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marketing brick walls


After many years of working in the field of anger and conflict resolution, and much money spent in getting qualified, I set up my company. I am always being told that there is a real need for the work we do in the field of anger managment. Most of our clients either self refer or are referred from doctors, the courts or charities. we have done some work for companies where employees have been fighting in the workplace or are struggling to keep their anger under control, or where managers find it difficult to deal with conflict. The problem we have found is that when we phone up to speak to someone in human resources to market what we do, we normally get no further than a central switchboard. We have also tried sending details by post but have no idea whether this ever get's to the intended person.

I know that many other small businesses like our's have similar problems, but would welcome any advice that people may have to enable us to reach a much wider audience with our product.

Many thanks
Robbie Spencer
Disarm From Within
Anger Management Training
Robin Spencer

11 Responses

  1. It’s not what you do it’s the way that you do it

    Many a good product or service doesn’t get used because it doesn’t get sold.

    Getting through to the right person is often about carefully phrasing your approach to ‘get past the gatekeeper’. Much of that is to do with confidence, and if you’re convinced you’ll be fobbed off, you probably will be!

    Try a two pronged approach. Use your first call to find out who you need to talk/send info to. On your second call be confident, give your name before asking to speak to your contact. From there it’s about gaining attention quickly.

    Don’t be afraid of getting trained yourself. Most people feel they’re pretty good at managing their anger, being assertive and resolving their conflicts, but they’re not always right! It’s the same with the telephone. Take a look at:

    Use your assertiveness skills positively and remember you have a great product and people will want to have a proper conversation with you as soon as they realise what you have to offer!

    Good luck


  2. Tele sales and training
    This is always a tricky area – so it is not just you! – and I don’t think there is an easy solution. However, I would say that two things in particular may be of help.
    Firstly, there is ‘tele sales’ technique. I don’t know about you but I hate the idea of anything approaching a hard sell, especially to someone I have not met. I find the Teleopen technique helpful in getting to the right person, and in then structuring the conversation. There is a course or a CD (excellent for anyone who sells or builds relationships on the phone). Details can be found at:
    The second issue might be terminology. Conflict Resolution training is big in the US. I suspect that many in UK organisations shy away from such terms. You might be better to use the sort of language companies use in their competencies (such as managing positive relationships). Some in the non-violent communication world, like Marshall Rosenberg, manage to defy usual conventions, but for small specialist providers like yourself, gaining entry is often about building on personal contacts and establishing not just your specialist credentials but also that you can talk the language of the organisation.
    I wish you the best of luck.

  3. Gatekeepers
    Hi Robbie, many of us face that problem, I totally endorse everything that Claudine has said. Further to that I would add.

    That :-
    you need a great database with the right kind of contacts.
    ( if you have not got one then buy one ) your local business link will assist. you might also get a student to find the right prople in the local companies, before calling or sending information, you might do some ” taster evenings ” at the local business link or, a couple of seminars.

    When you do call as well as confidence & right person you need a benefit statement for directors & a good reference site ( local if possible ) then build yourself a good local client base prior to beginning to work on the corporates, use every contact that you havre ever had to assist to sell, if everything is still slow get a couple of the bigger training business,s to remarket your product, or, associate with a couple of agents. The more you do the “luckier” you will get

    Good luck

  4. Look around
    I’ve got to agree with a lot of what has been said before but I’d also question where you are targeting in the first place.

    I think (and please tell me if I’m wrong) that your thinking is running something like this:

    – Anger management is a problem
    – This is a human problem
    – Therefore HR is the best place to contact

    However in many organisations HR are a support function who will often only be involved when it’s time to dismiss the individual with the problems.

    I’d be looking to talk to other area’s of the business such as operations managers, the board, etc. and determine if there are issues.

    Then I’d be looking to take some evidence to HR (if the managers aren’t able to buy your service themselves) and create a reason for them to buy.

    Getting the right person is hard – however the assumption that any one person within the organisation has enough info to hand to be able to make a value call on your product may be fatally flawed.

    The more people you speak to – the more likely you are to create a need, where the original perception was that none existed.

    This kind of sales model is used very successfully in IT and I suspect other walks of life.

  5. Thankyou for the response.
    thankyou for all your ideas i shall certainly take them on board. thinking about it further i suppose the hardest thing when talking to people is to get accross exactly what we do. Although we do work in areas of conflict resolution, much the same as many other comapnies out there the main focus of our work involves running training programmes for individuals, this is not counselling but a process where people take a look at their anger and learn techniques for managing it better,obviously success depends on the willingness to want to change. However when speaking to people on the phone the assumption seems to be that we are trying to sell conflict resolution programmes as opposed to what we are really offering. I guess some of this is down to the term “anger management” being all encompassing, but it also comes down to the way in which we descibe our services. I’m really glad that your replies have given me a chance to focus on how we market our product

  6. Professional marketing
    I think the main thrust of the advice so far is to learn new skills and then go through the whole cycle of learning to get this aspect of the business right.

    We did this and it was false economy, we were too close to the product to effectively hear the rejections and put them to use.

    The feedback we got from the marketing company we used after 5 days telemarketing enabled us to refine our offering, and go back to those who had been honest with the marketing team with a service they needed and could relate to. We then changed our message and refined our idea of who was our market. We were able to build a plan to get the business in the areas we needed.

