When you initiate a telephone sales call, it is important to remember thatthe prospect is not as prepared for this conversation as you are. Before youcalled, the decision maker was doing something - talking to someone, reading,working with a customer or paying a bill. His or her mind is still involved inthat activity. Thus, your call is an interruption.

In the first 60 seconds of the call, you need to get the customer's mind awayfrom whatever he or she was doing before you called and generate enough interestin your call so the customer will want to stay on the line.

Below are some techniques you can use to turn many of your literaturefollow-up calls into appointments:

  • Identify yourself and the name of your company. Never say, "How are you today?" to a stranger. Only salespeople ever say this to people they don't know, so it alerts prospects that your sole purpose is to sell.

  • Go slowly with your introduction, breaking it into separate sentences. Remember, prospects are still concentrating on something else. Give them a chance to hear you and understand what you are saying.

  • Tell prospects why you are calling: to follow up on the mailing you sent.

  • Inject pauses. Give prospects an opportunity to speak if they want to.

  • Don't ask prospects whether they have read the information or have any questions about it. Because they may not have read it or have read it but don't remember much, you will only embarrass them with such questions.

  • Refresh the prospect's memory by presenting a brief overview of your company. Personalize this as much as possible by mentioning information you have about his or her company.

  • As soon as prospects express interest by starting to ask detailed questions, begin to sell the appointment - in order to answer their questions, you need to know more about their businesses.

  • Ask for the appointment by giving prospects a choice between two days. They will likely pick one or come up with a date and time of their own. Do not ask: "When is a good time for you?" Most businesspeople are too busy to have a "good" time.

  • Throughout the conversation, always listen to prospects without interruption. The more they say to you, the more they become involved in considering the purchase.
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