I have the opportunity to be a guest on a lot of podcasts. A popular topic today is how sales has changed with the pandemic.

What I often joke about is how over the past year salespeople have been adopting this new technology: the phone.

Of course, the sales pros who didn't mess a beat over the past year, and those who crushed it were already using the phone as an integral part of their process.

Back to podcast interviews... Something I struggle with is the general question,

“What is the one tip that…”

As if there is just one magic phrase or tip that will cause people to throw money at us. Yeah, right.

Success in sales is doing lots of little things, consistently, in all parts of the sales process.

Today, and the next two days I will share with you a lot of these little things that you can use right away in your own prospecting and sales.

We're going to travel through every part of the professional sales call, in order, discussing proven tips that can help you right now. The list is not all-inclusive by any means, but they are a lot of the fundamental things that I have been teaching for a long time, and that top sales pros do every day.

1. Have a primary objective for every call, defined as, "What do I want them to DO as a result of this call, and what do I want to do?"

2. Prepare questions for your call using your call objective. Ask yourself, "How can I help them to take this action as a result of asking questions, as opposed to talking?" People believe more of their ideas than yours.

3. Also have a secondary objective for each call... something you'll strive to at least attempt, at minimum, every time. For example, “Asking when their existing contract expires.” This way, you can get a small win on every call you place, and that does wonders for your attitude.

4. Treat everyone as you would the customer--they could determine whether or not you'll even have a chance to speak with the buyer. Do not view assistants--or anyone--as screeners or gatekeepers. That positions them in your mind as adversaries, and not the friends we want them to be.

5. Gather as much information as you can from whomever you are able, prior to speaking with your prospect. Busy decision makers get annoyed when they have to answer your basic qualifying questions. Use the "Help" technique: "I hope you can help me. So I'm better prepared when I speak with Ms. Big, there's probably some information you could provide me..."

6. Have a reason for needing to speak with the decision maker, and be prepared to explain this to an assistant. Here’s the question they are asking about you in their mind: "Does this person have anything of interest, or of value for the boss?"

7. If leaving a message on voice mail, or with an assistant, be certain it offers a hint of a benefit/result that sparks curiosity, but doesn't talk about products/services.

8. The objective of your opening is to pique curiosity and interest so that they will willingly and enthusiastically move to the questioning. You must answer, "What's in it for me?" for the listener, or they will immediately begin the getting-rid-of-you process.

9. Don't use goofy, resistance inducing phrases like, "If I could show you a way to _____, you would want that, wouldn't you?" The only decision you're looking for in the opening is the one to continue speaking with you.

10. When prospecting, don't start the call with, "I was just calling people in your area..." People want to feel like they're the only person you're calling... not just one of the masses from a list of compiled names.

11. Use "weasel words" when opening prospecting calls: "depending on," "might," "maybe," "perhaps," and "possibly." These are non-threatening words that hint you might have something of value for them, but you really need to ask questions first. For example, "Depending on what you're now doing in the area of employee benefits, I might have something that could potentially increase the number of options you offer, while possibly decreasing your overall contribution. I'd like to ask you a few questions to see if this is something you'd like more information on."

12. Have something of value to say on every call. Particularly those regular calls to existing customers. Avoid, "Just checking in with you to see if you needed anything," and, "Just calling to touch base." These are more nuisance than service. Be certain they're able to say they are better off after your call than they were before it, even if they didn't buy anything. Call with news they'll have an interest in; ideas you've heard from other customers they might be able to take advantage of; mention that you were "thinking of them" and tell them why. One of my vendors called to say he "just attended a virtual trade show and saw something interesting, and thought I could benefit from it." It's little things like that, that cause customers to say, "She always has something good for me when she calls," as opposed to, "Every time she calls she's just looking for an order."

13. Get information before you give it. How could you make an effective presentation otherwise?

14. Don't use a "benefit list" to present from. Instead, use it to create questions to determine if those "benefits" truly are of value to your prospects and customers. Some "benefits" could actually be liabilities.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue with Part 2... 14 more tips on effective questioning and your sales recommendation. We’ll conclude on Friday with closing and commitment, handling resistance and objections, and attitude and self-motivation.