Phone Sales Skills – Your First Contact With the Prospect

Phone sales skills with the prospect: Once you get past the Secretarial Screen and begin talking to the Prospect or Decision Maker you enter into the “Call up. Fix up. Hang up” phase.

This IS the time to briefly introduce yourself and ask for an appointment to meet. It is NOT the time to get into prolonged explanations, or to try to make the sale over the phone. (Unless, of course, you are doing tele-marketing… and we do not get into tele-marketing here.)

At this stage, you have one crucial objective to accomplish: to persuade that prospect to invest time in meeting face-to-face with you. Time is money to effective Decision Makers, and they are not inclined to waste it in long phone calls or unproductive meetings.

When you speak with the prospect, be friendly but get to the point. Don’t chat about the weather or how their day is going.

Nor is it the time to talk in detail of what your product is, nor of your background. All that will come later.

DO ask,”Is this a good time to talk?” DO NOT ask, “Is this a bad time.”

When you get the prospect on the phone, do not ask, “Is this a bad time to talk?” Why not? Think how easy it would be to say yes to that question.

Instead, take the positive approach: expect good news. Use your phone sales skills to phrase the question with a positive expectation: if you sense the person on the other end of the call is distracted or harried, ask with a positive spin: “Is this a good time to talk?” Again, it is easier to reply yes.

But if the prospect says, “Actually, no, it’s really not a good time,” then you are well positioned to ask, “I understand. When will be a better time to talk?”

Phone sales skills key mantra: “Call up. Fix up. Hang up.”

Sales professionals think of this first phone contact as the “Call up, fix up, hang up” phase. The point is to make the call, arrange a meeting, then get off the line without getting bogged down.

Obviously, you don’t want to seem brusque during the conversation, but you also don’t want to get into a long conversation at this point. For busy Decision Makers, phone calls are, by nature, interruptions, so the shorter, the more business-oriented, and the more to-the-point the interruption is, the better.

Another reason for being succinct now.

— you CAN LOSE the chance to meet with the Prospect if you talk too much, but the reality is…

— BUT, no matter what you say, you CANNOT MAKE the sale over the phone.

Phone sales skills: The first 30 seconds

Once the prospect picks up the phone, you have two crucial tasks to accomplish in about 30 seconds, or perhaps even less… that is, before the prospect’s interest flags, or before another in-coming call takes priority.

In these opening seconds, you need to,

1. Introduce yourself and your company, (if you operate under a company name), and,

2. Present concise reasons for your phone call, as well as for why the Decision Maker should invest time in meeting with you.

That may seem a lot to do in 30 seconds, but here’s a model script that you can adapt:

“Mr. Robinson, this is Tom Gibbons of Productivity Services. I’m calling because I believe we can increase your firm’s profitability by reducing office overhead — perhaps by as much as 20% in the first year. I’d like to meet with you for about a half hour to explore the possibilities. Would later this week be convenient, or would early next week be better for you?”