Sales Calls Advice for People Who Don’t Like Sales Calls
Sales call strategies for small business owners
Expanding your business is ultimately about getting more sales. Before your business can support a sales team, you’ll likely have to make sales yourself, which can be daunting. Business strategy consultant and sales expert Erika Tebbens joined our small business webinar series to help our community find the best potential clients for their business. Then, she shared helpful strategies for making sales calls to those potential clients in a way that doesn’t feel sleazy or desperate.
Make the right call, and make it good.
Set the tone for your sales calls by taking the pressure off–potential clients are nervous, too. It’s also unlikely you’ll seal the deal during your first meeting; one less thing for you to worry about. Tebbens recommends putting potential clients at ease from the start with her preferred script: “‘Hey, the purpose of this call is I want to learn more about you; I want to learn if you’re a right fit for what I do. If so, we can talk about it at the end. You don’t have to make any decisions right now.’” Then, use Tebbens’ axiom “listen, limit, lead.”
Tebbens stressed that to make the most of a sales call, you have to stay curious. Instead of a carefully rehearsed pitch, focus on getting to know the potential client. A thoughtful intake form can do some of the heavy lifting ahead of your scheduled call; then, it’s up to you to ask questions to find out about their concerns, experiences, and goals.
This is not the time to run through your full list of services. Tell them about the one offering that will best suit them, based on everything the potential client shared. “This is really, really, really important,” Tebbens emphasized. “If we overwhelm somebody with too many options, they will nine times out of 10 be like, ‘I don’t know’, and then they don’t make a decision.”
Lead with the benefits of this solution. Don’t get too deep into the nuts and bolts of your process. When you focus on benefits and relationship building, it takes away the sometimes icky feeling that you’re making a hard sell. Simply connect your offering to the problem they need to solve. And then don’t say anything! Tebbens suggested taking a sip of water or say “sip water” in your head to get yourself to pause. Silence may be uncomfortable, but you want your offering to sink in, while giving them a chance to think.
There will always be cost-conscious people who want to talk about money first. While that may be unnerving, especially if you’re not used to making sales calls, don’t let it phase you. Calmly share your price and see how they respond. If they hesitate at your price, continue the conversation anyway. You may find during the course of your talk that there may be another way for you to work together at a price that better suits them. You may also refer that person to another company.
Follow up without putting them off.
A potential client that balks at your price today may be someone you find yourself working with later–but you won’t know that unless you reach out again. “Three months from now, or six months from now, they might be in a different place and be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad that you reached back out. Yes, I would love to work with you.’”
Another natural time to follow up after the first sales call is when you’re considering raising prices on a service you discussed. Tell them about the increase and see if they’d be interested in your service before it goes into effect. If you develop a new offer you think is suited to the needs you discussed earlier, use that as a time for following up. Tebbens suggested entrepreneurs track these touchpoints in a spreadsheet or with a tool like Notion, Trello or Airtable.
Know when it’s time for a change.
If seemingly none of your sales calls result in actual clients, it may be time to reevaluate your approach. This situation is another instance where curiosity is key. What were the things about some of these potential clients that made you think you’d be able to work together? What did they say to make you realize that wasn’t actually the case? Another way to think about your customer audit is to look at your best clients and see what they have in common with each other, as well as how they’re different from the leads that go nowhere, suggested Tebbens. Also, consider asking colleagues in your space or your coach to look at your materials. Their fresh eyes may pick up on something you haven’t, and they may have helpful suggestions.
Ultimately, when people seek out service professionals, they’re buying a full experience instead of a product. Tebbens suggested our founder community reflect on their best buying experience and think about the parts they can borrow for their own purposes. “Try to replicate that in your own business because it will resonate with your people.”
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