Sell Your Idea More Successfully

cold callHas this ever happened to you? I made a call last week to pitch someone an idea I had. Given I didn’t know him beforehand it was essentially a ‘cold call’. It’s been a few years since I had to make one and I bombed. After the call, I started to run through everything I did wrong in my head and what I would have done differently. Later that day I came across an iTunes sales podcast on cold calls – Jeb Blount’s sales blog SalesGuy: Quick and Dirty Tips.

But you don’t work in sales right? Wrong, we all sell something whether it’s a product to a prospect or an idea to someone we don’t know or ourselves to a hiring manager. And that means at some point in your life, you will have to make a cold call. So even if ‘sales’ isn’t in your title, being better at selling/talking to a stranger can you help you in all walks of life.

The Woman/Man On the Other End of the Phone … Is A Person Just Like You

He or she is a busy person who doesn’t want to be interrupted – just like you feel when you get a cold call. As soon as they realize you are a ‘salesperson’, their first instinct is to get off the phone as quickly as possible. What do you do expecting this? Talk as fast as you can to keep them on the phone just as they are trying to hang up.

What do people like to do on the phone? Have a conversation. A dialogue between 2 people talking about something of interest. So you should try to have a conversation. A prospect will be happy to talk about their interests. How do you engage a person on the phone this way? Jeb suggests you do this: Pick a short statement that should get their interest and ask a relevant question. Here is the example he gave:

 “Hi John this is David Thompson from I notice you are hiring salespeople. One of your competitors hires all their salespeople on and I thought this might be of interest to you. Can you tell me how many salespeople you are planning to hire this year?”

The tip I will add to Jeb’s advice is write down what you are going to say. It doesn’t need to be word for word, but you do need to have your main points on paper. Even practise it a few times before you make the call. One sales reps once told me that every sales call is like going on stage so be overly prepared. Write it down and practise it verbally before you make the call.  

Jeb says never ask how they are doing – it’s a stupid question. They are not doing well now that they realize you are trying to sell them something and they made the mistake of answering your call. Instead get right to the point. Here are 3 reasons why this method is better than what you are currently using:

  • It demonstrates you are a professional and that you have respect for the  prospect’s time
  • When you ask an easy but relevant question, the prospect has the opportunity to discuss something of interest to them
  • If there is an objection (too busy, no $), they will get to it quickly which will allow you to get to the objection quickly in order to ask some questions and determine if the objection is real or just a attempt to get off the phone

It’s always tough to meet strangers. The reality is more prospects will say no to you than yes – so be prepared for rejection. But they are also regular people just like you who want to be treated with respect. Not tricked. Not ice broken or manipulated. In the end if you can find a way to give them they respect, focus on what they want, then you may just find more of these calls going your way.

 And if you are in sales, check out Jeb’s podcast. He has all sorts of great tips and a sales course you can find on his website – look for the Salesgravy magazine signup.

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