Sunday, May 15, 2016

Making Cold Calls is not Grinding!

I work in sales.  If you work in sales you prospect.  I love the whole concept of prospecting.  If you are not prospecting you are not a salesperson.  You’re a manager for house accounts and there is no distinction or real need to keep a manager for house accounts employed. You can be easily replaced.  You need to find ways that you can bring value to your company or to your business.  I wake up most mornings ready to connect with prospects.  I enjoy finding that person and then making contact and of course meeting with them and I hope that in time – we are closing a deal.   
I don’t understand why other sales representatives don’t enjoy the hunt or the game.   You need to be valuable.  If you work for a company there is the competition and they have their sales team who are out there getting to your prospects as well as your house accounts.  You need to balance the time, prospecting and keeping in contact with the house accounts.  The phrase: time management is too vague, I need to see results and if I don’t feel I am making progress – I need to make changes.  Not only with my time, but with my approach. Are my habits making me successful? Do I need to dedicate more time to prospecting instead of giving up.  You will see results if you work hard.
My sales director refers to prospecting as “grinding,” and I believe that word is not conducive to our goals.  “Keep grinding,” reminds me of visits to the dentist and feeling her grind down my tooth with some high pitched whiny drill.  It’s painful and the sound makes most of us cringe.  Prospecting is something different, I make progress with potential customers who will become a client.  Staying focused and keeping a positive attitude makes me forget the term, "grinding."
So, let me be honest.  I’m different in my approach. I love making cold calls.  My sales director calls me, “sick” but he also said he would like to clone me since I am successful.  How do I do it?  I first begin to make a list of contacts that I want to reach that day.  This is a lesson I learned when I was in the Navy, in boot camp we used an acronym POD which stands for: Plan of the Day.  We had a list of what we would do the next day.  I use this for my cold calls.  Who do I want to reach?  The President for our company believes that a good number to prospect is 20…twenty cold contacts each day.  For some, that is what you will be able to accomplish in an hour.  For others that will be your week, and there are weeks when I’m either on the road most of the week and travelling to meetings.  Those weeks are challenging for prospecting, but I will make an effort by looking at my schedule and utilize what free time I have to make cold calls.  Maybe it’s not a call, instead it’s an email, but the important thing is; I am making an effort and making prospecting.
There are a number of prospecting resources a good salesperson will use.  Depending on your industry.  But it’s vital to create your own targets from this list.  Have their phone number and email.  Make the cold calls.  I would not call the same prospects every day.  Instead, you should call on them at least once a week.  You don’t work for a collection agency and you don’t need to harass someone.  Would you call anyone back if they left you a message…every day?  Not at all.  Recently, I received a call back from one of my prospects.  It took months, but he called back.  This was someone I called at least once a week.  I picked up the phone and was pleasant to him.  “Hey Bryan, it’s Mike.”  He apologized for not calling sooner.  It’s alright I said, I’ve been going to therapy since there was no response from you; I was getting a complex.  I said this in a very easy manner, pleasant…so he knew I was joking.  He laughed and said I could send him the bill and he would expense it.  Later that day we had a formal conference call since he had a couple of projects and wanted to know if my company would be interested in the work.  Of course we are interested.  We also set a time a face to face meeting.  I don’t think he would have called back if I kept calling him every day.  
I believe that in most cases – eventually - most prospects will give us some time.  It could a brief email or better, a call back.  This be a contact who I’ve been trying to reach for weeks, but by maintaining my optimistic attitude, I can make the calls.  Like I said, eventually they pick up and I pleasantly introduce myself.  I don’t want to come across as Rude.  You don’t want to come across as bitter if someone finally calls back.  I could have spoke to Bryan like this: “Well, look who it is. Bryan?   Now you call me.  Are you serious?  It took months for you to call me back after I left a hundred and twelve messages!”  Good chance your prospect and Bryan will hang up and will never pick up the phone when you call them.  
Let’s say they pick up the first time you call.  Generally, I ask if they have a couple of minutes.  Since I sound pleasant (most of the time, if the person on the other end sounds blunt, I get right to the point) they say yes.  I can also tell if I caught them at a bad time.  Two lessons for sales, be pleasant.  For some salespeople, they smile when they make that call.  You will sound happy, but you don’t want to sound insincere.  Most of us can read through the bull shit in a split second.  Second, you want to learn the important skill of listening. Lesson two is where most of us fail.  We feel we need to pounce on this opportunity and spill everything in a split second only to hear...what did you just say?  Listen to the tone of their voice on the other end, hear the way she picked up.  Did she sound as if she was in a hurry?  Was it a quick hello?  Be pleasant and listen.  If she tells me it’s not a good time, I will ask when would be a better time.  They may say tomorrow at 10:00 works.  I ask, can I send you an invitation?  This is important especially when I don’t have her email address.  There, you made contact with the prospect, you were pleasant and respectful of her time and she appreciates that and you have her email address.  Just don't forget to send the invitation!  

