A Playlist to Celebrate the Joys of Cold Calling

Tired businesswomanCold calling stinks…but it works. Ask any seasoned sales professional and they’ll back me on this.

I spent my entire career trying to prove cold calling, or prospecting, didn’t work, convinced each day that I took on this distasteful activity I was wasting my time. Some days it amounted to nothing. On those days I felt vindicated for thinking my sales manager was a real tool for making me do it.

The other days, however, when I landed the big accounts as a result of my cold calling, I learned the bittersweet truth that cold calling stinks, but it works.

I Googled sales songs. There are plenty of playlists to get you pumped up at a sales meeting and plenty to help you go get ‘em at the Trade Show. I noticed, however, that there is a real void as it pertains to playlists to pick you up after enduring repeated and sometimes hateful rejection while cold calling.

Consider this void filled. Here is a 30-minute playlist with not a single song from this century that can take you from depressed to deliriously optimistic after suffering the indignities of cold calling.

We’re Not Gonna Take It:

Been dismissed by rude gatekeepers, hung up on, sworn at, and escorted from the building? We’re Not Gonna Take It will restore your self-esteem. Bonus points for anybody who turns around and shakes his or her fist at security singing the chorus like Dee Snider in the video.

I mean cold calling can really make for a tough day:

Okay, maybe not that tough. Yeesh.

Mr. Blue Sky:

Constant rejection can create a negative attitude in the most positive sales professional. This song is the perfect antidote for what Tony Robbins calls Stinkin’ Thinkin.’ Mr. Blue Sky will cheer you up with its pure awesomeness. In fact, I assert that this song is almost as awesome as their hairstyles.

Man in Motion:

For a song that will make your braver, and stronger than a 1980s heartthrob in a mediocre Breakfast Club for twenty-somethings movie, look no further than Man In Motion from the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. The movie was cheesy, and so is the song, I guess, but I always feel like I can sell ice to Eskimos after I listen to it. With lyrics like, “Just once in his life, a man has his time. And that time is now that I’m comin’ alive!”, be sure your windows are rolled up because you are bound to embarrass yourself otherwise singing along to it.

Proud Mary, Ike and Tina Turner:

Listen, cold calling is tough. Who can deny that Tina has survived a lot? She’s tough. Considering what she rose above, surely a few hang ups and door slams pale in comparison. Proud Mary empowers us all to take care of business while oozing fierce determination and confidence.

Author’s Note: My kids took a video of me dancing to this in my office while I was writing this post. They are still laughing about it. I don’t care because they don’t know how to post on Facebook yet!

The Gambler:

I don’t ordinarily cotton to country music, but nobody can deny that this hit by Kenny Rogers teaches us all about negotiation and the art of closing gracefully with the sage wisdom, “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” After all if you did happen to get the sale, you never count your commission while you are still sitting at the table in the new client’s office. There’ll be time enough for countin’ on your phone in the parking lot!

Eye of the Tiger:

If ever there was a song that could make you believe you had sales superpowers, it’s this one. Back in high school, I once listened to Eye of the Tiger 18 times in a row before a big swim race and then swam a full 3 seconds faster than I ever had. For those of you that didn’t ever swim competitively that’s a lot! But if you don’t believe me, believe him:

He pities the fool who doesn’t listen to the song after a hard day of cold calling.

La Copa De la Vide (Cup of Life):

I don’t know where you were in 1998 for the World Cup, but I was pounding out a living with a poorly rated radio station in Kansas City. My paycheck was 100% commission, and my client list was the yellow pages, which is a recipe for starvation if you don’t figure out how to prospect. For you millennial-types, the Yellow Pages was an actual paper book that listed businesses by their type with their landline phone numbers (No, really). This song made sure I didn’t starve. My cup of Ramen noodles runneth over thanks to Ricky Martin’s incredibly motivating song.

Ricky: Do you really want it?

Me: (thinking of dinner) Yeah!

Ricky: Do you really want it? Here we go. Go! Go! Go!

Me: Ale! Ale! Ale!

I took music appreciation in college. I don’t remember my professor’s name, but he said something that has stayed with me to this day:

Miss Ince, is it really necessary to arrive five minutes after class starts every day?”

Just kidding. He did say that, but that isn’t the one I was talking about just now. He said that music comes the closest to expressing the inexpressible. Now, of course, he was talking about classical music, not classic rock, but I think the concept applies either way.

So when you need to express your frustration with a rough cold calling day, then pick yourself up, dust off your Nine West pumps, pick up the scattered sales accouterment strewn across the pavement after getting tossed from yet another office building for “soliciting,” by some overzealous ex con, and play this playlist as loud as you can stand it—while you find another office park to conquer.

What songs would you add to the playlist? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments.

 

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Photo Credit: Kalim from Fotolia.com

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Darth Vader’s People Management Skills Get Results


When I first managed a team, I had big ideas of the kind of manager I wanted to be. I wanted to be fair, just, trustworthy, and approachable. My goal was to be a kinder, gentler boss that my team thought of more as a friend than a manager.

