Category Archives for "General Sales Tips"

Feb 03

Sales Negotiation Lessons From The Egyptians…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

Sales Negotiation Lessons From The Egyptians…..

In this article, leading Sales Expert Andy Preston explains why most business owners struggle when it comes to negotiations (and in particular negotiating over their price)……and how some simple negotiation lessons can be learned from the Egyptians……

Whenever I’m working with business owners, something I often come across is a lack of confidence or comfort with the more critical parts of the sales process. Examples might be ‘objection handling’, ‘closing’ or in particular ‘negotiating’.

Particularly as the market is now getting tougher, those critical areas of the sales process are becoming even more critical – yet many business owners lack the attitude, skills and knowledge to be successful in those areas, particularly when it comes to negotiation.

That could be because they’re not used to negotiation, it could be that they’re naive to the tricks that the other side can play, or it could be that they’re desperate for the order and will cave in to any demand the other side will make. Or it could be a combination of any or all of those reasons! Whatever the reason, without some element of knowledge of the negotiation process, the business owner is going to continue to struggle.

So How Do The Egyptians Come Into This?…..

Over Christmas, I was working out in Egypt with a well-known, multi-national IT company. On the last afternoon of the course, we went into Cairo Old Town (my Egyptian friends will know I have the Arabic pronunciation well practiced, but I’ll use the English version here so everyone else understands what I’m on about!).

Cairo Old Town is well known for being a kind of market, a trading ‘zone’ where there are many small, independently owned shops where you can buy local goods, gifts and souvenirs.

The main business in the area is tourism, so therefore the shopkeepers are pretty well practiced at getting tourists into the shop, and trying to sell everything in the shop to them (or maybe it just feels like that) at the highest price possible!

Watching these guys operate is like watching masters at work! It’s fascinating. They are ‘old hands’ at bartering, trading and negotiating – why? Because they do it every day! They know what their potential buyers are going to say often before it comes out of their mouths! Everything they say and do is well practiced and designed to give them the upper hand in the negotiation.

So How Does That Relate To You?

Well, because the Egyptian traders are negotiating all day, every day, they are used to the things that happen in a negotiation. The things that the other side will do to try and gain the upper hand. That certain things you say can make….or break …..a deal.

If you’re not used to negotiating, yet the person you’re sat in front of negotiates far more often than you do (and has probably been on courses do learn how to do it well), doesn’t it stand to reason that you’re going to be at a disadvantage? That they’re more likely to get their outcomes than you are to get yours?

So what lessons can we learn from the Egyptians that will help us in our negotiations?

Andy’s Lesson No 1 – Be Prepared For The Negotiation

How prepared do you think those Egyptian traders were for their negotiations? And how prepared are you for yours?

Your first answer is probably something like ‘fairly prepared’. Think again! Has there ever been a time when someone has said to you ‘how much is that?’ or ‘how much do you charge?’ and you’ve not handled that with confidence and certainty?

How often have you mumbled a price? Or worse still, gone in at a lower price than you’d want to charge, and justified it to yourself as you ‘need’ the business?

You’ve just found yourself in the middle of a price negotiation…….unprepared!

Andy’s Lesson No 2 – Think About What You Want

This is essential before going into any negotiation. How often do you find yourself in the middle of a negotiation without any idea of what you actually want from it? I don’t mean what you’d ‘like’ to have, I mean a solid, tangible outcome that you want to achieve? Your minimum expectation from the negotiation otherwise you walk away? What your anticipated outcome is and why the other side should agree to that?

If you haven’t got this sorted before your negotiation starts, you’re setting yourself up to fail. Not to mention giving the other side everything they want…at your expense.

In the example of the Egyptian traders, do you think they’ve thought about what they want, even before they’ve started the negotiation with you? Of course they have!

Andy’s Lesson No 3 – Think About What The Other Side Might Want

Not only should you be thing about what you want, but also what the other side might want! What do you know about them so far? What might they be looking for from this negotiation? What have they been tasked with achieving by their bosses?

Another thing worth thinking about is what are their alternatives to dealing with you, or continuing dealing with you?

Far too often business owners go into a negotiation without thinking what the other side’s possible options are…..and end of agreeing to something that they never should have done – only to find out later that the other side were in a weaker position! Doh!

When you study the Egyptian traders, they’ve already thought about what you might want. They’ve asked you questions about what you’re looking for…..they find it (and if they don’t have it, they’ll get it off another stall to sell it to you) and therefore they’re in a very strong negotiation position!

They’ve asked you what you want, provided it, and now all they have to do is achieve the price they want! Simple!

