Converting Call-Ins: Don’t Miss The Lay-up

Converting a call-in to a sale is harder than it looks.

Converting a call-in to a sale

Photo by Mario Beauregard

During a Breakthrough Prospecting training session not long ago, a radio group Market Manager shared a frustration with me:

“Why aren’t we closing call-ins?” she said. “When they call us, it should be an easy sale, but we don’t get them on the air.”
There’s many a slip ‘twixt the cup and the lip” — Old English Proverb
 Sometimes the best players in the world miss an easy shot.

Like those seemingly routine plays, handling a call-in comes down to getting the fundamentals right. Even the best account executives can get lazy.

 When a customer calls in, it’s tempting to just answer the questions they ask. 
If they called for rates, or for the price of a sports sponsorship, maybe you should just give them the price and email them a package.
Maybe you had a short phone or email conversation with them, learned a little about what they wanted to do, and sent them a proposal…

…and the client ran with your competitor instead.

What did you miss?  

Think about the last complex sale you took from a cold call to a successful close. You had to:
  • Build rapport and trust with the prospect.
  • Research the prospect online.
  • Conduct a thorough needs analysis.
  • Learn who the decision-makers were and what the decision-making process was.
  • Customize a proposal that met the prospect’s needs and desires.
  • Handle objections, and adjust the proposal based on client feedback.
  • Work through the process and move the sale to a close.
When a prospect calls your office out of the blue, it may feel like you’re already 2/3 of the way to a sale already. It’s tempting to skip some of the steps. After all, they called you — do you really have to do all this work?

Only if you want the money.
If you haven’t followed all the steps you’d follow if you’d called them, you’re taking a huge risk. You may not know:
  • What prompted them to call you.
  • What problems, they’re trying to solve by advertising.
  • The implications of those problems.
  • How much money they’re prepared to invest to solve those problems — it may be a lot more than the “budget” they gave you on the phone.
  • What other options they have for solving the problems, and who else they’re talking to.
  • Who the stakeholders are, and how the decision will be made.
In a particularly vexing scenario, the client calls for information, gets the information, and then disappears. What’s going on there?
According to James Muir, author of The Perfect Close, the client is convinced that further interactions will not have value. 
The primary cause of a prospect going silent is that the sales agent has not been adding enough value throughout the sales process. Often, the salesperson has only been providing information about their products and services, and when we fail to provide any form of additional value, buyers assume this is all we’re good for. As a consequence, once they receive all the information about our solution that they need, they have no reason to continue engaging with us.
 In this scenario, typically the final piece of information a prospect receives before going silent is our proposal – the price. Thus having received what they perceive to be the last useful piece of information from the salesperson, they cease communicating because they have no further use for us.
How do you deal with this?
Pretend you called them. Handle a call-in the way you would if you’ve developed the prospect from scratch.
  • Insist on a meeting — in person if at all possible.
  • Do your online research in advance of the meeting. My book Breakthrough Prospecting offers a method for that.
  • Conduct a thorough needs analysis at that meeting, so you know exactly what they’re trying to accomplish and why.
  • Customize a proposal that meets their needs exactly.
  • Insist on the opportunity to present the proposal rather than just sending it.
Following these steps takes more time and more effort. But it increases the odds your shot will go through the net, and the points will go on the board.

Question: What’s the most unusual call-in you ever received? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


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