By Veronica Mackey
If you dread cold calling and are looking for a better way to sell, there is another approach you can use that is far less stressful.
Cold calling is hard for many people because it does not feel “natural.” The person on the other end of the phone can intuitively pick up on your inner struggle (or desperation) to make a good impression and close the sale. And this forced energy causes them to subconsciously reject your message.
Sales professionals have been taught to “close the deal” so that becomes the priority over establishing relationships. Trying to sell to someone you don’t know—without taking the time to get to know them—is an uphill battle. It’s exhausting, and many times fruitless.
We refer to potential buyers as “prospects” and “targets.” They become goals to reach instead of people to engage with. That’s why many are so turned off by telemarketers. It is called cold calling for a reason—calling to make a buck can leave a person feeling cold, even used. The telemarketer may be seen as someone trying to take their money. This may not be your intent, but when you’re trying to sell before trust is established, this is often the result.
Remember, people buy from people that they know, like and trust. What happens too often in cold calling is that a person is approached by a total stranger who asks for their business prematurely. Sales people are going for the credit card before the other people has a chance to decide if they like or trust them.
One of the best alternatives to cold calling is referral marketing. It works because it leverages the relationship of others. The prospect may not know, like or trust you (yet), but because of their favorable relationship with someone you know, it opens the door for you.
Demographic data gathered online is useful, but a referral contact can tell you about the prospect’s personality, and even suggest the best way to pitch them.
When you have a fully functioning referral marketing strategy in operation, you will be able to predict approximately how many referrals you can expect and what the quality will be like. There is no coincidence about repeat referrals. They’re the outcome of the day-to-day activities of building relationships. Although referrals can’t be measured as easily as tracking cold-call ratios, the results are dramatic—and almost never coincidental. Repeat referrals happen because you’ve laid the groundwork through professional relationships.
One thing you should understand is that building a business through referrals takes time. And you may not think you have to time to focus on referrals when you need to make money today. But it is critical that you include referrals as part of your ongoing marketing strategy as you continue to cold call. If you can build a successful referral marketing system, you can eventually earn a good living exclusively from networking.
You won’t get as many “fish” in the net as you will with cold calling. But the leads you get will be better quality. And that is what you really want, right?
It will benefit you to invest a few hours thinking about your own personal network. Ask yourself a few questions. Who do you know that could refer potential clients to you? Do you belong to any networking groups or professional associations? How well connected are you on LinkedIn or Facebook? Who do you know on social media that is well connected?
Make a list of anyone whom you know directly or indirectly who you could possibly benefit from your product or service. Then make a second list of individuals who might know people who want what you have to offer. These are your referral sources. Make sure you list the industries that your potential referrals work in to jog your memory. Also, include any personal information that might be used as part of your sales pitch.
When you have your list of referral sources complete, you can begin to see a path that will lead you to the gold. For instance, if you are in the insurance business and see your college buddy on the list, you may recall her mentioning that her son just had a baby. While you may have made a mental note of that before, now it is on paper and organized in a way you won’t forget. Next to your friend’s name, you would make a note to contact her son about purchasing additional life insurance.
Don’t forget to include your current list of customers as potential referral sources. Too often sales people leave good money on the table when it is staring them right in the face. You no doubt already have satisfied customers. So why not strike while the iron is hot? One of the best times to ask for referral business is when you have delivered a product or service.
How you ask for referrals is important. Just saying, “do you know anyone who needs XYZ?” is not likely to get you very far. They were not thinking about referring their friends before you asked. And now you are putting them on the spot, asking them to think. A good alternative is to offer them an incentive and give them a little time to come up with 3 to 5 names.
Some people will prefer to let their contacts know in advance that you will be calling them. Always be respectful of other people’s privacy and relationship. Instead of just asking them for names right away, give them time to assemble a short list. Say something like this: “I appreciate your business, Sharon. I was wondering if you could help me out. I’d like to contact 3 to 5 people whom you know who could benefit from my business. Can I check back with you on Thursday around 3?”
This will let them know you expect their help without putting a lot of pressure on them. Try not to give them more than 3 to 5 days to respond so your request will not be ignored. Make sure you follow up!
Incentives always help. For example, you may want to offer a discount on the next order, or send a small thank you gift when a lead turns into new business.
Most big companies are still in the dark ages when it comes to networking. The procedures and results of referral marketing are not as easy to measure as cold calling. So the big guys pretty much stick to protocol This is where the savvy, flexible small business person (you, perhaps) can really find success.