Andy’s Lesson No 4 – Use Time To Your Advantage

Time can be a big advantage to you in a negotiation – if you use it wisely! You can speed things up to put pressure on the other side. You can slow things down to give you the advantage if the other side has some time pressure to conclude the negotiations (think car salesperson at the end of the month). Alternatively, don’t be afraid to postpone negotiations if you feel you’re not ready!

The Egyptian traders are great at this! They know you don’t have a lot of time to shop at the different places in the market. They know that you have more than likely come to the market to buy souvenirs. They know that you don’t want to go home empty handed, so if they make it easy for you, you will buy!

Follow the tips above and watch for the massive improvement in your negotiations. I look forward to hearing about your successes!

Jan 05

How To Have Your Best Sales Year Ever!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

I always find it interesting at this time of year how people’s attitudes can affect the actions they take towards having a successful year, or an unsuccessful one! Particularly given the current market conditions, a good start to the year is possibly more important than ever!

It’s also a very interesting part of the year, as many people choose to set ‘new year resolutions’. These resolutions are usually set around personal things like losing weight, stopping smoking, or exercising more often for example, but most people don’t tend to set them for their sales careers or for their business.

On a humourous note, the resolutions that they do set are probably the ones they set last year (and broke in early January), and the year before, and the year before that…and so on!

With that in mind, below I’ve given you a list of areas to focus on, that if you read and take action based on them, will help to make 2009 your best sales year ever – regardless of the market conditions!

So let’s have a look at these in turn……


Andy’s Sales Tip No 1 – Get Focused

It’s always very important to get focused on what you do and make sure you do it as well as possible, but in the current market conditions it’s more important than ever! Perhaps over the past few months (or even longer in some cases) you’ve allowed yourself to be distracted by other things. Well now’s a really good time to re-focus your energy and your efforts.

If you’re a business owner or salesperson, look at your core sales proposition and your core activities. Are these as strong as they could be? Can you clearly articulate what benefits your product or service brings to the customer? Do you do that regularly enough on your marketing literature, your website, your emails and verbally to clients and prospects?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 2 – Stay Positive

Staying positive is another crucial part of making 2009 your best sales year ever. As in any other year, you’re going to experience some setbacks. If you’ve heard me speak you’ll know how much I drive home the point that it isn’t what happens to you that natters, it’s your attitude to what happen to you that matters!

If you’re been watching television, listening to the radio or reading newspapers for the last few months you’ll have heard negative message after negative message about the economy, lack of sales and that people aren’t buying. Is that going to help or hinder your attitude towards getting new business?

Which do you think customers and prospects value more, someone who sounds like they’re terminally depressed, or someone who remains upbeat and positive about their company, products and services, and themselves? Which do you think they’re going to buy from?

Andy’s Sales Tip No 3 – Do More Prospecting

More than ever before, prospecting is vital to your chances of making 2009 your best sales year ever. The challenge is that when market conditions are easier (as they have been for the past few years) prospecting is one of the first things that a business owner or a salesperson stops doing!

In a market where people are negotiating harder with you and you’re losing business through no fault of your own (customers being taken over, going out of business etc) then doesn’t it stand to reason that you need to do more prospecting?

So whether you prospect by networking, referrals from existing clients, cold calling, whatever method you use, just make sure you do more of it! Let’s be honest, there are people out there that have a need for what you offer, but don’t know you exist! Make sure you do more prospecting, it’s one of the keys to making this year a success for you.

Andy’s Sales Tip No 4 – Look For More Cross-Selling / Up-Selling Opportunities

Once again, in an easier market, simple up-selling and cross-selling opportunities are often overlooked. You’ve probably got plenty of existing clients that don’t use every product or service you offer, haven’t you? I wonder if you’ve ever heard the immortal words from a client ‘oh I didn’t know you did that’ when you asked them why they’ve just bought from a competitor?

One of the first things you can do is make clients aware of your full product range or all of the services that you offer. This maximises your cross-selling opportunities. In a market where the economic conditions aren’t as good as they were previously, one of the quickest ways to get more business is to get more orders from your existing client base! Think about it – they already like you, have done business with you and have everything set up to order from your company – why not get them to order more items from you?

Another important area to look at is up-selling opportunities. Every single time a customer places an order with you, you’ve got an opportunity to ‘up-sell’ them to a higher priced item. A lot of people don’t feel confident in doing this and ‘assume’ if the customer wanted the higher-priced item, they would have asked for it! Don’t make the same mistake. Why not offer the client 2 options on their next order? It’s an easy way to get more business!