    We now have a database and know a lot more about when those companies think about training, their budget for our sort of training and what their needs are in the year 2005/6. Stuff we would just not have got or thought to ask about.

    We all ‘did sales calls’ and got through about 45-50 a day. Professional marketing companies approach more than this by around 100%. If you want the referral please email us and I will send you a link.

  7. You’re not alone

    With a marketing background, I had to respond.

    What you are experiencing is the same as many small businesses. You may have a great product but, unfortunately, you need to be able to convince potential customers that they will benefit.

    First thing I would do is find the heaviest users of your product ie the 20% who would spend the 80%.

    Then I would write down why people need your service. If it is not obvious to the customer then you have to educate them. What would happen if…etc. So you would agree that… very important etc.

    Finally, you need to be able to speak to your potential customers and have them respond positively.

    If you’ve got the balls to pick up the phone then great as this is the first challenge. You then need to be fully prepared and confident to manage the conversation and move it forward.

    Without being completely opportunistic, we have a Successful Telephone Sales workshop in London on 15 November.

    It demonstrates how to consultancy sell to your prospect by understanding their N.E.A.D.S and offering an attractive solution.

    It’s a big area that you raise but it all comes done to effective marketing.

    Kind regards

  8. Try a different approach

    maybe telemarketing is not the right way for you to go. Quite a few training companies I know find that completely ‘cold’ telemarketing just doesn’t work for them.

    Have you thought of running short taster workshops targetted at the type of businesses you wish to attract, to give them an idea of what you would typically cover in a longer session?

    They need only be 2 hours long (maybe breakfast seminars) and charge a nominal amount, say £10 for breakfast. You would then have a ‘hook’ when contacting potential attendees with your offering.

    If you are aiming at sme’s, try running your seminars in local business centres where there are several all under one roof.

    Hope this helps spark some ideas.

    Good luck,


    Colette Johnson

  9. Taster sessions
    Thanks colette.
    Taster sessions are a great idea and we already offer free taster sessions to groups, large organisations etc, and find them very beneficial in getting accross what we offer. I would have to say the the majority of the larger contracts of work, have come from these sessions.

  10. My experiences…
    Hi Robin,

    Let me add my experiences as a training manager of some 12 years experience – the kind of person who might well be part of your target audience!

    When I was a training manager I was a busy guy. I soon realised that taking calls from people trying to sell me stuff was not going to help me get through the day.

    Also, I used to get wound up by people I answered the phone to going straight in to sales mode – so this conversation was all about them, and on my time – NO WAY was I going to entertain them any further, not then, not in the future – no matter how good the product or service on offer.

    The ones that I did respond to did the following:

    1 – ask me if I could spare some a few minutes to discuss my potential requirements for whatever their service/product was.

    2 – explain to me their product/service in 60 seconds or less, and in terms that were likely to be business focused – improve profit, reduce damage etc, but not glibly – with some specifics, such as “improve performance (e.g. profit or delivery time etc) by enabling people to deal quickly and effectively with the causes of anger and so rapidly get back to what they are good at.”

    3 – ask me if now was the time to discuss this, and if not ask permission to call me back at an agreed date & time in the future.

    4 – ask me if I knew of any others (in the company or not) that might have a need for their service.

    The whole exchange might take only 2 minutes, and this courtesy, focus on real business benefits etc would often result in me inviting them to email me details, call me in a few weeks etc and/or get in touch with my buddy Bill.

    Sometimes I would say “Nope, I don’t need your services yet, or in the future, but stay in touch, things may change”.

    I guess it’s about concentrating on ME and not trying to sell me anything but instead letting me know that there’s a solution to a potential problem I may have in the future. I’d remember their courtesy and focus on me and keep their details.

    Did I respond to the usual trappings of conventional marketing? Nope, especially the really glitzy campaigns – anybody with an expensive marketing budget will be charging me over the odds for whatever they were offering!

    It may be the case that telemarketing is not the way forward. Let me recommend Bernadette Doyle’s Client Magnet approach at – I have no interest – just a very satisfied customer!

    Also take a look at too.



  11. This strategy works for us
    I can understand your frustration Robbie, telesales of a product you believe to be a market leader can be extremely frustrating. We market a range of e-learning and other software products for both ourselves and as agents for third parties and this is how we do it.

    First remember that your prospective buyers are unlikely to be sitting around thinking about Anger Management, they are busy people with little time to spare as previous respondents have noted. This means that you need to introduce your service one step at a time as it is too easy just to say no to a call out of the blue.

    First buy a quality database – we’ve found that this is by far the lowest cost way of getting the names that you need. Then write to them telling them that you are going to call, say next week and give a little information (just a line or two) about what your service is. Next call – remember to be polite and ask if it’s OK etc – the person making the calls may require training to do this to a professional standard and get through to the prospect. This call should simply offer some free information or a free taster, i.e. it’s just a way of giving information out as you do already. (For example we offer a free 14 day trial of our e-learning products for sales and telephone skills).

    Finally once they have had the free sample/information/taster call again to see what the next step the prospect would like to take is e.g. proposal, more trials, book a course. Of course some will say no at this stage – so then it just becomes about numbers.

    Doing this we get a 5% – 15% take up of the free offer, after which you will find it easy to get to speak to your prosective clients.

    Hope this give you food for thought.


    Graham Meek
    Amtek Learning Systems


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