I quickly learned that this approach has some drawbacks, not the least of which was that I wasn’t getting the results I needed. Where had I gone wrong? I was practically puking fairy dust and butterflies at my team, but it wasn’t working. I was beside myself with disappointment.

In my despair, I turned to my comfort movies one weekend and discovered the mentor that I had been lacking up to this point in my career: Darth Vader.

Now he isn’t for everybody—just the managers who really need results.

Here are just a few lessons we can learn from Darth Vader’s people management skills in action:

Read your management books. A few years ago, a popular book “The One Minute Manager” made the rounds on every manager’s reading list. Author Ken Blanchard suggested that managing people should never take more than a minute, whether it was negative or positive. He informed us all that even a reprimand should take no longer than one minute.

Darth Vader takes no more than one minute to whip this underperforming commander into shape when his efforts to build the second Death Star are falling short of expectations:

Don’t waste time with disappointing performances from your team. All managers will face a hard decision when someone on the team whose routine poor performance foretells their future dismissal. Since most people don’t relish being the bad guy, however, many managers drag it out longer than they should, which can result in lower morale for the rest of the team.

Darth Vader embraces being a bad guy and acts quickly:

Also Darth Vader gets bonus points for the immediate and crystal-clear communication of his expectations and the consequences of not meeting them to the ill-fated team member’s replacement: Coming out of hyperdrive close enough to the remote ice planet Hoth alerting the rebel alliance of your presence, bad; not disappointing Darth Vader, good.

Consistency is key. As a manager, treating all your team members the same is essential to building a team with a foundation in trust.

Darth Vader is consistent—disappointing news is always met with a gasp:

Want to pursue a questionable pet project? Don’t forget to manage up. Middle managers need to manage both down and up. Be sure that you are giving your boss the information he or she needs so you can get the green light to pursue your pet project—like converting the last hope of the Jedi to the dark side of the force.

Everyone has a boss, even the Sith Lord:

Embrace technology. These days, it’s important for managers to make sure that they are able to use technology to make their jobs easier and earn the respect of their team. It doesn’t instill much confidence for your team about your ability to lead effectively if you are constantly asking them how to sync your phone to your tablet or “What Instantgram is?”

Darth Vader loves technology, and he uses vintage stuff! Just look at what he is able to accomplish using technology from the late 1970s:


Use a recruiter when you are too emotionally invested in the candidate. If there is someone that you really, really want to join the team (a long lost son perhaps?), be sure that you can disguise your intensity. If you can’t, however, use a recruiter, otherwise your negotiation with the candidate can end in maiming, screaming, and his or her leap to certain death.


Darth Vader won’t ever be on the speaking circuit. After all he died a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. His lessons live on, however, for all middle managers to use in their daily struggles to manage the team to the best of their ability.

Are his methods extreme? Sure. Did he have any friends at work? Not so much. But what he did have was results, particularly in project management. Before you decide Darth Vader’s style is not for you, remember that his methods resulted in the completion of two fully operational Death Stars.

Who is your managing mentor? Please share what they taught you in the comments below.

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. Terri helps her clients break through the clutter by injecting a bit of humor into the business world. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com or email me at terri@terrilively.com.

Green Eggs and Ham: The Only Sales Manual You’ll Ever Need

I am an ex-salesperson. For anyone in outside sales, you know this is a career both revered and reviled by most people. I bet more than one of you suffered accusations of selling snake oil in your lifetime.

Outside salespeople are always sent to training. I went to Bryan Tracy. I saw a guy with the Miss Clairol black hair color…Tom Hopkins. I even went to something called, Professional Selling Skills. I’m not knocking these events; I learned a ton, and I highly recommend them to a sales person just starting out.

If you don’t have the budget or the attention span for these sales programs, however, just read Green Eggs and Ham. Do so, and I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s the only sales manual you’ll ever need.

Why? I’ll give you five reasons:

#1: Sam introduces himself in a memorable way.

The prospect must know who you are. You need to be a person and even more importantly, a person they like. Who can deny that Sam introduces himself in a memorable way?

Personally, I can’t pull off wearing a red top hat or holding a sign while perched on my weird-looking dog’s keister (and neither can you), but I can hand them a business card and introduce myself right up front. Adapt Sam’s strategy to a more streamlined and personal introduction and you are already off to a great start.

#2: Sam doesn’t get put off by the fact the dog/bear/sheep creature doesn’t like him.

Seriously…what is that thing?

When you make a prospecting call, you are interrupting someone’s day. Your prospect had a ToDo list as long as his or her arm before you decided to drop by or call. In addition, he or she is usually not too excited you made it through the gatekeeper. Don’t let this stop you. There is always a reason to give up. The truly successful salespeople keep smiling and selling despite these reasons.

#3: Sam gets the Assumptive Close.

In my sales career, I learned that all of us snake oil types had different Closes. Closes are techniques you use to get your prospect to yes. If you want to be in sales, you must know your closes.

