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“After sending out a press release for guests I received a whopping 250 replies in 1 day. We now have a six month waiting list and are courting advertisers to pay for the show.”

Tony Wilkins is the owner of TCS/BDS Intl. and author of Telemarketing Success for Small and Mid-sized Firms and The Single Person’s Cookbook. He is also the Exec. Producer of such films as The Mo Diaries,Zelma’s Spirit and Lonesome Town and is the screenwriter for the upcoming film Couples in Bolinas. Mr. Wilkins has been in the business development and telemarketing industry for over 30 years and is well known in the sales community for his “no nonsense” approach to generating sales and setting quality appointments.

Tony Wilkins, Nine Twenty Productions - Owner

MO: What would you say the secret is to setting quality appointments?

Tony: I think the secret to setting quality appointments is asking the right probing questions,speaking with the decision maker and “creating the need.” Creating the need is different from what most sales people and telemarketers do and believe me there is a difference. Most sales people sell from price or service. They figure that because they have a great product every prospect will surely want to buy from them. Which is false. The trick to effective cold calling is to sell to people that have a need, a budget and are open to meeting you because not every person you speak with is someone you want to do business with. So the real challenge is to get to the prospects that have a need for the product or service. And rule out the people that don’t have a need.

MO: Why should someone buy a subscription to your BDS Intl. website? What are the advantages of becoming a member?

Tony: Prospects should buy a subscription for several reasons. First the lead service is a great way to purchase lists as well as warm leads without spending a lot of money. Secondly it’s an inexpensive way to promote your business. We have roughly 5,000 new visitors (and counting) per month.

MO: I don’t know anyone who enjoys receiving calls from telemarketers, let alone buys anything from them. How do you take a selling method that has a poor reputation and get impressive results?

Tony: Ironically, I don’t do a lot of cold calling anymore and I am primarily known as a business development consultant and not as a telemarketer. What you’re talking about is B to C or Business to Consumer calling which I don’t do(I do B to B or Business to Business only). However every company in the world does telemarketing whether they know it or not. Think about it this way. Telemarketing is marketing or selling over the phone. And there are 5 basic types of telemarketing. Appointment setting.lead generation,sales,market research or customer service. So chances are if you’re a business you utilizing a form of telemarketing. I get impressive results because there is a storng need (still) for appointment setting. The prospects that come to me do so because they don’t want to do it themselves. The old adage of “it’s a dirty job but someone has to do it “is very true.

MO: Aside from being a business consultant and author you’re also a filmmaker. What draws you to the process of film making and how do you manage to fit it into you’re already busy schedule?

Tony: After publishing my second book, The Single Person’s Cookbook, I decided that I was taped out as far as producing another book right away. But I knew I still had stories I wanted to share and I needed a challenge. And I guess it falls into being too stupid to know what what I don’t know. I have no formal training in film work but had an idea for a film. But rather than writing th script and handing it over to someone to make I decided to produce it myself. So I hired a talented crew and cast and made The Mo Diaries www.themodiaries.com which quickly became an underground hit. I had such a great time developing the project that I wanted to do more projects. So I joined a film co-op to educate myself and work with other filmmakers,directors,writers etc. to learn the process correctly. It’s been a very rewarding experience working with so many talented artists. I think the idea of telling a story and seeing it developed into a film that people can go and see is why I love the process. It’s an enormous amount of work and harder than most people think. Again, I really love the process. Luckily, my schedule is such that I can work on the films in the evenings and weekends so it doesn’t interfere with my regular business.

MO: What inspired you to start doing your own radio show?

Tony: I wanted a way to educate people on sales and marketing as an extension of my workshops. I also wanted a way of telling other business owner’s stories and thus sharing their knowledge with my audience. What developed out of that has become a a worldwide success with a six month waiting list for guests to be on the program. The pay off is that my guests not only share their expertise while promoting their work but as an added bonus I insist that they put together a targeted list of prospects ,email them and ask them to tune in. This has several effects. It gets the word out about the show and promotes the guests to their audience by establishing themselves as experts in their field. It also gives listeners an opportunity to buy either my (or my guests) products,advertise or become a guests. Again a lot of work and this is definitely new territory for me but I’m having a great time.

MO: You have written books on both telemarketing and cooking. Which one was more challenging to write? Was the cook book more a labor of love?

Tony: The cookbook was much harder. I come from a long line of great cooks and I’ve been doing it since I was about 7. But I don’t measure anything so writing down recipes was really difficult for me. The cookbook was a labor of love because let’s face it telemarketing while a bit of a necessity is boring. So I thought that it was time to do something fun. Little did I know how much work it would be. The good news is that writing the book landed me on national tv for the first time and my favorite aunt (a fantastic cook in her own right) came all the way from Stockton Ca. to San Francisco just to sit in the audience and watch the taping. Very cool. I often get asked if I’ll do a follow up book and I always say “not yet but maybe some day”. We’ll see. Right now my focus is on film and the radio as well as the new book coming out next year.

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