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Suddenly I realized I was talking to a human, not a machine. I was dumbstruck. The last thing in world I expected was to get Vice President of Sales in person. No one ever answers phones anymore.
My mind went blank; everything I planned to say totally disappeared. Words came pouring out of my mouth. I bumbled. I stumbled. I sounded like a blathering idiot. I would have hung up on me!
Sure enough, VP was quick to cut in, “We don’t need any of that. We handle it all internally.”
Under just about any other circumstances, I would have taken comment in stride and addressed it easily. Instead, I sputtered, “Oh ... Well, thank you for your time,” and got off phone as quickly as I could.
Shaking my head at my own incredibly stupid behavior, I started to laugh ... and laugh and laugh. It couldn’t get any worse. Now, I was ready to make calls.
1. NEVER, EVER call your best prospects first. When you’re selling something new, there are always glitches to work out and new obstacles to overcome. I tell this to every sales group with whom I work. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times. “Practice on your B or C prospects - ones you can afford to lose.”
2. Have a voicemail plan AND a real person plan Even though 95% of time you’ll probably get voicemail, you must have a contingency plan in case a human answers.
3. Be prepared for common obstacles too. When you’re selling you can almost count on hearing things like, “We don’t need any” or “We’re happy with our current vendors.” Don’t be stupid like I was and say, “Oh.” There are much better responses. Plan for them.
4. Make process a learning opportunity. If you don’t get reaction you hoped for or you run into some obstacles that are difficult to overcome, simply consider that feedback. Look at what you’re saying and how you’re saying it. Make changes and try again. Don’t let yourself be defeated by a few rejections. Figure out what needs to be different and experiment. It truly isn’t end of world unless you let it be.
5. Laugh at yourself - we all make mistakes. Sometimes I can’t believe I actually called my best prospect first. I knew better. I also can’t believe I didn’t prepare for talking to a real person. Again, I knew better. Don’t ask me where my head was that week. I guess I just wanted to get out there and make things happen. And I really did want to do work with that company.
Fortunately, conversation was so short I didn’t make any lasting impression. I think I’ll call Peter again soon and do it right this time!
Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies, helps small businesses win big contracts. She has FREE monthly e-newsletter, "Quantum Leaps Selling: Ideas & Insights to Increase Sales.” To sign up, send a blank email to mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line.
For info on speaking, training or consulting services, please call 651-429-1922 or check out our web site ( http://www.SellingtoBigCompanies.com )