Michael : Good morning Andy. Firstly thank you very much for doing this podcast and discussion, and if you could kick off by saying a little bit about who you are and what you do.
Andy : Yes indeed, thank you Michael. My name is Andy Preston and I train people to develop new business for a living. I run a successful consultancy company called Outstanding Results, and I’m also a motivational speaker travelling around the world speaking at sales conferences.
My clients range from small individuals, the one man bands, right up to some of Britain and Americas largest clients, particularly in the IT, telecom and recruitment fields. I work with pretty much every type of business these days.
Michael : Now what do you mean by ‘Cold Calling’?
Andy : Cold Calling, to me, is where you have to make an either telephone call, or face-to-face visit, to people that you don’t necessarily have any contact with in the past – that aren’t likely to remember you, that aren’t likely to have had any contact with you, that might not have any idea who you are – and it’s a very cold introduction, IE, there’s no warmness to it, there’s no prior contact, and I’m expecting there to be some resistance in having them engage in conversation with you.
Michael : Where does Cold Calling fit today? Do you think it’s important in 2008?
Andy : Well, it’s an interesting question Michael because I know a number of my clients, because of my background and success in sales, they come to me because I help to differentiate themselves with the competition. So a lot of the work that I find myself doing these days is in companies having a similar product or service to other companies, be able to differentiate themselves between those countries and therefore get the business.
So I’ve become quite a big fan of doing something different, and if every single person is doing things one way, I like to be a little bit contrary and do things a little bit differently. While, certainly when I started my sales career fifteen years ago Cold Calling over the phone, Cold Calling face to face, dropping in on people – was commonplace – it’s become less popular, or less cool to do it, particularly with the advent of the Internet, or Internet marketing by sending emails.
So I think that it’s not quite a lost art yet, but a lot less people are doing it. So all of the people that are doing it are getting very good results.
Michael : What experience do you have that gives you that credibility as a Cold Caller? Can you talk again very briefly about the sorts of customers, the sorts of product areas – you’ve done it before, so just a brief addition.
Andy : Well I actually started off life, quite bizarrely as a professional buyer, which I think gives me a very good insight into why people buy, why buyers almost beat up salespeople and business owners, because it gives me a lot of advantages in the psychological negotiation side.
I then started off at cold calling over the phone and the top appointment maker for every company I ever worked for, I then did cold calling face to face, in one situation for commission only, which is very hardcore. And then became not only top salesperson in my company but also top person in the industry in what I did. Then as companies do is duly promote the best salespeople to sales manager and sales director.
So I lost my data range, got very bored of the frustrating managing paperwork and moved into sales training, cold calling training, particularly because most of the people that were hiring to train my team were not experienced in sales, some had never been in sales, some had never picked a phone up in their life.
“How on Earth can I bring you in on a thousand pounds a day on teaching my team how to sell, when you’ve never sold yourself?” It was very, very strange – and I find generally, that there is not many people who are good at cold calling, there are not many people who are good at training people how to cold call, and there are certainly very few people who are good at both.
And I’m told that I’m counted amongst them, which is nice.
Michael : If you’re involved in a cold calling campaign, what do you think are the key ingredients to make it work?
Andy : Oh, what a great question, I think first of all, the attitude of the person making the calls, that’s a fundamental part of the success or not. Because it’s not just the activity, most people procrastinate and avoid it for a start, and I even find that some people procrastinate and go with ‘Warm Calling’, phoning up quotes, or phoning people from networking events, never minding the ones that are completely cold, they’ll procrastinate and avoid that altogether.
So I think the attitude of the person making the calls is paramount, because if somebody can make a hundred calls, and if you’re not careful you can here it in the call: ‘Hi Michael, I’m Andy from Outstanding Results, I’m only calling because it’s my Thirty-Fifth call of the day, my boss told me to ring you.’ and it very quickly deteriorates – you can tell that they’re reading off of a script, you don’t believe in it, there’s no energy passion or enthusiasm to the voice.
