by Sheryl Tuttle

Effective cold calling requires utmost courtesy and proper business etiquette. Whether maneuvering through gate keepers or speaking with high-level executives, manners and good business acumen are crucial at all stages, from initiation to resolution. But is it asking too much that it work both ways?

In a black and white world, resolution occurs in one of two ways when calling prospects.

  1. Affirmatively – Intrigued and interested, the potential customer wishes to take the conversation to the next level.
  2. Negatively – The potential customer expresses no need or interest.

As everyone knows though, we don’t live in a black and white world. There’s lots of gray. And the biggest gray to me is a lack of response from a target prospect at all.

Executives tend to be very busy people, so one or two attempts to reach them would be futile and certain failure. Persistence is key. In fact, numerous prospects have thanked me for continuing to reach out despite their lack of response because they were interested in hearing more, but had been too busy to reply. So it’s not wise to give up calls too easily.

It’s just good business etiquette to return phone calls. Busy executives that are not interested in what is being pitched should indicate so. They won’t have lost too much time, and in fact, rather may have saved time in listening to future voicemail messages.

by Sheryl Tuttle

I don’t think I’ve made one introductory pitch so far this week that I didn’t get cut-off and interrupted – the prospect having no time to listen or in too much a hurry.

Are we going to have to condense the 30-second elevator pitch?

Could social media be to blame?

We all know that social media (SM) is changing the way we reach out and relate to one another. But it’s also creating a new language, complete with acronyms, abbreviations, and smiley symbols, to shorten the message so that it fits within the character limitation for chats, text messages, and internet communication. SM conversations require short, direct messages.

But is this new communication style saving us time, or is it creating expectations of quicker interactions?  Is it adding value, or causing miscommunication and lost opportunity? Is the time span where we have a prospects attention being reduced at all, or is this just an unusual phenomenon?

SWDYT
(So What Do You Think?)

by Sheryl Tuttle

According to CareerCast.com, one of the top 10 most stressful jobs for 2010 is Advertising Account Executive because

“Competition and the pressure of acquiring and maintaining major accounts forces executives in this field to work long and irregular hours. The work requires a high level of creativity, meeting deadlines, close attention to detail and self-motivation.”

I believe it safe to say this description aptly applies to most jobs in sales. Be it outside or inside, initiating the process or closing the deal, sales roles are often fraught with stress. But there are numerous tactics for reducing stress, and here are a few of my personal favorites.

  • Don’t take rejection personally. I’ve written about handling rejection before. Taking rejection personally only adds to your stress level.
  • Take good notes when talking to a prospect. This will make future follow-up calls easier and eliminate the stress associated with having to remember too many details.
  • Exercise and move around, especially if you are making prospect calls and sitting for long stretches of time. Stand up from time to time, and if possible, walk-around as you talk.
  • Laugh and smile often. While sales work is very serious indeed, it’s less stressful and a lot more fun if it is enjoyed.
  • Avoid distractions and better manage your time. Plan ahead so you are not stretched too thin, then stay on task.
  • Delegate. Hand off or farm out responsibilities, such as setting appointments, so you can better focus.

What are some of the ways you assuage the stress in your day-to-day sales role?

by Sheryl Tuttle

I’ve been following “prospect call” and “cold call” tweets lately, and there are certainly a lot of them. It’s funny too, because people seem to be either very strongly for or against prospect calling.

Many tweets bash prospect calling as a complete waste of time, an activity that will tarnish your reputation, and even one tweet claimed it immoral! Yet, I have observed an equal number tweets proclaiming success. So which is it? Are prospect calls worth the effort or not? Will prospect calls boost your business or hurt your reputation?

The answer is …both.

Allow me to clarify. The fact is, many people approach prospect calling completely unprepared. They view it as a dreaded menial task, a necessary activity to increase their pool of leads. These folks lack professionalism. It’s all a sales and numbers game to them. Either the prospect hops on board and wants an appointment to hear more, or he jumps off, never to be contacted again. This approach can cause problems for your company.

On the other hand, folks that prepare glean much more success in their efforts. These teleprospectors understand the value of their roles, which may not immediately result in a sale, but rather they create and develop a relationship. They learn what they can about the company and their potential needs, ask relevant probing questions, and then listen to the response.

It requires professionalism to develop new business opportunities successfully through prospect calling. It is through peer-to-peer conversations that true relationships are forged.

