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Michael : Good afternoon Torsten. Maybe you could kick this off by telling us a little bit about yourself.
Torsten : First of all, Michael, thank you very much for giving me the opportunity to speak here – to in this forum – it’s a big honour for me. My name is Torsten Kinzelt, I’m 45 years old, I’m German. Just a bit of background – I lived in Germany until 1995 and then I moved to Holland, where I lived until 1999 – when I moved to England. And since one and a half years I’ve been living in Switzerland.
Michael : And what experience do you have of cold calling?
Torsten : Quite some years now that I add it up. I started my first cold calling job in 1991 – that was back in Berlin and the stock exchange – it was very exciting. And it was for me the first telephone and selling job that I ever had. So what was good about it was that we had this big training during the time, so I really learned how to be on the telephone, how to sell on the telephone and how to persuade people to send me money. That’s really a kind of boiler room experience I had!
Michael : And what were you actually selling?
Torsten : We were selling there stock options and shares. So it was really about investment, high risk investment at the stock exchange. And we’re approaching people, private people, or people with companies that were able to do these investments.
so then I ‘moved up’ if I can say that, so somebody was soliciting me in a consulting company, selling consultancy services in Germany. I worked there for over three years. and what I did there is I cold called people, made an appointment with directors, with CEO’s, a company size sometimes two thousand workers or two thousand people. So it was a two sided job really – one was the cold calling part, so we needed to get information from the CEO, from the director, you need to get them motivated to see you, and then you need to face them in a face-to-face interview and sell your appointments that you did – so that’s quite good.
Another experience where from 1996 to 2000 I was selling software in a Dutch company. It was software for technicians to develop software – difficult stuff – and there I was cold calling to companies a hundred thousand of employees, so big, big companies that need to have a software development centre where they need these tools.
From 2000 to 2005 I was selling software and consulting. I went to, as I said, London this time. A head-hunter brought me there. And I was selling again, to big companies, to government bodies.
Michael : And looking back, what do you think are the key elements of a cold calling campaign? What are the big chunk things that make a difference?
Torsten : Key elements in a cold calling campaign – the first thing is that you need to have a database of leads where you call. And this is quite important, it’s the material that you work with – the better leads you work with the better the results will be. It’s quite obvious.
The second is that you need to have a good team that’s motivated, that has the education and the equipment to do the job. And the environment in which they work, you need to give them a certain motivation from the company, so bonus’ this sort of thing.
Michael : From your own experience, where and when is the best time to call? For example, the ‘when’ is, is it before nine o’clock? Is it after nine o’clock? Does it vary on the companies that you’re calling? And also the ‘Where’ – Did you find it better to work in an office environment where you had people doing the same thing, or did you find it better, say, at home where you were calling on your own?
Torsten : I personally find it better to call in an office environment. Some people say that they want to do it at home because they are not disturbed by anybody else – but if you really do cold calling you really want this environment, you want this motivation, you want this team spirit going on.
To come to the first part of this question, when it’s good time to call – this is different for different industries, but basically, before nine o’clock is always a good time to start calling because you will find that the directors are there, the workmen are still fresh, they are not stressed out by the things of the day coming to haunt them. They have time, so they don’t have a meeting yet, as most meetings start after nine. So these are two very important factors for making successful calls.
Another one is – in Germany you can reach people – in England I think as well, in the evening hours, after six or seven, the secretary is gone. I think that is important for you in cold calling because today secretaries are very, very strong gatekeepers.
Michael : Can you now break down the elements of a call, and take me through the sort of structure of a call?
Torsten : Basically I would say three or four elements. For the first it’s the introduction. The second one would be your speech, so what you have to offer, or what you want from the person you’re calling. The third part is the dialogue between you and the person you call. And the last part is the end of the call.
So all parts of the call are rather important. Let’s start from the beginning:
So the first twenty seconds, thirty seconds, I guess – I’m not sure of the exact figure – but between ten and thirty seconds it’s vital for you to make the right impression otherwise the person, no matter what you say afterwards, will not be interested in you, or listening anymore – he will be listening because he is polite.
Michael : And how do you make the best impression?
Torsten : You should have a good telephone voice. You can warm up. Before you start calling you’re supposed to make some warm up with you voice, some singing, whatever to get your voice warm. This is very important. It is important to know what you’ll say – it’s important in that phase that you’re frank and open, that you don’t overrun somebody and say ‘may I speak to Mr X’ without introducing yourself for instance. So that’s quite important.
Michael : If you were going to teach somebody to run through these stages, what do you think the most important thing is?
Torsten : To make them aware that it’s only the voice that gives the impression that the other side gets from you. There’s nothing that you can show, there’s nothing that you can demonstrate. There’s only the voice coming over, and what you say is very important – more important than calling is how you say it. So if someone is laying on the table with their legs on the desk and making a call with the director, you can hear this on the other side. And this is very important.
Michael : What skills do you have that you think have enabled you to do this?
Torsten : Besides the ability to be able to make a conversation, to make a conversation with yourself, to lead a conversation – you should have the ability to motivate yourself again and again.