So I think that the person making the call makes the difference between it being successful or not. It’s more about them and how it comes across, than the individual words that are said, for example.
Michael : Anything else that’s very top level? What ingredients would make someone successful? Or to put things another way, are there any ingredients that if they were missing would mean that it was unsuccessful?
Andy : Yes, I think there are a number of points there as well as the attitude of the person. I think the planning and preparation, whilst I know many of my clients, the small business owners believe in this – a lot of my clients who are sales people hate it and avoid it like the plague – there is a portion of planning and preparation that is essential to cold calling success.
First of all, actually having a good quality list to start with, with qualified decision-maker names. Far too many people start a cold calling session with a list of people that they have no idea who’s going to buy, they have no idea if they’ve got the right person, and they’re ringing up trying to be nice to everybody and getting nowhere.
There’s a lot of people who say to me ‘Oh Andy, I’ve tried cold calling, and it just didn’t work for my business.’ and that has to be some of the biggest rubbish that I’ve ever heard. What it tends to be is that they’ve either tried it with no training or no idea of what they’re doing, and found out that it didn’t work – when it’s fairly obvious why it didn’t work – or they’ve never tried it and they feel a bit strange about trying it, and they’ve been put off it by someone else.
It will work for every single business done well, and I’ve seen people build big business’s and big sales careers on the back of it. So planning and preparation are good qualities, and to start with are essential.
I would also say the ability to get on with it and avoid the procrastination. There are so many people that will sit there and find any excuse under the sun not to make the call. They’ll play with their email or they’ll tidy something up. If they work at home it can be ten times as bad because their motivation has to be through the roof. They’ll have to make a cup of coffee, they’ll go outside for a cig, they’ll go ‘Oooh, I’ve got an email, I’ll put off making that call and just have a look at this mail about Viagra, or whatever it is.’
They’ll do almost anything other than pick up the phone. So I think that has to be mastered, and that that’s really important.
And allied to that is probably the ‘I don’t have time to cold call’ excuse, which again means ‘I’ve got no motivation to do it, I don’t feel good doing it, and I’ll run around doing anything other than cold call.’
If I was to give two more, I would say probably, giving up to easily so accepting the first objection from somebody, not having a bit more of a conversation, not understanding them a bit more, not getting past that persons resistance.
And for the last and most important one, is not having any closing skills or closing abilities. Cold calling isn’t necessarily about closing a deal on the first call, it’s about making an introduction to yourselves and warming it up for the sales in the future. Obviously if there’s an opportunity then you can take it on the call, it’s unlikely that most calls are going to make it.
However, if you’re not able to change that first call into a tangible result that you can carry forwards, then you end up making the sort of call, and I know that everybody – yourself Michael – has listened to this, it goes like ‘Hi Michael, it’s Andy from Outstanding Results, we spoke three months ago, you weren’t really interested then, um, I’m just calling to see if you’ve changed your mind…’
Michael : Yes – What would say are some of the big mistakes that people make when they’re cold calling? And there again really builds on what you’ve said before, but specifically what are some of the no-no’s that people do?
Andy : I suppose some of the things that I haven’t mentioned – first of all the lack of a good quality opening pitch, opening statement, opening framework, whatever you’re going to call it. Obviously we’ve all heard that first impressions are paramount and absolutely essential.
The amount of people that pick up the phone without any idea of what they are going to say and just wing it, and get burnt badly, is quite a lot. So having a good idea of what you are going to say will give you a bit more confidence, a bit more of a belief set and attitude, that’s very very important.
And developing the passion and enthusiasm for what you do and the confidence and certainty that what you have to offer will potentially and value to the customer. And especially – and this happens with business owners as well that they should be the best people to sell because they have the most passion, energy excitement and very often their calls come across very weak, very defensive, and they basically come over more like a market research call than a sales call or a cold call.
