1. Not understanding the goal of the call

When you hang up the phone, where do you want to be? What action do you want your prospect to take? What commitment do you want your prospect to make? Too many prospectors don’t identify the goal of their phone call and so they do not get the result that they want. Before you pick up the telephone, identify the goal of your conversation.

2. Sending literature when you don’t have to

“Send me some information” does not translate to, “I’m going to read it.” Too many prospectors get quite excited to send brochures or emails to prospects and then call them back. Unfortunately, too many prospects use “Send me some information” as a polite way of getting off of the telephone. “Send me some information” generally really means, “I’m not interested” or “I’m too busy to talk.” You want to find out why your prospect is asking for information and if they are a true prospect. If your prospect is asking because they do intend to look over it, agree to send it out and get their commitment to a time to continue the conversation.

3. Poor telephone etiquette

Chewing gum, eating, music or television blaring in the background, talking to other people while you’re on the phone, mumbling or not speaking clearly, not getting to the point… These are all ways to turn your prospect off and reduce the chances that you can have a productive conversation.

4. Poor listening skills

Prospects will tell you everything that you need to know, if only you’ll listen to them. Listen actively so that you’ll hear what your prospects’ are really saying. Unfortunately, poor listening skills go hand in hand with the next mistake on the list.

5. Projecting your fears onto the prospect

“The prospect is in a meeting,” does not translate to, “The prospect knows that you are calling and does not want to speak with you.” “I’m busy and cannot talk right now,” does not translate into, “I don’t want to speak with you and I’m not interested.” Too many prospectors read extra and always negative meaning into statements made by gatekeepers and/or prospects. You will always do better by simply taking these statements at face value and assume that your prospect is in a meeting or is busy and cannot talk at the time that you called.

6. Inadequate or nonexistent questioning

It is vital to gather information about your prospect. Make sure that you have good questions planned to ask your prospect in order to qualify them and learn about their needs. Divide your questions into “Need to Know” and “Nice to Know” categories. Make sure to ask all of your “Need to Know” questions first.

7. Poor or no preparation

Few sales professionals would go into an important meeting with a top customer and wing it, yet that is exactly what far too many prospectors do when they get on the telephone. On the telephone you have approximately 10-30 seconds to grab and hold your prospects’ attention and you will not get another chance. Prepare so that you can have the best possible conversation with your prospect.

8. Not asking for what you want

Fear keeps many prospectors from asking for what they want. Others simply do not understand their goals for each call (see # 1) so they either do not ask for what they want or they ask for the wrong thing. Identify your goal for the call and craft the verbiage that you will use to ask for what you want. Practice that verbiage out loud so that you become comfortable. You can even make a “cheat sheet” and have it in front of you when you make your calls so that you remember to ask for what you want.

9. Creating objections where none existed

If you do not have a good call opening, you will immediately create an objection from your prospect. Anything that you say to a prospect that does not resonate deeply with them will create an objection. You want to be prepared with a good call opening and good script that will preempt objections (see #7). If every prospect with whom you speak says, “I’m not interested,” you’re not saying anything interesting.

10. Not leading with the value

The value or benefit (“WIIFM—What’s in it for me?”) from your prospects’ point of view is what will gain their attention. (see #7 and #9). Always, always, always lead with the value.

© 2008 Wendy Weiss

Author's Bio: 

Wendy Weiss, “The Queen of Cold Calling,” is a sales trainer, author and sales coach. Her recently released program, The Miracle Appointment-Setting Script, and/or her book, Cold Calling for Women, can be ordered by visiting http://queenofcoldcalling.com. Contact her at wendy@wendyweiss.com. Get Wendy’s free Special Report, Getting in the Door: How to Write an Effective Cold Calling Script, at http://www.wendyweiss.com.