The Right Way To Make Sales Calls For Your Small Business

I have recently been exposed to too many instances of sales calls that are inappropriate and ineffective to actually make a sale.  Social media networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook are great for making the initial connection, but if you do not take the time to interact and actually build a relationship with your new connection, you are still a stranger.

My nickname is SmallBizLady and @smallbizlady is my handle on Twitter.  I am considered a power Twitter user, with more than 10,000 followers between two accounts. That is great and all, but my favorite thing to do is reach someone outside of Twitter – on the telephone.  That’s where the real relationship is made.  Once that connection is made, there’s a right and a wrong way to approach a sale.

SmallBizlady’s 10 Rules For Small Business Sales Calls

  1. Do not make sales calls on Monday! Mondays are tough enough for people; do not bother them when they are just getting their week started — if you want to be successful.
  2. Make sales calls on Tues. Wed. Thurs. and never make sales calls before 10am or after 3pm.The prime calling hours for sales calls are 10-noon and 1-3pm. People do not like sales calls generally. Do not be a bother to a potential client before they get their morning coffee. After 3pm people on deadline do not have time for your call. Give yourself the best possible path to success by respecting your prospect’s time.
  3. Always ask if your contact has time to speak with you. And if they are busy, ask when would be a best time to give them a call back.  Then you’ll have a scheduled appointment which is even better.
  4. Make sure you can remind your contact how you know them.
  5. Research whether or not the contact is really a potential customer. It’s always best to know what products and services your customer purchases — and when they make these decisions to do so. If you really know your target market, you’ll know this information.
  6. Make sure you have the correct name of the person you want to speak with on the call. When you do get a potential customer on the phone, be ready. You only have 7 seconds to make an impression.  Stammering over someone’s name is not the way to make a good first impression.
  7. Do not leave a voicemail if you do not reach your sales target. Connections are only made with real people. Your message will be deleted anyway.
  8. Use contact management software. You need to track your calls and when it’s time to make follow-up calls.
  9. Never make a sales call on a Friday! No one wants someone selling them something when they are trying to wrap up their week and get out the door to start their weekend.
  10. Use a target list for potential customers.  Make sure you contact you target list at least once a month by phone, email or direct mail.

Your sales pipeline is the life’s blood of your business, so you must make sales calls. Just remember these rules so that you can build on your social networks instead of instantly turning them off with no chance of a sale.

Do you have any more rules to add to my list of sales calls dos and don’ts for a small business owner?  Please leave me a comment below.

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Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Expert and Social Media Coach who hosts #Smallbizchat on Twitter.  #Smallbizchat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business.  Melinda’s first book, Become Your Own Boss in 12 months; A Month-By-Month Guide to a Business That Works will be released by Adams Media in March 2010.

Comments

  1. says

    These are great tips, Melinda! One thing that works for me when there is a layer of administration between me and the person I am trying to reach is to call after hours when I’m pretty sure the person has left the office for the day. Sometimes, if an assistant screens their calls and they don’t want to deal with a sales call, they won’t make much effort to call back. I have found that leaving a voice mail message on their personal line when I know they are not there is helpful. I keep it short, but I know that, 9 times out of 10, they will hear my voice personally (instead of a note from the assistant) and they often call back in part I think because of the tone of my voice and the fact that I took the time to make audio contact with them to share how I might help them achieve their goals. I have also found that the most driven business leaders (the kind I can help most) can’t resist checking their voice mail after hours. It’s not full proof, but it’s an additional strategy that some might find effective.

    Keep it coming, Melinda, and I cannot wait to have you as my guest on Indie Business Radio!

    dM
    .-= Donna Maria Coles Johnson´s last blog ..An Invitation to Write for My Blog! =-.

  2. says

    Your tips are great and shows concern for other peoples time…. sometimes people just force their pitch on someone when it should always be about a conversation… so I like your tips about respecting the persons time..

    But I believe a short scripted voice message goes a long way in creating a connection for a future conversation…

    If one has taken the time to place a call it just makes sense to leave a great voice message… sometimes the person on the other end can see the caller ID and will know you are trying to get in touch anyway…

    don’t try to trick them into calling you back but sincerely mention why you are calling…. take the opportunity to connect with a positive voice & message…

    leave your phone number twice during the voice message and remember that the tone of your voice helps them to know you better the next time you try to reach them…

    Thanks for reminding us of how a professional contact is made…

  3. says

    Love your tips. Its always helpful to hear how other small businesses break through the gatekeepers. The only thing I differ on is sales calls on Fridays. I have found some luck with this. People are generally in a better mood at the end of week and will often take the extra step to either put you through or give you some helpful information. Everything else has been right on the mark at least for me.

  4. says

    Melinda – excellent tips.

    I would add two thoughts:

    1) A great piece of freebie software to use for contact management is EverNote http://www.evernote.com Amazing database with awesome capabilities. There is a free version and a paid version.

    2) I always list at least one “Whale” each week. This is a huge longshot. Probably not gonna land it. Would change our business forever. You know – it doesn’t hurt to once and awhile fish for the big one. It’s fun too. ;)

    Thanks so much for the valuable tips – always love reading your blog and checking out those tweets!
    .-= Dennis Lynn´s last blog ..Are You A Blogger Who Needs Content? Think Trackle! =-.

  5. says

    Great article as usual. As the person that gets a number of non-solicited calls I agree with all of your points. I would also add:

    Show that you respect their time. When you get through to your contact, ask them if now is an ok time to talk. I often get calls where people immediately dive into their pitch and all I really want to do is focus on what I was doing before I answered the phone. If you are going to talk, make sure their focus really is on you.

    Also, I agree with he comment above about giving your number twice in a voice message. I suggest once at the beginning and once again at the end of your message. To ensure you are not speaking too fast, actually write down your number on paper as you are saying it. It helps you slow down. No one likes to have to relisten to a message just to catch a phone number.

    To your success!
    Stephanie
    .-= Stephanie Calahan (@StephCalahan)´s last blog ..6 Areas of Your Business Life that You MUST Have Flow to Make More Money (be like Bamboo) =-.

  6. SalesGuy says

    I think one way of social networking working for me is connecting via e-mail using a reference from LinkedIn/Twitter/Facebook. I lead with a brief introduction, a brief explanation of my services, 2 or 3 like people/companies to the prospect that use my product, and then ask for a scheduled 15 minute meeting.

    It seems to work well with about a 5-7% return rate. And when the person receives your phone call, they are prepared to discuss your product/service immediately rather than catching them completely off guard. Also, STICK TO the 15 minutes. If you’re about to go over, ask if it makes sense to set up a time to meet or another phone conversation booked in the future. If they are REALLY interested, they’ll invite you over for a face-to-face meeting or they will say “No, I’m good for a few more minutes.”

    Good advice throughout though. Use Monday prepping for your calls on Tuesday-Thursday and use Friday as clean up for the week on your desktop or specific follow up calls that were scheduled for Friday.

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