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How long do you have to make an Impression?

For many Salespeople, the first interaction or interchange happens via a telephone. Sure, there are other methods to make first contact with a prospect, we will explore those in future blogs, but today phone will be King or Queen, whichever you prefer. No doubt, before you you dial, you will have made a time investment to research your intended prospect and who may be answering on the other end. I always want to know a bit about the person to be conversational and build rapport. Paramount are things like name pronunciation, as nothing says salesperson better than a botched name. Additionally, you will have researched the company and its product or service in the about section of its website to give you a sense of who they are. A turn-off for me is when people ask me questions they should know or could know. The web has made it so easy to learn about your prospect from LinkedIn to Google, there are no excuses not to know what you can.

In preparation for your call, you have to enter an unconscious state because, in the conscious state, you will more than likely stumble across what you are thinking in your delivery than saying what you already know you need to say. In that four to five seconds, the person on the other end of the telephone is already deciding whether they should be talking to you or not. Running through their mind are three items:

1) Is this Person Sharp? Avoid the um’s, likes, and you knows.

2) Is this Person Enthusiastic? I cannot see them, but are they excited, or are they a bump on a log?

3) Is this Person an Expert? Are they talking my language?

It seems hard to imagine that in this short space of time that a person can do all this, but they do. They are reacting to your tonality and language, two of the most important qualities a salesperson can possess. These two items are entirely in your control and are absolutely free to own but invaluable in conversation. The right language and words, coupled with the tone, are the key to engaging your prospects. Give some credit to the prospect, they hear countless pitches every day from a ton of other salespeople. Help them differentiate. They do not want to listen to a half-baked, upspoken pitch that ends with a basic question for an answer they should already know. Click!

If you are on the right track, after about five seconds, the prospect enters a phase of deciding the next steps or outcomes for ending the call. Are you giving them enough relevant information to make a decision? If you have explained concisely, who you are, why you are calling, and why it is relevant to their business with a specific call to action, you should be in the home stretch. If not, you will hear an objection that will need to be handled as you re-group to your call to action. If you have passed the litmus test of being sharp, enthusiastic, and an expert, sellers get the appointment and get off the phone. Trying to sell your product over the phone may not be the best idea, it is preferential to always get in front of your client if you can. And at all costs avoid talking price too early in the discussion. If you are a phone-based seller, ask for a specific time when you can call back and take your prospect through your pitch when they are more suited to hear it.

The key takeaway is salespeople need to control the call and that is entirely within their power. It requires some careful planning, research, and practice. The good news is that if you "dial and smile" a lot, then you get to practice each and every time you pick up the phone. Learn from others, pluck the best techniques, and tailor them to work for you. Listen to the poor quality of the dinner-time telemarketers that call your home and how poorly they try to engage. Notice the clicking as their switch transfers your call before a monotone voice hits the receiver, and you shudder. It will become ever so clear what not to sound like and how easy it will be for you to differentiate yourself when it is your turn.

So, put down that e-mail or text or other electronic gadgets you are trying to make contact with and pick up the phone. Alexander Graham Bell would be delighted with your expert choice to showcase your sharpness and enthusiasm with your prospect with effective tonality and language that will make you a superstar.

Happy Selling!

Roger McNamara Bio:

Roger is a 25+-year veteran of the Payments Industry, most recently as the Director of Business Development with American Express in the US. He has worked on the largest Acquisition targets for acceptance across multiple Industries and across the globe that include : Airlines, Communications, Technology, Cruise Lines, Entertainment, Fractional Jet, Freight, Government, Healthcare, Insurance, Oil & Gas, Residential Rent, Restaurants, QSR’s, Retail, Services, Supermarkets, Travel, Vehicle Sales, B2B and Wholesale. Over that time, he has sold more than $200 Billion worth of Card processing and became an expert in Bankcard Interchange and Discount Rates, how they are calculated and what merchant pay to accept Credit and how this is dramatically different from what they believe they pay. He is an expert in Merchant Statement analysis and payment processing and the rules and regulations associated with payments and the associations. Roger has also developed the insight for Merchant Services Salesforces and salesforces in general to be able to better position their products and gain share particularly in B2B. Let him show you how you can too. He can be reached at

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