By Silly Heather
I’m starting a new thing called #HelpMeHeather where you can send me your questions or concerns and I will try to answer them every Wednesday. Business is hard and being an entrepreneur can feel super lonely, so when we share our concerns and issues we can help each other without even knowing. Please send #HelpMeHeather emails to firstname.lastname@example.org and make sure to let me know if you want me to your name anonymous.
I asked for #HelpMeHeather emails last week and out of the 10 I received 9 were asking about advice to get more business and new business. So this post is NOT in direct response to #HelpMeHeather its a help me guide to cold calling and using those skills to market, and sell effectively.
In order for ANY business to stay in business you must have sales. Out of all the areas in business, selling is what most of us struggle with the most. Why? Mainly because of the fear of rejection. No one likes the sound of no. Its a defeating word and carries a lot of insecurity. But, in order to grow your business you need to train your mind that no is nothing more than a natural part of business and detach the stress and anxiety from it. In my 12 years as a business owner of a retail store I have heard my fair share of no’s. Some were easy no’s others have been gut crushing no’s. Each time I had to accept it and understand that the same way I tell my sons NO, they cant have ice cream for dinner is the same way that I have to accept I cant be everyone’s ice cream dinner. So here are a few ways to help you minimize the potential of no and ways to boost your confidence as it related to cold calling.
What is cold calling… Cold calling is a term used to describe an unsolicited business phone call. The era of telemarketers left a serious bad taste in the mouth of most business owners and killed it for small business people that need cold calling. So, we have an even bigger uphill battle when it comes to making calls. The good news is that you can change that using a few of these tips i’m about to share
1.Do your research! Remember when I said telemarketers ruined it for the phone world? Mainly because they got lazy and rude. So if you can do the complete opposite you are already on the right track. I get at least 5-6 solicitation calls per day. I am an nice business owner because I rarely ever hang up on anyone. They are trying to sell me something I might need so its worth listening to 2 minutes of their time. The ONLY time I hang up on anyone is when I see that they didn’t even bother to do the work to get me as a client. When a solicitor calls and says can I speak with Mrs. Heather Green, I immediately know its a sales call. So when you are calling please avoid using Mr and Mrs. It makes me think of my mother in law or a my teachers in school. People like to do business with people they like, if I feel like you see me as a teacher then we aren’t really going to bond right away. So stick to friendly hello. And when I say do your research here’s why. If the caller says “Hello may I speak to Mrs Green” and I say “yes this is her” and they say “oh wow Silly Farm what a unique name what do you do there on the silly farm” I usually hang up. Why?? Because in the day and age of technology, if they couldn’t take 3 minutes to google my company, see my site and see what I do then how do they know if their services would be a good fit for my company? If you really want the business then you can spend 15 minutes researching the brand, company, and person you are trying to reach. Here’s an example
of a GREAT salesman in my opinion. A gentleman called and asked for Heather. I said “hello how can I help you today” he said my name is …. from …… water company. I found your site, and even though I cant draw a stick figure I fell in love with Silly Farm. I looked over the site and found your videos and showed them to my daughter and now she wants to be a face painter. I couldn’t help but notice you have beautiful skin and I want to make sure your skin stays that flawless. If you have even 2 minutes of time I would love to send you an email about our water system for your office that will save you time, money and keep you looking like Jennifer Lopez. (SOLD) he sold me at J Lo. Not only did he visit my site, he took the time to go beyond just the index page. He looked at my videos and complimented me. MEN.. take my advice if you are cold calling always compliment (not in a creepy way) a woman. Women appreciate the little things and they usually cost nothing. So before you solicit a company or potential client, do some research so you have an ice breaker and can reinforce the message that you are a person that puts effort into their craft.
