All Posts by Andy Preston


About the Author

Andy Preston is a top International Sales Motivational Speaker, Sales Influencer and Master Sales Trainer. Named as one of the World's Top Sales Gurus, Andy creates 'Stand Out Salespeople' worldwide, with his revolutionary 'Stand Out Selling' Sales System. 'Stand Out Selling' helps salespeople stand out from their competition, win more business, and do so at higher prices! Previously a trained Professional Buyer, then the Top Salesperson in the UK, Andy Preston has now trained more than 130,000 Salespeople, in more than 40 countries, on 6 continents, since 2004! Andy is best known for his work in 5 specific areas... 1) Prospecting/Cold Calling/Business Development 2) Converting Incoming Sales Leads 3) Consultative Selling and Pipeline Management 4) Standing Out From The Competition 5) Helping Salespeople Close More Deals! With more testimonials than any other Sales Expert online (330+ on LinkedIn alone), Andy's work is recognised worldwide. You can contact Andy here for more information, and how he may be able to help you! Andy's Recent Accolades....... * The World's Top Recommended Sales Expert * Ranked UK's Top Sales Trainer - LinkedIn * #2 In The Top 20 UK Sales Blogs - * Top Sales Expert - Geniecast * Top Sales Influencer - WittyParrott * Top Sales Experts To Follow On Twitter - Evan Carmichael * 10 Sales Experts Every Salesperson Should Follow On Twitter - Etail Insights

Nov 22

Stop Being So Nice On Your Cold Calls!

By Andy Preston | Cold Calling

Often when I’m running my cold call training sessions, I notice that some people seem to be far too nice when it comes to cold calling! It’s almost as if they’re apologising for the call, before they’ve even started!

In this article, we explore why lots of people are too ‘nice’ on their cold calls, the problems it can cause and what we do about it.

The Challenge……You’ve built the proverbial “better mousetrap” – or at least you think you have! The problem is, not everyone else seems to feel the same way about the product or service you’re selling! So you think to yourself….”Surely if I’m nice to people….they’ll buy…….won’t they?”…….

Unlikely.  Interested in finding out why?

Okay, Are You Ready?

Because sometimes we find it difficult not be nice and very polite on our calls, don’t we? After all we’ve been told for years “the customer is king” haven’t we? Yet we often don’t realise how this could negatively impact on the perception of our cold calls.

Let me give you an example…..

fearfulOn my Cold Calling Workshops, I always find out what strategies the delegates are currently using, in order to give me a “gauge” of where they’re at and what we can potentially tailor and improve.

This is a phrase one of the delegates had been using previously (bearing in mind he was already through to the decision maker).

“I wonder if you could possibly help me?”

No, No, No, No and No! This is wrong on so many levels!

So What’s Wrong With That?

Now I know some of you are thinking “What’s wrong with that?”.

The challenge is because we’re brought up to be polite and we’ve been brought up with phrases like “the customer is always right”, “look after your customers – or someone else will” and “always make the customer feel important”.

red phoneNow I’m not necessarily disputing these phrases (and some of the are good advice) but don’t forget, we’re on a cold call here! The decision maker hasn’t been expecting our call, so we’re probably interrupting them on some level. Therefore our first few words are crucial to the success of the call.

When I was training the European cold calling team of a Global IT company out in Munich earlier this year, their VP of Sales said to me “Andy, if I receive a cold call, they’ve got 15 seconds – after which I decide if I’m putting the phone down or not!”. Now I don’t know the exact figures across industries, but I’d be prepared to bet that it would be fairly similar as to the first initial impression and how your call is perceived.

You Have To SOUND Different!

Now, most salespeople tell me they want to be viewed as different to their competition, to be seen as an equal, as powerful and consultative “value added” suppliers who can add value to their client’s businesses. However, they then make calls that sound EXACTLY like their competitors!

sales_megaphoneAnd if we truly want to be seen as powerful, as equals, as consultative people that can add value to our clients businesses, do you think opening phrases like “I wonder if you can possibly help me?” to decision makers achieve that?

I didn’t think so! The impression transferred when you use phrases like that is more like “oh no, another market research call!” or “here comes another junior salesperson to waste my time”. Is this achieving our objective? I think not!

