When it comes to making a sales call do you evade or embrace? Is it a big fat elephant in the room? Do you avoid eye contact and hope instead that the phone will ring?

I’m probably like most small business owners – great at what I do but when it comes to the sales cycle I’m not as structured or confident as other areas of my business. As a result, I tend to hide a little behind the comfort of a follow-up email instead of picking up the phone. That whole ‘Heh, how are you? I’m just checking in to ask if you would like to meet’ type of email. Hell, I’ll even send the email from my CRM so that I can monitor whether they open it or not to gauge their interest.

It was time for a serious talk with myself.

I’m a productive person but after looking at my sales practices I could see I was falling down. Badly. I mean really, is it the most productive use of my time to send an email out, monitor whether someone has opened it then wait around hoping that they’ll respond or give me a call. Nope. Definitely not.

So I decided to pick up the phone. Surprisingly, once I’d set myself the goal to make the calls it was easier than I thought. Here are five things I learnt from the process.

“I’m a productive person but after looking at my sales practices, I could see that I was falling down. Badly. “

1. They want you to call.

There are any number of reasons that warm leads go cold. The fact is you won’t know the reason unless you speak to them. They were interested in your product or service once and in the intervening time any number of things may have happened. Nine times out of ten, they really are happy to hear from you.

2. It’s important to be yourself

I’m not sure why but many people seem to adopt a certain persona when making a sales type call. Don’t try and channel your Mum’s ‘posh’ voice – be yourself. You’ll be a hell of a lot more comfortable in your own skin using language that’s familiar to you. You’re awesome. You don’t need to change.

3. It’s important to be prepared

Read any previous communications and your contact notes. Understand what their initial enquiry was. Do some research on their company. Ask some open questions and if it makes you more comfortable, develop a script and some sales messages you can pull out when appropriate.

4. You should have a goal

Know what you want to get out of the call – a meeting, trial or commitment to buy – and don’t be afraid to ask for it.

5. The fortune is in the follow-up

If you don’t get to speak with the person, don’t waste your time, leave a message, and pop them back on your call list for next time.

For me, the simple action of picking up the phone has yielded great reward: with my first 10 contacts I’ve secured a new client, turned two cold leads into hot ones and gained a huge amount of self-confidence. I’ve now set it as one of my recurring monthly marketing tasks.

My challenge to you is pick three leads that have gone cold, pick up the phone and say hi – after all, what’s the worst that can happen?

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