I don’t like coming across as the typical sales person.  The type who will turn most people off.  The kind who only cares about the sale and making the quota.  That style may be important in some sales, but it’s not acceptable in a service orientated profession.  Most of us don’t want to deal with someone who is selfish or pushy.  Initially, I am not very good at small talk.  "Hey, it's Mike and I was just thinking maybe now is a good time to call since I bought a delicious cup of coffee at the local deli...STOP.  I also believe that small talk in the first couple of calls may imply that I am not considerate of the prospect’s time.  We all know time is precious. Start the first impressions right.  Consideration and being pleasant and positive are vital.  No one wants to hear about your coffee or your struggles with your mother-in-law or why you were late this morning because the dog ran off this morning.  Be professional.  Always be professional.  Now, good luck and make some calls.  

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Seeing Shakespeare with Emma Tess or Falstaff proclaims honor!

4/24/16 Miles Davis…Milesones

Last Thursday, I drove into Brooklyn to see the Part II of Shakespeare’s play Henry IV.  I am not about to write a critique of the play since I did not know a breath of either Part I or II, but I was there with Emma Tess since my beautiful brown haired daughter loves Shakespeare.  The performances were by the Royal Shakespeare Company at BAM.  Sir John Falstaff was played by Antony Sher who was spectacular as the corpulent and cowardly character.  I have seen one Shakespeare play previously when Al Pacino played Shylock in The Merchant of Venice.  Lincoln was influenced by Shakespeare.  One of three books on his desk while in the White House was the works of William Shakespeare.  In the darkened theatre on both nights I let the words ease into my ears and at times had to scrutinize the passage or sentence to make sense.  There were moments when I was lost and scrambling like slipping on slick patch of ice, but soon enough I was stable after being brought back to where I had to be.  Honestly, the first part of IV Henry was less serious and perhaps I was better able to listen without as many distractions.  Before I go on, let me share a famous quote from Falstaff regarding honor, “What is honour? a word. What is in that word honour? what is that honour? air. A trim reckoning! Who hath it? he that died o' Wednesday. Doth he feel it? no. Doth he hear it? no.”   The first night was special for Emma and I, we took the train from Ronkonkoma and had about an about to kill before the start of the play.  After a few minutes walking around Brooklyn, we found a burger joint and sat down.  The place was crowded.  We ate and walked back to the area where BAM is.  Found the theatre and walked in and up a steep flight of stairs which honestly would be a challenge to a Navy Seal.  Found our seats and settled in.  I was amazed how many people were coughing and sneezing and burying their wet mucus nostrils into a napkin and discharging as loudly as possible said contents into their soiled fabric.   Taking the train into BAM or the Atlantic terminal is easy.  Transfer at Jamaica and in a few stops you’re at the Atlantic terminal.  Easy.  Getting home is a pain in the ass since the train leaves a little after 23:00.  During intermission I asked an usher how long the second act will be.  She tells me how long, and we look at the time and our watches and make the correct estimate that we will have enough time to make the train.  The play ends and we slowly make our way down the steep steps.  People are clutching the railing for dear life as Emma and I bounce down each step between the clutchers and make a break to the exit.  We’re free.  We jog down the street, get into the train terminal and head down to the platform and onto the train with enough time to spare.  We could have walked…The next night I searched for tickets for Part II and paid more, better seats and this time I was driving.  We had time and made it to BAM with time to spare, but not enough to get something to eat.  I had a chocolate bar and Emma Tess had a cookie.  We found our seats.  Second set of orchestra.  In other words…in the back.  Three elderly ladies sat behind us and one said she’d need a hearing device.  The usher brought it to her and yet this woman chose to make comments throughout the first act not realizing or noticing the agitated heads turning, the ssshhhh’s and other obvious hints to shut up.  During intermission it was addressed very professionally and there was not a peep.  Emma Tess and I drove home and make it back faster – by an hour and we didn’t have to run…it was a memorable night and an honest discussion since there have been many changes in Emma’s life.  She regrets some.  I hope she heard my message, follow your love which for Emma Tess is photography…be the best, work hard at it, believe in yourself.

