I have no idea what I'm doing (suggestions welcome)
Thursday, January 06, 2011
I've been at my new job for a few weeks now. Still not particularly loving it. I suppose not particularly hating it. Hating the toxic environment, but not so much the job. Know why? Because I have no idea what I'm doing!
Yesterday was my first day back after the holidays (should have been Tuesday, but I've been really sick lately. First was a nasty stomach flu over Christmas followed by a wicked head cold with matching fever and chills over New Years. Interestingly, I was not sick at all until I started working there. Just saying. (Of course, one of my co-workers came in sick. Really sick. And he passed it along to everyone. Don't worry, he knows we all blame him for making everyone sick.)). Being January with the stress of Christmas behind everyone, people were finally in their offices so it was worthwhile making calls.
So I did.
I called and called and called.
I made 30 to 40 calls before lunch. I was so proud of myself. They were all follow-ups to see if these potential clients had had a chance to look over the media kits I sent them back in December. Of course, most of them either hadn't (what did I expect? They've only been in the office for a few days), and even more weren't even available. So that meant messages, which, I later found out, don't actually count as phone calls. So my boss's expectations of making 50 calls in the morning is, well, impossible. I'm trying to do the math. I like math, but I can't seem to make it work. How do I make 50 calls where I'm actually speaking to people in 3 hours? Allow me to take you back to grade school and show you my work:
There are 60 minutes in an hour x3 hours = 180 minutes. Be really generous and assume it only takes 5 minutes to make a really surface-skimming call, no fancy talk, no relationship building, just cutting right down to business, and you've still only got 36 calls. (5 divided into 180 = 36). The only way it'll work is if I only spend 3 minutes and 36 seconds on each phone call. (50 divided into 180).
OK. 3:36. Let's break that time down.
15 sec (assuming I'm really quick) to find the number and dial (this leaves no room for my dyslexia and accidentally dialing 223 instead of 233. Again, I'm really sorry I called you twice, sir. My bad.) This includes searching through my database and reading up on my previous contacts with this person, most of which is nil, as I've just started.
5 sec waiting for someone to answer, assuming it goes to their direct line. I don't have enough ext. numbers--I usually have to be transferred over, which means explaining to "the gatekeeper" on the other end who I am. this alone can screw up my future numbers by almost 30 seconds. But let's just pretend that I have the direct line of the person I wish to speak to. So only 5 sec for them to pick up.
6 sec of introduction to remind them who I am
10 sec of asking whether or not they've looked over the info I sent them and them answering
If the call ends there, no problem. I can probably make those 50 calls. That will leave me almost 3 full minutes to resend the info if I need to, schedule a reminder for a follow up call in a week, and write in my database diary what transpired in my short little call.
But what's the point of that call? What's the point of 50 calls like that? I thought I was supposed to put numbers on the board. How do I make a sale in under 2:50? I say under because whether they are interested or not, I still have to update my database. And if they say yes, I have a lot of paperwork to fill out. I need to fill out an insertion order, print and fax it out. I also have to fill out my commission paperwork and assume I've filled all of that correctly. Next I need to make another phone call back to the client just to let them know that I've just faxed over the paperwork and need it back sooner than later. (At least that call doesn't need my introduction and questioning period again...)
All that in under 3 minutes? Or better, all that in under 5 minutes? My associates can't even do that.
And what happens when I need to pitch? I haven't even accounted for that time yet. As well, what about closing? But more importantly, how do I even do either of those things?!
Yesterday was my first real pitch. And I have absolutely NO IDEA what I was doing. It was mostly a lot of gibberish spewing forth from my mouth. I was speaking to the chair of a community development team for a town. I know that the town would be a great fit in our publication. But I just didn't have a clue how to convince him of that. I should know. I was undefeated on my junior high debate team. I studied advertising. I know how to convince people to believe in my product. I'm just much better at it on paper (after all, I'm a writer not a lawyer (although I used to want to be one--arguing and getting people to side with me is fun)).
I suppose as I'm writing this, I can see that I already have the potential to do just what I need to do. I just don't have a clue how to do it. I've never worked in sales like this before. How do I pitch? How do I close? How do I become more assertive and less afraid to offend someone?
Who am I kidding? I don't want to offend anyone. When telemarketers call me, I am never interested, but I don't want to hurt their feelings, so I don't interrupt them from reading their script and let them go on and on for a while. Hang up on them? Never! That's just rude! I want to treat people the same way I would want to be treated if I were calling random strangers.
Isn't that funny, because now that is just what I'm doing. Calling random strangers. Only I'm not a telemarketer. I'm an Advertising Account Manager. I like the title. When I get business cards, it'll be nice to have that written on it. (My personal cards say 'Professional Communicator'. That's just fun!)
But I still have no idea what I'm doing. Fake it til you make it? Sure. But how?