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Maybe You Are Doing It Wrong?


Avoiding 1st call rejection should be a straightforward case of framing the 1st conversation around something less direct than asking for an order, making an elevator pitch or even qualifying the prospect’s need for your solution.

Consider any of these 1st call goals instead:

–              Assume the person you’re calling isn’t the right person you should talk to (you do not know this person).  See if who you are calling can point to the people who are in need of your solutions.  You can think of this person as a “Fox.”  (reference from Miller Heiman, Strategic Selling)

–              Competitive intelligence gathering.  The frame of this conversation is that you’re calling to see if you can find out a little about what they are using to solve the problem your solution solves.  If you can get them to Wallow, you have identified a need.

–              Needs-based decision-making call.  The frame here is that you’re calling to understand what solution process (or product) the prospect’s company goes through when they are in need of a solution to a problem the type your solution solves.

Since we’re talking about the 1st call, it’s worth thinking about the 1st words we use on this call.  This may seem silly to mention but I find a tiny minority actually consider this with any thoughtfulness (sadly, most of us are rude and don’t even realize it).  One way to look at this call is that it’s your 1st impression with this contact who may or may not turn out to be an influencer in your decision.  Would you make a poor impression on purpose?  The answer is of course not.  You have a single chance to make the right 1st impression, so why make it a rude one?  Most people who call me to sell their solution start with an introduction, which is the wrong tactic since it makes them, not me, the priority.  That’s rude.  Consider the same situation with door to door sales, they never ask if we’re busy and it feels rough every time.  Girl Scouts being an exception.  A few working with me have seen what I do when someone calls and starts without asking if I have a moment before their introduction (I hang up).  If they ask for a moment, unless I am busy, will have my time and full attention (they are that rare!).

I don’t usually ask who is calling when I picked up (most of the time I just say, ‘’”Hi, this is Jon” when answering the phone).  So why would anyone think I am interested in their name or company they work for?  The best method that I’ve found to make the other person the priority and show that I’m not rude is asking if they have a moment, a minute or 5 minutes to talk (depending on my call plan), then make my intro of name and purpose of the call.  Note that I will still not mention my company (it’s just not relevant yet).  Some salespeople will avoid asking for a minute and defend their avoidance by saying something like “but everyone will just say they are busy.”  This is a cynical view and ignores the natural propensity of humans to want to help each other, even strangers!  The opposing logic is: without asking prospect’s permission you must assume they aren’t busy (but, who isn’t busy these days?).

If you force yourself on any contact, you can expect they will become irritated.  Pushing behaviors are an effective tactic only after some relationship power has been established.  The question I ask myself is “do I want to risk having to call back and never getting them again or irritating them so that they might never buy?”  (being the pushy rep that just called is the easy way to be forgotten by everybody) We can see that being polite, and thoughtful at the start is the best option in almost all cases.

I have found this logic leads to fun and value-filled calls.  Who doesn’t enjoy meeting and learning about new people?  Even marketing qualified leads (MQL) should be treated like this.  The prospect that crawled your web content might have been doing the task for the real decision maker.  Won’t you look silly if you assume the person you’re calling is a decision maker when they are an intern that just started yesterday?  What better friend to make than a new intern at a new company, maybe they need help with how to behave in their new role, this is a perfect mentoring opportunity for you and them.  You can make them an excellent Fox for you too!

Polite persistence is what I call it.  Using this principle results in the largest number of meaningful conversations when reaching out to anyone for the 1st time.

If you get a grumpy person, don’t fight them and certainly don’t push them.  Better to assume you have reached someone at an unfortunate time and ask if calling back at a later date is ok.  Avoid feeling anything personal.  Tell yourself this person might have just been told they’re not getting a raise, or their child didn’t get the scholarship expected, or a loved one just passed.  Most people aren’t grumpy towards strangers naturally, so assume you had bad timing and set a later call time.  If you think this is too gentle and think diving into an introduction is the better decision, consider what progress you will make with the distraction your targeted contact is dealing with at that moment.  I won’t waste my time or theirs by pushing a conversation when it’s under a cloud like this.

Save time, get off the call quickly, and on to one without this liability hanging over it.  I have closed many deals that started out this way.  In a few cases, the contact shared with me the reason for their early call reluctance saying that it was my lack of rude behavior that caused them to want to talk to me again.

My mom taught me how to be polite – thanks, mom!  And sorry too, I know I am nowhere near perfect.

Post Author: Jonathan D Freeman

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