M. Brodd, Account Executive, American Identity

And isn’t that what it’s about? Making more money in less time.

You can do it too.

PS – Just for attending, you are eligible for EXCELLENT discounts… Register (even if you can’t make it – Wendy will send you a recording!) today!


September 15, 2008

Client or Customer? Does It Matter?

 

Do you have clients or customers?  Many salespeople, business owners, and companies use the terms interchangeably, simply meaning someone who has bought from them.  But the difference is crucial to your success in building a long-term, profitable business.

The dictionary definitions begin to make the difference clear:

Customer:  An individual or group who buys a good or service
Client:  An individual or group who engages professional advice and guidance

Which of the above do you want work with?  Someone who buys because you happen to have the good or service they need, or someone who relies on your professional advice and guidance?

In reality, I think the concept of client goes well beyond simply relying on professional advice.  I believe a true client relationship involves a relationship.  The idea of client means an individual or group who trusts, whose needs and wants and circumstances are intimately known to the professional giving the advice and guidance, and where there is frequent and open communication between the parties.

On the other hand, the concept of customer is an individual or group that makes a purchase based on convenience, price, accessibility, or some other factor, including persuasion or pressure.  These are not necessarily one-time buyers.  They may, in fact, be repeat buyers-maybe on a very regular basis.  But their purchasing decisions are not based on their trust of and relationship with the salesperson.  Guidance and advice is minimal or even non-existent.  Contact with them is occasional, often through nothing more than a newsletter, a direct mail piece, or a once a year phone call.

Take a close look at your client database.

  • Which of your clients do you know needs an additional product or service of yours?  I’m not talking about, “everybody needs the Wiz Bang X3 product.”  I mean which of the clients in your database do you know well enough to KNOW you have a product or service they really need-and exactly what product or service it is they need, and their specific problem or issue that it will help them solve?
  • Which of your clients are you comfortable calling and asking for referrals, for a testimonial letter, for a recommendation on LinkedIn?
  • Which of your clients would you not hesitate to use as a reference without asking their permission if needed because you know without question what they will say?
  • Which of your clients can you point to and say without hesitation that they trust and respect you?  Not, “I think,” or “I believe.”  But you know without a doubt they trust you.  If your answer is all, you’ve either not given the question much thought or you’re fooling yourself.

Those people in your database that you can give a positive answer to every one of the above questions are your clients.  The rest are customers.

Clients stay with us over the long haul because their purchase isn’t based on price.  They didn’t buy because we happened to persuade them to make a purchase they later regretted.  They didn’t purchase because we happened to be in the right place at the right time.  They bought because they see us as being trustworthy; giving advice and guidance that is valuable to them and helps them make wise decisions.  Our relationship is more important than a few dollars.  Convenience is secondary, trust and respect is primary.

We all have customers.  And we have customers that for whatever reason we don’t want to be clients.  They may have more demands than their business justifies, we may not work well with them, their needs are so small and infrequent they don’t justify the time and energy investment.

Nevertheless, if you want a sustained, profitable business, you must concentrate on creating clients, not customers. You must identify those customers and prospects that should be-must be-your clients, and then you must invest the time and energy to build the relationships with them that will create a true client, not a customer.

Simply making a sale and adding the name to your database isn’t going to create a client.  Sending an occasional newsletter or making an annual call isn’t creating a client.  Persuading someone to buy something doesn’t create a client.

Clients are created through establishing a relationship, not being sold.  Clients are relationships, not sales orders.  Clients are men and women who can count on you-and you can count on them.  Clients don’t have to question your integrity or advice-and you don’t have to question their loyalty.

Yet you can never be so comfortable with a client that you take them for granted.  In fact, if your client is really a client you wouldn’t think of taking them for granted because you have both a professional and emotional commitment to them.  You’re primarily concerned about their welfare, not your profit.  One arises out of the other.

Clients are not lost because of price or convenience.  Clients are lost because the relationship has broken down, the trust has eroded, their sense of your interest in their welfare is gone.

Search your database and determine who is a client and who is a customer.  Decide who should be moved from customer status to client status and begin creating the long-term relationship with them that will create the loyalty and trust that will provide you with the foundation of clients you must have for your long-term success.  And then focus your attention on finding prospects that you want as clients, not just customers.

Paul McCord is a leading authority on prospecting, referral selling, and personal marketing.  He is president of McCord Training, a Midland, Texas based sales training, coaching, and consulting company.  His first book, Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons, 2007), is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble best-seller and is quickly becoming recognized as the authoritative work on referral selling.  His second book, SuperStar Selling: 12 Keys to Becoming a Sales SuperStar has just been released.  He may be reached at pmccord@mccordandassociates.com or visit his sales training website at www.mccordandassociates.com or his highly popular blog http://salesandmanagementblog.com

Copyright 2008, Paul McCord.  May be reproduced without change, with proper attribution and brief bio.  Notice of when and where article is to appear to pmccord@mccordandassociates.com

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