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My buddy, Dan Cole, vice president of business development for the International CES and the organization that produces it, the Consumer Electronics Association, just posted a great piece on Expo about using the telephone for sales. It’s a quick read, so have a look:

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Sales Q&A: Your Top 10 Phone Hangups

While some of us trade show salespeople are able to visit with prospects and customers in person at their offices or at other trade shows, all salespeople must rely heavily on the phone for every step of the sales process, from qualifying through closing.

I hear all sorts of frustrations and complaints about “dialing for dollars,” but until teleporting becomes a reality (I dream about the day it debuts at CES), we are better served if we embrace the phone as a valuable tool in the sales process.

It sits on our desk. We stare at it. What is it about that plastic device that makes it seem to weigh 10,000 pounds? What keeps us from a productive day in using it to its fullest potential?

Here are 10 reasons.

  1. Fear: As if the person on the other end of the phone possesses some mystical ability to reach through the phone line and hurt us. What are you afraid of? I’ll tell you: rejection. Get over it. You live and die by your ability to hear the word “No” every day. Suck it up. Make that call!
  2.  Blah blah blah blah blah: No enthusiasm. No energy. No nothing. If you can’t catch yourself smiling at the beginning, middle and end of a call, then put a mirror in front of you until it becomes a habit. Stand up. Walk around. Make calling an exciting endeavor!
  3.  Lack of preparation: Plan your work and work your plan. What have you done to prepare for the one or many calls you are about to make? What kind of research have you done? The more you know, the more confident you’ll be. Winging it here is just not going to cut it.
  4.  No goal: What is your goal for this round of calls? How many are you going to make? What is your target number? I’m not suggesting that you sacrifice quality for quantity but, in the absence of some sort of goal or objective for your round of calls and each call, you dismiss discipline.
  5.  No effective opening: If I had a quarter for every “How are you today?” or “Do you have five minutes?” I’ve heard…What would happen if you began a call with, “Hi Mary, this is Ed Smith of Widgetech. Congratulations on your recent (fill in the blank)!” Don’t start your sales calls like every….single….salesperson …in the world.
  6.  No empathy: If you’ve done your homework and asked even just a few brief questions, you’ll make our time (even if only a few minutes) about me. “What’s in it for me?” is the question for the prospect to ask, not one a salesperson should ever be thinking.
  7.  No trial closing: “How does this sound to you?” What are your thoughts about this?” “Does this make sense?” “How do you feel about moving forward?” Are you taking your prospect’s “temperature “as you go along? If not, you’re at the mercy of a meandering sales call.
  8.  No next step: If you do not ask for and gain agreement on a next step, you’re at someone else’s mercy. As the wise Stephen Schifmann says: “The goal of any step in the sales process is to get to the next step.”
  9.  Ineffective voice mail: This is another article unto itself. Let me go out on a limb: There is no silver bullet. There is no magic wand. Voice mail is here to stay. Best to be compelling and memorable. Be concise. Be honest. Leave a message and keep calling at sensible intervals.
  10.  Let it go: Don’t waste your time constantly hounding someone. If they are not going to call you back, then use your time wisely to reach another consequential thought leader in the company or resolve to follow up on a regular basis (just not daily). Decision makers change. Don’t let your competitor find out first.

Well, that’s my top 10. Can you master all 10? Of course, you can. Will you? That’s your call.

 Since 1995, Dan Cole has served as vice president of business development for the International CES and the organization that produces it, the Consumer Electronics Association. He has won numerous awards, including IAEE’s most outstanding sales and marketing executive and the International Business Awards’ most outstanding sales executive.

Sales Q&A: Your Top 10 Phone Hangups – Expo.