Timothy Spell- What You Love and Hate about Cold Calling


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

About the interviewee

Timothy Spell, CEO of OpenWater, helps set the tone for his company, focusing on the sales and marketing side of the business.  Coming from an athletic rowing background, Tim thrives under pressure and seeks out competition making sales and entrepreneurship an easy fit.

With 0 outside investment Tim used every salesman’s best friend, the phone, to build his client base.

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

Number Of Employees: 16
Location: Downtown Washington DC

Type of Software: software as a service

What does it do: Online software platform that automates online competitions, awards and contests.

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

75% are trade associations between 5 and 30 million in annual revenue
Examples: National Association of Broadcasters.  American Trucking Associations, American Advertising Federation

25% are for-profit media groups (magazine awards)
Example: Hanleywood (large architecture magazine)

Tell us what you love about the selling process?

Sales is a game much like chess. There is a winner and a loser in every interaction. Once you start treating it (sales) as a game and are able to remove yourself from the emotions that can inevitably come from selling, it becomes easy and fun.

I view sales as being a privilege and I’m lucky to be part of such an exciting field. After all, what other job can give you such highs and lows in a given day? Those thrills and challenges is what keeps me coming back to the phones every day.

Tell us what you hate about the selling process?

I love my job and I love sales but I don’t like the stereotype that sales people sometimes have from non-sales people (snake oil salesmen, trickery etc…) when in fact 95% of the time it’s the prospects that usually don’t tell the full truth. My mission at my company is to make sure our clients never feel that way.

What do you do to make selling work for you?

I’ve modified my sales process along the way but there are few critical things that I and my sales team do on a regular to basis to be successful:

Track your calls (yes, all of them), scheduled meetings and demos (we use salesforce).  This makes for easy weekly / monthly reporting.

Goal setting: each salesman sets their own goals in the beginning of the year and are held accountable with their weekly/monthly reports.

Competition:  most salesmen are by nature, competitive.  Keep the stats above visible so the entire company can see what they are up to.  It keeps people from making excuses.  We use an old fashioned whiteboard.

Take responsibility for the sale:  didn’t get the sale?  What could you have done better to get it?  Don’t blame the price, don’t blame a feature.  I had to sell this software before we had 1 client, but took each loss as a learning opportunity for how I could do better next time.  Our currently salesmen are great at this.

For the actual cold call or selling situation I try to imagine that I’m controlling myself in a different room (like a video game).  I’m a sales machine that is not capable of getting too emotionally involved.  If I don’t get the sale I can press the “reset” button on a new prospect learning from my mistakes previously.

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