Ron Pramschufer: This is Ron Pramschufer, and welcome to Publishing Basics Radio, where weekly, we try to help you navigate the self‑publishing minefield. Wendy, you’re called the queen of cold calling. How did that all come about?
Wendy: Well, Ron, I had clients very early in my career that used to call me queen of cold calling, and I liked it, and so I kept it.
Ron Pramschufer: All right, now, what is cold calling?
Wendy: I don’t actually like the term cold calling because I think it sounds scary, and I prefer the term introductory calling, and what introductory calling is really is you call someone that you don’t know or that you don’t know very well, and you call them to introduce yourself and your company, your product, your services, your books, whatever you have.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, so out talk in our show primarily goes to authors, who are getting into publishing for the first time, and my guess is that 99 percent of them, if you look on their resume, it doesn’t mention anything about sales.
Ron Pramschufer: They’re all housewives; they’re all –
Ron Pramschufer: Whatever; preacher – all these new authors; they’re all stuck with the same thing. They’ve got a book, and nobody’s buying it if they don’t sell it. How do they get started?
Wendy: Well, first of all, you want to have a distributor, and the way I got my distributor, Midpoint; I picked up the phone, and I called them, and I introduced myself, and that would be my recommendation. I started selling my book by phone, whether it was to call venues where I could come and do a talk, and then sell my books in the back of the room or whether it was to call companies that might be interested in a book purchase; I would call, introduce myself, introduce the book, send them a review copy to see if they would like to purchase it bulk, and I was able to use the phone to introduce myself and my book called Calling for Women to a wide audience.
Ron Pramschufer: Now, you told me earlier – your background; you were actually in ballet. That’s not exactly what we associate with like verbal skills. That’s more physical.
Wendy: Ballet dancers don’t even talk.
Ron Pramschufer: So, getting on the phone for the first time; like the first phone call; you just pick it up, and, “Hi, my name is Wendy?”
Wendy: You want to prepare before you pick up that phone, and what you need to do before you ever pick up the phone, and incidentally, I use the performance model, having been a ballet dancer; I use the performance model to talk about this, and the first part of the performance is your warm-up, and your warm-up is to figure out exactly who it is you’re calling and why they should be interested and what you’re going to say to them to capture their attention, and you have to figure that out before you get on the phone.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, so do you work off of a script?
Wendy: You work off of a script. Many people don’t like the idea of the script because they feel that it makes them sound phony; however, if you stop and think about it, actors are able to repeat a script night after night if they’re doing a Broadway show, and they sound perfectly real and lifelike and like it’s happening just at that moment, and you don’t have to be an actor to be able to do that. You need to rehearse it and be very focused, and that actually is the second step of the performance model is that you rehearse.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, and who’s your best person to rehearse to; like your mother or your wife or your brother?
Wendy: Someone who will not judge you, and you can rehearse with family; you can rehearse with friends. I recommend call your answering machine or your voice mail and tape yourself; listen to how you sound; if you sound like somebody you’d like to have a conversation with, and make a list of some companies that you’re not so interested in, and call them. It’s a wide practice.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, yeah, that was gonna kinda be my next question; I mean, do you – the big fish out their say is Barnes and Noble.
Wendy: Don’t call them first.
Ron Pramschufer: Don’t call them first.
Wendy: Do NOT call them first.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, so you start off with some easy people; maybe even some people that are borderline, and what happens the first time somebody tells you no?
Wendy: Many times, people hear no when the person they’re talking to is actually not saying no. Many people do what I call mind reading and assume that the person they’re talking to is saying something other than what they’re really saying.
For example, if someone says to you, “I can’t talk right now. Can you call me back?” That’s not a no. That’s an “I can’t talk to you right now. Could you call me back?” If you talk to someone’s secretary, who says that the person you wanna talk to is in a meeting, that’s not a no. That’s the person you wanna talk to is in a meeting, so you have to call them another time, and there are many things that people say that you can take right at face value.