Andy’s Sales Tip No 5 – Keep Your Sales Skills Updated

This is always an interesting one! In any of my seminars of speeches, whenever I ask the question ‘how many of you have read a sales book, listened to a CD or done something to hone your sales skills in the last 6 months?’ hardly anyone puts their hands up! I find this astounding.

Some people say ‘Oh I don’t have time’, some people say ‘oh I don’t need I, I know what I’m doing’ and even more frighteningly some business owners say ‘oh I’m not a salesperson!! How crazy is that?

If you’re in a competitive market right now (if you have competition, that’s you!) then your sales skills (or lack of them) could be the difference between you winning a customer, and losing a customer. How are your cold calling skills? Your questioning skills? Your objection handling skills? Your closing skills? Could they do with some work? You have to work on these and keep yourself ‘sharp’ so you don’t miss out on sales opportunities you could have won!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing of your sales success!


Want to learn more? This month I’m doing a webinar on ‘How To Make 2009 Your Best Sales Year Ever’. Contact me through the webpage and quote ‘Andy’s Blog’ and the first 10 people get a free place with my compliments (normally £77).


Jan 01

Happy New Year!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

Happy New Year to all my friends, contacts and subscribers from all over the globe!

My focus for 2009 will be to increase the sales figures (and the profits) of as many of you as possible!

That’s why I’ll soon be announcing more details on how you can have your best sales year ever, and how myself and my colleagues at Outstanding Results will do our upmost to help you.

There are various things that we’ll be launching soon specifically designed to help you get more customers, more business from your existing customers and have more fun and actually enjoy your role as a salesperson or a business owner!

We’ve now moved into doing webinars (small, bite-sized seminars over the web) specifically to include more of our international friends and subscribers who can’t make our ‘physical’ events and for whom the cost of the phone call to attend one of our teleseminars has been prohibitive in the past. Details on these will be available soon.

I’ve also personally been very busy over the break – even working Christmas Day would you believe?! You can find out why here….

I’ve also been working on two new seminars over the break to help you succeed in the current market conditions, as well as a new book, scheduled to be published by April/May time (no pressure!!). Again details of these will be released very soon.

For those of you who aren’t already on our newsletter list, we send the best tips and discounts on events, webinars and products to loyal subscribers – you can get those here now.

The best of luck for 2009 and I look forward to helping you with your sales and your business!

Kind Regards

Andy Preston

Dec 11

HOW You Should Qualify Your Appointments…..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

The Challenge……You’ve made an appointment (or someone has made it for you) but you’re not sure how keen the prospect is, nor whether they’ll remember your appointment when you turn up….

In an previous article, we discussed why you should qualify your appointments and what a difference it can make to you. In this article, we’re going to look at how best to do it and examine the critical things we need to consider when qualifying our appointments.

The first question I normally get asked is “Andy, when should I qualify my appointments? Should I do it while I’m making the appointment (or someone else is making it for me), or make a separate call afterwards?
My answer to that question is “as quickly as possible!” If you’re making your own appointments, then you should qualify them while you’re talking to decision maker (you are talking to the decision maker, aren’t you?). The earlier in the call you do this, the better. Obviously, you need to intersperse your qualification questions with other types of questions so the prospect doesn’t feel like you’re “interrogating” them, but generally speaking, qualify as quickly as possible.

 

The Task Of Qualification……

The task of qualification is made a little more difficult is someone else is making the calls for you, particularly if it’s not someone in your organisation, i.e. you’ve given the task to a telemarketing agency or similar. You now have two choices. You can either get the person making the initial call to do some qualification for you (if it’s an internal person) or make a call once the appointment has been booked to do some additional qualification yourself.

A good rule of thumb to use here is that the more time and energy you’re investing in an appointment (in terms of research, driving time, appointment time and paperwork), the harder you should qualify. Most salespeople should certainly thing twice about attending an appointment made for them “blind” – without much knowledge of the company, their potential needs or what they’re after.

If you haven’t made the appointment yourself, then it’s always a good idea to make a call to do some additional qualification. First of all, this will give you a good idea of the quality of the appointment, but it will also allow you to build up valuable rapport with the prospect and start to understand more about their potential needs – making the face-to-face meeting much easier.

Now I know some of you will be saying “But Andy, doesn’t that make it easier for them to cancel the meeting?” Yes, at some level it does. But let’s be realistic about it, an appointment that cancels when you ring them to do some additional qualification was going to cancel anyway, or turn into a “no show” or an “I forgot you were coming”. Also the better you are at qualifying and handling objections, the less this becomes an issue.

