Would You Take a Sales Call From YOU?


“What are the tricks you use to get people to talk to you?”

I get asked this question a lot; people struggle to find the answer on how they can engage and get people to talk to them. There must be a well-kept secret people are using that are successful at this.

The secret to success in cold calling is actually the most well-known, transparent fact about sales there is. Prospects don’t like to take sales calls….but they are constantly on business calls

How is THAT a secret of success?

Because executives DO take business calls. That being the case, sales reps need to steer clear of the many things that people think of when they hear the term “sales rep.” That means no tricks, no manipulating, no untruths, no forcing people to commit, no strong-arming, no word switcho-chango tactics, no insincere flattery, no cheesy gimmicks to get people to talk, etc. (the list goes on….)  That isn’t executive behavior, that isn’t “business call” behavior.

Can you imagine the CFO of a F500 company calling the CFO of another F500 company and saying “I know you’re very busy, I promise I won’t waste your time, if you like what you hear in the next 20 seconds, can you give me 60 more seconds?”  Needless to say the one receiving the call would be like “Who the heck is this??? Weirdo…”

One of our clients recently said they could never cold call. I asked if they call people they don’t know and have a business discussion…they said “of course, all the time.”  That IS the quintessential cold call!

It can be surprising because when you think of a “sales call,” it conjures up scenarios of rejection, push back, getting screened, refusals, trying to get the appointment, barriers, and many other negative experiences associated with having to break through many obstacles to get to a “decision maker.” There is a system of screening to block sales calls, but the screening is not designed to block normal business calls.

Executives call executives and have substantial conversations all the time without any trepidation. The key is to distance your methods from the typical “tricks of the trade.”

When I am training teams, I often ask them to think about what they do as part of their engagement, and ask… “Would you talk to YOU if you called? Would you listen to a voicemail from YOU? Would you respond to the questions YOU ask?”

The answers are surprising after some reflection. And having them listen to their voicemails often surfaces they sound more “sales” than they think.  This includes being impatient. People are very difficult to reach in general, and often the difficulty in reaching people is interpreted as no interest or they need to turn up the volume to press their prospects into action, which comes across as pressure and makes them withdraw even more.

An example of what not to do, is recently I received an email from a rep I have known for years from a company I have worked with for almost 15 years. I already said we will renew closer to the renewal date. But a couple of weeks before that time, I get this:

“If it isn’t your intent to renew please let me know and I will stand down and direct my attentions elsewhere.”

Of course this annoyed me a great deal and I said I didn’t appreciated that, especially after so many years and especially after I already said I would renew. They realized how bad it sounded and apologized, all is good now (for a sales relationship.) But many people wouldn’t have pushed back, they would have went away. There are many options for this solution today and companies need to be awesome at every stage to retain their customers.

More and more we have been working with companies on the process breakdowns around relationship management because it is the reason so many deals and long-time customer relationships fall apart. It is poor communication, taking customers for granted, trying to “sell” when really you need to “talk.”

MariAnne Vanella
About the author: 

MariAnne Vanella is the Chief Executive Officer of The Vanella Group, providing High quality, high touch engagement and telesales-based lead generation services for enterprise technology companies since 2001. Previously Ms. Vanella was the Vice President – Corporate Marketing for Cisco, and the Director – US Sales for both GeoTrain and PictureTalk.  Follow her on Twitter and on Linkedin.