Michael : Anything else come to mind as the big mistakes? And I’m talking particularly about the person doing the cold calling, so we’re assuming that the planning and other stuff has been done.
Andy : This will depend on the type of call that you’re making because some of my clients are making two hundred and fifty calls a day every day, some of my clients only have a hundred prospects in the whole the country, so obviously their number of calls will be less, their call length will be longer, and the amount of research they do will be a lot more.
But unless you’re in an industry where you’re expected to make two hundred-plus calls a day and you’re either as a business owner or maybe a field person looking to develop some business, you then need to do some research before the call. The more calls that you need to do, the less research you need to do, but very often when you’re in an industry where you’re not making enough of the calls, there should be a bit of research done.
At the very least, have a knowledge of the industry and the problems that the people that you’re calling are likely to have. So you can talk to them on a different level. One of the mistakes that people make, again, is they’ll think of a cold call, and they’ll ring somebody – particularly sales people or business owners trying to get business from senior managers or directors – they make a call, perhaps because they do things like account management or talking to friends and suppliers, they pick up the cold call without thinking and run into very friendly, account management type call, that gets absolutely no respect from senior decision makers, because they’re looking for someone with their level of authority – you don’t get the respect, and you don’t get the rapport – and you end up being a little but too nice.
Michael : Now what I’d like to do is I’m going to pick randomly some of the things that you’ve talked about and I’d like you to build on some of the ideas that you do to get over this – lets take this last one, and that one where you’re talking to somebody senior – what do you think senior people are looking for when somebody calls them, and how do you deal with that yourself?
Andy : That’s a great question Mike, and there are some great distinctions in this I’m sure, Again, having been a professional buyer and director myself, it gives me a bit more insight than the average salesperson has into what people are looking for on the phone.
The higher up the organisation you go, the more likely you are to find somebody who is time-short. Therefore, they haven’t got a lot of time, you need to get their attention quickly, and you’ve got to come across on their level. If they don’t feel as though you’re at their level, they don’t seem at their level, you don’t sound at their level – they’re going to treat you as if you are below their level.
That’s why most sales people struggle to get rapport with decision makers, if you don’t sound at their level you sound like their PA, their secretary, or even below that – therefore that’s exactly how they get treated.
And then the sales person, the business owner whinges about ‘I don’t really get respect, they treat me like dirt!’ Well, you just asked for it.
So you go straight to the point, and your language and your communication has to be tailored to the level to which you are speaking. That’s a broad general overview, it’s different if you bring it into public sector, for example, schools universities, hospitals, its a slightly different approach, with a slightly different style – however particularly when you come up against gate keepers now I notice that the public sector actually have a private secretary PA’s and gatekeepers, so you’ve still got to be a little bit strong when you approach, particularly in that area.
Michael : One of the the other things that you came up with was a lack of an opening pitch, I’m quite interested in your views of how you tackle, or ideas for some of the first things to say – and also whether you’re in favour of scripts or not.
Andy : I suppose that the answer to the ‘am I in favour of scripts or not?’ is probably yes and no. One of the problems with scripts, I should tackle that first, is that we’ve probably received a call where the call has sounded scripted, now the key to this is that they don’t necessarily sound scripted because they have a script.
They sound scripted because they’re reading off of a script that they don’t believe in, they’ve been given by someone else, and it’s not in the language or the words in which they would say it.
So it sounds scripted because they don’t believe it, they hate it and they’re probably making a lot of calls without actually getting anywhere. That’s not the fault of the script, that’s the fault of the person’s manager or the person that gave it to them in the first place.
So I suppose I’m more in favour of a framework, because for me sales should be something that’s individual, and each person should sell with their own personality, with their own style. That’s not an excuse to make lots of pathetic, weedy, sales calls, that don’t get rapport or respect – that’s just my belief in terms of the structure and the system.