If you want to use cold calling in addition to referrals, you can make phone selling less stressful. It all begins with the script—or maybe, getting rid of your script.
As a consumer, you have probably had the experience of being on the end of a phone call and having a telemarketer go on and on without taking a breath. They call you and ask how you’re doing (usually insincerely) and go right into the pitch. It becomes a one-way conversation at best.
If they do engage in conversation, it can turn into an interrogation, where they are asking question after question, trying to size you up so they will know what to say next.
Don’t be that person! The best way to start your cold call is to ditch the script. Jot down a few important issues (preferably problems you can solve) and call with the intention of having a conversation. You don’t know this person so your first job is to get to know them.
Instead of going for the sale right away, start a conversation that gets them to ask “what do you mean?” Position yourself in a way that allows you to explain yourself in a natural way that creates a two-way dialogue.
You can distinguish yourself as a sales professional who can be trusted by avoiding the negative
salesperson” stereotype. Talk to your prospects, don’t pitch them. Make sure you are having a two-way conversation. Develop a referral marketing strategy through online and offline networking and include incentives.
These strategies will boost your confidence, make prospects feel less defensive and ultimately lead to a less stressful selling experience. Remember, getting people to say yes is all about how you make them feel.
By Veronica Mackey
The horrific violence that occurred last week between police and Black Americans hit home when my daughter Maya, 23, announced she would be attending a Black Lives Matter rally in Inglewood.
She came into my bedroom a day earlier looking for a hug to help assuage the sadness, anger and frustration over the deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge and Philando Castile in Minnesota, both black men killed by police. Video shows excessive force wasused in both cases.
I was both afraid and incredibly proud of Maya’s decision to express her First Amendment rights. It’s one thing to watch on television, and quite another when the protestor is your own child.
“I know you’re not feeling the police now, but if they tell you to do something, please do it,” I said. I prayed and sent her on her way.
When she returned, I asked how the police were. “There weren’t any,” she said. I was stunned. It was the confrontation that never happened. No police, no riot gear, no unruly mobs burning down the city or vandalizing businesses.
Turns out there was no need for police to show up ready to do battle with the 1,000 or more peaceful activists who walked down Manchester to Randy’s Donuts on La Cienega to protest the killings. It was a tactical decision made by Inglewood Mayor James Butts and Police Chief Mark Fronterotta.
Rather than rush in, military style, and try and shut down demonstrators, the command was given for police to stay away from the immediate area. Officers were ready to spring into action within a minute if needed, but mostly allowed activists to do their thing.
It was a decision that I believe more police departments should make. It won’t work everywhere with everybody, but it should at least be considered.
Other than temporary traffic congestion, including a brief shut down of the 405 Freeway, the demonstration went on without incident. No arrests, no violence and no threat to public safety or property. Demonstrators got the attention they were seeking, but not for negative reasons. News teams who covered the story came out of curiosity.
The notable absence of police flipped the script on what is usually expected to happen when people of color protest and police are involved. However, as Mayor Butts, the former Santa Monica police chief, pointed out, having officers come out in traditional riot gear can make matters worse.
“Here’s what it does – it makes it more media-worthy,” Butts told reporters. “It tends to amp up the protesters, it makes them tend to feel like they’re under siege and things are more volatile.”
Being a cop is not easy, and Inglewood police showed a tremendous amount of courage and restraint, especially in light of the retaliatory killings of police in Dallas, in response to shooting deaths of Sterling and Castile.
“I am extremely proud of the performance of Chief Fronterotta and the men and women of the IPD in their handling of Sunday’s protest,” Butts told Inglewood Today. “They ensured the participants were allowed to exercise their First Amendment rights while minimizing inconvenience to the public and ensuring public safety.”
Despite deep concerns about this senseless and seemingly never ending violence, I slept well that night. I felt good knowing my child could express herself without becoming a fatality—at least in Inglewood.
By Veronica Mackey
The year is nearly half over, and I am starting to feel my 2016 resolutions slip away. Like most, I’m always “gung ho” about the new year. But now, I’ve fallen into a slump. There is a gnawing feeling inside that, despite my good intentions, my grand plans are rapidly unraveling.
Being Mentally Ready
It seems every New Year’s Eve folks wait for the magic of midnight. Suddenly, when the clock strikes, we have whatever it takes to lose weight, find true love or go back to school. Never mind, me might not have put any time into mental or practical preparation. Like I said, it’s magic!