We want to appear senior, authoritative, confident and like we know what we’re talking about – but we’re coming across in an entirely different way aren’t we?

The First Few Moments Are Vital!

In those vital first few moments of the cold call, if you come across as junior, weak and unimportant, don’t be surprised when senior decision makers treat you as such!

And do we think that decision makers are paid to help us out? Or give us “a few moments of their time?” How much value is there in that sort of call for the decision maker – pretty much none at all I’d say!

If you’re getting responses like “speak to my secretary” or “the person you really need is…” (only to find out later that this person was really the decision maker) or “send information” – or an even harsher response – that’s a clue that the decision maker doesn’t perceive us at their level, so isn’t treating us like an equal.

Ask Yourself A Question…..

Thinking BusinessmanOne interesting question to ask yourself is “Do I sound like a decision maker when I cold call, or just another salesperson?”. If your answer is the latter, are you really surprised at the responses you’re getting? If you want to be perceived as powerful, consultative and on the same level, then at least sound like a decision maker or someone of that level would do!

If the prospects you’re calling seem to perceive you the same as your competition – saying stuff like “we’re happy with who we’re using”, “we’ve got an agency/company we use for that” or the more blatant “you guys are all the same” then there’s a clue that you’re using the same approach as your competition! If we want to be perceived as different, we have to have a different approach don’t we?

Andy’s Top Tips For Getting Better Responses From Decision Makers

Tip No 1 – Sound like a decision maker, not a salesperson

Tip No 2 – If you want to be perceived as different, use a different approach to your competition

Tip No 3 – Converse with a decision maker on their level, using things that will interest them, instead of telling them what your product or service does

Tip No 4 – Prepare and practice a compelling opening that will engage decision makers, not bore them

Use these strategies and watch your sales soar!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you may be curious about how we may be able to help you with your cold calling skills or follow up calls? You can find out more here…..

Nov 14

Bite-Sized Sales Training For The Credit Crunch……

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Have you been to the Sales Training Breakfast Club yet?

We’ve got some great feedback from attendees who’ve been previously!

‘If you are in business you cannot ignore sales…..Andy has the event which covers this in full’
Mark Burgess, Partner, Simpson Burgess Nash

‘Andy is clear, concise, and very motivating’
Janice Russell, HSBC Bank

‘I would highly recommend anyone involved with sales attend one of Andy’s breakfast meetings – they are a revelation!’
Paul Sweeny, Nat
West Bank

Why don’t you come along and join us at the next event?

Nov 07

Cold Calling Mistakes -‘Cherrypicking’ Your Prospects…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips


Often when I’m running my cold call training workshops (especially when I’m running live sessions where delegates are calling prospects from the seminar room itself), I often see ‘Cherrypicking’ going on.

Cherrypicking is where salespeople will look down a list and something like ‘I’ll ring that one…..but not that one….or that one…but I can ring that one….but I didn’t get on with her last time so I’ll miss that one out…’ and so on!
In this article, we discuss why Cherrypicking happens and what to do about it to ensure you get the best sales results possible……

The Challenge
……you’re sitting down to make some sales calls……….you’ve got your list of prospects in front of you (or on the computer)…..and you find yourself going down the list and “evaluating” who to call…….

Can you relate to this situation?!!….This happens quite often for salespeople and business owners!

So why would you spend ages researching who to ring, and put them into your diary/contact system for calls today, only to “filter” through them just as you’re about to ring?!! Sounds crazy doesn’t it?

In fact I can imagine you right now….sitting there……looking through the list….and saying to yourself “he won’t be in today, I’ll call him next week”, “He’s just back from holiday, better not disturb him yet, he’ll be busy”, “hmmm, that would be some good business for me but I’m not ready to ring them yet, I’ll make a coffee first”….and so on!

So why do you think this is? This procrastination about who to ring?

Having worked with thousands of salespeople and business owners around the area of cold calling and sales in general it seems to come down to a number of things…..

1. Lack of confidence in your Cold Calling abilities – How do you feel when you know you’re about to pick up the phone? Enthusiastic? Motivated? or more like Nervous? Afraid?

