This author’s approach to sales calls

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Thanks for great input and posts on the recent blog about how not to do a sales call. Since someone asked, here is how I do a sales call:

1. I pick a few companies that I want to do work for.

2. I take a look at their marketing materials and pick them apart.

3. I call the decision maker after hours and hope to get voice mail. I leave a voice mail saying that I’ve reviewed their marketing materials and have 3 specific and simple ways for them to get better response. I follow up with an email.

4. They respond, and we go back and forth.

5. Typically, they send me a marketing document in progress. I improve it.

6. They tell me about bigger marketing issues, and hire me.

You can apply the above steps to web design. Notice:

– Small list, not a big list

– Focused effort and research to help them improve their SPECIFIC situation

– Custom, tailored call

Also, those of you who have heard me speak know that I have a nasal voice and nasty Boston accent (sometimes). So I don’t come across as a slick salesperson, just a regular guy with some decent ideas. That helps!

How’s that work for you?

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  • Anonymously

    How’s that work for you?

    The key is JUST DO IT and KEEP RECORDS – cold calling is a skill that is best learn via failure, not success…

  • Sojan80

    I’d say that is solid advice I can definitely follow. I’m just glad the Boston accent isn’t required… I’d either never be able to get it right or do it justice..

    But since you mentioned accents, I am curious, if you have a distinct accent, say Southern (from arounf North Carolina, South Carolina, or Georgia, or a Boston or New York accent (are also easy to pick out)
    can the accent you have when you speak (in person or on the phone) be an asset?

    I overheard some people talking the other day adn one mentioned that those folks that have either a Southern or Midwestern accent tend to do better with phone based sales calls.

    Have you experienced anything like this?

  • WebDevGuy

    that sounds wicked “smaht”

  • http://www.strategicmarketingmontreal.ca/blogger.html bwelford

    That’s great advice and very effective. It’s the only way to get through the closed door that e-mail spam filters and telephone voice boxes have created.

    The accent / distinctive voice bit is very important. I’ve now lived in Montreal for more years than I lived in the UK. However my Brit accent persists. I should add like the Boston accent, but for different reasons, it’s a useful selling aid. :)

  • cholmon

    I think the accent itself has little to do with how well the call’s reception goes, but rather the tone of your voice is what helps set the target’s mood most in those first crucial seconds. Some salesmen will talk as if they were trained by radio personalities — sometimes it’s hard for me to keep a straight face when I get these kinds of calls because it sounds SO cliched (almost like it’s a prank call).

    It’s important that your target feels like he’s speaking to someone who truly wants to help improve his company in some way, instead of someone who just wants to sell their service. While this has much more to do what WHAT you say than HOW you say it, a funky (Boston) accent probably makes them think, “This can’t be a sales call. There’s NO WAY anybody would hire this guy for a phone marketing campaign.”

  • aneitlich

    Cholmon,

    Excellent point. The key is coming across as a “down home” real person, not a tele-marketer.

    Be authentic. Stumbling over your words (a bit, not to extremes) seems to be better than having a polished script. I know if someone calls me and seems “human” I’m more likely to stay on the call for a while.

  • wildscribe

    It all comes down to knowing the company that you are calling and what you can do to help them make more money. I have never had to cold call, but when I do approach a business owner/company to pick up more business, I always have a basic understanding of their business.

    Many years ago – well before the Internet came to be – I had a summer job in the marketing department at Fortune 100 company, and I was amazed at the number of consultants calling to get work. Most of them had no idea what the company did. I remember getting one call from a consultant wanting to know what we did. I suggested that they go to the library and do some background work.

    Remember that a potential client wants to know what you can do for them. It is best to know what they want before you make the pitch.

    – – – Wild

  • http://www.i-devs.com i-devs

    I think it all sounds great, and perhaps that is the way it always works… but it also sounds like the ideal world. But the hard part is when the plan doesn’t entirely come together, so what happens when

    4. They respond, and we go back and forth.

    doesn’t?

