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 17

Before You Employ A Salesperson, Read This First!……

By Andy Preston | Sales Management

This article was inspired by a couple of small business owners that have approached me recently with concerns about employing their first salesperson. I thought it would be useful to share with others some of the things you need to do before you employ them, and also what to watch out for!

The Challenge……You’re thinking of taking on a salesperson, but you’re not sure how much to pay them, whether it would work, whether you’ll just end up paying for no results, and you’re just not quite sure what to do………..

There could be a number of reasons that you’re considering employing a salesperson. It could be that your business has expanded to a point where it would make sense to employ a salesperson. It could be that you’re involved in a business that requires you to “deliver” the product or service (like consultancy, web design, training etc) and you don’t have enough time to deliver and sell at the same time. It could also be that your sales skills aren’t as good as you would like and that you think someone else would be better at selling than you are.

Whichever it is, and whether you’re thinking of taking on someone part time or full time, the tips below will work for you. Even if you’re thinking of outsourcing your sales to a telemarketing company or similar, some of the tips below will still work for you, although I do have a number of thoughts on what you need to do if you’re considering outsourcing, but that’s a separate article!

Tip No 1 – Consider Where They’re Going To Work

If you run your business from home, some business aren’t comfortable with others working from their home, and some employees aren’t comfortable working from someone else’s house! In addition, the environment doesn’t always feel like “work” and it’s too easy for the salesperson to relax, especially if the business owner isn’t around! If they are going to work from your house, have you arranged a separate telephone line, computer and access to your CRM system or database (you do have one of those, don’t you?). Very often CRM or database software carries a “per user” license fee, so you need to think about this beforehand. Also if the salesperson turns up for work and they don’t have a separate phone to use, this can make things very difficult.

If they are going to work from your office then at least it is a more “formal” environment, but if the salesperson is going to be there on their own some of the time, then you can adopt most of the things mentioned above. Also from a security point of view, what safeguards have you put in place to stop them stealing data or customers?

Tip No 2 – New Or Experienced?

The second thing to consider is are you going to take on a new salesperson, or someone more experienced? If you’re taking on someone fairly new to sales, you will carry some responsibility for training them. Unlike the environment of a larger company, where you have the luxury of putting them next to more senior salespeople to help them “learn the ropes”, in a smaller business where they’re going to be the only salesperson, that obviously isn’t possible. A training plan should be put in place to help the new salesperson gain the skills needed as quickly as possible. The exact skills needed are going to be dependent on their role (telesales or field sales for example) but at the very least consider telephone skills or cold call training as one of the first things to being an immediate return-on-investment.

If you’re planning to take on an experienced salesperson, be careful you don’t make the biggest mistake most small business owners make in this area. That is, thinking “oh, they’ll know what to do” and leaving them to it! Whatever you do, don’t make this mistake. The absolute last thing you should do is leave them to do it on their own! I’ll expand on this more as we cover the other points below….

Tip No 3 – What Is Their Role?

The third thing to consider is, what is their exact role and what do you want them to achieve? Are you employing them in a “telesales” position, where you’re looking for them to make appointments for you or someone else? Or are you looking for them to make the appointments, then attend themselves, taking the process all the way through to closing the deal? The two roles are different and require different skill-sets, so that will affect the type of person you hire! Also, don’t expect the newer salesperson to be able to go out and close deals face-to-face as well as an experienced salesperson would. Are they going to be predominantly new business focused, or will they have an element of account management to their role? Again, this will effect the sort of person you hire.

You also need to define exactly what you’re looking for them to achieve. An all-too-common complaint that I hear from salespeople is that they’re doing what their manager wants them to do, but the manager is still complaining! This is usually because the manager has not clearly communicated to the salesperson exactly what is required. The biggest thing to cover here is, how are you targeting the salesperson? In order for there to be fewer misunderstandings, you should agree between you (because the salesperson has to “buy in” to any targets set) both financial targets, and activity targets. Now these will differ from company to company, industry to industry and person to person, but generally speaking, you need to set a financial target in terms of how much money you want them to bring in (usually a per month figure) and then activity in terms of numbers of phone calls, appointments generated, appointments attended (if they’re field sales as well) quotes given, and deals won. Only when these have been set can you then compare actual performance against them. Which brings me on to my next point…..

Tip No 4 – How Are You Going To Performance Manage Them?

