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Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Stephen Ondich.

About the interviewee

Stephen Ondich, Operations Manager, Commercial Forest Products, Fontana, California. After graduating from Claremont McKenna College in 1995, I was hired for inside sales with a lumber company. Within 10 years, I was promoted to outside sales then VP of Sales, then equity partner. Sold my interest to start Commercial Forest Products in 2009.

Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).

We supply wood products to manufacturers of instruments, high-end flooring and millwork throughout the United States from our warehouse/mill in Fontana, California. Our mill currently employs 49 people.

What type and size of companies do you have as clients?

Most of our customers are medium/large manufacturers in the US who need specialty wood products that aren’t typically available in traditional lumber stores.

Tell us what you hate about cold calling?

Most people hate cold calling because it involves approaching people who they have no relationship with and asking them for something (their time,their business, a referral, etc). It’s similar to a panhandling. Unlike the panhandler, the sales rep wants to start an ongoing relationship.
There’s also an assumption that reps making generic cold calls don’t have much going on and are unlikely to add value. Reps can be successful through relentlessly cold-calling but it’s emotionally draining unless you really love the chase.

Is cold calling necessary in your business? If so, why?

Prospecting is necessary but I avoid cold-calling. To me, cold-calling is lazy and mindless – I know nothing about you but give me an order, 100x a day. It’s better than staring at the wall but it’s not the way I want to make a living.

What are some effective ways you have developed to avoid cold calling?

I prefer to warm up the calls so you’re presenting yourself from a position of strength, not weakly begging for an audience.
– Start with referrals. If your prospect knows you have a successful relationship someone they know, they are more likely to take your calls.
– Have a good reason for calling. A good reason is “I see from your website that you’re coming out with a new line of widgets and we have something that is ideal for those widget…” A bad reason is “I want to find out what you buy”
– Ask to speak to a person. Don’t ask for “the purchasing agent”. Do your homework and find a name.
– Have a good voice mail message ready. Your probably going to be leaving a message on your first call so make it count.
– Try to send an email first. If your prospect likes something in your email, they’re more likely to pick up the phone when you call.
– Ask for a brief appointment. Prospects don’t want to be stuck in a long appointment with an unproven new rep. Ask for a 10 minute appointment. It’s much less of a commitment and also implies that you’re busy, too.

Contact information:
www.commercialforestproducts.com

Kevin Price, Host of the Price of Business on Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston) recently interviewed Stephen Ondich.

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