How to overcome the fear of cold calling, part 2

If you have a fear of cold calling, well, you are not alone. I was like that, and I have written another blog post recently about it, but I have managed to get over and I want to share with you how I did it. I’m not selling anything, I’m just sharing my tips with you because I know how tough and intimidating it is. Once you get over that fear, then you realize how easy, or let’s say, less scary cold calling is.

What is Cold calling?

It’s the unsolicited call. It’s a call out of the blue with a business interest, or better yet with a sales interest.

It’s calling someone you have never talked to before with the intention of selling something.

This is a very simplified definition of cold calling, by me. If you have a better explanation please feel free to share it in the comments.

The beginning

I was told at work I need to find new customers. Great. That’s what companies do and that’s what salespeople do. I work in a sales department so one of my tasks is to reach out and find new prospective customers.

There was a little problem though. I was scared shit of picking up the phone and talking to a total stranger.

I was thinking:

  1. I’m bothering them
  2. I’m interrupting them
  3. I don’t know what to say to them
  4. They are not going to like me.

and all that kind of stupid excuses.

I thought to myself, c’mon this is just silly. I have to get over it. And what I did was to turn to Youtube, Google and to experienced colleagues to find answers to my problems. 

One of my colleagues actually told me that excuse number 1. That I think I’m bothering them is the most common mistake many beginners do. So I tried to analyze it and I came down to this.

I’m calling on working hours from my business to another business and for something that is related to their work. So it’s work, it’s business, I’m not bothering them. 

That was it! As soon as I realized it my biggest fear disappeared.

But I needed some practical advice as well. That’s where Youtube and Google came to the rescue.

I searched for “cold calling” on Youtube and I was not disappointed. There are many channels that offer amazing advice for beginners. What did the trick for me was this channel who is run by this woman who offers sales training. What I saw was her doing some cold calls on camera and I was amazed by how simple, relaxed yet effective her phone calls are. Her style and the way she spoke on the phone inspired me and actually made me realize that yes, I can do it!

Then I googled for “best books about sells” or something in that direction and I found a book that I highly recommend if you are new to the sales business. It’s called: The Psychology of Selling by Brian Tracy.

I have an audible subscription so I got it instantly.

After watching some of the videos and listening to a few chapters of the book, both sources had given me pretty much the same advice or explained what is one factor that can affect sales. That is:

Self-confidence 

If we believe in ourselves, then cold calling is done much easier.

So why don’t we believe in ourselves?

We have insecurities, we have our own fears, maybe we don’t know the product well, we don’t know what to say if a prospective customer asks us details about the product, and so on.

That’s why I want to help you by giving you some tips that might be beneficial to you.

 

Here are my top 4 tips for overcoming the fear of cold calling:

  • To script or not to script? I’m on the not script team here. I thought that this was the way to go only to realize that I sound like a robot. The problem with script – like a piece of paper that we keep reading – is that we focus on the written text in front of us and we don’t pay attention to the other line. So avoid using scripts. Try and learn your product well and do a mental rehearsal of what to say instead. You can write a few phrases if you like but don’t read them while you are on the telephone. Learn them until they become second nature to you. Practice until the words come natural and soon you will realize you don’t need a script.

 

  • Always say your name and your company at first.  This is something that I have been doing already, and this is also what the books I’m reading are advising to do. It’s polite and it’s only fair to give a proper introduction of who you are and where you are calling from. It’s professional and you want to show that you are a true professional. I don’t encourage starting a phone call instantly with a sales pitch

 

  • Research and study your next company you will call. Especially in the B2B if you don’t do your homework you are sloppy. If you have a company name that you want to contact for the first time then visit their website. Read what they offer. How can your product fit in their needs? Read and understand them. This shows that you really take an interest in your prospect customer and it will be appreciated.

 

  • Speak slowly. This one is something I struggled cause I usually speak fast. But it’s important to speak slow and clear so that the prospective customer can understand who it is that is calling him/her and why you are calling him/her. I have been following the tips of the above experts and so when I present myself and the company I’m calling from, I try to say it as clear as possible and then I pause for a second to give the other person the opportunity to process and really understand what they just heard.

These are my tips and these are things that I’m using every day when I reach to new customers. I’m not the best sales person (YET 🙂 ) but I’m working on it and I hope you will become one too. If you have a certain question please let me know on the comments or contact me through the email form. I will be happy if I have brought you any value with my above tips so feel free to share them with your friends or colleagues.

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See you next time.