Thank you for reading this.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

New Love

04/03/16 11:54 Home, listening to the strong winds blowing through Long Island

Uncle Rocky passed away on Friday night.  It was not a surprise.  He was diagnosed with emphysema more than twenty years ago.  The last ten years he had an oxygen tank to assist his breathing.  He’s been pushed in a wheel chair for the past few years.  His quality of life may have been impacted and yet his strength and easy smile would warm any room.  For the past few weeks he was in and out of the hospital.  His body was slowly dying.  On Thursday, he was transferred to hospice.  Aunt Barbara, his wife had a dream on Friday; their granddaughter, who had passed years before at 15 told Barbara (in the dream) that Pop was going to join her that day.  Just before 22:00, he passed, surrounded by family and much love.  Rocco was courageous, accepting his impending death and as he said, “Not wanting to be a burden on his family.”  He knew he was not going to get better.  The family and Rocco had the opportunity to say their good-byes and most of the family were prepared to let him pass.  Not that it is easy for anyone to say good-bye.  My father-in-law was and still is distraught with the idea that his older brother is dead.  The thought that we will not see Rocco presses into our hearts and minds.  There is the funeral arrangements, the wake and the mass.  His body will be cremated.  Flowers to be ordered, donations to hospice.  I understand the hospice staff were warm and comforting with the family and let them know what stages were taking place.  After they administered the morphine he declined rapidly.  Friday night, Ali and I were at the high school where Joe was in a one act play.  Ali left during intermission since Joe was not on the stage in the second play.  After the second play, I dropped him off at the diner where he met friends.  I took Bella home and came upstairs to read.  Ali sent a text to let us know of the passing.  I picked up Joe at the diner, his phone had died so he was not aware.  I broke it to him.  Bella started sobbing in the back seat.  Joe was crying.  We picked Emma up at work and went inside Target.  She was crying and I hugged her.  We walked around the aisles aimlessly for a couple of minutes.  A message came over the loud speaker that the store was closing in five minutes.  We met Emma Tess outside and drove home.  Inside the car, there were sniffles.  Under the stars and night clouds…we thought of Rocco…Rocco Maniaci may you rest in peace with all those who departed before, and may you be welcomed by them within a new love.

Thank you for reading this.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Questions for Henry Rollins on writing/reading

3/26/16 14:57 Listening to The Fall, The Real New Fall LP

I apologize since it appears the font below is not easy to read.  These were questions I posed to Henry Rollins via email the other night which I’d like to share with you.

Do you search for book stores in the cities you visit; the same way as record shops?
 ======== Not really. 
Can you please tell me what writers continue to inspire you? ======= Mostly I read journalists like Robert Fisk and historians like Eric Foner.
Do you re-read their work the same way as you would play, Zeppelin II?  In other words, what "works for you."  ====== Rarely. 
How many books do you read in a month?
=======0 to 2. At this point, I would rather write and do other work. 
Does F Scott, This Side of Paradise still resonate or Miller's Black Spring?  If not, which books have replaced them? ========== I have not read literature for a long time. 8 years or so. Writing has replaced a lot of my reading. 
What you are currently reading?
========= The Great War for Civilization by Fisk.