Setting Sail for Successful Sales Calls

Sales calls can be tricky waters to navigate, especially if you are calling new sales leads or prospects. Before you set sail and dial that phone number, be sure you have done your research ahead of time regarding the person or business you are calling, know what you want to say and who to ask for, and be ready to answer questions!

No one wants to hit the seas only to find out after they’ve departed that they don’t have adequate supplies. The same goes for sales calls; you don’t want to find yourself in a position where you might lose out on a sale opportunity only because you weren’t fully prepared. So before you pick up your phone, follow these tips to ensure you are ready for your voyage.

1. Over prepare. Everyone is familiar with the saying “it is better to have it an not need it than need it and not have it.” Apply this principle to your sales call preparation. Define the purpose of call ahead of time; know exactly who you are calling, why you are calling them, and what you want to achieve with that call. (Do you want to set up a meeting? Gauge interest in a future sales opportunity? These slight differences matter when calling prospects.) Write a list of questions you may have for your prospect as well as a list of answers to anticipated questions they may have for you. Create a script for yourself, one that is direct and simple. Just be sure you don’t stick so rigidly to it that you sound like a robot over the phone.
2. Practice, practice, practice. In the same way a sailor might practice tying nautical knots in their downtime, salespersons will want to practice their sales delivery. Cold calling can be nerve wracking for less experienced individuals, and those nerves can easily be translated through your voice during a call. Practice your sales script out loud, to yourself before delivering it to a prospect. Play close attention to the speed at which you are speaking as well as the pitch of your voice (nerves can often increase the speed we speak at and cause our voices to get higher). Make sure you sound professional, concise, and courteous. Smile when you speak; it can help add warmth and friendliness to your tone. Practice in front of a mirror if it helps, and don’t be afraid to get animated and speak with your hands; ultimately, you want to act the same way you would if you were speaking to someone in person.
3. Getting past the “gatekeeper.” Unless you already have an existing relationship with a customer, it is unlikely you will have the direct phone number of the person within an organization you want to speak to. This usually means you will call a company’s main line and speak to either a secretary or assistant first. It is important to show this gatekeeper the same level of respect you would show towards the company’s owner, manager, or another decision-maker. Ask for the person you are looking to talk to by name, if possible, rather than asking to speak to “someone,” “your manager,” or “the owner.” If the gatekeeper is unable to connect you, leave your name, phone number, and a brief yet descriptive reason for your call. (If you don’t receive a call back, don’t be afraid to follow up!)
4. Delivery. Once you are at this point, all that’s left to do is hop on your ship and leave the port!

Whether you’re getting ready to set sail or make a sale, the most important steps you can take often happen before you even begin. Know what you want to achieve from your sales call, prepare for all situations and conversations, and ensure your delivery is done to the best of your abilities.

Alternately, if the idea of making sales calls yourself makes you seasick, you can always hire a dedicated, professional, and experienced company to perform them for you!