2. A poor prospect list – You’ve got hold of the “data” somewhere and anywhere will do – there’s been no research done into the company or any initial call to find out the name of the decision maker, let alone any idea if this company is even a prospect for what you offer.

3. A poor call to that person previously – The last call to this prospect was really bad wasn’t it? So bad in fact that you’ve been procrastinating about calling them for days (or even weeks or months!). It’s been in your callback list for ages and you keep moving it back in your diary because you remember how the prospect treated your call last time – and you’d hate to go through that again, wouldn’t you?

4. You’ve already “decided” that the call is going to be terrible! – You’re worried about this call aren’t you? Something is stopping you making it and you’re imagining it’s going to go very badly. Perhaps due to one of the above reasons, or it might also be that the prospect would represent a very good deal for you and you’re frightened of messing it up if you don’t do it properly?

Successful athletes talk about the value of “visualisation” or “mental rehearsal” – a process where they visualise the event happening in their mind (before it actually takes place) and “see” it happening perfectly – exactly as they wanted it.

What we tend to do when it comes to Cold Calling (or even Warm Calling!) is what I call “negative visualisation” – we see the event happening, but always predict the result to be terrible! That would include not getting through to the prospect, them not seeing value in what you offer, having the phone put down on you etc etc.

The challenge is – when we “cherrypick” prospects, we’re usually only making the “easy” calls, the ones where we feel most comfortable with the people on the other end of the phone! In fact, we’ve probably got a few favourite clients haven’t we? The ones we can call for a “chat” so we can feel like we’re doing something to develop our business, rather than avoiding calling – but they never seem to buy any more from us?

This is exactly the same as field-sales people doing what I call the “Tea and Biscuit Tour” – calling on existing clients or prospect they get on well with (usually for a drink and a chat) in order to avoid walking into potential new clients or trying to win new business!

Cold Calling (or any kind of calling for that matter) is about energy – keeping up the energy and enthusiasm from one call to another. Which means you have to make call after call after call so you’re in the “flow” or the “zone” as an athlete would call it.

If you’re wasting time between calls – “cherrypicking” prospects, searching through the database, playing with your email, making coffee etc, you’re probably not aware of how much it is affecting your calls, or the results from them.

In summary, the big lesson in this article is – never “cherrypick” your prospecting or cold calls – The next person you ring could have an order waiting for you……or be giving it to someone else if you don’t make the call!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you may be curious about how we may be able to help you with your cold calling skills or follow up calls? You can find out more here…..

Oct 20

Cold Calling Mistakes – Calling For ‘Quotes’

By Andy Preston | Cold Calling


One of the problems that can occur when cold calling, is when you call just for ‘quotes’. In this article, we tackle the problems that this can bring you (and what to do about them!).

This is more common than people realise, and unless done correctly, can have a detrimental impact on your potential cold calling success and ultimately sales figures!

The Challenge……you’re probably in an industry that you think is competitive……….which the products or services can be hard to distinguish between…..and you think that customers buy solely on price…….so you sell on price! (that’s mistake number one!)

So, How Might The Conversation Go?

So your Cold Calling conversation with the Decision Maker might go something like this….

Salesperson: Hi it’s James calling from ABC company

Prospect: Okay…..

Salesperson: Do you have a couple of minutes to answer a few questions? (that’s mistake number two, but we’ll tackle that another day!)

Prospect: Okay/Depends what they’re about

(Salesperson then goes ahead and asks a couple of vaguely relevant questions that give him/her some information about the business and their current supplier.

Salesperson: That’s great. Would it be possible to send you a quotation so that you can compare our prices against your current supplier? (mistake number three!)

Prospect: Yes that’s fine, send it to xyz address or Bye.

No, No, No, No, No and No! This approach is terrible!

Firstly, there are hardly any companies out there that solely buy on price – and if the company you’re calling do solely buy on price – get out of there!

Andy’s Sales Rule Number One: If you win business on price, you’ll lose business on price!

Therefore, the next person who comes along offering them a better deal will get the business off you! So what have you achieved? A little bit of short-term turnover a low profit? That’s about all!

Secondly, how much emotional “buy-in” to purchasing from you do they have?