So let’s take a look at the sort of things that we should consider qualifying or finding out before the meeting……

1. Is the meeting is with the Decision Maker(s)?

I know this sounds obvious, but you’d be amazed how many appointments are booked with people who aren’t the decision maker for what you offer! There are many reasons for this, ranging from people being scared to ask the question, just assuming the person the person they’re talking to is the decision maker and even the old favourite “I need as many appointments as possible to hit my activity target, so any appointment will do!”

2. Is there a budget for the product or service I’m offering?

Now I know this is not needed for most salespeople, but for some of my clients it’s essential! The larger the purchase and the longer the sales cycle would mean that there has to be some sort of budget set aside, or “financial sponsor” in place, otherwise the project has little chance of moving ahead.

3. What are their expectations of the meeting?

Are they expecting you to come and do a presentation? Or come and look at their challenges and suggest potential solutions? Or are they interested in what you have to offer? Depending on what their expectations are, the meeting will need to be prepared for and conducted in a different way.

4. What solutions have they already looked at?

How have they tried to solve the problem already? Have they looked at any of your competitors? What are the other solutions they could do (including doing nothing).

5. Confirm appointment details

This is the last step and one of the most important! I’ve lost count of the amount of salespeople who’ve told me that they’ve arrived at the wrong premises, for an appointment with someone who works at another office! Make sure you confirm time, date, location, who will be attending, any equipment or facilities needed etc.

Obviously the suggestions on the list above are purely ideas of qualifying questions you could ask. Depending on your market, your role and your industry you will have various things that you may need to qualify before it’s worth going to an appointment – including distance, potential spend, potential of future business etc.

The exact questions asked are entirely up to you. Just make sure you ask them and start to qualify your appointments properly!

Follow the tips above and watch your sales soar! I look forward to hearing your sales success stories and your sales “learns”.

If you liked the article above, why not call us now on 0845 130 6779 and find out how we could help you with your sales?

Dec 07

Why You MUST Qualify Your Appointments……..

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

The Challenge……..

You’ve made an appointment (or someone has made it for you) but you’re not sure how keen the prospect is, nor whether they’ll remember your appointment when you turn up….

 

Why You MUST Qualify Your Appointments

Whenever I’m running my cold call training or appointment making courses, I’m usually asked the question “Andy, should I attempt to qualify my appointments, or should I just make as many as possible, no matter what the quality?”

Now if you ask the question to a group of salespeople or sales managers, they’re usually divided – some say that they won’t turn out for an appointment unless there’s a genuine interest or opportunity there, whereas the rest say that they’ll take any appointment that’s going!

Now whilst I realise to a degree it is going to depend on your marketplace, your industry, your average order value, your geographic target areas, the length of your sales cycle etc, there are some basic “truths” that you can apply no matter what your situation.

I do understand the need to book appointments (and the pressure from bosses to do so), but I firmly believe it’s crucial to qualify any appointment you make! By the way, this isn’t an excuse for the lazy salespeople out there to give to their bosses – “well, Andy said….…” I mean I still want the same number of appointments, just make sure they’re qualified properly!

I’m sure anyone who’s been in face-to-face sales at some point has had the experience of turning up for an appointment when the person you’re meeting doesn’t really know why you’re there, had forgotten you were coming, or worse still – wasn’t even there when you showed up!

Surely this has to be a “warning flag” of how much value they placed in the appointment in the first place?!

And while I realise that sometimes a salesperson can generate a sale at a meeting from “nothing”, this becomes more difficult the higher the price you are asking, the more people it involves and the more you are selling a “service” rather than a “product”.

Here are some reasons why qualifying your appointments properly might be a useful idea for you……

1. It makes the face-to-face selling part much easier.

If you’ve taken the time to qualify the appointment properly over the phone, you’ve already found out some of the prospect’s potential needs and identified areas to explore through questioning at the meeting. This should mean that at the meeting, your questions are more relevant and are of more value to the prospect.

2. It raises the prospect’s perception of you.

The more you qualify properly, the higher the perception of you in your prospects eyes. Unlike the usual “desperate” salesperson they come across, you’re not going to waste your time (and often your manager’s time) chasing half-way across the country to a meeting with someone who turns out to have no need for what you offer, nor turn out to be the real decision maker anyway! Not that you’ve had that happen to you in the past…have you? 😉


3. It reduces the risk of a cancellation, a “no show” or an “I forgot”.

I realise that sometimes people do genuinely forget, but if this is happening to you on a fairly regular basis, then either they are avoiding you, or they didn’t see enough value to even put it in their diary! Not the best start to a sales call, is it? How many more times does the average salesperson need this to happen to them before they’ll learn?