One of these tried and true techniques is the Assumptive Close. The assumptive close is where you just presume that the prospect is going to say yes, so you provide them the option of where or when they want the snake oil. “Sure I understand, Ms. Prospect. Can I come to your office to discuss the terms of our agreement on Tuesday or Wednesday?”

Sam gets the assumptive close. He tries it repeatedly for 41 pages:

Would you like them here or there?

“Would you like them in a house? Would you like them with a mouse?

“Would you? Could you? In a car?”

And so forth. Sam’s a fan of the assumptive close.

#4: Sam doesn’t take no for an answer.

Certain members of my family have been described as pleasantly persistent. If you don’t know what that means, just re-read the book. Sam is never deterred by the creature’s insistence that he doesn’t like green eggs and ham. He sticks to his strategy and over time wears out the thing’s resistance.

In real sales, this can be tricky. Do what Sam does, and you may find yourself on the wrong end of a harassment lawsuit.

But it is important always to keep the door open. If the prospect isn’t interested now, ask if there is a time when the company reviews their vendors so you can reconnect then. Another good foot in the door option is to invite him or her to an event or a sales booth at trade show for a personal demonstration. Whatever you do, make sure that the “No” you are getting today isn’t final so you can try again on another, better day.

#5: Sam gets the product in his prospect’s hands.

In almost any sales situation, the key to converting prospects is to get the product in their hands. You know what a great widget you have, but your prospect doesn’t. If you can get it in his or her hands and have the widget show them how wonderful it is, you are that much closer to getting the yes you want. Getting the product in the prospect’s hands is obviously harder to do in intangible sales where the widget is a concept, but there are ways. When I sold radio time we made a spec commercials so our prospects could hear what their professionally produced :60 Radio ad would sound like.

Sam offers the creature a free sample of his green eggs and ham, imploring him to “Try them! Try them!” And even though the sample he offers has been in a strange house with a known disease-causing vermin, traveled in a box with a fox, in a car, up a tree, on a train, through a tunnel, in the exhaust pipe of a boat and finally underwater…the creature eats them. Better yet, he likes them.

So there you have it. I just saved you and your sales manager a ton in training budget. It turns out that everything you ever needed to know about sales was explained to you as a child in a book that uses no more than 50 words.

Now get out there and sell some snake oil!

Terri Lively is a career marketing professional that has unique experience in the areas of messaging and client relations. She crafts strategies for her clients that want to enhance their content. For the past 15 years, she helps her clients create marketing materials that effectively communicate their message and get results, across all types of media. More about Terri can be discovered at www.terrilively.com.

 

 

Three Ways to Wow Your Clients This Week

Closeup of thank you card with ribbon

Like it or not, when you are a freelancer, you are in sales. Only unlike the traditional salesperson that is typically selling a product or service for an organization, the thing you are selling is yourself…and by that I mean your expertise, your professionalism and your customer service.

Wowing customers isn’t rocket science. You simply need to put your customer’s needs at the center of everything you do.

Here are three ways that you can Wow your clients this week:

1. Send them a pertinent article related to their business that they can use for social media.

Social media marketing is a hungry beast that never turns down a feeding. For most people in business, maintaining social media presence has become one more task in an already overloaded day. Since many of us write for these people because they needed to outsource some of their work, why not take the initiative to ease their load in other ways, too? So when you see an article that might enhance the efforts of your client to build a brand on social media, email it to them with a note that says, “I saw this when I was researching a project and thought it might be a great addition to your Tweets this week.” This will position you as someone that is a valuable resource that provides extra service and strengthen your relationship with the client.

2. Mail a handwritten Thank You note after your next project.

Typically, we don’t bother with handwritten anything in today’s tech-driven world. That’s why this one works so well. Stash Thank You notes in your drawer and periodically send one out to a client after completion of a project. Find something from the project that you want to compliment them for that is genuine and specific (if it’s too general, it won’t seem authentic). I guarantee you that this gesture will keep you in the mind of your client when the next job comes up.

3. Offer a free consultation on their current materials.

Depending on your client, you may have additional opportunities to work with them that just haven’t reached their attention yet. Take the initiative to look at their materials and see if you have any suggestions that your marketing expertise can help them improve. If it’s a brochure, offer a consultation on how to take that online. If it’s a website, share with them your expertise on how to make it easier to read. Maybe you have a great SEO strategy that you can use to make their online marketing have a bigger reach. By setting up the meeting and offering the consultation for free, you are positioning yourself as a consultant rather than just another vendor waiting for the next project.

Too many times freelancers forget that they need to wear their sales hat when dealing with clients. But the truth is, you are always in sales when you freelance. Be sure to use these tips to Wow your clients this week and see where it takes you. It may not result in any new business at the time, but it will make you a more valuable member of their team.

An Important Reminder for Us…and Our Clients!

An Important Reminder for Us…and Our Clients!

Saw this on my LinkedIn feed and I’m still laughing. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!