​Why Many First Sales Calls End In “No”

Sunday 05 November, 2017
Image: Shutterstock

Peady's Selling Engagement sponsored by IRD Prospector

Welcome to this week’s post on sales and selling success.

How do you feel about your first calls? Many of the salespeople I work with have the product knowledge in place, the relevant contact details and past history (if needed) and they can do strong prospect research. But many times, they fail to make an appointment or find their first meeting goes nowhere.

Note: If you think you can wing it, you’re wrong!

Most of the time failed appointment setting and face to face meetings are due to poor preparation, have you heard of the five “P’s”?  Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance!

Appointment setting

First step, you are going to make a phone call, so have a pre-prepared and practiced script or roadmap to deliver a strong opening to the call and grab the attention of the prospect. Note: I know it’s easier to send an email, however it’s not as effective!

Second step is to avoid selling your product or service. Help the prospect understand that you are not asking for a buying decision; you are not asking for their business. All you want is a meeting, focus on that.

Next, confidently deliver the reason for the call - using a valid business reason. You need to sell the appointment so they get some return on their investment of time by meeting with you. Figure out one or two key benefits based on what you have learnt in your research.

Finally, be prepared for objections. No technique will eliminate objections. An objection is a logical response to an unsolicited request and represent the prospect’s “part of the conversation”. Be prepared to address them in a straightforward manner. 

Face to face meetings

Congratulations, you’ve got the appointment! Don’t ruin your first meeting and waste all the hard work by making it all about you and your company. A successful first meeting must be all about the customer and their business. And how you might be able to help.

In advance, there are two primary questions you need to be able to answer:

  • “What do I want from this meeting?”
  • “What might the client or prospect expect from the meeting?”

Firstly, thank them for their time and reconfirm why you are there. Ask if there is anything they’d also like to talk about?

Now is the time to build rapport and develop a relationship. You should also demonstrate your “point of difference” before you get into the main part of the meeting.
Then ask your prepared questions so you can dig for challenges and/or opportunities. Once again avoid selling your product or service - that comes later. The questions need to be conversational (it’s not a third degree!) as well as relevant.

Once you have uncovered an opportunity you can introduce some of the solution options you have and test the response from the prospect. It’s still early days but now is the first time you can gain some valuable feedback. Whether it’s a negative or positive move forward with your conversation and questions.

There is one final question that I find very useful at the end of a first meeting - “Is there anything else important that you’d like to add?” Sometimes you will be shocked at what you hear.

Most importantly have a plan for the next stage. Is it another meeting with additional stakeholders? A proposal? Lock in that next step.

I’ll leave you with a comment made to me many years ago by a client: “If you want to stand out from your competitors, I want to know one thing and only one thing. How your company can help me make my business more successful?”

Until next week good selling!

About the author 

Stephen Pead is a media industry veteran of 30 years with significant experience in direct sales, sales management and general management. He is based in Sydney and specialises in helping SME’s market their businesses more effectively and providing training for salespeople and sales managers.

He can be contacted at stephen.pead@nrsmedia.com


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