Is this why we fail to get what we say we want? Are we not prepared enough? Are we too unrealistic—trying to cram too much into 12 months? According to StatisticBrain, only 8% of us are successful keeping resolutions.
Mental preparation helps us re-focus our attention on the here and now—the most powerful moment in life. It requires noticing—really noticing—everything around you, and noticing yourself experiencing life.
Here’s an exercise to keep you focused and present. Consciously pay attention to the warmth of the sun, indoor and outdoor sounds, or your own breathing. Next, say aloud what you are experiencing:
“Today is a sunny day. I see my neighbor’s children playing outside with their cute, brown puppy.” You may feel silly or even bored, but keep going. This exercise is designed to bring you back to the present—which is the only time you really have.
If you need to study for an exam, but 30 percent of you is focused on what you’re going to fix for dinner, 60 percent is worried about how to fix a problem at work, and 10 percent is replaying a hurtful comment your dad made when you were in high school, you are a “house divided against yourself.” A house divided against itself will eventually implode.
Changing With Time
Holding onto rigid beliefs can cause us to try and force results. We can be unforgiving of certain people or circumstances when things don’t happen when we think they should.
So, maybe it’s time for a new time table. Who says your new year has to begin on January 1? It’s perfectly okay to expand your deadline, pick another goal or take something off your to-do list altogether. Sometimes it’s necessary to break our own rules about tradition.
My friend Pam paid me a visit last week to vent about her “Mother’s Day from Hell.” First their only family car broke down on the way to the restaurant. Then, while waiting for the tow truck, her 4-year old had an asthma attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. Then her husband, who himself works at a hospital, got reprimanded for not showing up at work. Seems there was a mix up in communication. He thought his co-worker was going to take his shift, and the co-worker thought he was going to take the shift. He almost lost his job.
Pam is the most motherly woman I know. She literally lives for Mother’s Day. And while the ruined dinner was not the end of the world, she’d been down in the dumps for 3 weeks. Now, with $3,700 in unexpected car repairs and uncovered medical bills looming over her head, she was still trying to regroup.
“All I wanted was a nice dinner, just us and the kids,” she said. “Last year, Tom was working and we didn’t get to celebrate at all. And, for a minute, after the car broke down, I thought, who needs a car anyway. Maybe, we can just take the bus or Uber and get back to fixing it later. But with Tom working so far away, and me pregnant again, that’s just not possible.”
“Why don’t you re-celebrate?” I asked. I hadn’t realized the full impact of my words when suddenly her face lit up. “That’s a great idea!” she exclaimed. She came up with an instant plan. Tom will cook her favorite meal at home, the oldest child will help. Everyone will dress up like they are going out to a fancy restaurant and she’ll wear a tiara. They’ll set the table and use the best china. The kids will create new Mother’s Day cards and she’ll look surprised and thank them all over again.
“We need to do this to erase the bad memories,” she said. “I won’t call what happened to us devastating, but I would have gone through the next 3 or 4 months with a bitter taste in my mouth—especially with the money we’re having to put out.”
For Pam, re-celebration offers closure. It helps to emotionally compensate for the disappointment. They are celebrating Mother’s Day on June 18—the day before Father’s Day.
Being Ready Before You’re Ready
Life doesn’t happen in a straight line. Sometimes we have to do things whether we feel ready or not. When this happens, get yourself up to speed with a good “talking to.” I took this same advice only yesterday. Realizing that I have only 2 days left to deliver an unbelievable amount of work for a client who dumped it in my lap at the last moment—and I am nowhere near finishing—I said to myself: “Listen here, sista-girl. Nobody is going to get this party started without you. You have to make this happen. Now, what are you going to do and when are you going to do it?”
Almost immediately, I received the first step: “Be still and know that I am God.”
By Veronica Mackey
“As you sit thinking, ‘If only I could find a job,’ some employer is, at that very moment thinking,
‘if only we could find the right person for this position…’”
–Eric Butterworth, Spiritual Economics
Uncovering Job Sabotages
If you’re still struggling to find a decent-paying job, the problem may not be with the economy.
The New York Times said the job market, “according to Labor Department figures released in recent months, appears to be at its healthiest point since the boom of the late 1990s.” The problem may lie within you.
