Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Phoning without Fear

Susan Aldridge is the cold-call queen.

Based on reader reaction, my 2005 PROFIT column on her cold-calling consultancy was one of the most popular articles I've ever written. (And why not? Everyone hates cold-calling, and few know how to do it right.)

Susan is conducting a one-day cold-calling workshop in Toronto on Tuesday, June 23. If you or any of your staff need a refresher course in telephone sales and prospecting (and who doesn't?), this session comes highly recommended.
Place: Seneca Colege (Finch Ave. West at Don Valley Pkwy)
Cost: $495
Contact: susan@outspoken1.com, or 905-841-9951

My original story seems no longer online at www.Profitguide.com. So just for you, I have copied and pasted the original draft of the column into the comments, below.

For those in a hurry, here is the original sidebar that ran with the story:

Susan Aldridge’s Top Cold-Calling Tips

1. Smile when calling!
2. Never stop dialing: it may take 10 calls or more to reach a prospect.
3. Don’t ask, “How are you?” Say, “I’m wondering if you can help me…”
4. Track all your calls and your results.
5. Find an Accountability Buddy. Share your goals and keep them updated on your progress.
6. Don’t stop calling till they ask you to.

1 comment:

Rick Spence said...

Rick Spence, June 2005

What makes cold-calling so scary?

When seminar leader Susan Aldridge asks that question at a morning workshop in Mississauga, Ont., doubts and fears fly faster than she can write them down.

“Being perceived as rude for interrupting people.”
“The prospect won’t be interested.”
“They’ll turn me down.”
“They’re already receiving a ton of calls.”
“Nothing will come of it.”
“Fear of rejection.”
“Fear of failure.”
“Fear of silence.”

Who would have thought this audience of sophisticated-looking business owners harboured so many phobias? But there’s something about cold-calling that brings out the worst in us.

To Susan Aldridge, however, cold-calling is an unrivaled business-building opportunity. Twenty years ago, she discovered her outgoing personality made her a natural at phone sales. Now she is building her own unique company based on her conviction that cold-calling is just an attitude.

Aldridge’s company, Outspoken1 Inc. of Aurora, Ont., provides business-to-business cold-call training to individuals and groups. And if she can’t overcome your fear of phoning, her firm also sells marketing services from experienced cold-callers who love their work.

Aldridge was an idealistic art history grad when she went to work as office manager for designer Scott Thornley. But when she got restless managing systems, Thornley asked Aldridge what else she’d like to do. “I want to go out and sell you,” she said. “Because you don’t do such a great job of it.”

Thornley knew she was right. His marketing strategy was to rely on word of mouth. “Cold terror is the best way to describe my approach to cold calls,” he says now. “Susan, however, saw no threshold of terror in doing something that came so naturally to her.”

Aldridge had stumbled across the secret of cold-calling: passion. “You have to love what you’re selling,” she says. “I loved Scott’s work, so it was easy to sell. He wasn’t as excited about it as I was.”

Calling major firms and government, she landed 15 appointments in the first week. “Scott was astounded,” she says. “And I haven’t stopped since.”

Aldridge’s second secret: a genuine interest in people. She views her prospects as human beings, looking not just for solutions, but connections and a laugh. “Many people sound scripted or stiff when they call, but I’m no different than when I’m talking to my friends,” she says. “Where some people talk to a business, I’m talking to a person.”

Whether she’s talking to the decision-maker or the gatekeeper, Aldridge asks questions such as “How long have you worked here?” or “How is your day going?” “People love to talk about themselves,” she says.

In 1989, Aldridge went to work for strategic-planning consultant Dan Sullivan. Like many solo consultants, he had found there was a limit to the hours he could work in a week. Rebranding himself as “The Strategic Coach,” Sullivan launched a seminar series to turn his time-management theories into a product. But it was Aldridge’s calls that put clients in the seats.

Over the years, Sullivan’s programs grew, and sales soared to $10 million a year. Behind that rise was Aldridge, making 100 calls a day. But at a price of $5,000 for four sessions a year, she had to learn to handle rejection. Her secret: refusing to take it personally. If people decline to buy, she considers that their mistake, not hers. “Cold-calling is all about confidence,” she says. “Objections can really pull down your self-esteem, so you have to find ways to cope with it.”

Once Aldridge started her own training business, she found a new problem: running things left her no time to cold-call. So she hired a colleague to call – and realized this system could benefit any business. So she rounded up more fearless marketers and launched her own cold-calling service, to helps salespeople “whose time is better spent in front of qualified leads than on the phone searching for them.”