The sound of a phone click used to make my stomach drop.
Sales calls can be one of the scariest new 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 learned over the years of being a telemarketer, salesperson, and now business owner:
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 you get hung up on, the best use of energy is to reflect on why you were hung up on and use that experience as feedback to improve for the next call. It is easier to be confident when you are well-prepared and researched too. If you feel nervous, run through your call with a friend.
You have prepared and gone through your pitch. That doesn’t mean you go on cruise control. Listen to every piece of feedback, have a conversation, and never interrupt.
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.
There is nothing worse than trying to have a call with someone speaking too quickly or very slowly.
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.)
If you are cold calling, once you get to 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.
This depends on what your call objective is, but whatever your reason for phoning, know who the 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.
—Tanya Menendez is the co-founder and COO of Maker’s Row, a marketplace for American manufacturers. We help brands get their products made in the USA. Check it out at MakersRow.com. She is a member of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs.