How to call with a sales pitch so as not to be sent packing

Many people are familiar with this situation: you are at a meeting; or checking papers that require maximum concentration; you are in a hurry, but still trying to answer three letters in the mail and five messages in the messenger – understanding that all of this is important, urgent and cannot be postponed; an employee has brought a report and wants to ask a question; finally, you can spare five minutes to drink coffee, keep quiet and enjoy the view in the window; you are driving, dangerous crossing ahead; you want to sit down and carefully review the flight options to New York for your scheduled trip; __________ (a list that everyone can continue with pleasure).

And out of the blue, when you’re almost done with the WhatsApp message and it has to be sent to the intended recipient as soon as possible, an incoming call with an unknown number pops-up on the screen. Odds are, the partners’ lawyer has finally returned from a business trip and has come calling. You swipe the screen and here is what you hear:

– Hello, good afternoon! Is this a company such and such? Who can I speak to about our commercial offer? Can I patch you through to my supervisor?

There is a note in the “Contacts” section of the company’s website that says that all commercial offers should only be sent in written form to such and such e-mail address.

But in 95% of cases a person who usually makes such calls doesn’t even think about how much a minute of time of the person he wants to offer, sell, and present his services or goods to is actually worth. And then the call initiator would make matters worse by asking to spell out the company’s e-mail address where he can send the offer. Double-check whether it’s “I” or “i with a dot”. In most cases, he doesn’t have a clue about what company he’s making a call to, he can’t pronounce the company’s name correctly, and doesn’t make it a habit to read trade descriptions.

– Hello, this is a mortgage center such and such.

– We would like to offer our services to promote your website on the Internet.

– Free cosmetic procedure. Why don’t you try it?

– Courier service. Why aren’t you interested? What courier company do you use? You didn’t even look at our website, why would you refuse without hearing me out first? (waiting for explanations and excuses)

– Have you been to our MBA course presentation, have you decided on anything? And when exactly will you make a decision? I haven’t been able to speak with you for the last two months; you always tell me you don’t have time to talk. (sounds almost like a complaint)

– What’s your Skype? I would like to showcase our product.

– We have a hotel chain in the center of St. Petersburg; it will only take 5 minutes of your time. (a call to a person who has nothing to do with tourism)

– Hello, I’m calling about the commercial offer that we sent out yesterday. When can we expect a reply? When should we call back?

– Hello, do you have 10 (!!!) minutes? We are conducting a survey.

– Please, come to the masterclass so and so, you will definitely be interested.

Any manager must be close to a boiling point, when it comes to the question of what shall be done with those who waste their precious time. And most importantly, how to make them go away? Maybe next time I can try saying in especially threatening manner: “If you call again, I will sue”?

Logically, I understand that a person was given a database; he sits at work and makes calls to everyone whose name is on his list. In some business areas it is still believed that cold sales are effective to this day. On top of that, particularly enthusiastic employees will hear an earful during business trainings, and will be inspired by the opportunity to practice sales skills over the phone.

Company executives are more than ready to leave an indignant post on social media and share their thoughts with like-minded people, but something tells them: nothing will come of it, except for just another waste of their time.

It’s necessary to start not with the employees, but with the heads of the companies, who are also executives that continue to hold true the calling strategy using the principle “take more, throw further.”

The Pareto principle reminds us that only 20% of efforts generate 80% of the results, although it glosses over how to single out these very same golden 20% in specific business sectors.

Having asked around my contacts among the executives, marketing specialists and sales managers I came to a single conclusion that nobody can remember if they have even heard a truly worthwhile sales pitch over the phone in the last 1-3 years.

Thereafter, important principles have been formulated that I would like to pass on to as many of the leaders and regular employees working in the sphere of “cold calls” and mailouts as possible.

1. The first rule of thumb: after opening the conversation with a phrase “Good afternoon, this is such and such person calling with regards to such and such matter” always follow up with a question: “Is it convenient for you to talk right now?” If it’s indeed inconvenient: “When would be a good time to call back, please name the day and time that you’ll be willing to hear me out?” As a result, right of the bat you get on the good side of the person you’re speaking to by showing him that you have utmost respect for his time and personal space.


2. Accept the fact that, if someone owns a phone, it doesn’t necessarily mean he is somehow obligated to pick it up. While doing that, get rid of the habit of calling someone several times in a row as it predisposes the person to be extremely irritated.


3. Spend some time on scrupulously studying the target audience to whom the commercial proposal is intended for in order to avoid the anti-advertising effect, as well as wasting your efforts, time and money. If the result does not meet your expectations, it appears that you’re just splashing out on mechanical, ineffective and useless work.


4. Nowadays, the advertising field is oversaturated with regards to the amount of data people have to deal with. Many unsubscribe even from those mailouts that they themselves willingly subscribed to. It takes more time to look through the headlines than it does you any good. When searching for information it’s easier to just open the desired website at a well-chosen moment.

If you’re going to send a letter containing a commercial proposal, it must be composed in such a way so as to catch the intended recipient’s interest in a split second. From the get go he must come to realize that what he really needs is to continue reading, make a bookmark and not just relegate this message to the garbage or spam folder like the hundreds before that.


Exercise caution when copying the recipients’ addresses.
True story: a real estate agent in St. Petersburg received a letter from a very prominent elite real estate agency in France dedicated to a new real property item. The dispatch was made by the garden-variety employee. She accidentally put all the recipients in an open copy instead of a hidden one and clicked “send”.

Perhaps, it happened because of her inattentiveness or lack of experience. Maybe she is a good realtor and a good person, but a bad PC user.
What happened to the employee after this blunder is anybody’s guess, but as luck would have it the St. Petersburg’s real estate agent came into possession of the French agency’s extensive client and partner database absolutely free of charge.


5. If you still want to reach out to a specific person who has not personally handed his business card to you, it’s better not to call. Instead, go for instant messengers or social networks. A person will see the message and, if interested, respond when he is ready to hear what you have to say on his terms, and not when it’s convenient for you. Unscheduled phone calls take up a lot of time, and energy, and mess with one’s concentration. If such a conversation proves to be of interest to both parties, it is best to decide on a convenient time and make a call at the agreed upon moment. Not when you deem it necessary.


6. I can’t help but wonder how much will time of a particular person cost. It can be calculated easily enough: the figure of personal monthly, quarterly or annual income is divided by the amount of time, up to the minutes, spent on work. How much is one minute of personal time worth? Are you satisfied with the amount? Does it please or frighten you? What is it wasted on? And what about a top manager of any given corporation? How much can a minute of an executive’s time be worth, especially when there are people trying to deprive him of it?

Time is an invisible, limited and, most importantly, irreversible resource. You ought to realize that the person you have been talking to for 3 whole minutes gifted those precious minutes to you, sacrificed them. Odds are he would have preferred to use them differently. For that very reason silently thank that person for the invaluable gift.

The article was created for  – business portal dedicated to top management


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