So I probably would have an idea of what I’m going to say, but I might not script each individual word, if that makes sense.
Michael : Back to this about the first things you say – Just come up with some ideas of phrases which would be the first few words that you choose to say, just to kick the thing off.
Andy : Yes of course. Now this is going to be massively different for the market that you’re ringing into, the person you’re trying to reach, their level of authority, whether it’s private or public, etc etc.
But I can give you a few ideas from here. The first thing that I would do, and again it’s not necessarily about your individual words or your approach – it’s if you’re ringing senior managers or directors, what I would do is cut out all of this warm, fuzzy, fluffy language that we might use.
Lets imagine that there’s a director ringing another director on a sales call – would that director introduce themselves with ‘Hello Michael, my name is Michael Preston and I’m calling on behalf of Outstanding Results, would it be OK if I spoke to you for a few brief moments – would that be OK?’
Now, possibly calls don’t run into something that bad but there’s an element of that in there. Now the reaction that that has to decision making in my experience and my clients experience, is that the decision maker thinks ‘Is this person at my level or not? Can I trust them or not? Can I respect them or not?’
And unfortunately that sort of approach is not necessarily going to get you the rapport and respect of the decision maker. The decision goes ‘Ah, this person can’t cope with a person of my level next call.’ or ‘I’ll speak to their boss.’ or ‘I’ll do business with someone else.’
Michael : OK. And what would you say?
Andy : I think you have to ask – first of all I’d certainly want to ask for permission to speak, so I’d want to find out whether its OK for them. I’d also want to get to – you also have to think of the benefits of your products or service to the person that you’re talking to.
So I’d want to get across what the benefits of perhaps things you’ve done for other people in the past and what they’ve got out of it. So if you’ve got facts and figures and a bit of proof of what you’ve done, I’d want to get that across pretty quickly.
I’d also want to avoid talking specifically about what you do, or how you do it early in the call. That’s a little bit different from most trainers, and I’ll give you a little bit of background as to the reason why for that – it’s that most sales people and business owners create the objections that they receive – they create objections for themselves, because they do obvious things that open them up to the objections.
For example, if you talk about what they do or how they do it, you actually create the following objection for yourself. If you tell them what you do and how you do it, you then run the risk of being told ‘we’re not interested in that thank you.’ ‘We’re alright for that thank you.’ ‘We’re happy with who we use, we have no need for that – call back in six months and send me some literature on it.’
If you haven’t told them – I’m talking the first fifteen-twenty seconds of the call, if you haven’t told them what you do – they can’t give you those objections. So you’ve just got rd of 75% of the objections that you could possibly face early in the call.
Of course you’re probably going to get objections and you’re going to need to deal with them – but the later in the call they come , the better, because my rapport with that person will be better therefore I can deal with them better.
Michael : Moving on from that. Say you had three applicants for a cold calling job selling in front of you – how would you know who to choose?
Andy : My old sales manager used to say to me ‘Andy, always hire attitude, train skill.’ And that’s probably not a bad adage. The basic skills of sales are not difficult – the basic skills are not difficult – its the consistent application of them with the right attitude, which probably makes the difference between an average performer, a good performer and a great performer.
Michael : For our listeners benefit, who may or may not have much experience of this – how do you know if somebody has the right attitude?
Andy : I mean, there are various tests that you can do – psychometric profiling, that sort of stuff – as I say as a sales director I certainly have experience of hiring sales people and often do interview with my clients to hire the best sales people for them.
It’s very, very hard – some of my clients just end up hiring four people with the idea that they might get one good runner, possibly two out of them. So on some levels there’s a numbers game involved in some of my clients opinions.
I’m much more of a believer in getting to a persons personality a bit more, so I’d certainly want to do – a friend of mine does behaviour base interview. Where they give examples and actually look at a persons behaivoural and latitudinal traits, that’s quite good.
