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Michael : Good Morning Catherine
Catherine : Hello.
Michael : To start this off could you introduce yourself and say a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Catherine : I’m Catherine Jackson and I’m director of Mind Change Systems and I’m a trainer of NLP, timeline therapy and hypnosis, and a coach of NLP and at Mind Change Systems we provide sales training as well as certified NLP practitioner/master practitioner training as well as certification in timeline therapy and hypnotherapy. And aside from that we also do business consulting and coaching as well.
Michael : And what’s your experience of cold-calling?
Catherine : I spent many years working in the health and fitness industry, selling memberships before I got into doing NLP. and I started off as a sales consultant and I quickly progressed to becoming a sales and marketing manager and running a team of sales people -and in health and fitness or in the sales environment that I was working in, cold calling was an essential part of our business. And as my pay was based on the amount of sales I made, I became really, very good at making cold calls.
Michael : Why do you think cold calling is important in business today?
Catherine : I think cold calling is important in business as it’s an important step – it’s kind of the first step in the sales cycle. And I think that if you look at cold calling, the way that we’ve always looked at it, is that a cold call is an introduction. It’s simply letting people know that you may have something that they may wish to buy, and it also has a purpose.
Michael : And how do you think cold-calling is changing? Or is it changing?
Catherine : Well I’m not sure that it is changing, or that it’s changed, really. I know that to be good at cold-calling you definitely need to adopt a certain attitude and methodology.
Michael : Building on that a little bit, what do you think are the key factors that go towards a cold calling campaign being successful?
Catherine : I think that there’s a lot of factors that make cold calling successful. I think to start with, if I were to give you some key pointers, I would say that while you’re cold calling it’s really important for you to have a plan. you need to plan what you’re doing – what is the purpose of that call? What is the desired outcome? And I think it’s really important as well that when you’re making calls, you call with confidence. It’s really about going into a state of mind, having a tenacious, determined approach and you’ve got to keep going – you’ve got to be flexible in your style of communication.
And then on from that, you need to find out who you need to speak to. I’ve found over the years, that if I’m talking to someone I would describe as a gatekeeper, and by that I mean like a secretary or PA – I actually have much more success if I know the name of the manager or director that I want to speak to rather than saying ‘ooh, could I speak to the director of whatever department it might be’.
I think it’s always important to be polite. And if it’s not the right time for the prospects, I think it’s really important to arrange a time to call back at a different time when it’s convenient. So they’re going to expect you to call them back.
Other things I thought about as well – doing some profiling on the company, learning about your target, and you can do that very easily by checking out their websites, checking their industry publications. But doing some research on a company and finding out that contact name, I’ve always found as another step in becoming successful when you’re making calls. And also by attending network meetings as well you can learn about who the decision-makers are, and then in terms of logistics I think that actually buying a really decent headset, because I always find that if one hand is tied up with holding a phone and then I’ve got my database management system open and I’m trying to type notes, and book an appointment – so having a headset can be really good.
And another point which I think is another key one is building rapport really quickly, and people might ask ‘well, how do you do that?’ and obviously when you do NLP and you’ve taken NLP training, we teach you how to build rapport, and that opens the door and reduces resistance with the other person you’re speaking to on the other end of the phone.
And another thing – which I think if people were able to get their heads around this, they would find it far easier to make cold calls, is actually to go and look for the No’s. It’s ok if you get a No, and the way that I’ve got used to it, and the way I teach it to people in sales is to stand up to the No’s, and get them out of the way. It’s OK if someone says No, and it’s one more out of the way to the Yes that you’re looking for. You want to find the people that want to buy from you, and trust me there’s plenty of clients out there. And I think also, the more calls you make, the more success you’re going to have.
Michael : Let’s go into a little bit more detail. Where and when do you cold call? Where and when do you think is the best time to cold call?
Catherine : Well what I have when I make cold-calls is I have a workstation, where I’ve got my computer so I can access my work base management system, and I’ve got my phone and I’ve got a pad of paper and a pen, and that’s literally all I’ve got in front of me, because when you’re making cold calls you really have to focus on what you’re doing.
