Sales Training

This page is a database of articles and downloadable white papers on many different aspects of sales training. You can search for any particular topic (e.g. "cold-calling") by typing it into the search box above the list of contents to the right. If you use the productivity tools in Connect (Calendar, Contacts, Workshop, Dashboard) you can use your dashboard results to see which areas of selling you have the most weak spots and then come to this page to find training resources to help you improve.

Breaking The Ice: A Cold Calling Primer

The biggest problem with any kind of appointment-making, phone work, cold-calling, whatever you prefer to call it, is emotional. It's a nerve-wracking business and the fear of rejection is very strong in most of us. Even the most seasoned of "face-to-face" sellers recoil at the idea of approaching someone they have never met and trying to strike up some kind of relationship.

Think about it this way: how uncomfortable do you feel at a party or corporate social event when you don't know anyone else there? How easy do you find it to walk up to someone or a small group and insert yourself into the conversation? With phone work, you don't even have the normal 'clues' you get in a face to face situation - people's body language, their eyes, watching the way they react to the things you say.

It's additionally hard because of its intensity; good phone work sessions inevitably include dozens of calls - indeed this is why phone work can be so effective. Unfortunately, the very effectiveness and efficiency of the work makes it seem impersonal and increases the rejection rate enormously. And because cold phone work is so emotionally draining, it is hands down the most dreaded task any salesperson has to face.

As an industry our reaction to this generally has been to avoid the issue by deriding cold-calling as something 'lesser'; a hard-sell tactic that doesn't have a place in the sales arsenal of the 'relationship seller'. It's undeniably true that the reputation of cold-calling has been damaged by unscrupulous organizations who focus only on the numbers, hire legions of untrained and unenthusiastic diallers, none of whom are invested in what they are selling and are usually not really empowered to help anyway. But it doesn't have to be this way.

The truth is that a certain amount of cold-called new appointment-making is essential to any sales process. Even if you do consider yourself a 'consultant', you have to find a way to make that first appointment somehow - and if you don't start trying to make appointments with people you don't know, you are going to run out of potential prospects very quickly.

So, how to make the most out of it? At ARIA, we believe the best way to deal with fear is to confront it head-on. This is the only way to see that your fear is, essentially, irrational and to build your confidence. Ideally this is something that should be approached by your whole team in an officially organized fashion. The best help anyone can get is to see clearly that we ALL have the same problems, the same insecurities, the same fears and can ALL be helped by working through them together.

To kick-start this process, consider some group training. There are many ways to do this, but all should focus on the essential points I will list below. I also recommend using a script for cold-calling, at least at first.. Although this can feel odd at the beginning, it's real use is to help build initial confidence; it allows the seller to concentrate on all the other aspects of the call without worrying about the basic words.

Lastly, consider making a group calling session a regular weekly event in your station. Set calling up in rounds, start with everyone bringing a list, go through a little refresher training and then have everyone spend 45 minutes on the phone, within earshot of each other, with their objection handling sheets and calling scripts to hand. At the end of each session, get back together in a group to discuss results, particular objections and problems. You can even consider giving small prizes, like free lunch etc. for most appointments made during the sessions.

Most of all, make it a shared event and make it regular and fun - that's the best way we know of taking the fear out of anything. Remember - effective sales behaviour isnʼt so much a skill as it is a habit. Following are some useful hints to keep in mind during your cold-calling sessions.

1) Toughen Up: Probably the most important characteristic for success is persistence. Again, persistence in sellers often has a bad reputation, but really it means possessing an ability to remain confident; maintaining a positive attitude in the face of adversity.

2) You Will Be Rejected: So what? You will get told "No" many times; many times more than you will be told "Yes". Remember that this is normal and that cold-calling isn't. We were not brought up to face rejection after rejection without feeling hurt. Yet if you can learn to ignore that rejection, you will prosper.

4) It's Not Personal: Your prospect is not actually rejecting you - by definition, he doesn't even know you or anything about you. He just doesn't believe he needs your product at this moment, or he doesn't have a lot of time. As soon as you get off the phone he will forget about it - so you should too.

5) Each Time Is Like The First Time: Each call is an entirely new situation. Regardless of what happened on the last call, don't let it affect your attitude as you continue. Your largest sale ever could be on the very next one. Make sure you're prepared for it.

6) Listen, Think & Learn: After each rejection analyze exactly why you did not achieve your goals. What could you have done differently? Were you ready for the objections? What will you do differently the next time? Use the rejections as a learning exercise - this will also help to remove you emotionally from the rejection and allow you to become objective about the process.

7) Be Your Own Coach: Visualize a time in your life where everything was going right for you. Then think back to your most outstanding sales accomplishment. Focus on how you felt at that moment and carry that same feeling over into the next call.

8) Treat Others As You Would Have Them Treat You: Even in the face of discourtesy, rudeness and rejection (some people will inevitably be unpleasant to you), be nice. Remember - it's not personal, even if it sounds that way.

9) Provide a Service: Cold-calling has developed a bad reputation because most sellers are pushing useless products we don't need. You're not. You know that given the right circumstances, your radio station could ultimately improve this client's business. This should be a win-win situation.

10) Don't Get Stale: It's easy to get bored with the sound of your own voice. But each cold-call is like another performance. No matter how many times you've heard your own pitch, this is the first time this prospect has heard it - so make it sound fresh and exciting - every time.

Matt Hackett

ARIA has a complete range of resources for radio sales professionals, including cold-calling group training kits, scripts, tips on handling objections etc; just type your preferred keywords into the search box at the top of this site.

Sales Training