Unfortunately, most people take them as rejection, so you need to do a reality check.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, so now, the fourth or fifth time that person’s in a meeting, do you start getting paranoid and think that you’re just being put off or do you just be – what was that movie – Wall Street, where the guy called like every day?
Wendy: There are studies that have been done that show that most sales are made after, somewhere between 7 to 12 contacts with a prospect, so if you call someone, even four times, and they’re not available, you probably have at least three more phone calls to go, and the reality is most people are very busy. If you called your best friend in the entire world, if that best friend was in a meeting with his boss, that person probably would not take your phone call.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay, I never really quite thought of it that way.
Wendy: People are legitimately busy; doesn’t mean that they hate you. It means that they’re busy.
Ron Pramschufer: Suppose you got the person on the phone, and he tells you no. Is it time to go out and get drunk and try another day or what do you do then?
Wendy: You want to look at the steps in your cycle and what it is that you’re trying to accomplish. On your very first phone call, you are probably not attempting to sell your book. On your very first phone call, you might want to set up a meeting to come in and have a conversation with this person to talk about your book. Your goal might be that you want to send them a review copy of the book so they can take a look at it. You need to decide what is the goal of your conversation when you hang up that phone; where do you want to be? What do you want to have accomplished?
And very rarely, is your goal that you’re going to sell your book over the phone.
Ron Pramschufer: Although, that’s the ultimate goal.
Wendy: That’s the ultimate goal, but it’s not the goal of your first phone call. You want to – this is a step-by-step process, and if you’re – for example, you’d like them to make a bulk order. They probably need to look at the book first, so your goal, in that situation, is to get them to agree to take a look at a review copy and set a date to call them up and have a further discussion or set a date to have a meeting to go in and sit down with them face to face.
Ron Pramschufer: All right, now, if anybody in sales has gone through this, this whole deal with rejection, okay; they finally mean no. People don’t like no. How do we deal with rejection?
Wendy: Another great question, and, Ron, I’m gonna tell you there are the facts, and there are the stories that we tell ourselves about the facts. The facts are that you need to make some phone calls, and you’re gonna pick up the phone; you’re gonna call someone; either they’re there or they’re not, and if they’re there, you’re gonna have a conversation; you’re gonna say what you have to say; they’re gonna say what they have to say, and that’s pretty much it. Those are the facts. Would you agree with me?
Ron Pramschufer: Mm, hm.
Wendy: Okay, great. Now, the story is they’re rejecting me. They don’t wanna talk to me. They’re just gonna say no, and that’s a story. You haven’t talked to the person yet, so if that’s how you’re thinking; if you have those negative thoughts in your head, it’s time to change your story. This is my story. When I make calls, this is my story.
I’m gonna get the prospect on the phone, and that person is going to be delighted to hear from me. We’re gonna have a really good conversation, and I’m gonna get what I want. At the end of the conversation, I’m gonna ask for what I want, and I’m gonna get it. They’re gonna say yes, and that is my story. That is my expectation, and what happens? Because I have myself primed with that story and I believe it, when I make my phone calls, the outcome is much different because there’s positive energy there, and more people say yes.
When some people say no, and some people do say no, but when some people say no, I look at it as an aberration because that’s not in my mindset, so I would invite my listeners – change your story and use mine until you come up with a better one of your own.
Ron Pramschufer: Wendy, the whole concept of getting on the telephone, and again, I’ve been selling a lot of year, and I still get a little nervous sometimes when I pick up the phone. For somebody that’s just getting involved with this, who’s never picked up the phone; maybe they pick up the phone to talk to their relatives or whatever; they’ve never picked up the phone; don’t even call the gas or electric company to complain about their rates or whatever – they’re afraid of the phone. How do you get around this?
Wendy: Great question. I call this telephone terror, and for the people that are listening today, when you think about picking up that phone to call someone, if your heart starts pounding and your palms get sweaty, you’re not alone. Most people feel like that, and there are really three keys to being comfortable in this process.
We talked a little bit earlier about how most people feel about doing sales; that it’s uncomfortable, and there’s a real negative stereotype in this country about doing sales and especially about telemarketing, and the problem is that so many people buy into that stereotype and feel as though they’re doing something that’s wrong or something that has potential to be wrong.
