How to handle outbound calls

It was only a few months ago that I mentioned one of my least favourite tasks was outbound sales/cold calling.  In typical fashion, over the last few weeks I’ve been asked to do some outbound sales calls for a few new clients.

Never one to turn someone away, I decided to take on the work, and as always, throw myself in to it.

I moaned a bit under my breath, but no one else had to hear that.  Well, apart from the dogs, but they’re used to my little rants by now.

Generally speaking if I do anything like this I like to be completely prepared.  In an ideal world there would be time to develop a bit of a script, maybe do some tests of it, tweak it and make sure it’s as good as it can be.

However, with these recent jobs, they’ve all had a certain amount of urgency to them.  So my back’s been a bit against the wall.  No time to really prep, just jump straight in.

Which always makes me feel a bit uncomfortable.

But that’s life.

With that in mind I thought I’d share some of the tips I’ve picked up over the last couple of weeks in the hopes that if you find yourself in a similar situation, you might feel a little more able to pick up that phone and make a start.

# 1 – Be professional, and happy

I’ve received many a cold call myself, and I’m always struck by how miserable everyone sounds when you answer the phone to them.  Don’t get me wrong, I entirely get it.  I might be the 50th person they’ve called that morning, and everyone else has told them to bog off, they’re despondent, miserable and wondering where they went wrong in life.

But that’s not my fault.

Which is why it is essential that you put a smile on as soon as you pick up that phone and act like every call is the first one you’ve made all day.  Be professional at all times, and where possible use the person who’s answering the call’s name.

# 2 – Introduce yourself

Take the time to introduce yourself and your company. True, they might not take it in there and then, and will probably ask you to repeat it, but it’s a good habit to get in to.  Equally, it’s a nice way for you to ground yourself in to the conversation.

“Hi, I’m Lu and I’m calling from Time Saving Heroes. We’re a local company who specialises in helping microbusinesses increase their productivity and income.”

I’ve found that this approach works better than clearly identifying what you do, provide or sell.  This arouses a bit more interest than simply saying “I’m a Virtual Assistant and I wanted to discuss how I could help you.”

# 3 – State your purpose

In an ideal world you’ll have a specific reason for wanting to call these businesses, so explain it. Having read a few blogs about this sort of thing it’s clear that framing this purpose in the form of a question is likely to illicit better results.

“If I can show you how to get more done, without employing staff or significantly increasing your outgoings, would you be interested in hearing more?”

# 4 – Schedule a meeting

If they’re interested in finding out more then set up a meeting, if it’s appropriate to do so.  If they’re out of the area, then a conference call might be the better way to approach this.

Offer two times to give a choice, and do not put the ball back in their court by saying “when shall we meet?”.

# 5 – Follow up

Make sure you get all the necessary contact information from your prospect. Ask if they have an email address (so you can send a meeting invite/confirmation), and then send the information as promised.

 

No matter what the outcome of the call, make sure you remain bright, breezy and professional and you thank them for their time and help.

I don’t care how big it is, what can you do with it?

Yesterday we wrote a piece about the importance of actually making contact with your contacts.  Today, we thought it might be worth thinking about whether size matters when it comes to your network.

When we first speak to people about their social media, many of them are concerned with the number of people following them on their various channels. We’ve had clients embarrassed by their lowly 100 fans, and envious of a competitor boasting over 1,000.

We’ve said it before, and we will say it again – when it comes to social media, size does not matter.

The same is true when it comes to things like LinkedIn and your other networking activities.

You will no doubt have noticed that when you get over 500 connections, LinkedIn stops specifying precisely how many you have.  As a result 500 becomes this wonderful number many aim for, because to have that 500+ next to their name makes them look impressive.

If you know that many people, you must be really well connected.

Apart from that’s not the case.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m conducting a little experiment with LinkedIn at the moment, and part of that means I’m just accepting invites from anyone.

A quick scroll through my last 20 connections (added over the last five days) and I find:

  • 1 person I’ve met once at a networking event
  • 2 people I’ve heard of, have mutual connections with, but have never had a conversation with
  • 13 complete randoms that haven’t even taken the time to start any communication beyond sending a request
  • 4 people I actually know (two of whom are previous clients)

I don’t think there’s anything particularly unusual about that, many of us if we take the time to look through our network will find numerous names we don’t recognise, and faces we can’t place.