So I remove all distractions and only have in front of me what I need. So I plan my day, and I call at strategic times based on the prospects that I’m looking to reach. So for example, if I’m calling people in business, I find that my strike rate, i.e the level of success that I achieve is better if I call between ten and twelve and then between two and four, so by doing that, what I’ve done is accommodating people getting into the office, getting to work, getting themselves set up, so that they’re getting on wit their day – so by about ten o’ clock, it’s a really good times to start making calls, people are more receptive.
Then between twelve and two, that’s often when people take lunch, so I’ll go off and do other things while they’re having their lunch breaks, because I’ve found that when making calls at that time my success rate is lower, I get through to fewer people – then between two and four they’re back at their desks, they’re doing their thing, and again I find it’s easier to get through and actually speak to the people that you want to at those times.
Michael : Would you think that it’s different in different marker segments?
Catherine : Yes, I think it is, and we found particularly when we were selling gym membership that when we were selling to just the general public that actually calling in the evening was better. So when people have got back from work, perhaps between six and eight, those were are key call times and I used to have the office set up so that the majority of the team would be in for the evenings so we could get on the phones and reach more people.
Michael : So moving on from what you actually do when you make a call, take me through the sequence of things that you actually do as you’re calling.
Catherine : Sure. I adapt what I call a phone-essential strategy. Like I said before, I clear all distractions even before I pick up the phone., and I go through a set number of things before I start making calls. So I really check in with my attitude, and I actually smile before I pick up the phone, because my voice creates and image of me and the company, so it’s really important to get into the right mindset before you start calling.
I open up my database management system so I’m all ready to go, and I begin every call with a clear objective – when I was selling gym club membership our goal was that every call we were making was in view to making an appointment for our client to come down and see the health club. So it’s a really good idea to know what the purpose is of that call.
Then I establish rapport by matching the callers communication style, when I speak to them on the phone. I make sure that I’m speaking to the decision maker, and I maintain control of the conversation by questioning. I acknowledge the questions that the client has, and I listen and take notes, while I schedule other appointments as well.
Michael : If you were to teach somebody new to do it, what are the key things you would get them to focus on?
Catherine : The first thing that I would teach them is rapport. And by that I mean mirroring or matching a persons voice on the phone so that we can open the doors, as it were, and reduce resistance. So by that we’d be matching voice tonality, the pitch of the persons voice, the speak that they’re talking, the quality of the voice and the volume, and also looking at they’re words as well, like picking up on if they’re using words which are visual based like ‘it looks like’ or maybe they’re talking in words that are to do with auditory so ‘it sounds likes this’, ‘I can hear that’ – picking up on key words as well as common experiences I think, helps. So that’s why we teach people the other elements of the sales process – because it’s important that you understand that you need to ask questions in order to find out if that person you’re speaking to has a need, and then to match that need with a product or service that you have to offer.
I’d also teach the person that was making the call how to close the appointment, handling objections that they might come up against, and also make sure that that person understands the kind of phone essentials that I go through before preceding to call, and make them adopt that as part of the phone conversation as well.
Michael : What skills do you think that you have that enable you to be good at this?
Catherine : I think that I’m very good at building rapport, and I’m able to be flexible in my communication. I think I’m very good at asking questions and establishing a need, and then matching that need to what I have to sell, be it a product or a service – and then handling rejection and closing the appointment.
Michael : And how did you learn how to do this?
Catherine : Well, I’ve been very fortunate because I’ve been into NLP. I’ve worked with a number of the big players in the health and fitness market, and I’ve remodelled myself based on other fantastic salespeople that I’ve worked with. So when I went into my role, I already looked to find somebody within the team whose behaviour was worth modelling – kind of a model of excellence if you like – and then I adopted their beliefs and values, their strategy, their physiology, how they were doing these calls, and I kind of installed that into myself.
And that’s how I learned to do it really, and now I’ve gone onto train people how to do calls too.
