Many business owners avoid making sales calls because they just don’t like doing them, they feel awkward, they don’t know how to overcome objections, they feel pushy… The list goes on, but ultimately you don’t like getting them yourself, so you don’t want to make others feel the same way.
However you needn’t feel like that. If you follow my tips on how to improve the process, you’ll become more comfortable with actually picking up the phone to make that dreaded sales call.
1. Warm calls, not cold ones
Making cold calls is a skilled art and takes someone with a good deal of resilience to conduct, especially in the early days of learning sales. You have to be prepared to make call number x after potentially receiving perceived rejections. So my first tip is to leave cold calls to the professionals (I can introduce you to some great telesales companies), and I’d suggest starting with only select people who are either expecting your call, or who are already aware of your products/services. They may have leaned towards you or interacted with a lead generation channel such as a lead magnet. If you don’t have a list of people to contact then go and introduce yourself in networking meetings, forums and social media groups to help you build your list.
2. Go with clarity
It’s unusual to get through to the person you need to speak to right away, so begin with asking, ‘who do I speak to regarding…’ When you do get to the right person, be clear on your reason for calling – do you want to arrange a 1:1 meeting, are you looking for an email address?
One tip I’ve seen work well is to make two calls. Firstly, ask ‘who should I write to about X’ and then call another time asking for that person.
3. Know your offering inside and out
If you can’t confidently state your value, benefits, prices or expectations your prospect won’t feel confident talking to you.
4. Reframe the process in your mind
You’re not making a sales call, you’re making a service call – a call to offer support, solutions or opportunities. You’re offering them an opportunity to buy. Also consider that you are doing them a disservice by not calling them to talk about something you know would be a solution to their pain, problem, fear, want, need or desire. This will change your mindset and you’ll feel happier about making that first call.
5. Take your time
Break your call list down into easy to manage numbers – start with say, 10 calls and take a break. That way, if you get a knock-back and start to feel negative about the exercise, you don’t still have another 50 calls to make!
My experience is that if you bail out of the calls you planned to make on a large list, you may not go back to them and potentially waste the large list compared to say the smaller number.
6. Prepare for objections
Quite often you can predict the handful of objections you might hear. How would you respond to them? Remember, you may have to get past the ‘gatekeeper’ before you can speak to the decision maker, so being prepared makes you feel and sound more confident.
7. Make notes, not scripts
I’m not a fan of a full script and flow chart – I can always tell when someone is checking off the points as they go! So rather than having a script, bullet point the main points you want to make on the call and work them into a flow of conversation. Include the best features, value and benefits, and don’t forget to clarify the follow up actions. Prompt and remind yourself so that you not only hear, but actually listen to the person you are calling rather than mechanically delivering messages.
8. Stand up and smile
There is much research to show that your energy and mood is easily transmitted down a phone line. If you adjust your energy by smiling and changing your posture, it will make the call go smoother. Perhaps you could have a visual reminder of your ‘reason why’ in your periphery to aid the smile…
9. Outsource or delegate the job
For a micro, small or medium sized business, the best person to make the call is often you, the business owner. You know your ‘why’, you have the passion for your offering, and you know it better than anyone else. However, if someone else makes the calls they could open doors for you by warming up the prospect and clarifying the call list.
10. Story tell, don’t sell
Still thinking about using that call script? You’ll have more success pulling people towards you with interest by sharing stories, anecdotes, case studies even, than by mechanically following a sales script. Remember, people buy people, so be a real person, not a dreaded salesperson.
All businesses have to sell at some point, it is the lifeblood of our trading. I do hope these tips help you make your sales calls with greater confidence, and that you begin to see better outcomes, or at least outcomes to learn from.