Ron Pramschufer: So, they’re starting off with a guilty conscious.
Wendy: They’re starting off with a guilty conscious. My recommendation: Do a reality check. The reality is you put a lot of work into your book; you believe in your book. If you don’t believe in your book, you shouldn’t be trying to sell it, and you probably shouldn’t have written it, but we’re gonna assume you believe in your book. You’re not out there trying to run a scam. You’re doing the very best that you can do to get the word out about your book because you believe in it; you believe it has value to the people that you’re calling, so the first key to being comfortable is to realize you’re coming from integrity.
The second key to being comfortable, because I know so many times, people feel as though they need that prospect, that bookstore owner, that purchasing manager of the company; they need that person more than that person needs them, so let’s do a reality check on that one. The reality is bookstore owners need books, period. If it’s not your book, it’s somebody’s book, so this is a very reciprocal relationship. Yeah, you need them, so the second key to being comfortable is to recognize that you’re on an equal level with everyone that you call.
Now, this third key to being comfortable in this process is that you’re prepared, and we talked about the preparation a little bit earlier. If you simply pick up the phone and wing it, you’re probably going to have a bad experience. However, if you prepare and know exactly why the person that you’re talking to should be interested in your book, you are going to have a much better outcome.
Ron Pramschufer: All right, and then back on the “no” thing. There’s a lot of companies, especially the large companies; they have whole departments of people to say no, just to get rid of you, and you have to get through that first or second like layer before you even get back to the decision maker, and so what percentage – say you get on the phone; you decide today I’m gonna – there’s thousands and thousands of bookstores. You’re not gonna run out of leads.
Ron Pramschufer: Okay. Today is – whatever today is – Wednesday, Thursday, but today’s gonna be my calling day. How many calls should I figure to make?
Wendy: You can dial the phone about 20 times in an hour. I would recommend that if you’re just starting out, don’t plan to call for the entire day because you’ll burn yourself out. Sit down and make calls for maybe about an hour, and then, eventually build it up to two hours; build it up to three hours. When you dial the phone 20 times in one hour, on average, you could expect to reach maybe about six people directly, and if you’ve got good skills, you could probably get somewhere between two to three yeses to your next step on that first phone call, so those would be the numbers. If you don’t have the skills, I’m gonna recommend that all of our listeners visit my web site, which is queenofcoldcalling.com.
Ron Pramschufer: The whole publishing or self-publishing thing that so many people just overlook is that it’s a business; I mean, it’s something that you need to learn if you’re going to be successful.
Ron Pramschufer: And if you don’t wanna do that, then maybe you just need 20 copies of the book and give them out to your friends and family and your drinking buddies and call it a day. Don’t even try to get into it.
Wendy: Exactly, and what’s interesting; what happens over time, and our listeners really need to understand that this is a process that happens over time; that people that you speak with today may not be interested; however, six months from now, a year from now, two years from now, who knows? They might turn around and be interested, and so what you want to do as you make your call is create your database of people that you have targets, bookstores that you’ve targeted or companies that you’ve targeted and find ways to continue to stay in touch.
Ron Pramschufer: So it’s just keep your name out there, so it’s not a fast process.
Ron Pramschufer: I mean, you’re not gonna get on the phone today, and you’re gonna come out with 20 sales, and you’re gonna be rich and famous; I mean, it’s a process.
Wendy: Exactly, and however long it took you to write the book, it’s gonna take you probably at least that long to start getting it moving.
Ron Pramschufer: Well, that’s a good – I’ve never heard it that way, but that’s right; I mean, everybody – they spend years writing, and yet they want instant success, and then they have all, semi-instant disappointment when they don’t have instant success, but that’s an excellent way of looking at it. Well, Wendy, thank you very much for being on the show today.
Wendy: Thank you so much.
Ron Pramschufer: For Publishing Basics Radio, this is Ron Pramschufer. See you next week.
[End of Audio]