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HOW TO SELL ANYTHING

7 Tips to Make Killer Sales Calls (Even if You Dread Them)

You can--and should--conquer your fear of pitching total strangers. This process will help you do it.

"Do you have sales-call reluctance?" Connie Kadansky asks me point-blank.

"Um..." I trail off. She's a sales coach at Sales Call Reluctance with 20 years' experience. I'm supposed to be interviewing her. But somehow I've let slip that I'd rather have my teeth drilled than pitch total strangers over the phone.

If you feel the same way, you might take heart from Kadansky's tips for making effective sales calls, even if picking up the phone takes you outside your comfort zone. I plan on giving them a try. (If you do, too, let me know how it goes.)

1. Face it, you're a salesperson. Just like everyone else.

"So many people resist the fact that they are salespeople," Kadansky says. "They've had experience with salespeople who were less than professional." If you think about it, she says, a salesperson is someone who solves problems for a profit. Look at it that way, and just about everyone you know is in sales.

2. Believe in your own value.

You have value as an individual, and the product or service you're selling creates great value as well when matched with the right customer. "When people are convinced of their value, they're unstoppable," Kadansky says. "If someone on the other end is discourteous or not receptive, it doesn't faze them." (If you don't believe what you're selling has real value, you should be selling something else.)

3. Set a daily goal to contact new prospects.

"I encourage people to get a number in their head," Kadansky says. "Every day I'm going to reach out to two people I don't know. That can be over the phone, by email, or via LinkedIn, she says. "The point is to be proactive with new contacts on a daily basis, which is entirely possible if you make it a priority."

4. Use a client-focused script.

The script should focus on the client, not on you, Kadansky says. "Many companies similar to yours count on me to... fill in the blank," she says.

5. Leave irresistible messages.

Learn to leave a really effective voice-mail message, and you'll get return calls more often than you might think. "You know what your business driver is," Kadansky says. "Try to have a metric in your value proposition, such as your clients increase their Web traffic by 25 percent." And make sure to actually ask the prospect to call you back. "Often people don't get a call back because they don't ask," she says.

6. Listen to yourself.

If the voice-mail system offers you the chance to review your message, do it, Kadansky advises. That will give you the chance to hear not only what you said but how you sound. "When people are on the phone, only 27 percent of communication is in their words, and 73 percent is in their tone," Kadansky says.

7. Follow up.

No response? Keep trying. Kadansky says she'll try to contact someone about three times in a week, then leave it for two to three weeks and then try again. And she'll continue trying at intervals after that. She makes sure to leave a message intended to inspire action, she says. "Does everybody respond? No. However, many people do."

Like this post? Sign up here for Minda's weekly email, and you'll never miss her columns. Next time: The four fears that are holding you back.

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Last updated: Feb 5, 2014

MINDA ZETLIN | Columnist | Co-author, 'The Geek Gap'

Minda Zetlin is a business technology writer and speaker, co-author of The Geek Gap, and former president of the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Like this post? Sign up here for a once-a-week email and you'll never miss her columns.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.



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