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Sales Training Ideas - What to Do and What Not to Do at the Beginning of Your Cold Calls

John Chapin

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In the first few seconds of your cold call you face a formidable task: Stop the prospect from shutting you down and getting rid of you before you have an opportunity to let her know what you have to offer.

1) Lead with your primary benefit.

The first thought in the prospect's head when you call is: How can I get this person off the phone or out of my office as quickly as possible. The second question, if they ever get beyond the first question, is: What's in it for me. You address both of these questions by leading almost immediately with your primary benefit. For example, your opening might be: Hi, (your name with your company), we've been saving companies in your area over 40% on office supplies. . . Then continue with your cold call. You don't want to pause during this first sentence or two because this is when you are most likely to be shut down.   

2) Don't ask “show stopper" questions.

What is a show stopper question? Questions such as “How are you?", “How's the weather there?", and even, “Is this a good time?" are all show stopper questions. Why? Because they give the prospect the opportunity to take control and stop the show, usually with a comment such as: “I'm really not interested, have a nice day. Goodbye. "   People will usually give you a little more leeway in-person versus over the phone, but even then, the person knows that you don't really care how they are, or what's going on with the weather, they realize this is just filler.   Before you've given a benefit, prospect assume they are not interested in what you have, because in 90% of the cases or more when salespeople call on them, they aren't interested. So before you stop with a question, or otherwise allow the prospect to get into the conversation, make sure you've introduced your primary benefit and have started to build some credibility.

3) Assume everyone you talk to wants what you have.

Cold calling requires you to convey confidence in you and what you are selling. If you assume that the person you are talking to doesn't want what you have, you will be coming from a position of weakness thus lacking confidence, and it will show. The truth is, most of the people you talk to are probably not interested in what you have however, if you water down your message so it is “palatable" to the people who aren't interested and thus they won't be too rude to you, your message will probably not be potent enough for the prospect who is interested in what you have to offer. Always speak with clarity and conviction.

Bonus tip - Take cold calls from other salespeople. Listen to what they have to say. Find out what works and what doesn't work. Give them some of the objections that you get on the cold call and see how they handle them. Also, as you are probably trying to prevent your calls from getting screened, taking calls from other salespeople will have a positive psychological effect on you. And now I would like to offer you free access to a monthly newsletter and weekly sales articles, along with an answer to your most difficult sales issue. You can get your access at


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