This is very, very important, so you must understand that if you want to be successful with telephone selling you will have a certain amount of people that will refuse you, either at the beginning, in the middle of the conversation or at the end. And that will be something between 90% and 95%. Something along 90%. So you need to be able psychologically to cope with this pressure. When you make ten calls you know that you will be refused nine times.
Michael : What do you believe about yourself when you call?
Torsten : First of all I want to be successful with whatever I do, so may it be a sale, getting information, to open up a person to create a relationship.
Michael : And what do you believe about the other person?
Torsten : The other person, when I call, I want to make sure that this person wants to buy my product, so if I start calling – from a psychological point of view – if I start calling and I just want to sell my product and not going into the other persons mindset I will be not successful. So I want to make sure that the other person is comfortable as well.
Michael : Do you have a personal missions when you call? Who are you when you’re calling?
Torsten : When I’m calling I’m a representative of a company of a product, of a service, whatever I’m selling. And then my personal mission will be in opening new markets, opening new relationships, building relationships, building on relationships.
Michael : Moving on from that, what do you think that the biggest issue is in cold calling today?
Torsten : The biggest issue in cold calling today, firstly is this element to see that people ask ‘do we need to cold call? Yes or no?’ There’s the motivation still. Another big issue is generate qualified leads, and if you have a cold calling campaign that is done in a qualified way, you will be able to generate what every company, what every business needs.
Michael : And how do you find receptionists and gatekeepers these days?
Torsten : They are getting more and more educated, more and more smart. They start joining NLP courses, at least motivation courses, so they know exactly what you want from them and why you want them, so you better do your homework and be able to work around this. This is quite an important part because if you can’t get around this gatekeeper, you can’t fire up your sales pitch.
Michael : Have you got any tips on how to either work with or handle gatekeepers?
Torsten : Yes – very individually! Because every gatekeeper is different, everyone is a person, and what’s important for you is you want to be able to create relationships with a person, you want there to be this certain trust with the person so that this person believes you, and says ‘ok I’ll tell you what – Mr ABC is available in two hours’ or whatever.
So if you’re not able to do that, if you have a strong gatekeeper, you will never be able to pass the gatekeeper.
Michael : If you had to recruit somebody for cold calling, what are the characteristics you would look for? How would you recruit somebody? How would you know if they were right?
Torsten : I was leading a telemarketing team in one of those software companies, and I had to recruit people so I have some experience there. And the most important part of calls is the voice, as the voice is your instrument to work with. So the first thing would be a telephone interview with the candidate, so if I hear that his voice is just annoying, or he can’t take up a sentence to the end, and sticks on endings of words or whatever, then probably he is not the best candidate. You want him to have a good phone voice and you want him to be able to have a good conversation.
And the second important part, as important as the voice is the motivation. If you have someone who is not able to motivate himself over and over and over again, he might be doing this for a month, maybe six month, maybe even a year. You want one who is successful.
Michael : Moving on from that. If you had to refer to cold calling as a story or as a fairy tale with different sorts of characters, what sort of characters would you use to illustrate either the person making the call and/or the the customer?
Torsten : That’s a funny question. I was thinking about it and I do have a story, so that’s – There’s a little girl going through the woods – what do you call it? Red Riding Hood, it’s English! So Riding Hood has the task of going with the basket of cake, and some wine, for her grandma through the wood. And she has the task of not going left or right because of the big, bad Wolf. She’s like the directors, they know that they have this goal and that they must not listen to these calls from the stock exchange whatsoever because they might lose money. But, it’s so tempting to get this little flower for grandma, she really would love it – this little bit of money extra, your wife would love it.
So then comes the wolf, the salesperson and says ‘Oh, look at this wonderful flower here – come with me and I’ll show you more.’ And with this smile to wolf would try and take this little girl, the CEO away from the path saying ‘look at these flowers, look what you could gain!”‘
Michael : So in the nicest possible way, the cold caller has at least a touch of wolf in them.
Torsten : Oh he should, he should. he should have very much bite!
Michael : Before I ask you to plug anything that you’d like to plug or to give your contact details – is there anything else that we’ve left out with cold calling, or anything that you’d like to emphasise as being particularly important in cold calling successfully?
Torsten : Really the most important part of cold calling is that you must be – if you want to work in this area, you must be able to motivate yourself. You must be willing to do this, you must ‘ok I’m willing to do this job – I can motivate myself day in, day out, again and again.’
And this is very important,
Michael : Ok, thank you very much for that. Is there anything that you’d like to bring to our listeners attention?
Torsten : Well I am busy at the moment with this project by myself. You can go to my website The Ultimate Entrepreneur Club.
or send me an email at [email protected]t I will send you further information about that. I’m educating myself about financial knowledge, so that’s the part that you are not educated in schools in. So please send me an email. I can provide you with some free information.
Michael : Excellent. Torsten, thank you very much for your time.
Torsten : I thank you Michael very much for your interview, it was really fun to do. Thank you.
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