In addition to all the other responsibilities you and the average small business owner has, sales—or at least managing the sales process—is probably at the top of your list; because without sales, nothing else happens.

Like many small business owners, among all the other things you do you probably do a lot of your own sales, making it important to take the time spent in sales into consideration when making sales calls. Because of the demands of all those other responsibilities, you want to spend enough time, but not too much time.

Understanding that It can be difficult to connect with a customer, or potential customer, on a meaningful level without spending some time to connect on a personal level, discuss a plan of action, and listen to their future plans, it’s very important to focus on maximizing every minute you spend selling to customers and future customers to gain the most value out of every interaction.

Fortunately, if you’re able to communicate that what  you offer has a very good chance it will provide value to their business, they will be more inclined to listen. The trick is to make sure your customer interactions also add value to you and your business.

Let’s examine some ways to make every second count with potential customers and landing the sale you hope to land without spending too much time on the phone, so you can get back to running your business.

You Must Have a Clear Message

There’s a good chance you may have heard that one of the keys in business and in interviews is a firm handshake. Even if the individual is smiling and dressed professionally, it doesn’t make a good impression if you have a weak handshake. It feels either indecisive or questionable in some way. Many people believe that a firm handshake represents a clear and focused mind.

Although there is no handshake in a sales call over the phone the same thing can happen. Because it’s easy to get off-message, it’s important to stay focused on the purpose of the call. There are some salespeople who might believe that the best approach is to relate to the potential customer before getting to the sale. They might suggest making small-talk about sports, or the neighborhood that they live in—but as a small business owner, time is an incredibly valuable commodity. With that in mind, there’s nothing wrong with getting to the point.

An introduction is fine, but keep it short. Let the person on the other side of the line know you can help them, and point out how you can help as soon as possible. You can even say something like, “I know you’re busy, so I’ll get to the point”, to set expectations right up front. You want him or her to understand that you respect his or her time and that you aren’t just trying to rush through everything. Regardless of what you’re selling, whether you make fliers, websites, or providing financing—let it be known, and make it clear from the start.

Here are a few key points to consider whenever you connect with a potential customer.

  • Take control of the call up front. Clearly explain to your customer how long you expect the call to take and what you plan on discussing. Be clear about what you are offering, how it can help them, and why they should work with you.  The unknown is what scares people, and often, if you simply tell them upfront what to expect, they will be more comfortable moving ahead with the process.
  • Ask specific questions that will allow you to learn about their business needs in the most efficient manner. Make sure these questions help you understand their needs, how they think about your product or service, and what are the most important challenges your business can solve for them. Open ended questions are great when you have all the time in the world, but as a busy business owner, you need to stay on track and guide them to get as much relevant information you can.  Don’t wing it, have your questions ready to go! 
  • Creating urgency can increase your chances of closing the deal, but can also engage customers upfront to want to continue the process. By taking control of the call you can quickly understand what they are looking for and can create a sense of urgency. Once you know what they might be looking for, it’s easier to position our solutions as the response to what they need.  How long have you been thinking about doing ABC?  How great will it feel to do ABC?  Make it real, allow them to visualize how their concerns are being met or their problem is being solved with your help.
  • Show emotion on your calls because business is personal. We tend to buy from people, not companies. Be truly excited about the opportunity to help your customers.  There are likely several options out there and your competition is probably reaching out them too, so it’s important you create a great experience from the start.  Use phrases like “wow that is great…” or “yes, I can see why this is so important to you…”  Once you connect with them you will be able to easily go over why your product or service is the best option available and they will be more likely to want to work with you.

With every kind of sales call (in person or over the phone), there might be hesitation. Taking control of the call from the start, asking the right questions up front, creating urgency, and showing emotion can lead you down the path of success when speaking with potential customers—and, getting through it efficiently enough so you can move on to the next task your business requires.

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