We’re bombarded daily by negative reports. For example, you may read in the newspaper that unemployment is highest among black people, women or people over 50. If you fall into any of these categories (or worse, all of them), you’ll soon be thinking, “It’s going to take me forever to find a job because I’m black, a woman, and over 50.”
While competition in the job market is real, you have real power inside of you right now to get the job you want and deserve. Here are ways to tap into your inner self and uncover sabotages that may be holding you back:
Before we can begin to talk about finding a good job, we need to overcome two major culprits: time and money. So many job seekers take the first thing that comes along because they need the money. If you’re broke and unemployed, money is everything. You want to, need to, must go to work. Or do you? Take an hour or so to review you finances before you answer this question.
There are some major things you can and should do now that will buy the time necessary to find the job you want.
First, gather up your assets. How much money do you have in the bank? Are you eligible for unemployment compensation? Do you have investments? Will you be getting severance pay?
If you have a side job or business, now is the time to put in more effort to increase your sales.
Next, put together a bare bones budget that covers survival needs only—rent or mortgage, phone, utilities, car note and food. Right now, the name of the game is keeping a roof over your head, food on the table, electricity on and a car in your garage. Work with creditors to reduce your credit cards payments temporarily. If you have to let extra bills go for now, do it. Don’t worry about your credit rating. You can fix that later.
Next, figure out how to reduce your expenses. Do you need to shop at a less expensive grocery store? Can you cut back on entertainment? I gave up cable TV for Roku, a streaming device that provides hundreds of channels. I picked it up for about $80 at Best Buy. No monthly payments, except the $10 a month I pay for Netflix.
You may have to swap out cable TV for health or life insurance previously provided by your employer. Do not skip this coverage. See what is available online. The price will most likely beat what your employer may be offering you. When I lost my job, I paid $200 a month under an extended health insurance plan. Then I got smart. I was a healthy woman who maybe saw a doctor 2-3 times a year, mainly for preventive care. I found a comparable plan for $70 a month.
Flip the script
Most people approach job finding the wrong way. They think they must do everything necessary to win approval of employers. Hogwash! The truth is, employers need you as much as you need them. Why else would they spend so much time and money trying to find you?
When you set out to find work, don’t approach the job search from the stand point of need. Use a positive mindset such as, “I don’t need a job. I have talent to express, value to give.” This mindset will bring confidence to the job interview. The next time you interview, imagine that you are a hot celebrity, the “it” girl or guy, the flavor of the month. The interviewer wants to know all about you. You are not begging for a job. You are the star in the spotlight. Go ahead and shine!
One thing will hold you back from success indefinitely—harboring resentment against past employers. Because we live in a world of cause and effect, we get back what we send out. If you’re holding on to anger about being unemployed, this anger will backfire. Prospective employers pick up on this energy—even if you never mention your old boss—and it turns them off.
The cost of resentment is too high. It is essential to forgive anyone and everyone that you feel treated you unfairly. You may feel responsible for being fired or let go. Just learn from that experience, move on and forgive yourself.
You may not want to forgive, or even know how. But if you’ll consistently practice the following affirmation, you will gradually release negative emotions and attract your right position in life. No one can keep your success from you except you.
I cast all resentment, guilt and anger on the God within me and I go free. His unconditional love floods my mind with new hope and joy. I no longer think of myself as unemployed, but “ready for work.” I give thanks now for multiple offers, and the wisdom to make the right decision.
Act as if
You need to act as if you have a job—even when there isn’t the slightest sign of a job in sight.
Do what you would ordinarily do if you already had a job. Get up early. Pack a lunch. Dress professionally even if you’re only going to the computer in your living room. The point is to convince your subconscious mind that there is a job waiting for you; to change your mindset from being unemployed to being ready for work.
I gave this advice to my cousin. He followed it to the letter and got an amazing job within 2 weeks. Your results may take longer, but once you change your mindset, the job offers will start coming in. Your subconscious mind cannot tell the difference between what is real or imagined. Give it the orders you want and watch it go to work for you.
“Now, faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen.” –Hebrews 11:1
By Veronica Mackey
Every day, life presents opportunities for us to worry, fret or get angry. The fast-paced world that we live in does not allow much time for us to catch our breath before the next offense occurs.
Our negative emotional reactions can wreak havoc in our bodies. Every thought has a biochemical equivalent. Our brains communicate directly with our bodies, and vice versa, through chemical messengers known as neuropeptides. Deeply rooted emotions that are not dealt with will eventually show up as disease.
Take a look at how you spend your life.