  • http://www.realityedge.com.au mrsmiley

    I like the idea that you call them out of hours, and then they call you back. If they call you, then they are most certainly going to be a lot more receptive to what you say than the guy you ring during work hours that is really busy and just wants to get rid of you for interrupting his day.

    I guess this begs the questions, if all you do is grab their marketing info and pull it to shreds, how are you working out who the decision maker is? I presume there are a few steps between 2 and 3 that you left out pertaining to company research particularly in regards to corporate structure?

  • http://www.jasonbatten.com NetNerd85

    What if you are just bad on the phone? Seriously, I feel SO uncomfortable on the phone to people. I do try to write down a script or something then memorize it quickly just to get the point down but it always ends up in the air. I’ve recently been in contact with a guy who seems to be as bad as me on the phone which needless to say is difficult! It’s not that I don’t know what I am talking about. I just panic!!
    Anyone have any tips on phone-panic attacks, lol?

  • http://www.strategicmarketingmontreal.ca/blogger.html bwelford

    I think it’s important to have a script for your first intro and tune it as you use it so that you get the version that seems to work best for you. Personally I use the following:
    Good morning. I’m Barry Welford, I’m an Internet Marketing Consultant. Do you have a brief moment?
    This allows the person you have called to maintain control of the call. This seems to have a high success rate in that most of those who respond act reasonably.

    You then have to have some ways of moving the conversation forward for the standard answers you tend to get. Here are two as examples.
    Provide it’s brief.
    – Well that’s what I want too. .. then I ask a question that will open up what I want to talk about.

    Now’s not a good time.
    – When would be a better time for me to call you?

    In other words, you’re trying to get a conversation going between two reasonable human beings. I find that works pretty well.

  • Anonymously

    Good morning. I’m Barry Welford, I’m an Internet Marketing Consultant. Do you have a brief moment?

    Take a look this write up for help on scripts.

    I just panic!! Anyone have any tips on phone-panic attacks, lol?

    Are you this way talking to anyone on the phone?

  • http://www.dangrossman.info Dan Grossman

    Be careful if you call a residential phone number — which may be hard to tell from a business number on a small business’s site. If you do, and don’t follow proper documentation procedures to comply with local, state and federal telemarketing laws, you could be stuck with some big fines.

  • pdxi

    Andrew,

    Thank you very much for this article. You give great suggestions, and this is valuable to everyone reading.

    – Jeff

  • http://www.vitaleffect.com Gamermk

    Great Blog Entry. I can’t believe you keep giving away all this great information for free. You should just throw all your blog entries into a book and sell it.

  • http://www.ptpnewmedia.com ptpnewmedia

    Gamermk:
    He has put his blogs in a “book”. Kind of…

    http://www.itprosuccess.com

    Check it!

  • NetNerd85

    Take a look this write up for help on scripts.

    Very helpful thank you.

    Are you this way talking to anyone on the phone?

    No, just people I don’t know.

  • Anonymously

    No, just people I don’t know.

    Great – just start making calls. The key is JUST DO IT and KEEP RECORDS — cold calling is a skill that is best learn via failure, not success… How many calls have you made?

  • aneitlich

    Gamermk,

    URL has changed to http://www.fastmarketingresults.com and book is IT Business Acceleration Manual (although the latest is Guru Millionaire). Blogs are free because they are not so organized. The book is a complete system.

  • Anonymously

    @ Andrew Neitlich

    Blogs are free because they are not so organized.

    Do you have more than one blog?

    Also, do you plan on doing a blog entry on your approach to products, as you said you might do?

    Thanks Andrew!

  • http://www.vitaleffect.com Gamermk

    URL has changed to http://www.fastmarketingresults.com and book is IT Business Acceleration Manual (although the latest is Guru Millionaire). Blogs are free because they are not so organized. The book is a complete system.

    Ya, my company already has the book, but your blog entries give insights above and beyond it which works like free updates since the not so well known fundamentals seem to be the core of your IT BAM. Then again maybe I just need to read the book over again.

  • http://www.magistudios.com magistudios

    How’s that work for you?

    I throw in the fact that I am a family man, and in most cases they relate which brings the (potential) business relationship closer.