2. Smile and be prepared- Last year during an employee meeting I made it mandatory to answer the phones “Thank you for calling Silly Farm How are you today?” That simple line (HOW ARE YOU) throws people off. When I answer the phone they usually start stuttering because they weren’t expecting that kind of greeting. I try to talk on the phone with a smile. Because believe it or not people sense it through your voice. Its hard to be in a bad mood or feel less confident when you have a real smile on your face. I learned through my face painting years that my voice controls a lot of peoples reactions and my connection to kids. When I am enthusiastic about what I am about to paint and say it with a smile I get them excited. You want to try that over the phone when you call. Sound excited and smile. Lastly, you want to be prepared. Most business owners and decision makers have little to no patience and time to entertain your great ideas. My best advice is to Keep it simple and be prepared. Here’s an example of how I approached Publix Supermarkets in Tallahassee while I a student in college. I called and asked for the Manager. Naturally they have barriers set up to avoid sending owners calls because they have more important things to be doing…
LOL So I made sure I was ready should I get the chance to speak to someone important. They asked me if I was calling about a complaint and I said NO I was calling to give GREAT feedback. I could tell that made her happy and she sent me to the assistant manager. So when I got him on the phone I said I was recently at your store and I have to say it is my favorite Publix. I just wanted to make sure I let you know that your staff is doing a great job and you should know as their leader. (the word leader is a compliment and ego booster) He was so happy and I got him in a good mood right before I gave my pitch. Since he was a in a good mood, I then jumped into it and said “I noticed that you have a kids club at your store if you ever need an AWESOME face painter Im your girl. I was smiling so big when i said this line because I wanted him to feel my excitement.
Because he didn’t want to poop on my praise parade he said please drop off some of your info (there wasn’t really email at that time) and ill share it with the Manager. The VERY next day I painted my face and headed to Publix to drop off my info. The assistant manager wasn’t there but the manager was and I said to him ……. Hello….. I have to tell you that this is my favorite store you are doing a fantastic job as the leader. So thanks for truly making shopping a pleasure. I spoke to …. about some super cool ideas I had for your kids club and he asked me to drop off some info about my services. Again the manager didn’t want to poop on my praise parade after I sung his accolades so he took my folder and said thank you. He asked me if I painted my own face and I said yes, and then he wished me well. I made sure to write down his name and keep the name of the assistant manager so that if need be I had exact names to follow up with. One week later the assistant manager called me and asked me my rates to join their kids day at Publix. Publix became a great client of mine and helped me pay for college! Not only did it take a call, a little brown nosing, and extreme confidence If I wanted that gig I had to do it. This instance turned out good, because I made sure to bring my A smile and my A compliments. You will set yourself up for failure if you start a sales call or meeting talking about yourself or if you lack enthusiasm. If I would have called and started stuttering I would have come across as unprepared. And business people dont have time for your lack of planning. So, do your home work, get in a great mood and practice your winning lines and smiles.
3. ALWAYS get their name and if you can their email- LinkedIn has made it slightly easier to find the names and backgrounds on professionals. There are different levels to LinkedIn and its not my area of expertise but its worth taking a webinar. If you are lucky enough to find their name and email in my opinion its always best to start with a call. Calls are becoming a long lost art form and you can set a tone and make a great first impression with a call. Emails easily get lost in the shuffle, so an intro before an email is a nice start. If you only have their number and not their email, then your goal for calling should be to collect their right persons email address. So when you say “Hello, ( insert compliment) …..” then say ” I would love to send you some pictures and ideas I have to make your event really fun and colorful” or ” If you would like (make it their choice to say yes or NO) Id love to share some ideas with you about my services and how to make your next event super awesome” Getting their direct email is important because its a great way to follow up. BUT please do not abuse it. Do not send copy and paste letters, take the time to address them properly with good grammar and don’t add them to a mailing list unless they ask. If you are successful in getting their email follow up right away with a good colorful email.
Make sure you include ONE image, make a collage with your name, email and number on the image. Then in the body of the email keep it short and simple too. Here’s an example:
- It was a great pleasure speaking to you today. I would love the opportunity to create miles of smiles at your next event. I specialize in face painting, balloons, entertainment, airbrush tattoos and favors. If you have any questions or would like to hear about ideas for your next event please do not hesitate to reach out to me anytime. Have a beautiful day
- If the person you are contacting is anything like me they get hundreds of emails a day so keep your email short and effective. A good picture is worth a million words. I can say this with confidence because I am a business owner and usually on the receiving end of sales calls.
- There is no secret recipe or golden path to sales and business success. You have to combine and diversify your strategies. When the sales are slow, you have to get creative and do the work. That means picking up the phone and reaching out to new customers. If opportunity doesn’t knock you might have to be the one that builds a door.
I hope my tips help give you the confidence booster you need to incorporate a sales calling techniques into your business practices. Sometimes we have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable ( I got that from my gymspiration Jillian Michaels) and you have to try new things if you want to see changes.
Good luck with your sales journey and dont forget to send me some #HelpMeHeather’s
Tomorrow I am posting my first 2!