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Getting Your Ducks in a Row Before Making the Sales Call

Have you ever received a sales call for something you don’t want, or for something you want but aren’t interested in buying right now? Maybe it’s something you do want now, but you get the call right when you’re on a deadline or dealing with other urgent matters? It’s happened to all of us, and we all know the result: an all-too-brief conversation that produces nothing at best — and a nasty dialogue at worst.

If a key part of your business requires making sales calls to the leads you’ve generated, you’ll get a lot more conversions if you’ve done your homework before picking up the phone. Setting the table for that sales call through research goes a long way toward getting the results you want. Here are some things to keep in mind before making the call:

Do some prep work: If you’re calling on a business, do a little research to know what the company does, its operating hours, and the role of your contact in the company. This ensures you ask relevant questions and shows that you respected the lead enough to know something about the company.

This also helps with timing. If you’re calling a restaurant, Friday at 5 p.m. — when the establishment is gearing up for its busiest night of the week — is the worst possible time to call. If it’s not a local company, check the time zone to be certain you’re not calling from 10 a.m. where you are but 7 a.m. where they are.

Seek first to understand, then to be understood: Yes, we’re quoting Stephen Covey. That guy had a lot of great points, and this one goes a long way on a sales call. Be sure you know what the lead is looking for and how you can solve that need.

It’s best that you know as much as possible before calling, but you should also seek to clarify this right at the front of the call. If you go into a big sales pitch for something the person you’re talking to isn’t interested in, you might miss the opportunity to deliver on what the lead actually wants.

Don’t give away the farm: Make sure you’ve communicated clearly what you offer and specifically how it can benefit the lead before getting into prices, requirements, and other potential obstacles to the sale. Establish trust and build value before making the pitch.

When you do make the offer, don’t immediately change your terms if you don’t get an immediate reply. If you suddenly drop your price after a moment of silence, you’re giving the impression that was your “true” price all along, and the lead might feel jerked around.

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