5 Rookie Mistakes That Make It Impossible To Get New Clients And A (BONUS) Cheat Sheet For Your Next Sales Call

5 rookie sales call mistakes to avoid

Recently I got off a phone call with a photographer. He's fresh out of college. Just getting started. He takes pictures. I need some new ones for my website. He comes highly recommended by a friend buuuuutttt five minutes into our conversation I found myself inventing silent excuses why I'd need to cut our call short. Ten minutes later I was certifiably antsy and ready to be done. I don't care if he's Nebraska's answer to Annie Leibovitz, sitting on the call was excruciating. I can't imagine sitting in front of his camera.

If you sell life coaching, photography, graphic design, organizing services, nutrition guidance, business consulting...or anything, you need to learn to have sales calls. Good ones. The kind that end with you sending an invoice and your new client giddy to get started.

You may not realize this, but if you are an introvert (like me) sales calls are where you can absolutely SHINE. I mean it. And this is so good because nothing is more important to the health of your business than sales. You have a leg up. Truly.

On a sales call you get to tap into your natural strengths:

  • Your desire to connect and truly understand the deeper meaning of what your client is seeking
  • Your love of intimate conversation that puts people at ease
  • Your deep well of obsessively acquired knowledge that lets people know you have what it takes
  • Your nurturing nature that lets people know they're safe in your hands

Below I share five things I never ever want you to do on a sales call - if, of course, your goal is to make money.

Further down, you'll see a bonus cheat sheet: It's a compilation of my best sales tips. Print it out. Study it daily. Keep it beside you during your sales calls. And close some sales (you know you want to). You're welcome:)

CLOSE MORE SALES BY AVOIDING THESE FIVE ROOKIE MISTAKES!

1. Don't get on the phone with people who will never buy from you.

I call these people tire kickers and energy vampires. They know they won't buy from you (because they're typically "broke") and usually want something on the cheap or for free. 

Weed them out up front.

In the early days, I got on the phone with any warm body that maybe wanted a website. I did so much verbal tap dancing and convincing. It was nerve wracking, not to mention exhausting. 

Common mistakes:

  • Not being clear in your marketing copy about exactly who you're a good fit for 
  • Focusing on selling your process instead of the benefits your clients enjoy
  • Not sifting out the riffraff

Takeaways and action items:

  1. Communicate clearly on your website who you love working with.
  2. Demonstrate that you understand the specific outcomes your dream clients desire.
  3. Screen potential clients with a short application (they'll get a free taste of your process PLUS it'll begin their energetic investment in the outcome you offer. Asking a few good questions gets people thinking, dreaming, and excited to talk to you).

2. Don't be late. Don't be a flake. And don't press on pain points until they bleed.

I once had a Discovery Call scheduled with a big wig coach. At our appointed time I sat on Skype and waited. After seven minutes I emailed her to see if our wires had crossed. Thirty seconds later she hopped onto our call frazzled and making excuses about how her last call ran over. After rushing me through a quickie "energy clearing meditation" she hopped right into her pitch. When I said I'd need to think about it she informed me that my unwillingness to invest in her would mean potential clients wouldn't be willing to invest in me. True story.

Common mistakes:

  • Forgetting to value our client's time as much as our own.
  • Focusing on making a sale instead of discovering what the client truly wants.
  • Going straight for the jugular with a pain point pitch. In the example above, I was a new coach and vulnerable. That coach pressed upon my deepest fear (not getting clients) and it felt really gross and forceful. I ended up feeling defensive.

Take aways and action items:

  1. Plan to show up a bit earlier than your guest.
  2. Don't put your potential client in defense mode by pressing cruelly on pain points.
  3. Sometimes being late happens for legitimate reasons. We're human. In that case, be relaxed, apologetic, and proactive in terms of honoring your client. If you're frazzled, go onto my next nugget...

3. Don't have verbal dysentery.

I know you're a bit nervous before a sales call. We all are. Take a few deep breaths before you get on the phone and remind yourself, "This is HER time. Less talking. More listening."

The other day my young photographer friend rambled on and on about locations and lighting. He talked over me when I tried to get a word in edgewise (I mean they are MY pictures after all). He interrupted me with his good ideas. I left the call feeling like he had zero understanding of my style, my vision, or my vibe. But I knew all about his process and technique (yay me:).

When people are deciding whether to work with us they are in a vulnerable position. Honor that by taking care of them. The best way to take care of someone is to seek understanding about what they desire and respectfully (and figuratively) hold their hand as they navigate the decision-making process.

All that being said, there's a fine line between allowing the client to feel heard and letting the client monopolize the entire call. Your mission is to find a good balance. Do this by leading the call without talking the whole time. I created an interview template for myself. I keep it open and ready for notes when I'm on a sales call. It's a list of specific questions I ask to keep the conversation moving in the right direction.

Common mistakes:

  • Being so excited about what we do that we forget to make the call about the client.
  • Not having a structure for the call and allowing the client to lead the call (away from a sale).

Take aways and action items:

  1. Before each conversation imagine yourself on the call. See yourself in a calm and relaxed state. Watch as you ask thoughtful questions and listen. Visualize yourself smiling. See your client smiling. Breathe into that vision.
  2. Tell yourself, "This is her time. I must listen more than I talk."
  3. Have a list of specific questions at the ready so you can guide the conversation without monopolizing it.

