Many salespeople fail to consider the impact of that first phone call to a new prospect. It doesn’t matter if it’s a warm lead, a referral from a trusted source or a cold call. If you don’t ace that first call, you won’t get the opportunity to move forward and increase your sales.

1. Hem and haw. I can’t count how many calls I get from people who don’t seem to know what to say. They use too many filler words, such as “um,” “uh” and “ ah.” Determine ahead of time exactly what you will say in the opening moments. Script it out and rehearse, so it flows naturally and comfortably before you dial the number.

2. Mispronounce their name. One of the quickest ways to alienate someone is to say his or her name incorrectly.

3. Open with, “Uh, John Smith suggested I call you.” Before you call, do your research. Even though it’s a referral call, you need to demonstrate why the other person should listen to you.

4. Multitask. During a conversation with a salesperson, I could hear him tapping away on his computer. I think he was recording details of our conversation in his CRM system, but I found it very distracting, not to mention annoying.

5. Immediately pitch your product. Before you launch into a lengthy diatribe, ask a question or two to engage the prospect. It is acceptable to open with a very brief, 15 seconds or less, success story or description of a potential problem your prospect might be facing.

6. Call from a cell phone. If this is your first call to a prospect, I strongly suggest you call from a landline to reduce delays, echoes and dropped calls.

If your telephone call to a prospect is your first connection with that person and you butcher the call, you will lose the opportunity to move the sales process forward, close the business and increase your sales.

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Kelley Robertson speaks at conferences, sales meetings and association events. Get a free copy of “100 Ways to Increase Your Sales” and “Sales Blunders That Cost You Money” at http://www.Fearless-Selling.ca. For information on his programs, call 905-633-7750 or go to Kelley@RobertsonTrainingGroup.com.