A voice for cold-calling (and radio)

A voice for cold-calling (and radio)

Chris O'Shea shares some tips on selling and how to keep on taking it when people tell you to go away

Music fan Chris O’Shea is country manager for ITB Distributors, as well as a radio presenter on Americana Radio on Wellington’s Radio Active.

Chris was previously the owner and founding director of Observatory Crest and Brainfuel, an E-learning company, and has been in IT sales since 1989.

He has also spent 30 years in the rock industry having worked for RCA in the late 70s, looking after talent such as Iggy Pop and pushing Margaritiville into the radio stations. His other claims to fame are that he once worked with Hunter S Thompson and that Nick Cave played at his 21st birthday.

What’s your best and worst experience of cold calling?

My best experience cold calling was picking up an order for 20 electronic typewriters to a financier who ended up doing jail time. But he did pay the bill. Back in the 1980s my worst experience was the usual of being told to f*** off

What’s your most successful tip for cold calling?

Be positive and find ways to get them interested in you. Having been in the music business for 30 years then everyone wants to hear a rock’n’roll story and that was always a good way to cut through the crap. And always use the five open-ended questions to elicit answers such as when, why, how etc.

Is money your only motivator for being successful?

No, but it sure helps as money troubles will always slow a salesman down. I do an Americana Radio show in Wellington and that is successful so it’s relative.

What’s the most useful tip you can give to a struggling salesperson?

Find a rich woman. No, not true but persevere as hard work pays off and always have an elevator pitch.

What percentage do you consider your personality contributes to your success compared to the product and the company?

Thirty percent personality as people have to feel relaxed and have total trust in you before committing to the company and product, so you really have to sell yourself and never, never tell porkies.

Most sales people have some experience of other jobs, what’s yours?

As a young one I managed a record store on Lambton Quay and worked for RCA records in Melbourne and toured with and managed bands, which was fun. I still keep my hand in by doing an alternative country radio show which was voted no 1 by our local Capital Times two years ago. Last year I got involved in marketing Slinkylinks silver audio cable.

Do you ever consider changing your career?


Does the pressure to hit your monthly or quarterly targets ever make you stressed?

Yes always.

How would you sum up the craft of sales in one sentence to an outsider?

It’s all about finding the lead or the smoke signals and hunting down the buffalo, killing it and dragging it back to the company fort.

How long does it take you to assess how you should approach your sales pitch?

I always want to read the body language and listen to the tumblers turning before I can determine where their pain is and put forward a suitable solution.

Have you ever put your foot in it when talking to a client?


Do you consider yourself a persuasive person?

Yes indeedy.

What’s the best deal you have ever closed?

Lashings of HP printers in the 90s and doing a 400K deal one January with 60 percent GP with Brainfuel about four years ago. But my best deal was landing a great American recording contract for a local singer songwriter which is where my passion is.

Would you encourage your offspring to go into sales?

My boy is at Kiwibank selling mortgages and loves it

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