That’s not a network.  That’s a directory. And it’s pretty useless.

The whole point of LinkedIn is to connect with people you know and trust.  Countless times I’ve asked a genuine connection for an introduction to someone else on their list, only for them to reply “I’ve no idea who they are”.  Great.

Well, plus side they just add people so at least I can introduce myself, but it’s still quite frustrating.

There’s whole swathes of the LinkedIn community that are out there collecting names and numbers, and then, for some inexplicable reason, doing absolutely bugger all with them!

Not only that, but the bigger the network, the harder it is to do anything meaningful with.  When you have over 500 contacts how do you begin to manage that?  How do you code people so you can immediately pin point your history, interactions, commonalities, their potential as a customer, supplier or collaborator?

You have no idea who most of them are – so explain again why size matters?

Everything is better when we stop and take the time to actually connect. I’m not saying for one second you have to delete everyone you can’t sell to (how egocentric is that?), but at least identify who these people are you’re now sharing your cyber space with.

The virtual world will be a better place for it.

 

 

 

Why do I even bother?

If you’re self-employed you have possibly uttered the words “Why do I even bother” at some point in time.  If you haven’t, then the chances are you’ve probably thought it.

Of course, if you’re a parent you’ve definitely said it – possibly at full volume to a room full of children that have long since stopped listening.

Whilst those five words could be prompted by anything, today I want to focus on social media marketing.

In the last few weeks I’ve seen numerous contacts and fellow business explorers lament lose their shit about the lack of interaction from their “friends”.  I’ve seen such rants (for, that is what they are) on a variety of social media networks, and always by different people.  Even different industries.

It seems to be a theme that is plaguing many.

“I set up this business and none of my friends, family or previous co-workers interact with it.”

“People I help and support don’t ever share my posts.”

“What do I have to do to get them to pay attention to me?”

It’s a shame.

Really.

Admittedly that possibly sounds a little insincere, but it’s not meant to.  I genuinely sympathise. And perhaps just as importantly, I really do get it.

In fact, I’ve been there.

And whilst there I realised something the people still tearing their hair out probably haven’t come to terms with yet.

Running your own business is a lot like being a parent. No one asked you to do it, no one’s particularly impressed and once the initial novelty has worn off no one else really cares anymore. Eventually everyone but your very nearest and dearest are going to get bored of the fact you can’t talk about anything else. Don’t even get me started on the constant stream of photos and myriad of hashtags that come with them.

The point is your friends, no matter how long you’ve known them or the scrapes you’ve been through together in the past, don’t owe you anything.  They don’t have to like your posts, or your page.  They don’t have to share anything you do. They are not obligated to you.

Yes, I get that it might be nice if they did once in a while – but what’s their incentive?  When they do help you, do you actually stop and say thank you?  Do you return the favour in any capacity with anything they need help with?

Only you know the answer to that, but it’s something many people forget about.  If they do interact then that’s them taking time out of their day to do something that benefits you.  That’s worthy of a little acknowledgment. If you start giving, you may find yourself on the receiving end a little more often.

Equally, and this is something far too few people seem to really grasp, there is a distinct possibility your friends are not seeing any of your posts.  When it comes to social media we have a tendency to be a little egocentric – you know you’ve posted it, therefore everyone else must do.

But think about it. If your friends have liked your business page purely because you asked them to once upon a when you set it up, then the chances are they’ve not had much cause to interact with it since.  If that’s the case, then all the magical algorithms that determine what content people see, will rank your content low for their newsfeed.

That means they just won’t be getting anything you post out, and you ranting and raging at them is unlikely to change that.

If you’re not getting any results then it’s totally understandable you’d ask yourself why you’re bothering. However, the correct question that needs answering is what are you doing wrong?  Because I assure you, it’s something.

If you can figure that out, and approach your social networking from a different angle, you may just start seeing results.