If you agree the targets mentioned above and then they don’t hit them, what happens? If it happens 3 months in a row, what happens? What points below these targets do you consider “underperformance”, and what is unacceptable? How are you going to support the salesperson in achieving these targets (or not!) As soon as you take on a salesperson, to get the best out of them you need to take some responsibility for their motivation as well. No matter what you may have heard about salespeople being self-motivated, in my experience even the best aren’t completely motivated all of the time! If they aren’t working next to you all of the time, consider putting some time in the diary for weekly sales meetings, face-to-face if possible, over the phone as a minimum. In these sales meetings you want to be discussing how the salesperson is performing against the targets you have set, and what pipeline they have – how much business will be converting in the next few months for example.

Tip No 5 – How Are You Going To Pay Them?

For most companies, the days of picking up good salespeople on a commission-only basis are over. Or certainly the ones that will stay for any length of time. The majority of salespeople expect a basic wage and uncapped commission as a minimum these days. You can sometimes get salespeople on a self-employed basis, where you pay their company for their services rather than the person themselves. More likely you will be paying the person directly as an employee, which has tax and national insurance considerations, never mind employment law and associated HR issues. The best commission schemes work on a tiered structure, where the level of commission increases the more the salesperson goes above their financial targets. As an example, 125% of target may carry a higher percentage commission, 150% a higher percentage again. If you would like any help with setting commission schemes or anything else contained in this article, contact me through the website http://www.Andy-Preston.com, using the “contact us” page and I’ll be happy to give you some ideas.

Tip No 6 – Who Are They Going To Be Calling?

In other words, where are they going to get their prospects from? Do you have a list of prospects on your CRM system or database that you want them to contact? Are you going to purchase some data to give them some leads to work on? Or are you expecting them to generate their own? If they are a newer salesperson or they haven’t worked in your industry before, then just leaving them to generate their own might not bring the best results, at least not for a period of time. If you are giving them data, if it’s more than 3 months old, it may need cleansing first in order to make sure it’s up to date. This may also be part of the role you want them to be doing. If you’re buying the data, then make sure it’s been cleansed in the last 3 months, otherwise you’re reducing their chances of success.

Tip No 7 – How Long Do You Want Them To Work For?

The seventh thing to consider is, how long do you want them to work for? This is an important point, especially if you’re looking for them to get more appointments for you personally. If you can only cope with a certain number of additional appointments per week, it might not make sense to employ someone on a full time basis. Perhaps someone in that role one day a week, or one day per fortnight might be sufficient? If they’re starting to make more appointments for you than you can cope with (and the quality is good) then perhaps it’s time to get them attending some as well, and bringing in a new salesperson to make appointments for both of you? Either way it’s a nice problem to have.

Tip No 8 – How Well Do You Know The Person?

I know in some cases business owners like to employ people that they know fairly well – perhaps a friend, family member of partner? Although it can sound like a good idea in the beginning, it can also cause it’s own problems!

The more “personal” the relationship between you and the salesperson is, sometimes the more difficult it can be. Managing their underperformance can be particularly difficult, especially if they’ve been working for someone else, seen how well you’ve done, and think it will be “easier” and “less hassle” to work for you! You can virtually guarantee anyone who thinks in this fashion is going to struggle to meet your expectations and succeed in the role. So what do you do if they consistently underperform for you? If they’re costing you more money to employ than they’re bringing in? Can you see how this might be a different scenario than if it was a “normal” employee.

Consider the implications of having to “sack” a friend, family member or partner. Or if they’re your partner and the relationship comes to an end? Or if the role puts a strain on your personal relationship?

The best way to deal with the majority of these is to set the expectations in the beginning of what will lead to the business relationship ending – lack of performance against the agreed criteria. Try and separate the business relationship from the personal one as much as possible, by getting them to agree on what criteria they will be judged, and the consequences of not hitting that criteria. That makes things a whole lot easier if you’re faced with the situation of underperformance.

Remember, you’re not employing the salesperson out of “charity”, they’re supposed to be fulfilling a role for you. If the role didn’t really exist and you’ve “invented” it so that they can have a job, that’s fine, as long as you’re aware of the implications and consequences of hiring them on that basis (you paying their wage, them not necessarily doing much in return).

Follow the tips above and you’ll avoid most of the problems involved with hiring salespeople. If you’d like further help on this topic, or anything else sales-related, you can contact Andy on 0845 130 6779 or contact us here

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?

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 xyz@xyz.com 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…..