I’d certainly -it astounds me – when people interview for a telephone based sales person, they do the interview face-to-face. And I’m like ‘You’re employing a telephone based salesperson – why would you not do this first interview over the phone?’
Michael : This might be a bit of a strange question, but I’d love you to have a go at answering it- If you had to describe cold calling as a metaphor with fairy tale characters or cartoon characters or animals, or anything of that ill – How would you describe it?
How would you describe the relationship between the cold caller and the customer?
Andy : It’s probably, if you take a medieval theme, and think about like there’s a castle full of gold treasure, and all you’ve got to do is get through the drawbridge and the main door – and you’ve got a team of eight people, whatever,you’ve got a team of guys, and you’ve got a battering ram between you, and it’s consistently battering down that door, and having the perseverance,the tenacity, the determination to break through to the other side.
Once you get through to the other side you’ve got all of the treasure in the world waiting for you – they’ll manage the accounts, they’ll look after their own business over time if you do that properly, that’s the easy part.
The hard part is staying with it when everyone around you and yourself is saying things like ‘There’s no point bothering here’ ‘You’re no good at this.’ ‘Why are you doing this?’ ‘You might as well give up, I’ve got better things to do with my time.’
And consistently staying focused and breaking that door down is the key to it.
Michael : OK, is there anything else, before I ask for your contact details and anything that you would personally like to plug – is there anything that you would like to emphasise or bring up?
Andy : I think realistically, cold calling can be one of the best ways of developing new business. People shy away from it, particularly if you haven’t had formal sales experience or formal sales training – so they kind of discount it.
Now I wouldn’t be so arrogant to say that you should only do cold calling, there’s networking, there’s marketing, there’s all sorts of other things to do in the mix – but I’m certainly a big fan of cold calling being a big part of what you’re doing.
Aside from that what’s important as well is being able to develop sales skills, particularly if you’re a small business owner that’s come out of work or corporate life that haven’t had formal sales training.
What I see as a number of challenges coming up – they don’t close in opportunities, they hope things will just drop on their plate, and I’ve seen a lot of people struggle.
Another big mistake that people make is ‘I can’t do this cold calling stuff, I’ll just outsource it.’ So to pass it to a tele-sales company, to a sales agency, and very often they’re disappointed with the results – which sometimes can be the agency’s fault,sometimes can be the person who sent the works outs fault – because they expect to have gotten rid of this sales problem and what they get rid of is the first part.
So a person that runs a meeting, they run a meeting with no idea how to run a professional sales meeting, no idea how to look for closing signals, and no idea how to close business – a friend of mine has just spent nearly two and a half thousand pounds on a tele-marketing campaign.
And he said ‘Well, I got nothing from it, it was a waste of money.’ Now possibly some of the campaign could have been done better when I looked at what they’d done, the results were not great – but the reason he hadn’t got the results, part of the reason was, that there were opportunities there where they could have closed and he didn’t have the skill to close them.
Michael : Is there anything that you’d like to plug, or anything that you’d like to bring to our listeners attention about what you do?
Andy : Well that’s very kind of you sir! I would say I do like to give information first. I think it’s important that if you want to get to know somebody or develop a relationship with somebody that you’ve got to provide good information first.
So therefore what I do is I provide a monthly newsletter with free tips on sales and cold calling, which is easily accessible at www.andy-preston.com
That also has details of other things I do, public courses – I run for sales mentoring for some individuals – I only run eight to ten of those, so not very many, but you can certainly get on the newsletter.
Some public courses I run, and it would just help certain people to probably get better result on cold calls or how to pick up the phones in the first place.
Michael : And if you could repeat your contact details, because I know it’s quite hard for people to catch them first time around.
Andy : Certainly, the best way to contact me is through the web page Andy Preston, Andy Preston Sales Trainer, Andy Preston Cold Calling Techniques
Michael : Thank you very much for your time this morning Andy.
Andy : That’s great, thank you Michael
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