4. You can find out if they are the real decision maker or not!

You’d be amazed how many salespeople have meetings with people who can’t decide! Unless this is a defined part of your sales strategy (and you have a long sales cycle with lots of people you need to influence), this is pointless! You might be looking “busy” in the short term or be hitting your meetings targets, but when it comes to your sales figures, you’ll be somewhat short.

5. You’ll be making the best use of your time.

Your personal time management is crucial in sales. You only have a certain amount of time in which to be as effective as possible, so don’t waste it! The time you’re spending in meeting with the wrong people who have no need for your product or service could be better spent prospecting for new business, or preparing for your crucial appointments (you do prepare for your appointments, don’t you?)

Listed above are 5 good reasons why you should take the time to properly qualify your appointments. You should also have an idea of the criteria you’re going to use to qualify them too. If you get the appointments made for you by an in-house or an external telemarketing team, it’s even more important that you set the criteria by which they qualify your appointments! Otherwise, you’re losing control of a vital part of your sales process and hampering your sales effectiveness into the bargain!

Dec 01

Is Your Franchise Failing Through Lack Of Sales?…..It Is Now!

By Andy Preston | General Sales Tips

 

 

The Challenge

You’re a new franchisee……….you’ve been for your training with the franchisor…..and you’re excited about your new business and starting to make some money…….however, no-one’s taught you how to sell……..

 

A business advisor friend of mine told me years ago that the two biggest reasons small business fail come from 2 main things …..

1) Lack of sales and
2) Lack of cashflow

In my experience (having been a very successful salesperson in a franchise and now seeing some new franchise owners turn up on my cold calling courses) the lack of sales can be a massive problem for most new franchise owners.

Let’s face it, you can’t suddenly just acquire good “new business” sales skills overnight can you?

If you purchase a franchise that you need to “pro-actively” sell in (i.e cold calling, face-to-face meetings etc, rather than a retail environment where the customers come to you and all you need to do is attract more) then typically what happens (in a very simplistic format) is the following scenario.

Step 1 – You go and visit the franchisor and decide to buy a franchise
Step 2 – You receive 2-4 weeks “training” on your new franchise
Step 3 – You start your franchise and have to prospect for between 80-100% new business.

Most of the training from the franchisor will be on the systems and processes of how to “work” the franchise – which is realistically what you bought it for, right? A proven system, with perhaps an established brand name?

Otherwise you wouldn’t have bought a franchise would you? You’ve have set up on your own!

If you’re lucky you’ll get 3-4 days sales training from them – which again is more likely to be on the “system” of selling the franchise products or services.

So what’s next?



Imagine the scene ….. new franchise owner sitting in their new office (or home office if they’re trying to keep costs down)….telephone in front of them………sitting there waiting for it to ring…….sitting there…….waiting………waiting………they play with their emails……..still waiting……..

Suddenly it hits them – WHAM! The phone is not ringing – they need to “prospect” for new business!

Cold Calling anyone? Nope, didn’t think so! Call into some businesses face-to-face? Don’t fancy that either!

So what’s the alternative? Bit of advertising? Have some flyers printed? Sign up for some random networking events in hope you get some referrals?


Sooner or later the new franchisee comes to the realisation that they need to bring new business in. They need to do some sort of “pro-active” selling.

So they pick up the phone and call a few leads (or if they’re really brave, some “cold” prospects). However they’re feeling a little bit down about doing it, so they get knocked back at objections easily, fail to get through gatekeepers and when they do, the decision maker doesn’t see value in meeting with them, or even discussing their offering!

Feeling even more depressed, they make a few more calls, but really they’re going through the motions and their heart isn’t really in it.

They feel as though the franchisor has “deceived” them, and often say things like “they never told me it would be this hard to get appointments/get business/find new clients”, “if only it wasn’t such a competitive market”, “I’m not cut out for this sales stuff!”


In this situation, one of 3 things will typically happen…

1) They get lucky and land a client that gives them a lot of business, refers them to others and “saves their bacon” – but this better happen within the first 3 months of taking on the franchise or you’re in trouble.

2) They give up, or give back the franchise and wonder what on earth they are going to do next.

3) They take some training and get good at selling (fast!) or they get someone else to do it.


So many times (especially in networking) I see new franchisees either giving up or giving back their franchise 6 months later, because they couldn’t bring in the new business.

In summary, the big lesson in this article is – if you’re going to take on a franchise (or you’ve already bought one) in which you need to get new clients, learn how to sell – and fast!

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?
STOP BEING SO NICE ON YOUR COLD CALLS!

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…..