Here’s what NOT to do on a sales call.
Why is it we can recall with such clarity the moments in our lives that we’d like to forget? That’s how I still feel about my first ever solo-sales call. I didn’t do anything truly cringe-worthy like falling down – which once happened in an icy parking lot.
I blew it and I never had the nerve to call on them again. Later, after years of experience and thousands (more like tens of thousands) of phone calls I could never bring myself to face them. Fortunately, there really were lots more fish in the sea and it didn’t derail me in my new job. I learned from my mistakes and went on to a successful career in sales.
Here’s what I did wrong.
I made it all about me.
Nervous and eager don’t always mix well. I was so intent on telling them all about the company and our services – even when I realized I’d lost them (picking up on social cues is critical) I couldn’t stop talking. Ouch.
Lesson: Let the client tell you want they want, then start talking.
I didn’t ask enough questions. This is a skill I later mastered especially with new clients and first time appointments. When in doubt ASK something. Let your prospect or client do the talking. You’ll be amazed what they willingly share and you’ll definitely set yourself apart from other sales people.
Lesson: Ask, ask and then ask some more. Tip: one of my best questions- I asked for a tour of the data center. It worked almost every time and it sure beat sitting and looking at each other awkwardly across a conference room table.
I didn’t have a clear goal for the call. I was new, and honestly, it never occurred to me that people wouldn’t want to buy from me. Seriously, that’s why I got into sales in the first place – because it looked so easy. I assumed that the client would understand I wanted their business and they would say yes.
Lesson: Enter the sales call with a clear goal. Maybe you need to learn their how they work with vendors, or perhaps you need to know more about their corporate structure. Your goal may not always be to walk out with a purchase order. You’ll do much better if you are clear about what you want to accomplish.
I was trying to make a sale without any credibility. This is practically impossible for the most talented sales people. My newbie status meant I didn’t have a prayer. Not because I was new but because I wasn’t willing to earn their confidence before launching into a horrifying pitch. (It still pains me to think of it)
Lesson: Earn your client’s trust. Business will follow.
I learned from this experience.
After this call I was determined to never walk out feeling so bad about my performance. It was clear I needed more experience but I also realized that I’d be much better off listening first, asking loads of questions and THEN making sure they knew they could count on me for good pricing and service.
I didn’t quit.
I got better.
And you can too.
Selling is a skill that takes practice. And with proficiency you earn confidence that clients pick up on – even over the phone. Not an arrogant “I’m a great sales person” vibe but a quiet, calm, “You can depend on me” energy.
Do you have a sales story to share? An experience that made you better?