8 cringe-worthy ways to totally blow a sales call

8 cringe-worthy ways to totally blow a sales call Feature Image

We’ve all done it – called a prospect and made a complete idiot of ourselves.   So don’t beat yourself.  Just learn from it and make sure you never screw up the same way ever again.  To help you we’ve come up with eight classic ways to waste a perfectly good lead by messing up the call.  

Mistakes you’ll hopefully only make once:

Start with “How are you today?”

It’s blatantly insincere.  They know you really don’t care!  You immediately ring all sorts of alarm bells and put them on the defensive – you’ve just tagged yourself as a telemarketer who is not to be trusted.  Even worse, they might even tell you: “My cat has haemorrhoids so I took her to the vet, then my boss gave me a telling off for being late, and I think my husband is having an affair…”

Ask “Are you busy?”

What do you expect them to say?  “YES”, obviously!  You’ve just handed them the perfect pretext for getting rid of you in a hurry.  Much better to turn it around and head them off with “I realise you’re busy so I’ll get straight to the reason for my call…”  This is professional, and shows a little consideration.

Be too assumptive

If you blaze in assuming that your offer is just what the prospect is looking for then you are probably in for a rude awakening.  This approach makes it obvious that you are a hard sell merchant who is not the least bit interested in what the customer really needs – you just want to flog them something, regardless of whether it’s in their best interests.  Make some attempt to qualify the prospect before you make your pitch.  This is especially important if you are setting up an appointment – if you get there only to find that they’re not likely to buy then you’ve wasted a few hours of your valuable time.

Wing it

Get your head on straight before you make the call and have some kind of plan – work out how you are going to open the conversation and then the order in which you want to introduce the key points of your sales story.  That old adage that “If you fail to plan then you plan to fail” is a bit trite, but all too true!

Read from a script

It’s probably a good idea to have a script (see previous point).  But don’t read from it like a robot.  If you laboriously plod through it word for word you’ll come across as wooden and insincere.  If you really believed in what you were offering then the words should come from your heart, not off a piece of paper.


Talking too fast just makes you sound nervous.  That will make the prospect question the value of what you are offering.  If you aren’t relaxed and confident about what you’re offering then what does it say about the product or service?  What’s more, successful sales calls tend to be the ones where you get the prospect to open up about their needs and wants – if you are talking a mile a minute, instead of asking questions, then you’re on a hiding to nothing.

Use the alternative close

You might feel smart when you back them into a corner with “How about tomorrow at 3:00 or Tuesday at 11:00?” They probably know exactly what you are doing, because the technique has been used on them countless times before – and they don’t like it!  Why?  Because it’s manipulative and smacks of the worst kind of salesmanship.  You’ve just increased the likelihood of a no-show.  And even if they are there to see you you’ve just made them very wary of you.  Far better to ask when would suit them best and then try to match their suggestions to the gaps in your schedule.

So, eight ways to put off a prospect and waste a perfectly good lead.  Hopefully you can see what’s wrong with these approaches.  But if you’re still in any doubt just think how you feel when you are on the receiving end of such a call!

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