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So I got this sales phone call at work and it just irked me to all hell. It isn't the fact that it was a sales call. It is the fact that these sales people are getting so damn lazy and seem to be clueless.

This particular case is the straw that broke the camels back for me. It isn't any different than some of the other shmucks I have dealt with on the phone, but I had a rough and busy week and had no time to deal with someone who doesn’t even know how to do their own job correctly. I am hoping that telemarketers and sales people find this post and learn something from it. Now onto my rant.

How to Make an Effective Sales Call and Pitch

I received a phone call from a company (I will not mention their name) and the girl said hi, I have 6.5 million Christians. My first reaction was to say, "And where do you keep them because our offices are full, or wow, you have been a busy girl, haven't you?" Instead I said "congratulations." That pretty much caught her off guard. Anyways, she then goes on to say well would your company &%&%&% be interested in 6.5 million Christians? Again I thought of a ton of things to say, but then corrected her by letting her know she had called a different branch of the corporation I work for.

She then said well what company are you with and I told her. She said, "ohh good, I was supposed to call you next. Are you interested in 6.5 million Christians?" And I said I would love 6.5 million Christians, but I just don't have the space in my apartment. Then I asked her if she had visited the website for the company I worked for (we are an internet based company and do all transactions and everything through the web) and she said no. So here is where I finally said, I strongly suggest you look at the company before you call, we only do B2B sales and unfortunately have no need for your list. So here is the rundown of what went wrong from her behalf and what she could have done, just like any other sales professional should do, before you make the contact.

1. This is part of your marketing department's responsibility to you. We'll stick with a list company for now. Saying we have 6.5 million Christians means you have something that could be of value, however you have not helped me see any value or uniqueness of the list.
Ask your marketing department to break down the list and define it better than just 6.5 million Christians. Are they Christians that like to travel, 6.5 million Christians who have median incomes of 65K and up, are they 6.5 million Christians who own small to mid sized companies, are they 6.5 million Christians who believe in gay marriage and fight for the cause?
Once you have broken the list up into something that defines who and what they are, you will then have some meat added to your product or service. Now, since the company I work for is in the B2B realm and targets lets say small business, If she would have said, Hi, I have a list of 6.5 million Christian small business owners in the USA who have all opted in to receive advertisements related to their businesses, I would have been interested. It defines what the list is comprised of and helps to show how it is relevant to my needs.
A different example is an association here in the DC area. They are a good association, but they lack the meat in their pitches. It is the gay and lesbian journalists something or other. I was sitting with someone from this group who is now helping with memberships and I was curious about them because a lot of my background is within media and newspapers. I said I had never heard of them but I have a lot of gay journalist friends, why would they want to join your association? The response I got was, we have the largest network of gay and lesbian journalists in the USA or the World (I'll stick with world just to make it easier). One of the two, but that is not important. What is important is that I said, "and.....Why would that benefit me?" He just kept saying "because we have the largest network of .... in the world” What they need to do is to add on the meat.
Some of the ways they can do this are to say, we have the largest ........ World and with your membership you will gain access to the internal network where you can find jobs, post articles and find articles and topics others might be interested in. You can find support from your peers across the country if you are running into issues. You will get a discount to our annual convention where you can meet your peers and learn about new trends within journalism and hear from some of the more famous gay journalists and writers out there in the world of media. I could go on and on helping to create benefits. But at the table, he still just came up with the same boring answer, "We have the largest network blah blah boring blah."
My point is that to give a successful sales pitch and call, have something to add onto the first statement, put on the meat and let the person you are pitching see a major value to your product or service instead of making a blind and general statement which has no added value or useful information.

2. Look at the person or company you are calling before hand. If they are B2B, and you have a B2C product, chances are they are not going to be interested. Save your time and work on companies that you really have a chance at landing.
Another important reason to research or at least look at the company before hand is so you do not sound stupid on the phone. If you go to a company's web-site and just make a few observations like they mainly deal with electronics or that they donate money to a charity each year, when you call them, you can use that in your pitch. Instead of your call starting with, We have 6.5 million Christians end of statement. You could say:
Hi, I was looking at your wholesale shop online and I noticed that you sell widgets as well as donate to this and that charity. We happen to have a list of 6.5 million Christians who also enjoy doing charity work. Because your company is already donating money to this charity, you will already have them more interested in your widgets because they know they are dealing with a company that cares.
In my opinion, this is a much better statement as you are showing that you evaluated and look at the company before calling, you are complimenting them by bringing up some of the things they do and you are providing a reason why the list would be particularly valuable to the company.

3. While you are saying what you have to offer, you should also ask a few questions and take notes. One question you should definitely think about is something like, "Does your company currently buy lists or use a service or product like the one we are offering?" If they say no, you can then ask why not opening up the door for a second call later on when you have put together a proper customized presentation to show the extra value it could add to their company. By them saying no, and you asking why not, you will also find an obstacle that you might face with another company down the line.
By making a list of these reasons, you can also start to make a list of counter arguments and ways to battle through these obstacles on future calls with future potential clients.
If the person says yes, say great, then say: "and are you happy or satisfied with the service you have been getting?". Chances are they will say yes, but if they say no again, you now have opened a door for yourself to move in. Find out why they are not satisfied and if your company can meet the needs better, let them know and give them an example of an existing client who had a similar situation, but has changed over to your company because you were able to fix this problem for them. Basically, provide a solution to their dissatisfaction with their current service provider and provide them with some sort of confidence or evidence that your company will not let them down like their current provider.
If they are satisfied with the current service your competition is providing them, then this is where you need to get into sales mode and convince them to give you a shot. Provide them with a discount for a trial, use the meat the marketing department gives you; see if you have a satisfaction guarantee on your product or service etc... Your job as the sales person is to convince the other person they need your product and you need to close the sale. Don't let up on them and also, do not just give blank statements.
A key thing to also keep in mind is that you must never get offensive or rude with the person on the other end. You are calling them out of the blue and they might be very busy people. Of course you are going to get jerks yelling at you or insulting your company, but instead of retaliating against them, apologize and see if they could chat a different time.
If you just get rude back with them and for some reason, a month or so down the line they are no longer happy with their current provider, the person might remember your call and the way you acted. This has happened with me on numerous occasions and if the person was a jerk, there is no way they are getting the second chance. If the person was friendly and polite, thanked me for my time even though I was not interested, I will be calling that company to find out more about how they can better meet my needs.

It absolutely amazes me that some sales people do not even think to do these simple things that could mean the difference between landing an account, and looking like a fool. I have a lot more to add here, like ways to get the persons contact info so you can reach out to them again (direct lines, email addresses, full names, etc...) but I have to head out to meet with someone.
I will try to add more or do a second rant about this sometime soon, but if you have a specific question or would like to bring up some points, please go to my forums and feel free to ask or discuss this and anything else there.

On a final wrap up note,
1. Add some meat to your product or service.
2. Research the company and know what they can do, so you can they tell them how your product or service will benefit them. Make it a more customized pitch.
3. Take down notes and find out why or why they do not use your services or products. Develop a list of obstacles you might have to overcome and create a list of solutions so you can overcome the obstacles as they are given to you.

Hope this helps you all out there in sales land!

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