Andy’s Sales Rule Number Two: People do not buy for logical reasons, they buy for emotional reasons!

People will buy usually only when they’re emotionally “bought in” to the purchase – the higher your price, the more emotional buy-in you need. We’ll then justify the purchase with logic (for example – “well, it was in the sale”, “I needed it for the event next saturday”, or the classic when children want a new computer “well I can use it for homework”) but we bought through emotion – we wanted it!

Thirdly, what have you achieved here?

Andy’s Sales Rule Number Three: Selling requires commitment from your clients

How much commitment have you got from your client here? Almost none! The only thing you have achieved is that you’ve got them to agree to receiving a quote from you!! Pathetic!

We’ve probably not even bothered to find out what prices they’re currently paying, or whether they have any inclination of changing suppliers, we’ve just got them to agree to take a quotation from us.

Therefore, the result of sending our quotation has a number of likely “pathetic” outcomes…

“Pathetic” Outcome Number One: The quote never reaches them

“Pathetic” Outcome Number Two: They receive it, but place it carefully in the bin (and never take your “follow up” call, even if you do bother to ring them again)

“Pathetic” Outcome Number Three: They receive the quote, examine the prices, find out by some massive stroke of luck that you’re cheaper….and then ring their existing supplier and get them to match the price.

So what’s happened? In the majority of cases, we’ve got no order (unless we’ve been really, really lucky and they buy just on price – but we’ll lose the client as soon as another salesperson comes along and beats our price). However, we’ve spent the time planning and preparing for the call, rung the prospect and then put together a personal quotation, based on the items that the prospect currently orders).

What A Waste Of Time!

The challenge is, you feel quite good from making these calls don’t you? You got a result – people agreeing to take quotes from you(!) – probably almost everyone you speak to…….then you wonder when you follow up why no-one wants to speak to you, or “we have everything they need” or “we’ll use you when we need some” but the order never comes through?

That’s because you’ve achieved……virtually nothing!

Your outcome for the call was to get them to agree to receive a quote – but that isn’t going to persuade them to buy from you!

You need to have a stronger outcome for the call – a meeting, or at least a more in-depth conversation about their needs (and then how you can solve them) and then get some commitment to them about changing suppliers!

Otherwise, you’re going to be very busy, but with hardly any extra sales to show for it at the end of the day!

In summary, the big lesson in this article is – never cold call just to get quotes! You’re wasting your time.

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you may be curious about how we may be able to help you with your cold calling skills or follow up calls? You can find out more here…..

Oct 15

7 Top Tips On Making That ‘First’ Call….

By Andy Preston | Cold Calling

Whenever I’m delivering my cold call training sessions, people always tell me they find it difficult to make the ‘first’ call.

Whether it’s fear, procrastination, loathing, or apathy there’s something that stops people, and makes them avoid the activity – sometimes entirely!

If that strikes a chord with you, read the rest of this article to get tips on how to make that ‘first’ call and go out there and make a difference!

The Challenge
……you’re thinking about making some sales calls………you know you should have started already…..but you’re still finding other things to do instead……

red phoneFor the person working from home or alone in an office, there are always other things we can find to do rather than pick up the phone and make that “first” sales call aren’t there?

And whenever I’m delivering training in-house for an organisation, I always get there early and watch what the salespeople do when they get into the office – and it wouldn’t be hard to guess that it usually doesn’t include picking up the phone!

I always liken this to a gym membership – we can find all sorts of reasons to tell ourselves why we shouldn’t go, yet when we’re there we really enjoy it and get results from it, don’t we?

So what can we do about it? How can we eliminate this procrastination of making the first call, or at least reduce it so we can make our calls, gain appointments, develop new clients and win new business over the phone?

Andy’s 7 Top Tips For Making That “First” Call

Tip No 1 – Be Prepared!

Preparation is key to motivating us to pick up the phone and make that first call. We need to have organised our desk or working area long before we start our calling session. The typical things we may need (aside from the obvious, like a phone!) are ….

  • Empty Notebook PageList of prospects (prior qualified) – i.e. Who are we going to call?
  • Our introductory framework or script
  • Common objections we’re likely to face (and our answers to them
  • A diary (or access to one – essential if we’re booking appointments or call-backs!)
  • Pad to record notes and call-ratios (number of calls versus appointments etc)

Without these items (or anything else we need to be prepared for calling) we’ll feel like we aren’t ready and will make excuses not to start “just yet”.