That’s why it’s important to pay attention to your mind-body connection. When you look at your mind, body and emotions as a single unit, you can see more clearly how one part affects the other.
What are you thinking? Are your thoughts fueling you or depleting your strength? What do you need to embrace or let go of? With God, all things are possible. Still, our bodes limit us. They tire, pick up viruses, and lust after things which aren’t always healthy.
Dig a little deeper.
When you’re sick, it is human nature to find out what is wrong. You may see a doctor, do research on the Internet, or compare notes with a friend who has similar symptoms. But don’t stop there. Ask yourself what is going on emotionally or spiritually. A pain reliever can easily get rid of a headache, but if you want to get better—not just feel better—try to figure out why you’re feeling anxious or resentful in the first place.
Forgiveness is a decision, not a feeling. This is where most people get stuck. They keep waiting for their negative feelings to subside, and they don’t feel they can forgive a person until that happens. Wounds run deep, and we may not ever feel the same way about someone who has hurt us. But that does not mean we are incapable of forgiving. You have forgiven when you no longer talk about the offense.
“We delay the process of healing because we want someone to know how much we are hurting. We pull the bandage off our wound. And it cannot heal properly because we continually pull it off,” said Pastor Gregory Dickow of Gregory Dickow Ministries. “If you just care about your feelings, you’ll talk about it. If you care about your future, you’ll stop talking about it.”
The next time you are tempted to feed your emotional pain, ask yourself what it will cost you. It could mean cancer, a heart attack, or worse. Is it worth it? Even if you think your abuser deserves to die, you deserve to live.
Independence. Can you say FREEDOM? The VA life was made for independent entrepreneurs and creative types. If you’re a disciplined, self-starter who needs very little supervision, becoming a VA is the way to go.
Save on driving costs. The numbers speak for themselves. The average annual cost of driving ranges from $6,735, for a small sedan, to 11,360 for a SUV 4WD. According to Consumer Reports, the average national gasoline price is currently $3.30 per gallon. Compare that to the zero cost of your at-home commute as a VA.
Flexible hours. Whether you choose to work from 8am to 5pm, or start work at midnight, it’s up to you. The benefit of controlling your own time will pay off in ways you may have never imagined—from shopping when stores are less crowded to making money from anywhere in the world.
No office politics. If you dislike it when people “kiss up” to the boss or throw their co-workers under the bus on their way to the top, consider becoming a VA. You can avoid the politics, gossip and drama.
Be available for your kids. Once, I was the only parent to attend an event at my daughter’s school. I know other parents would have loved to attend but they couldn’t. Why? Because they were stuck working at an outside job. Working from home as a VA allows you to stay on top of your children’s lives and correct problems which may go unchecked if you can’t be around to address them.
Save commute time. Long commutes and traffic jams can cost you in lost time and stress. According to Zipatlas.com, the average one-way commute in Los Angeles is 37.6 minutes; 45.5 minutes in Philadelphia and 45.5 minutes in Brooklyn. If you live in the boondocks, you’ll spend more time commuting. In Douglas, Arizona (pop. 85), the average commute is almost 2 hours.
Build business skills. As a VA, by creating your own methods of marketing and business protocol, you’ll accelerate the learning curve. You’ll make mistakes, but you’ll also gain valuable business skills that you might not otherwise have.
You can work in your pajamas. As long as you don’t have a Skype meeting, or one at your client’s office, no one has to know what you’re wearing. You can work in PJs, sweats, jeans—whatever. Think of the money you’ll save on dry cleaning, shoes and panty hose.
No age or race discrimination. If you’re over 50 or a person of color, becoming a VA can open doors. Since many workers are hired online, you may never see your clients or talk to them. You are, essentially, unseen and therefore not judged based on your appearance. This gives you a hiring advantage that folks who go to a physical location do not have.
Unlimited Income. If you commit to building your VA business, you can earn a lucrative income for yourself that will eventually exceed what you could make at a traditional job. My friend lost her job 2 years ago. Now, she has a thriving VA business with no down time.
To become a virtual assistant, go to http://virtualassistants.com
About the author:
Veronica Mackey has more than 20 years’ experience as a writer and marketing entrepreneur. She writes for business and all forms of media. Veronica has helped clients build national audiences through her writing, media campaigns and targeted marketing events. She is also the author of 30 Days in September (www.30dayseptember.com), an inspirational e-book, and founder of The Connectory Referral Network (www.theconnectory.co).