The Blog.

What makes a great sales call?

6 Jul 2011 | Business Life

A while ago, at my local networking group we were discussing making sales calls and the resistance we often have with them.

So many of us have had that experience of sitting down to make a sales call, looking at the number, mentally rehearsing what we want to say, wondering how the other person will respond, cringing at the “what if it goes horribly wrong” scenarios, and thinking of a ton of other things we’d rather be doing. Next thing we know, something else has come up and we’ve run out of time.

At the end of the day it comes down to us wanting to do it well and get a good response. Much of our resistance comes from fear of rejection, even confrontation, or simply making a poor impression – and when it comes to negative experiences of receiving sales calls, we all had plenty of examples:

  • The ones that are high pressured – refusing to take no for an answer
  • The ones that are completely irrelevant, but insist on dragging you through all the ‘benefits’
  • The ones that are too attached to their script to actually listen and respond to what you’re saying
  • The ones that are fake and overly ‘friendly’, diving straight in with “how was your weekend?” when you’re still thinking ‘Who are you and what do you want?’
  • The ones that are rude and argumentative when you try to respectfully decline.

So what makes a great sales call?

Actually it’s probably one that doesn’t even feel like a ‘sales’ call – more like a mutually beneficial conversation.

One of our members talked about someone organising a summer fair, who called to ask if she wanted a stall to sell her cupcakes. It was just what she wanted, and didn’t even deem it as a sales call – yet for the person making it, they probably did see it as a sales call.

Looking at calls we’ve enjoyed receiving and pleasant buying experiences, these usually

  • Get straight to the point
  • Offer something we want
  • Are pleasant and courteous
  • Are flexible and responsive – offering to call back later if they hear a screaming child in the background, able to email if that’s what we prefer…
  • Show a genuine interest in our business (bonus points for doing some research beforehand)

And even if we’re not interested, a simple smiley “Ok that’s great, thanks very much for your time” leaves such a good impression, and a feel good factor for both parties. (The smile is important – makes a big difference :))

Make the call

If you’re still procrastinating on your sales calls, I find it helps to spend a little bit of time preparing what I want to say and making a list of people to call, then committing to doing say 5 a day. Setting a limit and a time frame means I can sit down and get them done – if I get a great response, fantastic. If it’s not for them, great, I’ll move onto the next one and be one step closer to getting them done!

How about you? How do you feel about making sales calls? What tactics do you use to help you get into the right mindset? What have been some of the ingredients of a great sales call for you – whether it’s one you’ve made or received? Let’s talk about it – share your comments below.


  1. Fiona @adoptresources

    Fab post -lots to think about. I hate the calls that start with the pretence of a ‘survey’ ask 2 questions then move onto the deal they have for new kitchens/windows/conservatories etc. Far better to state the objective upfront rather than disguise it as something that it’s not.

    • Grace Marshall

      Argh I can’t stand the pretend surveys either! Absolutely agree with you Fiona – get to the point and you make the most of your time and theirs. Thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

  2. Ali Wilford

    Yesterday I had a guy knock on my door and try to sell me
    an energy package from a rival utility company to the one I am already
    using.  My first comment to him was
    ‘thank you but I have just signed a contract with my provider and I’m not
    interested in looking at anything else’. 
    An effective sales person who knew the value of not wasting his time
    would have said thank you, perhaps asked me for a referral, and moved on.  But he pursued his case for a good 5 minutes
    trying different angles before I finally managed to close the door.  It was uncomfortable for me and for him
    also.  I felt that I did him a dis-service
    by actually listening to his hard sell – instead I could have given him a few
    sales tips.

    1) Always pre qualify. Find out if your prospect has a
    need and is open to looking at a solution. Your time is precious – don’t waste
    it on people who don’t want or need what you are selling.  This is the main difference between activity and

    2) set yourself a goal for a number of calls per day and
    stick to it. Consistency is the key to getting the results you want

    3) Set goals. So important !!!!!!

    4) Have fun. People can hear that you are enjoying
    yourself and they will naturally be attracted to you.
    5)  Always remember ABC : Action. Belief. Consistency.

    * if you get nervous early days try a little
    rescue remedy (Bach flowers) – it takes the 
    edge off the anxiety and allows you to speak more easily.  

    This is a great topic and a fantastic website.  Thank you !

    • Grace Marshall

      Great points there Ali. I especially love the point about pre-qualifying rather than coming across as pushy and desperate! Especially for those who are selling a service, it pays to make sure they are actually talking to the kind of clients they want to work with! Thanks so much for sharing your experience and tips Ali 🙂

  3. info

    Great post Grace – certainly the ‘get it over with’ approach is the one for me!
    Hope you don’t mind, I’ve given you a Versatile Blogger Award on my blog – pop over and have a look if you get a chance 🙂 from Gifts by Jenny xx

    • Grace Marshall

      Yup the ‘get it over with’ approach is fab for getting the less enjoyable tasks done, and freeing you up to enjoy the stuff that you do. Thanks so much Jenny, I’ll go take a look now x

  4. Leigh Clarke

    I have found the fear of doing it far worse than the reality of having the conversation. In fact when I have knuckled down and made the calls it’s actually been quite an enjoyable and rewarding process with great results. I love hearing all about the plans for their party business and if it’s beneficial for them to work together to expand services & increase income then that’s great!

    • Grace Marshall

      Isn’t it funny how the stuff that fear feeds on is largely all in our heads – and reality is actually so much more pleasant! Well done for pushing through to the rewards Leigh 🙂

  5. Anonymous

    Your advice is spot on, Grace. I almost always make a few notes before I make any call–doing so helps me stick to the point so I don’t waste my time or theirs. I also take notes during calls so I can address the other person’s needs specifically.

    • Grace Marshall

      Yes! Communicating your message clearly and listening attentively are essential ingredients of any conversation, especially one where you’re hoping to build a customer relationship. Thanks Erin 🙂

  6. Kim The Book Worm

    I’ve made a few sales calls in my time so I know that it can be really tough.  I always try, when I receive a sales call, to thank the person for thinking of me even though I’m not interested.  Its polite and for the person at the other end of the phone gives them a bit of a boost that someone has actually been nice to them for a change as some people can be quite nasty at times. 

    When I’m making calls, I always ask the person if they have just a minute to see if they are initially interested and if they are busy ask if there is a more convenient time to call back.  This can save a lot of time and effort in the long run.  I try to tell them why I’m calling in as few words as possible. 

    • Grace Marshall

      Love this Kim, amazing what a difference some simple words and a positive attitude can make. We don’t all have to agree or buy from everyone, but we can be nice. Thanks for sharing 🙂

Image if author Grace Marshall

About Grace

I coach, train, write and speak on productivity. I help people adopt new ways of working and thinking about their work to replace stress, overwhelm and frustration with success, sanity and satisfaction.

Like what youre reading?

Subscribe and join me in  conversation!

I will never sell your data. You can unsubscribe at any time. Here’s our privacy policy.

Want to  Explore?

Related  Posts

Friends in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could...

read more


  Want to use this as your desktop wallpaper? Feel free: Full screen: 1024 x 768 | Widescreen: 1366 x 768 | Mac: 1280 x 800 What are some of...

read more


Want to use this as your desktop wallpaper? Feel free: Full screen: 1024 x 768 | Widescreen: 1366 x 768 | Mac: 1280 x 800   The struggles...

read more

Friends in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt said, "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could...

read more


  Want to use this as your desktop wallpaper? Feel free: Full screen: 1024 x 768 | Widescreen: 1366 x 768 | Mac: 1280 x 800 What are some of...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest