The sound of a phone click used to make my stomach drop.
Sales calls can be one of the scariest things to learn as a new employee or business owner. But while a sales call is not always necessary and should only be used in the right context, getting it right is critical. Here are some lessons I have learned over the years of being a telemarketer, salesperson and now business owner:
- Get confident. This is the first and most important step to a sales call. Go into the call with confidence and optimism each time. If you feel the call going in the wrong direction, find a common ground to identify with and try to steer the conversation back. Each time someone hangs up on you, reflect on why it happened and use that experience as feedback to improve for the next call. It is easier to be confident when you are well-prepared and well-researched. If you feel nervous, run through your call with a friend.
- Listen. You have already prepared and gone through your pitch. That doesn’t mean you can go on cruise control. Listen to every piece of feedback, have a full conversation and never interrupt.
- Be yourself. Discomfort is easy to feel over the phone. Beyond relaxing, don’t try to be someone else on the phone. Effective salespeople aren’t always the most aggressive, loud and pushy. In fact, in my experience, a genuine connection can be much more effective. The most important aspect is to feel comfortable with your style and personality.
- Speak at a normal speed. There is nothing worse than trying to have a call with someone speaking too quickly or very slowly.
- Be succinct. Get to the point quickly and be prepared. If there is a place where you can relate to the person on the other end, mention it, but don’t ramble on about it. (That said, if the customer or client engages you in small talk, definitely go with it.)
- Be respectful. If you are cold calling, once you make your point quickly, ask if this is a good time to talk. If it isn’t, ask when would be a good time to call back, and follow up via email to confirm the time.
- Know who to ask for. Whatever your reason for phoning, know who the responsible decision maker is. For some of our clients, it is the head of marketing and sales. When I would sell products to stores, it was usually the accessories buyer. Find out who makes the final decision before you pick up the phone, or you will waste your time and theirs.
Sales calls can actually be really fun once you get a few big wins. And it only gets easier with practice.