If you believe your efforts at prospect calling are hurting your reputation, then perhaps it’s time to take a look at outsourcing your process to professional appointment setters.

by Sheryl Tuttle

The C-Suite Executive has a mound of papers on his desk, numerous incoming messages, important meetings to attend, reports to review, emails to send, and presentations to prepare. Besieged with cold-calls and pitches via email and direct mail, he has taken your call. You have about 30-seconds to make that busy executive want to talk to you, and only a few minutes to convert the curious into an appointment.

But how?

Much of what goes into a successful prospect call relates to the art of storytelling. Telling stories is a talent that requires knowledge of the subject matter, interest in the audience, and sincerity at its core.  Here’s five easy ways you can improve your prospect call results right now.

A good opening

It’s not enough to provide your name, company, and a brief description. Your prospect gets several of those calls a day. Your call needs to be different and to stand out.

The easiest and best way to do this is with a little research beforehand. Anything you know about the company can help. Visit their website and their blog if they have one. Check the news and press releases. Tailor your opening statement to include a value proposition that focuses on what they need. They don’t want to know how great you are, but rather how you can help them solve a problem.

Stay true to the plot

Keep focused on the purpose of your call and do not go on and on. Remember you are speaking with a very busy executive. Stay to the point and keep it short and simple.

Deliver with feeling

Don’t read a script or make your call sound rehearsed. Be natural and relaxed, and fluctuate your tone to add emphasis where appropriate. Using variations in pitch and volume adds personality and passion, often eliciting a more enthusiastic response.

Engage with your audience

A good storyteller will “read” their audience, listening and changing direction if needed. Engaging in a successful dialog requires good listening skills too. Make sure your prospect is part of the conversation. Ask questions, then listen. Pause and wait for the response, then ask clarifying questions if needed.

A satisfying ending

Don’t make the prospect guess what you want. Your ending should be clear. If you are calling for an appointment to meet with the prospect, then ask for the appointment.

Challenge 4 U: Make your next prospect call with the zest of a master storyteller. Does your call outcome differ?

by Sheryl Tuttle

Web research is a vital part of new business generation, and it’s essential to know as much as you can about a prospect company before actually engaging in dialog with that prospect. Accordingly, I visit many company websites. Here are my top five pet peeves for business websites in no particular order. I invite you to add your own to this list through the comments.

  1. No “About” Information – Most visitors to business websites are looking for information about the company. An “about” page or an easily found descriptive paragraph on the home page is essential in my opinion, and its lack of is one of my biggest pet peeves.
  2. Not Copyable – Frequently, I utilize the copy and paste feature for the important and relevant information from business websites, saving the details into my CRM for future use. It doesn’t happen often that the text cannot be copied from a website, but it’s extremely irritating to me when it does.
  3. Automatic Music – I like music, really, I do, but when I’m visiting websites, I’m typically either a) working or b) shopping. Usually working. In any case, landing on a website to be affronted with music of their choice is not ideal, and at a minimum, there needs to be a very easily found “music off” switch.
  4. No Discernible Structure or Organization – Most people like things easy. Particularly when it comes to company research. We don’t want to have to go on a lengthy mission just to find the information we are after. As such, it is grating to visit websites packed full of unorganized information and no clear structure on where to find things.
  5. Not Able to Use Browser of Choice – Another one that doesn’t happen often, but is very annoying when it does, are sites that require a specific browser to open. While the company or site manager’s preferred browser may be IE, it is not mine, and I want to be able to use any browser to peruse the site.

So what are some of your pet peeves when it comes to business websites?

by Sheryl Tuttle

Frequently I’m asked whether it makes sense to start or continue a new business campaign through the holidays. The argument is that many people vacation during the holidays and so you are less likely to reach a decision-maker during this timeframe. Many people contend that it makes better sense to put these efforts on hold, until the New Year and the resumption of “business as usual.”

I disagree, and here’s why.

For the very reason that more people are on vacation, the likelihood of reaching a decision-maker increases. Not only are your target prospects taking time off, but so are their gatekeepers. While the number of executives in their offices may actually decrease over the holidays, the number of executives answering their own line increases. This often results in making connections that would otherwise have been more difficult.

Additionally, while everyone is quick to agree that the holidays can bring on more stress, it is also a time when holiday spirit prevails. People emphasize community, relationships, and goodwill. They tend to be in better moods, and are more likely to be receptive to a conversation.

The best time to initiate a new business campaign is when it is right for you and your business, regardless of the season. When you want to begin filling the sales pipeline with future business, that’s the time to start a new business campaign.

Happy Thanksgiving.