 

 

 

 

If you’re not getting leads through LinkedIn, you might be making this mistake

Usually when I speak to people about LinkedIn they tell me it’s a waste of time.  Initially I was surprised by their attitude because, for me, I’ve always found LinkedIn to be really useful when it comes to promoting my business, expanding my network and generating meaningful leads.

A few minutes and some pertinent questions later I realise that in every single case the individual concerned is using LinkedIn wrong.  For most they half-heartedly set up a profile months (or even years) ago, and haven’t done a single thing with it since.

And they wonder why the phone’s not ringing off the hook.

The simple fact is, if you’re on LinkedIn and you’re getting nothing out of it, then you’re using it wrong.

It honestly doesn’t get any simpler than that.

No matter what your ultimate LinkedIn strategy is, it’s ultimately going to involve communicating with your network.  In order to do that you need to have a network in the first place, and you can only establish one of those by connecting with other users.

Which leads me on to my tip for this week.

Make sure your profile is optimised

There’s no part of your LinkedIn profile that’s not important; however, there are some bits that are slightly more important than others.

When you send an invitation to someone to connect, the first things they’re going to see about you are:

  1. Your name and profile picture
  2. Your professional headline (job title)
  3. Your message

As a result, it’s fair to say your name, picture and headline are the three most important things you need to add to your profile to make the right first impression.

Admittedly, there’s not a whole lot you can do about your name – you’re probably used to it by now, but do avoid using nicknames. Equally, you might want to give some thought as to whether you want to include letters after your name.

I have a BSc, but don’t include it on my profile because it’s utterly irrelevant.

When it comes to your profile photo you need to make sure you have one.  I’ve seen many business owners who decide to use their company logo instead of a photo of themselves.  They might think this helps with getting their name out there, but it doesn’t.

If I’ve just met you at a networking event I’m going to remember you, not your logo.  You profile photo shows me who you are, and a professional one shows me that you can be taken seriously.

As for your professional headline, this is really important and so many people get it wrong. It is not simply your job title, though you might very well went to include that in there somewhere.  Headlines are searchable, which is why it’s key to think of something that not only clearly represents what you do, but is easily understandable to your target audience.

If someone needed your product or service, what would they search for?  The biggest problem I see is business owners identifying themselves as “Business Owner.”  If I’m looking for a carpet cleaner, or website designer I am not going to type in business owner in the search bar – therefore, I am never going to find you.

You might well be precisely what I’m looking for, but LinkedIn doesn’t know that, therefore I won’t know that.

 

 

Here at Time Saving Heroes we spend a lot of time helping people develop LinkedIn strategies to achieve their goals.  Part of this includes providing a review on LinkedIn profiles to make sure you’ve got everything you need to make a good impression.

To find out more simply give us a call on 0161 883 2024 or email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

 

LinkedIn Premium: Is it worth it?

One of our areas of expertise at Time Saving Heroes is LinkedIn management and training.  When people first approach me about doing any work with them on their LinkedIn profile it’s usually because they signed up forever ago, and haven’t touched it since.

Once we’ve gone through the basics, updated their information, and optimised their account we usually end up talking about the Premium version.  Ultimately they want to know whether paying for something they’re currently using for free is worth it.

Well, is it worth it?

To be honest, it’s a difficult question to answer, and I don’t say that to be awkward.

Think of it this way – is a gym membership worth it?  Well, if you go and actually use the facilities, then yes, it probably is.  If the membership card sits festering in your wallet for the next 10 months, not so much.

LinkedIn Premium is no different.  If you’re not going to use it to its full potential then no, paying for it is an utter waste of money.

Far be it for me to tell you what questions to ask, but a better one would be “what does LinkedIn Premium offer that could be beneficial to me?”

What’s new?

Over the last few years the Premium offering has changed quite significantly.  One of the best things, I think, that has come out of these changes is the introduction of LinkedIn Learning.

This new feature provides a wide variety of videos and PowerPoints to help you enhance your skills in a number of different areas.  There’s courses on writing killer headlines, Excel for Mac, talent sourcing and Facebook marketing to name just four.

The topic areas are by no means exhaustive, but there’s plenty in there for everyone to get something out of it.  If you do nothing else with your Premium account (and you should) it would still provide you with good value for money.