Sales 101: Perfecting the First Call

Getting the hang of a great sales call can take a bit of practice. Cold calling is definitely not for the faint hearted; it takes a fair amount of guts to be able to call someone out of the blue and try to convince them to buy a product. However, as long as you’re confident, follow best practices and prepare enough in advance, the whole process should go off much smoother.

Phone campaigns can be extremely lucrative when done right. Here is a mini-guide to help get the most out of your sales calls. Read up and get dialling!

Sales officer making sales calls

When to Call

You may not have given it much thought before, but there are definitely days and times when it’s better to make a sales call than others. For example, you probably wouldn’t want to call first thing on a Monday morning when everyone’s getting caught up and back in the swing of things, nor is 4:30pm on a Friday ideal, when employees are starting to check out for the weekend.

So when is the best time to make a sales call? Lead Response Management conducted research in this area, looking at data across three years and six companies. This included data from over 15,000 leads and 100,000 call attempts, and the results were pretty definitive. They determined that Wednesdays and Thursdays are the best days to call; Thursday being 49% better than the worst day, which was, rather surprisingly, Tuesday.

The best time of day was deemed to be between 4 and 6pm. This window was found to be 114% more successful than 11am to 12pm.

The First Step: Prepare

You probably wouldn’t go into a face-to-face meeting without doing some kind of prep beforehand, so why should a call be any different? There are several things you can do to ensure you’re as ready to go as possible, such as:

  • Know your goals – Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want to get out of the call, that way you’ll know how to steer the conversation.
  • Brainstorm – Come up with the main topics and questions you want to cover, and then think about the possible answers the lead might give. This will not only make you feel more confident going into the call, but also help to avoid any awkward pauses while you’re working out how to answer their questions effectively.
  • Practice – Whether it’s out loud or in your head, run through the conversation to make sure what you’re saying sounds friendly and appealing. You could even try recording yourself to check that you’re putting your messages across in a clear and positive-sounding manner.

Courteous sales officer

Getting the Etiquette Right

Being as polite and professional as possible while on a sales call is so important, but things can get overlooked all too easily in the heat of the moment. Make sure you’re following these points:

  • Use their name – Not so much that it’s creepy, but throw it in there to personalize the call and show that you see them as an individual rather than just a potential sale.
  • Don’t interrupt – While it can be more difficult to ascertain when to jump in during a phone call than in person, it’s important to wait until they’ve finished talking in order to put your point across. Even if they’re saying they’re not interested or disagreeing with you about something, you’ll do yourself no favors by sounding rude or pushy.
  • Don’t put them on hold – This will not only upset the natural flow of the conversation, it’s also a great way to make your potential customers feel unimportant. Call at a time you know you won’t be interrupted, and if something urgent does come up explain this to the lead with a sincere apology.

Don’t be a Robot

Coming across as soulless and as though you’re just reading from a script isn’t endearing at all to leads, so don’t be worried about showing some personality. They’re much more likely to warm to you and your company if you have a genuine and natural conversation, as well as feeling more relaxed and therefore more likely to engage.

Be yourself, have a sense of humour, and remember to smile – you can definitely tell if someone is doing so just by hearing them talk. It may seem obvious, but don’t forget to listen. It’s no good babbling away and rushing over all the points you wanted to cover without checking to see if the lead has any questions or anything to add to the conversation. Show them that you’re interested in them as an individual and are genuinely looking for the best way to help them.

Making a Sale

When it comes to telling the prospect about your product, don’t simply reel off a list of everything it does. Tailor the information to their needs, either by gathering data about them beforehand using a reputable company intelligence provider, for example, or by asking the right questions during the call.

Avoid any sales speak or cliches that will act as an instant red flag to the listener, and be prepared in case they say they’re not interested, for example by telling them they are welcome to hang up if you don’t impress them within the next minute.

Sales staff calling prospects

Target the Right Prospects

Successful phone campaigns start with the right choice of prospect. Targeting people who are unlikely to ever convert or have no real buying authority will not only become incredibly frustrating, it will also see you end up wasting time and money. Global Database has a great solution to this problem; build highly-targeted contact lists with direct phone numbers.

You can filter the millions of contacts in the database based on things like job title, industry, seniority level, company revenue and location, so you can be sure you’re calling the right type of people who may be interested in your offer, and have the power to buy.

Close Carefully

Once you’ve finished everything you wanted to get across, signal that the call is ending by going over everything you’ve discussed very briefly. Don’t just rush off or suddenly start becoming pushy; thank them for their time and ask if they have any questions. If you haven’t made a sale, you can follow up with an email in a day or two.

Ultimately you want your prospects to walk away from the call feeling good and viewing you and your company as reputable and customer-orientated. If you’ve achieved this, you’re much more likely to end up hearing from them again.

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