Michael : When you’re on the phone talking to people, what do you actually believe about yourself?
Catherine : I believe that there is an infinite number of clients out there for me, I have total belief in my self, and also belief in the product or service that I’m working with, and I think that’s really important.
Michael : And what do you believe about the person on the other end of the phone that you maybe haven’t spoken to, or maybe haven’t got to know yet?
Catherine : This is a belief that I’ve adopted after many years of our clients: and I believe that some people will be interested, and some people won’t – and so what? Because as I say, there is actually an infinite number of clients out there. With cold calling you just keep going until you find the clients that want to buy from you.
Michael : Do you have any mission when you’re doing this? I mean, who is Catherine, when you’re on the phone making these calls?
Catherine : I focus – I mean, I really, really focus on what I want, and I take action because I really believe that I cause my results. So that’s my mission.
Michael : Now you’ve partially answered this, but I’d be interested if you could expand on it – What do you think are the biggest issues in cold calling today?
Catherine : I think most sales people tiptoe around people, or the prospects that they’re talking to on the phone. And I think that if a client says to you ‘oh, I may be interested.’, that’s actually worse than people that would say ‘No.’ and I think it’s really important, like I said earlier – you really want to get the No’s out of the way because you want to find the high-probability clients that actually want to buy from you, and what I do is, no matter what I’m selling, the ending of my opening line, the thing that I would finish with is ‘is that something that you’d be interested in or not?’ and I’m doing that deliberately, because I want to give that person the opportunity to say no, because I’m quite happy to have No’s, because I know that that’s one more out of the way and that the Yes person is one step closer to me, if that makes sense – and I thank people for saying No because I just move on.
I think that there is so much business out there and if people realise that there is an infinite amount of business for them, and all you want to do is find the people that want to buy from you.
Michael : If you were going to recruit a person to cold call, how would you know if you had the right person or not?
Catherine : I would actually go out and find a person that wants to make cold calls. I’ve hired lots and lots of people in the past, and I’ve always been very clear with them that part of the sales process is to make cold calls. And that person has to believe in themselves, they have to be highly motivated, I think they need to be outgoing, they need to be determined, and kind of tenacious in their approach to their work. I think that’s important.
Michael : If you were to describe cold calling as a fairy tale, with fairy tale characters, or animals or whatever – the relationship between the cold caller and the customer what would you use?
Catherine : Ok, I’ve thought about this one Michael – it’s an interesting question. I’m not sure about a fairy tale as such, however, I remember years ago when I took some training in sales and the guy at the front of the room – he related cold calling, he said it’s no different to the idea of boy meets girl. He said something like ‘now I’m sure you guys can relate to this one – imagine you’re in a nightclub and you’re chatting up somebody, and remember what you did when you asked her if you could buy her a drink and she said no.
Did you go home with your reputation tarnished? No way! You just asked another girl if you could buy her a drink until you found one that would say yes. So just remember, that some girls will like you, some girls won’t like you – so what? Just go and find one that does.” And that little story was always stuck in my head, and I always related it to cold calling.
Michael : Before i ask you if there’s anything that you’d like to plug and you’re contact details, is there anything else about cold calling, either to re-emphasise, or something that you think we’ve left out that might be important?
Catherine : I think I’ve probably covered most of it, as I’ve said, the thing with cold calling is you have to have a tenacious approach without a doubt and you have to be determined. I think to become successful you definitely need to have a plan. And the call needs to have a very clear purpose. And don’t worry about the No’s, it’s good to get No’s. If you believe that there’s an infinite number of clients, get the No’s out of the way because there will be many Yes’s coming for you.
And just to keep going. The more calls you make, the more success you’ll have.
Michael : Moving on from that, is there anything that you’re doing that you’d like to plug that you’d like our listeners know about?
Catherine : Well, if you’re interested in becoming a master communicator or you’d like to find out sales training or NLP, or any of our other training programs, then you can visit www.mindtrainingsystems.co.uk or you can call our office on 01942350939
Michael : Thank you very much for your time.
Catherine : Thank you Michael.
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