I don’t believe in Cold Calling - I’m a networker *pouts*
Part 1 – Cold Calling, the positives
There's no such thing as a 'cold' call in events. It’s not like you’re ringing people up at home on a chilly winter’s night.
“Excuse me sir, do you have PPI insurance?”
“Sod off mate. I’ve got a baby in one hand, a phone in the other and the girlfriend keeps throwing cushions at me ‘cos I’m standing in the way of Ant and Dec”
There's nothing most sales people hate more than cold calling.
We're all fed this line by creative’s the world over, that networking is how you make real contacts. There are so many forms of social media now, why would anyone bother picking up the telephone?
Well, when you're starting out especially, not being afraid to pick up the phones is what could set you apart from the rest.
Besides, if you’re offering a great product: a unique venue or service, you’ll be surprised how many people will take time to listen. And the reason? Events is fun! By and large the industry is full of people who get excited about what they do. Hearing about the latest ‘places’ is always welcomed with open ears, you just need to say the right things and BE REAL.. What you also have to remember about events people is: they love telling you about what they do. They’ll probably spend longer talking than you do (he says, writing a blog to promote his company).
“Okay fine! It’s not a cold call. But why bother, why not just e-mail?”
It's like sales people at exhibitions who always insists on providing their 'elevator pitch' before even listening to the client. Without knowing their needs, you're not selling, you’re just showing. You may as well go and put on a white shite and red tie, slick your hair back and go and sell houses.
If you take the time to speak to the client first, before bombarding them with mail shots, who knows, you might even be able to send something relevant.
As venues/agents/caterers we all want to know the same things.
- How many events do they do per year?
- What numbers attend?
- What type of events?
- Total yearly spend?
Once you have this information then you can start organising a targeted mail out.
And you only get it, by asking the questions. It’s not something someone’s going to respond to in a tweet either.
The key things to keep in mind are:
- You can hear people’s reactions on the phone (you can’t get that via e-mail), so you have more opportunity to bring the client round.
- Remember! You’re not trying to sell anything. You’re trying to book a meeting. That’s when you do the selling!
- Try a ‘two pronged’ attack. First call is to gather information and tell them a little bit about yourself.
Armed with this on your second call (weeks/months later), you’ll be able to target their needs and get them interested in seeing you.
- For god’s sake….. USE YOU’RE NORMAL VOICE– How many times have you heard an Estate Agent on the phone talk like he’s an American Bingo caller. Only to meet him and realise he’s nowhere near as exciting (or as good at counting).
Now cold calling isn’t the ‘be all and end all’. You need a bit of everything.
But it’s not all networking either, a common misconception for non-industry people.
Especially when you start out. You have to work your way up (and through) the minefield of people just there for a free drink. It takes a long time to meet the right people and get them interested (a totally different art for another time). It’s not just social media. Most people don’t want to be sold to on social media. As our friend Asif from Smiley Social Media says:
“It’s one big party and you’re invited” but not if you’re going to bombard me with PPI claims.
Hang on, brb….
Sorry, just got a call from a drunk Rodeo manager. They’ve asked me to lay off the Estate Agent gags.
When you progress through the ranks you’ll be looking at building partnerships and trading leads, but the only way to get there is by doing what other people hate doing. If you can do that, you’ll stand out a mile.
The second part of this blog will give you some tips on making calling more exciting for your team.
Part 2 - How to make a phone day less dull for your sales team
- 10 envelopes
- 10 bits of paper (that will fit in the envelopes)
- Good Prizes
- Crap Prizes
- Forfeit Prize
- Post-it notes (hopefully lots)
- At least one Pen
- A bowl
- More torn up paper
- A Sales team/Phones/numbers to call
- And the key ingredient: Banter
Okay, first off hide the prizes until the award ceremony (more later).
Get yourself ten envelopes and label them 1-10.
Write ‘£50 Boots voucher’ for example, on a slip of paper and drop it into envelope 1.
Repeat this for all the ‘prizes’
These can be anything from a: £50 voucher, a ‘leave work early’ pass, a bottle of Tequila, theatre tickets etc.
Don’t forget to put a couple of duds in there as well:
A James Arthur LP, tickets to see Katie Perry live, a framed Shout About London staff photo.
This all adds to the banter. Banter is the key to making a sales floor buzz enough to actually enjoy cold calling.
This is a good opportunity to give away some of the many (many freebies) you get in events. You know, the ones you take, not because you’re ever going to go on the London Eye (again) but you because it’s always nice to be comp’d and it makes you feel important.
Now you need one forfeit prize. This is something worse than a booby prize, one that effects the ‘winner’ in a negative way.
For the rest of the week they must wear: Stupid hat, do the shop run, make the coffees.
FYI: Mine would usually be a lot harsher but I don’t want anyone suing me, so I’ll let you go as far as you see fit.
Now pin up envelopes 1-9 in a 3 x 3 column square on the wall/whiteboard/intern.
Envelope 10, you keep hidden and make no mention of until the end.
Now’s the time to get them on the phone, But first…
- If you make an appointment (or site visit if you’re a venue for instance) then you get to put your name forward for a prize. You do this by writing on a post it note:
Your name, the name of the company you booked with and the date of the appointment.
You can then stick this to any of the envelopes.
- You have to make it clear to the sales team, that unless ALL ENVELOPES are taken with post-its by the end of the day, then NO PRIZES WILL BE GIVEN. This gives everyone a kick and builds the team spirit, by getting everyone to route for each other - at first anyway.
Once all envelopes are filled, this is where the competition/fun begins.
- Once full, you can then knock off anyone from any envelope you wish. This will create a healthy competition and a great deal of banter.
- You can’t tag a tagger. So if someone knocked you off envelope 9 and you book the very next appointment, you can’t take envelope 9 straight back. It’s off limits for one turn.
- You can make appointments during the break. If you decide not to relax whilst others do, that should be rewarded. The only time you can’t book is before the game starts and after it ends.
Here’s a schedule you can use:
09:00-10:00 Cold Calls
10:15-11:15 Cold Calls
11:30-12:30 Cold Calls
12:30-13:00 Speaker phone calls
14:15-15:30 Cold Calls
15:45-16:30 Get a line in
16:30-16:30 END OF COMPETITION
16:30-17:00 E-mails and meeting confirmations
17:00-17:30 Award Ceremony
Speaker phone calls
Sometimes it’s good to all listen to one person make a call on speaker phone. The team in the back ground will have to stay professional (i.e. quiet) but it really will put some people on the spot. You can then hear both sides of a call and hopefully learn from each other’s successes (and failures)
Get a line in
NO!!! Not like that!
Try writing some song lyrics, movie quotes, funny words on paper and put them into a bowl.
Everybody stands up.
Get the team to draw from the bowl at random.
They then have three calls to get their phrase in to the conversation, undetected.
If they succeed then they sit down, if they don’t, they stand up for the rest of the session.
Don’t just give out the envelopes, particularly if you run a venue. Think of a cool place to go and do it with a bit of prestige.
Once time is up, take all the envelopes and lead the team to the awards room.
Now, invite the winners up, one by one, to open their envelope and read out/collect their prize.
But don’t forget – there is still envelope 10.
Like deal or no deal, they have the opportunity to switch their envelope for envelope 10.
They all have the opportunity to trade, until the end. Make sure you do the whole – “here’s would you could’ve had” bit at the end with the remaining envelope. This rolls over in to the next phone day.
Casual clothes and a couple of beers wouldn’t go amiss but I’ll leave that to your discretion.
(Oh and fire anyone who made less than 70 calls…)