Thursday, 21 November 2013

Outsource this!

Its presence blossomed in the late 1980's and early 1990's, yet outsourcing has been around for centuries in various guises, and it continues to be a growth sector for some specialism's.  Mercenaries are a historic and extreme example of how an outsourced resource provided an entity (country; group) with the skills, capacity and capabilities to achieve their vision and goals (war, battle, and invasion).  Though fortunately these days outsourcing applies more to business orientated functions.
Numerous businesses have used (in whole or part) outsourced support and front line services, and doing so can be hugely beneficial to the owner of a growing business.  Accessing the skills and resources needed, without carrying the full time salary and management costs, can be very appealing and make economic sense.  Many of us will be familiar with printing, legal and catering as outsourced services, and during the past decade we have seen a greater presence of HR, marketing, IT and virtual assistants also becoming effective outsourced functions.

Business owners are increasingly seeing the benefits (beyond just the cost savings) of using an outsourcing provider.  Generally these providers will be keeping themselves abreast of the latest trends and market conditions, and have a wealth of experience and knowledge, sometimes beyond that expected of a similar role if they had been the employee.  They are connected to other businesses and may be in a position to connect you with potential customers, partners and suppliers.

Outsourcing can be adaptable to your needs whether that's cost, skills, frequency or volume.  This empowers businesses to gear up quicker, free up internal resources, and test new products and markets.  However the appetite to the use of outsourced services can vary.  Using an outsourced printer or accountant seems quite common place, yet hesitation can creep in when considering the use of an outsourced sales or HR provider.

The benefits should outweigh the cost of any hesitation and as you are the customer, rather than the employer, it gives you greater flexibility (within the agreement or contractual terms) to work with the provider to focus on what matters most to you and your business. 
You are in control.

John is the Director, of Vector Resources Limited, who help growing businesses increase sales and improve sales performance.  Find out more about outsourced sales and sales management at

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Warm up for your cold calling

For many, calling potential customers is up there with having to do a 60 second pitch to a new group about their business. Even those familiar with calling prospective customers can feel anxious or tongue tied at times. With a bit of forward thinking and preparation, you should find you gain more confidence in your calling and see improvement in getting to speak with your new customers.

Before the call

Start with the end in mind - if you are unsure why you are calling, the person at the other end will struggle to understand too.  Write the purpose of your call on your notepad and speak it back to yourself (see Message).

Who are you calling - if it's a business, have you looked at their website?  I always take a look at the latest news section, about us, and people section, particularly if I'm unsure who I wish to direct my call to.  Use your time wisely and appropriately for the initial call - this will depend on the volume of calls you intend to make, your proposition and the information you would wish to be armed with.

Message - what is your proposition?  Why are you calling this prospective customer?  You may have had success with similar businesses who have found your proposition beneficial.  Be clear about the purpose of your call - keep it clear of jargon and brief, as you may have to state it once or twice before you get through to the decision maker.

Remember it's about the customer - am I really interested in how long you've been established, what ISO's you've have, your special deal or how unique you think your product is?  Build a rapport with me and find out a bit about my world (that is relevant).  Share with me how your proposition will benefit my business and how others like me have benefitted.  Be prepared for longer conversations.

When are you at your best - plan time to make your calls when you are at your best/sharpest; block 30 minute chunks out in your diary to make the calls.   Consider when your customer might be best disposed to take your call - would you expect to have a good conversation with a restaurant owner between 11.30 am and 3 pm?

Role play it - get a colleague or friend to play the customer and role play the call.  This provides a safe testing ground to hear what works and it can provide some crucial feedback and leanings about the messages and conversation you intend to use. 

During the call

The clich├ęs do work: stand up to make your call; smile; have your notes to hand to keep you on track.  Be polite and confident - if someone answers your call, I assume they have decided it is convenient to speak with you.  If they tell you it's not, make sure you agree a time for you to call back.  Make every call count - use the opportunity to gain a bit more information, such as what time the decision maker usually starts/works until; name of their PA; email address.

After the call

Make sure you update your database with the outcome of the call.   Keep track of your activity and hit rates: calls made/ calls connected/ decision makers spoken with/ appointments made - these can be very insightful.

Make a note of how successful you felt the call was; how you felt during the call, and what you might have done differently.

And most importantly give it time - the more you do, the more proficient and comfortable you will become, and the more success you will have.

John is a Director of Vector Resources Limited and helps businesses increase sales and improve sales performance.  Find out more at