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Pull Off The 5 Minute Sales Call

A sales call can easily turn into a nightmare quickly. Here's how to maintain control of the conversation and get in and out safely.

I believe in love at first sight. It happens infrequently but sometimes, one or both members of the couple “know” that the other is someone special and that the relationship is probably destined to be significant. Some claim that they knew almost immediately that they would marry a particular person and the marriage took place (I know three such couples).

Business relationships can follow the same pattern. One or both parties may sense very early in preliminary discussions that there is great potential in the relationship or conversely, that it is likely there will be no future. Create some good luck for yourself by making a good first impression and making the most of your first five minutes with a prospective client. Success lies at the intersection of good fortune and preparation.

Minute 1: Grab attention

Create “verbal packaging” that portrays your product or service as relevant to prospective clients. Communicating the relevance of what you sell comes from knowing what clients value about your offerings and deftly articulating those benefits for prospects as you describe why, where, when and how to use your product or service. If you’ve had time to prepare, then do your homework to get a good sense of that individual’s business and construct a personalized pitch. Your product/service must solve a problem or create a competitive advantage.

Minute 2: Talk details

If your prospect either admits that what you sell is needed, or at least continues to listen with interest, then ask a few questions to find out where you stand. Is there a specific and immediate problem or goal? What is the time-table? Float solutions that your product/service will provide. This stage allows the prospect to visualize the process and outcomes of doing business with you.

Minute 3: Propose solutions

Explain further the solutions that your product/service will provide and persuade the prospect to define the goal or problem if that has not been done so already.

Minute 4: Establish timeline

Lay out a road map for implementing your solution and completing the sale. Define the operational processes that will be followed to put your product/service in motion. Now the client will know that s/he must agree, or decline to proceed.

Minute 5: Close sale

Tell the prospect what has to happen to enable the sale. Confirm that you have a sale (“Are you ready to move forward with this and when would you like to start? You would like the project to be completed by what date?”). Offer to send a contract or confirmation email to lay out the steps, the timeline and project milestones. Confirm the project budget and negotiate/agree on the project fee (or hourly rate), the amount of money that must be paid to you before you begin working and when future payments will become due. Confirm payment options. Say thank you and shake hands with your new client!

Thanks for reading,


About the author

Kim L. Clark

Kim L. Clark is the founder of Polished Professionals Boston, a business strategy and marketing consultancy. She is also an adviser to small business owners and develops workshops and classes that provide instruction in writing business plans. Kim has lectured at the Lesley University Seminars, the Boston Chamber of Commerce and the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce.

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