Sales Professionals: It’s Your Call

By: Mark Borkowski

Think back to the last deal you closed and ask yourself, “Who was the decision maker I had to reach and influence? How did I do it?” The reason I ask you to think about that is because there will always be someone you will need to contact and influence to get the next deal, and the one after that, and all the deals you could ever possibly close in one lifetime. Your success doesn’t just happen. You make it happen, and it all begins with prospecting.

Prospecting is nothing more than the art of speaking with people who might do business with you, and engaging them in a meaningful conversation so they will want to see you and talk further. Let’s not make it any more complicated than that. At the end of the day, a telephone sales call is only a conversation between two people.

We’ve already established that you are one of those two people. So who is the other person? If you don’t already know, here’s where to start. Look at your overall business goals for the year then look at the people you will need to contact to make that happen. They might be prospective clients or people you need to meet because they can refer you to future clients. Make a list of everyone you just identified. It doesn’t matter if you need to speak with 50 people or only one; your focus is on precision, not volume.

Once you have the names, write down the main issues facing each person on that list. The reason I’m suggesting that is because you will have to address their issues, not yours. If you start your conversation rambling on about your products and services, you will sound like you’re selling something. When you talk about their issues you hit their “greed glands” which addresses what’s in it for them.

Once you’ve worked out what you want to say, you will have to get the person on the phone. The objective of your call list is not about making calls. Many sales people base their lists on volume; in other words the more names on the list the better, because if they don’t contact someone, there are plenty more to call. What happens with this approach is that most people end up leaving a lot of money on the table, missing up to 75 per cent of their opportunities, simply by not contacting people.

A call is not a commodity – it’s precious. It would be nice if we were mind readers and knew where our biggest opportunity was, but we don’t; so we have to speak with everyone. Your objective is to book appointments. So whether you have 20 people to call or only one, get them on the phone; all of them – without exception.

Leaving a voice message doesn’t count. That only fools you into thinking you contacted someone. The easiest way is to ensure that you connect with your prospects is to simply find out when they are in, and then call at that time.

By planning your calls and your message you stay in control. Control builds confidence.

Once you get your prospect on the phone, you will have the opportunity to speak for all of about 30 seconds, at which time you will either ask for an appointment or ask a qualifying question. From the time you introduce yourself to the time you ask for an appointment, there are often less than 30 words spoken – so make each one count. The words you speak paint images in people’s minds, and you have complete control over what those words are. As long as you stay focused on the issues of your audience, you will hold their attention.

Twice as important as what you say will be how you say it. Speak slowly and send the message that what you have to say is important. It’s crucial that you will take a minute before the call to focus on how you can make the prospect’s life better, and that will bring out the passion in your voice.

At the end of each call you will either be sitting there with an appointment or you won’t.

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions Corporation. Mercantile specializes in the sale of privately owned businesses. He can be contacted at