Tip No 2 – Set Our Call Times!

Why do you think it’s important to set specific times of the day to do our calling sessions? Because if we don’t, we’ll find something else to fill the time, yet when we look back on the day (honestly!) we’ll find that the task that stopped us calling wasn’t that important!

This is essential whether you’re working from home (when you can always find something to distract you from your calls) or working with colleagues in a large office (where you play the “who’s going to pick the phone up first” game!

Tip No 3 – Know What We Want

We need to work out what we want from the call, and the session. Is it to make appointments? Arrange demonstrations? Sell direct over the phone? Whichever it is, we need to make sure our script/framework and the approach to our calls reflect our chosen goal – and put all our effort into achieving it.

moneyDon’t forget, if we decide that the outcome of our calls is to make appointments, we should concentrate in selling the “appointment” over the phone, not get dragged into discussing our product or service – that’s what we want the appointment for!

Tip No 4 – Visualise Success

A technique taken from athletes and sportspeople who run through the event or race in their mind a number of times before it actually happens – in order to condition themselves towards the positive result – and increase their motivation and confidence.

In sales we can play “mental rehearsal” – where we see our calls succeeding, effortlessly getting past gatekeepers, overcoming objections and achieving our objectives. Imagine that the prospect is dying for us to call, just waiting for us to solve their problems. Would this make us more eager to call? I think it just might!

Tip No 5 – Start From Success

A lot of salespeople whine that they “have to get into the flow” when they’re cold calling. What they really mean is they’re burning their first few leads in order to get “warmed up”.

Most salespeople and business owners (when they’re about to start calling) sit how do you think? Hunched Poor Presentation Skillsover? Arms or legs folded? It’s no wonder they’re depressed and avoiding calling is it?!

If we thought about how we sit or stand when you’re “in the flow”, when things are going well on our call, it would probably be quite different! We should take a look at ourselves when we’re about to dial – and then ask ourselves the question – “Am I sat or stood like that right now?” And if not, change it!

Additionally, if a favourite quote inspires us, or a favourite piece of music helps to “pump us up”, then look at or play that beforehand!

Tip No 6 – Get Some Inspiration!

How inspired do we feel when we’re thinking about starting our calling session? I’d guess it’s somewhere near “not very”. Therefore we need to get ourselves some inspiration!

By this I mean why we are making the calls in the first place? I know we’ll be calling to get more appointments, win new business and engage new clients, but I mean ultimately, what are we doing it for?

Are we trying to build our business so that we can spend less time doing it? Do we want more holidays and leisure time? Are we wanting to drive a better car? Live in a bigger house or in a different location? Have a better standard of living?

trophyUltimately if we can think about what we’re trying to achieve from the calls then that’s going to motivate us to actually start doing them isn’t it? Rather than thinking about what awful things are going to happen when we start making them (which is what we tend to do by default isn’t it?)

We could also choose to have things that inspire us on our screensaver, our mousemat, or pictures on the desk of family, favourite holiday destinations (or places we’d like to go), cars we want to drive etc etc.

Tip No 7 – Pick Up The Phone And Make The Call!

Sounds obvious doesn’t it? Yet many people still feel they’re “not ready” or it’s “not quite the right time”. It’s no good learning something without taking action and therefore we need to start actioning the tips above, pick up the phone and make the call!

In summary, the big lesson in this article is – never fall into the trap of procrastinating over making the first call……once it’s done the rest of the calls feel so much easier, don’t they?

If you’ve enjoyed this article, you may be interested in some help with your cold calling? Find out more here…

Oct 12

Welcome to free sales advice, hints and tips to help you stay ahead of the competition!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Welcome from me, Andy Preston!

This site is dedicated to salespeople, business owners and consultants like you who want more help, advice and tips on sales, improving your skills and staying ahead of the competition.

Keep visiting and checking back here regularly to get the latest articles and advice to help maximise your sales figures and grow your business!

I look forward to working with you to achieve you sales and business goals!

Kind Regards


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