 

 

So you want to start an online business – a how to guide 2019, part 2

 

Welcome to the second part of how to start an online business or create a web-shop. If you have missed the beginning then click here for the first part of the online business guide.

 

Starting up your business

You know what you want to do, you know what to sell, so it’s only a matter of selecting the right platform to start building your empire.

Awesome!

I will share with you what has worked best for me and what are – in my opinion – the most important steps for setting up your site.

I’m mostly focusing on the business side of things so I won’t be going deep into technical details. My goal is to help you understand the process of creating an e-shop as a total. But if you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment 🙂

Note: The below info is basic and generic advice that has helped me in the past that may or may not apply exactly to you. If you have hired a professional to assist you she or he might have a different method. The important thing is to have a solid plan.

Let’s begin.

Website structure

This is a very important step, if not the most important in setting up an online business because the way you will be structuring your website will be kind of a permanent step. Of course you can update it in the future but it’s not an easy task so it’s very important to get it right from the start.

What do I mean with website structure?

structure logical diagram

You need to make a plan, use a notepad if you like, to visualize how your website will be built.

Below are a few questions (similar to the ones on part 1 of this series) that by answering them, it will help you to get a better idea of how to set up everything on your web-shop.

Ask yourself:

  1. What are you selling?
  2. Is it one product or many?
  3. Is it a physical product or a service?
  4. If it’s one product or one service how will you present it to your visitors?
  5. If you have many products or services, do you have categories? Probably yes.
  6. How will you categorize your products?
  7. How will the customers navigate through your products?

The above questions are important to help you identify and create the navigation menu, the links, the structure of your website.

I will give you an example of what I mean.

Suppose you sell clothes. Typical examples of categories are the following:

Men – Women – Kids
And then under Men:
T-shirts, Pants, Socks, etc.

But maybe you want to categorize by clothing type

T-shirts – Pants – Socks
And then under T-shirts to use a filter for:
Men, Women, Kids

This is completely up to you and to whatever makes sense in your business, however, depending on the product you are selling it’s a good idea to check what your competitors are doing and how they have structured their products to get some inspiration.

Examples of navigation menus

Home – about – Products – contact

Home – about – Our partners – History – pricing – contact

Home – Women – Men – Kids – FAQ – Contact

… and so on. You get the idea

These are important things that need to be clear from the very beginning for a smooth and professional process.

Let’s move to the next step (or maybe previous, you’ll see what I mean)

Name your website aka buy a domain name.

This is a step that can be done before your website’s structure, so if you know the name already to go ahead and purchase the domain name. But as I said in Part 1, it’s a very important step as it is directly connected with your future branding activities. You need to put some serious thought into it so chose a brand name/domain name that defines your business.

The basic tech steps for setting up an e-shop, or any website for that matter, are the following:

  1. Buy a domain name.
  2. Buy hosting.
  3. Install/Upload your code to the server.

And I suppose now it’s time to talk WordPress.

Using WordPress for your online business.

Now we are getting somewhat technical. I will explain as simple as I can the process of setting up a website using WordPress since it’s something I have done many times in the past.

There are hosting providers where you can get all 3 (name, host, WordPress) at once without having to go to three different locations to get them.

To make things simple, I do recommend purchasing a hosting package from a provider that has also domain names (or vice versa get a domain name from a provider that also has hosting packages) and if possible double check if they offer 1-click WordPress installation.

This means that you don’t need to download and upload anything, but you can install WordPress once you have access your control panel with just 1 click.

In order for you to build a web-shop then you also need WooCommerce.

This is a platform specifically designed for WordPress and can be installed once you are done with your main WordPress installation.

Setting up WooCommerce can be tricky and requires a lot of work. You might need to hire someone so go ahead and estimate extra costs for that. If you are going to do it yourself, be prepared for a lot of work. Which is fine. Just know that it takes effort and many manhours to put an e-shop together.

The reason why I keep saying this is because I remember my mistakes and the first time I ever got involved with WooCommerce I got so overwhelmed I almost gave up. I was completely blocked. It took me a while to figure things out because I didn’t have a plan in advance.

Once you have a clear structure of your site everything is way easier. But I didn’t and that was my mistake. I was not prepared and I just started installing stuff without having a clear plan of the what’s and the how’s.

But I believe in you 🙂 You can do better than me.

If you don’t have a clear vision use my questions above. Make a small drawing if it helps you.

Visualize your basic categories which will become your navigation links. When you have a clear image of that then everything falls into place.

But also keep in mind. It’s ok to make mistakes and it’s ok to not know things. Working them out is part of the process and a great learning experience.

Let’s move on.

