Death of a Salesman

Problem: Most salespeople hate cold calls and aren’t very good at making them. As a result, cold calling activity is limited and they never seem to improve. We all get cold calls on a regular basis and most result in failure. See if you can relate to any of the following.

Diagnosis: The first 10 to 15 seconds are critical in a prospecting call and will set the stage for success. Most prospecting calls shriek “ALERT! SALESPERSON CALLING!” and trigger the prospect to turn on their automatic defense system. All of us have heard one too many sales pitches and tricky one liners. Here are some examples of how salespeople unconsciously shout “I’M A SALESMAN” in the first few seconds of a call. In parentheses is what the prospect is probably thinking.

  • “Do you have a few minutes to talk?’ (Oh sure, I was just here in my office wasting a little time)
  • “I’m calling to tell you about our new_________” (Big deal, I don’t need it, don’t want it, and I don’t care.)
  • “If I could show you a way ____” (This guy must have just attended one of those weekend training seminars.)
  • “We’re giving away a free _______ with every new customer.” (Sure…what are the strings?)
  • “We are announcing a new…. (and in to the pitch).” (Can I just get a word in edgewise to tell you I’m not interested?)

Solution: Don’t act like a salesperson! Break the pattern. Your task, once the prospect answers the phone, is to create a respectful, low key, non-threatening environment. Have the courage to ask if you got them at a bad time. Tell them it’s a sales call. Ask them for 20 seconds to tell them why you called. Promise to be brief and right to the point. Tell them you may not have anything they’d be interested in and that it’s okay for them to tell you if they have no interest. Don’t act too friendly or familiar.

The purpose of your call is to determine if there may be a reason to do business together. There may not be. In order to find that out, you have to get them to talk to you. This approach will help you do that.