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What Losing Weight and Sales Have in Common

This post is by guest contributor Art Sobczak. Art is President of Business By Phone Inc. and he helps business-to-business salespeople avoid rejection, prospect painlessly, and sell more by phone. See Art Sobczak’s bio at:

Scale to help lose weight
According to a National Institute's of Health study--brace yourself for this one--if you reduce the number of calories you eat, and exercise, you will lose weight.


No magic pill or potion?

Funny how the basics never go out of style. How they work, time and again: "Keep your eye on the ball," "Listen to your mother," "Eat your vegetables." More of the basics. The fundamentals.

And why are they the fundamentals?

Because fundamentals comprise a proven success recipe that has withstood the test of time.

And the same is true with sales. The longer I do this, the more I realize how uncomplicated sales is. All we're trying to do is help people buy.

People come through my seminars and say, "This really reminded me I need to get back to the basics."

That's right. No need to overengineer it.

But it's not just getting back to the basics, I tell them. It's USING them.

In this post I'll present, in order, a complete mini-course on the fundamental parts of the professional sales and prospecting call, and what I consider the most important points of each.

Pre-Call Planning

Have an objective for every call, defined by, "What do I want them to DO as a result of this call, and what do I want to do?"


Treat the screener as you would the customer--this person determines whether or not you'll even have a chance to speak with the buyer. Gather as much information as you can from whomever you are able, prior to speaking with your prospect; busy decision makers get bored when they have to answer your
basic qualifying questions.

Have a reason for needing to speak with the decision maker, and be prepared to sell this to the screener. They're asking, "Does this person have anything of interest, or of value for the boss?" If leaving a message on voice mail, or with a screener, be certain it offers a hint of a benefit that sparks curiosity, but doesn't talk about products/services.

Common Screener Mistakes: Being evasive and condescending with the screener; wasting information opportunities by not asking questions; leaving messages that create resistance--not interest--by talking about what you want to sell, not what they're really interested in.

Opening Statements

The objective of your opening is to pique curiosity and interest so that they will willingly and enthusiastically move to the questioning.
You must answer, "What's in it for me?" for the listener, or they will immediately begin the getting-rid-of-you process.

Common Opening Mistakes: talking about the product or service... what the salesperson wants to do, not what the listener wants; not having prepared openings...winging it.


Get information before you give it--how could you make an effective recommendation otherwise? After qualifying them, which preferably is done before speaking with them, the goal is to first identify the need, problem, pain, or the desire to enhance their situation. If it is latent, we must try to help them realize it through questions.

Common Questioning Mistakes: not listening to the answers to questions, therefore not layering more questions to dig deeper to magnify the problem; not learning and understanding the decision-making hierarchy and internal buying process.

Sales Recommendation

You should only talk about your product/service after knowing specifically how it will solve the problem, meet their need, etc. Then you can tailor your remarks specifically and personally for the listener.

Common Mistakes: "Premature Presentation," which is pitching before knowing what they're interested in, talking about points irrelevant to the listener; not seeking, or getting feedback during discussion of benefits.

Closing and Commitment

This is not the major event in a sales call. It's the natural, logical, validation of the professional sales process up to this point. But you still must ask. Commitment must be gained on every contact in order to move the process forward. If there is to be a follow-up contact, and information is to be sent, there must be commitment on behalf of the prospect regarding that material.

Common Mistakes: Asking too early; not asking soon enough (if buying signals have been expressed); not asking at all; agreeing to, or suggesting, a follow-up--and sending information--without having any commitment.


Objections can be avoided by doing everything else correctly up to this point in the call. When you do hear them, resist the tendency to attack them. You must back up and revisit the questioning stage of the call. The voiced objection is simply a symptom of the real problem.

Common Mistakes: Using slick, prepared, objection rebuttals that only tell people they're wrong and intensify the resistance; giving up before attempting to understand the reason behind the problem.

Wrapping Up and Setting Up the Next Action

At the end of calls reps must summarize agreed-to actions by both parties, and set the agenda for the next call.

There you have it, all the basic parts of the sales call. It's not rocket science. Follow these and you will be successful.