Setting up WordPress “manually” – no 1-click installation.

If you have a provider that doesn’t offer a 1click installation, don’t worry. I will explain what you need to do. The steps are pretty much the following:

  • Buy your domain name.
  • If you have a separate hosting provider set the DNS in your hosting provider’s control panel. This will make your website appear under www.yourdomain.com
  • Go to WordPress.org and download the installation files:
download wordpress

After you have completed the above steps successfully you will have a new WordPress website ready to be modified and customized to your needs.

Then if you want to install Woo-Commerce you can do that from WordPress’ dashboard. From the black vertical left menu go to Plugins> Add new

add new plugin wordpress

and Search for WooCommerce and from the results just press Install now.

install woocommerce

Congratulations! You are all set!

Other platforms

Besides WordPress and WooComerce there are more platforms that you might find better but this comes down to your personal preference. Below are a few of the most common website/e-shop building platforms that you can use.

Pro tip: Try them all before you decide which one is the one for you.

 

Shopify

Magento

WordPress.com (This is not the same as WordPress.org. You access it through your browser. Here is a short video that explains the differences between WordPress.com and .Org )

Squarespace

and I’m pretty sure there are more which I haven’t included in the list above. But feel free to search a bit. However, using WordPress is something I definitely recommend. It has a huge supporting community and it’s a reliable platform.

I believe I have given you lots of information that need to settle in. My hope is that the above article will help you create a solid plan about your future website and if that’s the case then I will be extremely happy.

Next on my series, we will talk about marketing and social media. In other words, how to promote your website once it’s up and running.

Stay tuned!

The fear of cold calling and how to overcome it, part 1

Not everyone is born a natural salesperson. There are people that are geniounly talended and love cold calling, it’s their oxygen.

I’m not one of those but I know that cold calling works and that’s why I’m doing it.

It’s not easy when you have to call someone out of the blue.

I have been lucky though to work in the B2B area which makes things way easier. I know who I’m calling and the people I’m calling pretty much expect phone-calls like mine.

However, I still do feel awkward and the first few times I did it I was shaking. It was probably obvious in my voice as well but the person on the other phone was always kind to me. Maybe they sensed that I’m extremely nervous and stressed and out of politeness they stayed on the phone to hear what I had to say.

But what is that makes us dread a cold call? I suppose a natural born sales person doesn’t have that fear. But for the rest of us that do, I have good news:

The fear goes away.

I don’t know what the reason is that makes us feel scared.  Is it the fear of rejection?

The fact that we have to talk to a total stranger?

The fear that we will make a fool of ourselves?

Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know, but there is one thing I do now:

Cold calling works

I don’t have any e-course or webinar to sell you. This is my personal experience and whatever tips I have I’m willing to share them with you for free cause I know how it feels like.

If I get to help ONE person, then I would be extremely happy.

So here are a few tips that have worked for me:

Try not to over think it. Just call, be prepared for a either positive or a negative answer, and don’t take it personally if they reject you. They don’t reject you, they reject the “service” or the product you are selling. I say, whatever, their loss.

Try to write down some scripts. Test and see what works for you. Write down a few lines and try to avoid sounding a selling bot. I know I know, easier said than done, but if you practice you will get better.

Think like a sales person. This one is a bit tricky I suppose.  But what is it really that you are trying to sell? If it’s a physical product, why do you want to sell it? Write down some of the benefits, what is the problem that this product is solving? In other words try to put together a mini script where you mention that you have a solution to this “common problem in the market”.

Avoid asking questions. I know I do that mistake as well but avoid “Would you be interested in …”.
Instead use “I will send you an email with more information so you can take a look at your own time”. That way the person might or might not read that email, but you have something to follow it up.

Practice, practice, practice. At first you will most probably suck, or maybe you won’t. But if you do just know that the more you do the easier it gets.

Statistically you will get a positive answer. And that’s going to boost your shelf confidence big time!

People are generally kind, at least in the B2B area.

One small advice, from my humble point of view:

If you are in the B2C sector, avoid calling random people. Do some market research. What are you selling? Who might be more willing to try it?

–  Bonus tip from a colleague:  Pretend you are talking to your buddy. It’s funny but it works because you lose that “sales bot talk”. It becomes more casual if you pretend you speak to your friend and you have more chances to get the other person on the phone interested in you and your solution.

I hope the above was helpful to you and if you want please share it with your friends or colleagues.

Do you have questions or comments? Leave them in the comments below 🙂

So you want to start an online business – a how to guide 2019, part 1

So you want to start an online business in 2019

You are ready to take the next step in your business career and you said “f*ck it with my 9-5 job, I will create my own online business.”