4. Don't be disorganized.

When someone gets on the phone with you I want you to envision them at the top of a water slide. Once the call starts you want to make sure there are no obstacles hindering them from gliding to the bottom with ease, fun, and excitement.

Keep the conversation flowing by asking questions about their point A (where they're at now) and encourage them to paint a picture of their ideal point B (where they want to go).  

When the time is right, share (as concisely as possible) how you help people just like them close the gap between their currently reality and dream reality as they've described them to you. How do you help people in refreshing ways they might not expect? How are your clients lives easier after having worked with you? Feel free to share a quick story that illustrates how you helped someone in their exact situation. Notice your client's strengths and highlight them. Tell your new friend why you think they have a leg up. Close things down by asking if they have any questions. Your final question can be, "Is this sounding good to you?"

Take the lead and wrap up the call by being VERY SPECIFIC about what your client can expect next. Here's how I do it:

"Okay, when we get off the phone here's what will happen. I'm going to send you a quote, contract, and invoice. This process is automated and extremely convenient for you. Just follow the prompts and make your down payment. Once I receive your payment I'll reserve your spot on my production calendar and email you with next steps. Does this sound good?"

My new clients don't need to guess or worry about a single thing. I lead them. This is what they want. Otherwise they would've selected an inexpensive DIY solution.

Being organized gives your clients a relaxed experience that eases their busy minds. Plus it makes you look like a total PRO. (Side note: I also follow up with a thank you note and gift that I send via snail mail.)

Common mistakes: 

  • Leaving the client hanging in a state of confusion about what she is to do next.
  • Not having a streamlined system to take someone from a verbal yes to a paid invoice with simplified ease.

Take aways and action items:

  1. A good way to figure out your system is to create it on a piece of sketch paper. Draw a bucket - this is where your client payments will go. Label it with your payment processor (Paypal? Stripe?) Then reverse engineer (by drawing it out) all the steps that must happen in order for your client put their money into your bucket. Look at your chart and see if there are any clumsy steps you can remove. Evaluate what you need to make this process happen. Perhaps you'll use an application like 17Hats (great for service providers, what I use) or Satori (awesome for coaches). Before using 17Hats I used Google Docs and Paypal for everything, so it is possible to do this on your own if you want.
  2. Tell your client what they can expect next.
  3. Do what you say you're going to.

5. Follow up without being grammatically sloppy or long-winded. Also, don't crumble if you get a NO.

Always follow up a sales call with a short note. Be grateful, kind, empowering, and concise. And double-check the spelling and grammar of any words you're not sure about.

If you know of a resource that would help your client (a blog article or podcast), share it with them. People feel very good about making decisions when they feel sufficiently informed. Share anything that would increase the knowledge they desire to make a good decision for themselves.

If someone decides NOT to go with you, don't take it personally. I know this is difficult, but the truth is you don't know why your services aren't the best option so don't waste your energy spreading a layer of drama on top of the situation by inventing a bunch of crazy scenarios that probably have nothing to do with the truth. 

When someone makes a decision, it is always about them and not you.

If you feel sad, feel sad by all means. You have a very legitimate reason to feel the way you do. Your feelings are normal because it's disappointing to see an opportunity pass us by. But once you're done feeling sad, cue the Rocky theme song and remind yourself of this universal truth:

REMEMBER: SOMETIMES NOT GETTING WHAT YOU WANT IS A STROKE OF LUCK.

I truly want what's best for every person I get on the phone with. If she realizes I'm not the most aligned choice for her, that's a blessing for both of us. It's my practice (even when it's hard to do) to visualize her finding what she truly needs and being very happy. This frees me so I can move onto a new opportunities.

If not this, something better. Truly.

Common mistakes:

Being super wordy, super needy, or super fragile.

Take aways and action items:

  1. Follow up with concise gratitude. Proofread your correspondence and look for where you used five words when three would work just fine. It helps me to read things out loud.
  2. Offer supportive and uplifting resources to help your new friend feel more knowledgable as she makes her decision.
  3. Feel your disappointment if you lose a deal. That's normal and legit (besides, unprocessed feelings will come back around as behavior eruptions, so the sooner you feel, the sooner you can heal). THEN remind yourself that it's not about you. It's about them. And it's really for the best. 

I hope these tips help you feel more at ease with selling. I know as an introvert you probably think being good at sales calls simply isn't in the cards. I challenge that, my friend. I think your quiet, intimate, and reflective nature is a STRENGTH when it comes to putting people at ease and nurturing trust. And those two qualities are the foundation for positive sales conversations. 

You have what it takes. You simply need to work on it, practice it, hone it. We all do. It gets easier over time if you commit to making constant improvements through action. In other words, you have to start making offers that encourage people to get on the phone with you. You can't sit back and practice with yourself if you want to get better at making sales. You, literally, need to have real conversations with real people. 

Just print out my sales guidance cheat sheet below and keep it beside you the next time you get on the phone.

Good luck! You've got this!

Deana Ward

Simple & Soulful Creative, Lincoln, Nebraska

Simple & Soulful Creative is a Squarespace design studio that helps solopreneurs + small businesses clean up their messaging + launch gorgeous (easy-to-manage) websites.

About The Author

Deana Ward is a Squarespace website designer, copywriter, and consultant who helps soulful entrepreneurs align their brands and set up efficient business systems—while guiding them to take simple, tangible steps toward their professional goals. Her warm, personal approach goes beyond website design. It includes one-on-one training, accountability, and idea decluttering—which empowers her clients to get up and running so much faster than going it alone.

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