Great! Congratulations!

The reasons why you want to start an e-business (such a ’00s term I know) are two:

  1. You really want to do that and you have a plan in your head on how to do it.
  2. You don’t have a clear idea what or how to do but you want to make money online.

If you are option 1 great.

If you are option 2 that’s also great but be prepared for some serious thinking or you will fail.

Starting an online business

When I was thinking about writing this article I figured it might not be relevant as gone are the days that people were making fast money online or trying and failing.

However, I don’t think many things have changed. People are attracted to technology, and with good reasons, but sometimes they forget that it actually takes good planning and hard work to have an online business or any business for that matter.

But don’t worry, I’m not here to nag you to death. I will help you understand and figure out what it takes to start your own business online.

Making a business plan.

If you want to succeed you need to have a guideline, you need to have a business plan. If you don’t know what it is or how to make one you can get for free my business plan template here.

Having a business plan will help you put your thoughts in order and will force you to think carefully about your idea and how to proceed.

A business plan will help you identify what your goal is, what is your current market, what is your target group, what is your competition and so on.

Writing a business plan is not easy but if you are serious about it it’s a necessary step and one of the most important things to do for your business.

What type of online business you want to have?

Most people when they want to do something online they think of online shops. That’s great and that’s how it usually works and for the purposes of this post I will assume that this is what you want to build.

However there are some key points that need to be addressed so I created the following list with the most common things to consider.

Feel free to print and use it if you find it helpful.

What to ask before building an e-shop

  • What are you going to be selling?
  • Is it a physical product or a service?
  • If it’s a physical product, how will you be accepting payments?
  • Will you have a business account? Will you be using Paypal to accept payments or another service?
  • Which platform do you want to use? WordPress, Shopify, Magento or something else?
  • Do you have the technical skills to build something yourself or do you need to hire someone?
  • Are you going to be shipping products within your country our abroad?
  • Do you need to calculate shipping costs on your website for each product?
  • How about packaging? Is it enough with regular envelopes or do you need to consider something else?
  • Invoicing? Do you need to use a software to issue invoices?
  • Will you have a stock or make products on demand?
  • Book keeping? Will you be doing it yourself or will you be hiring someone?

The above list is a good start that will help make a preliminary cost estimation.

And then we have Branding and Marketing

  • What is your brand
  • How will you promote your brand
  • Will you have a logo? Who will make it?
  • What colour combination will you use on your brand/website?
  • Will you work with email marketing?
  • Online advertisments? Google, Facebook, Instagram ads?
  • Use social media? Which platforms?
  • Will you be updating your products details online?

Finding a brand name for your business

Before you even consider thinking of building a website you need to really think about your branding and what name you want to associate yourself and your business with.

Once you figure out the name then you can go ahead and buy a domain name.

Things at this point are starting to get a bit complicated so more on the actual website building process on the coming up post.

Have I given you a headache by now?

Good! And if you have been reading so far and you want to learn more then that’s great.

You might be wondering who am I to speak of running an online business?

With a masters degree in E-commerce, by working as a freelancer for 5 years as a consultant/web developer, by working in the family business for 7 years and by currently working in Sales in the industrial sector, I have learned a thing or two about running a business.

I won’t pretend that I know everything and I’m still learning but the above are common sense issues that needs to be thought carefully from the beginning in order to avoid living in an entrepreneurship’s bubble that will burst on the first 6 months.

Let’s consider the above the starting point, the Business plan for your future company and stay tuned for more details.

Here you can read the 2nd part of this series with more explaining and tips to help you structure your site.

Stay tuned for part 3 as well 🙂

If you have a specific question let me know in the comments.

Free Basic Business Plan template for your new business

 

If you are just starting your entrepreneurial career I got you covered.

Who am I to do that? I’ve studied business administration, I worked 7 years in the family company, then worked in different types of 9-5 to jobs but then I started my own company and I so I know a thing or two about what it takes to start a business.

Pro tip: If you work hard you have “success chances” on your side. But I know it can get overwhelming in the beginning. You have an idea and you know it will be successful and you know you will work as hard as you can but you can’t put your thoughts together. I know, I’ve been there. A business plan is often needed if you want to raise funds or just for your own sake, to have a focused plan.

That’s why I made this business plan template for you, cause I understand the struggle.

It’s completely free to use and if you do use it I would really appreciate it if you said hello in the comments below 🙂

Enjoy (click the image to get the full document on a Google doc file):

business plan template