Anatomy of an Initial Sales Call


The phone rings. The caller identifies himself: “Hi, this is Joe, is there anyone available to discuss building a custom home?” What’s the first thing you do?

I reach for my hands-free headset, grab a pen, notebook and turn to a blank page. I want both hands free so I can write easily and take a lot of notes. I take control by asking my opening question: “Do you own a home site?” My prospect, Joe, says yes and I answer with genuine enthusiasm: “I will be happy to help you; what questions are on your mind?”

Joe replies: “Actually, we are in attorney review for acquiring a lot. It has an old house on it and we want to tear it down.”

Now, I have established his sincerity to proceed with his project and I do a little bit of sales and marketing research: “How did you hear about Grant Homes?” This is an important question so that you can judge where your leads are coming from.

Joe replies: “My wife saw the home you are building on Mountain Avenue and she told me to call you!”

This is your golden opportunity to establish your knowledge and experience.

My site signs are fairly expensive. They are not traditional realtor-type metal signs. If your company sign costs you under $100, replace it today. My sign is wood, sandblasted, with easy-to-read colors and only my logo and phone number. It is mounted on a 4×4 wood post. They cost approximately $300 each.

You want to gather information using a friendly, conversational approach. You want to keep the call to between 10 and 15 minutes at the most, less if you get what you need to know.

Joe asks if it’s a good idea to take title before he has a building permit. Regardless of the nature of your prospect’s specific question, it is critical that you take full advantage of the opportunity he has thrown out to you, namely, to show off your expertise and demonstrate that you are willing to be quick to educate him. This is your golden opportunity to establish your knowledge and experience. Be generous with your response but cut it off as soon as you achieve your purpose … to establish credibility.

I tell Joe that for a nominal fee, he can hire me to obtain a building permit. I also tell him that I have bought more than 200 properties over the past 20 years so I am qualified to assist him. However, I am quick to point out that although I would charge him, I do not make a living securing permits, and that my sole reason for offering this service is because I would really like to build his house. At the risk of stating the obvious, I am clearly telling him: “I want your business and I am willing to work to get it.”

Joe says he wants to build as soon as possible and he does not have plans yet. My next two questions are: “Have you been to my website? When can we get together?”

Joe replies, “No, I have not seen your website and yes, I would be happy to plan a meeting.” Rather than try to schedule while we are on this initial call, I state that I would like to meet as soon as possible with him and his wife. I ask him for his e-mail and cell phone number. I tell him I will send him a link to my site and suggest he write back with a date and time that both he and his wife are available to meet. I have accomplished enough on this initial call and now I want to quickly but politely end the call.

Within 10 minutes of hanging up, I send Joe an e-mail. He replied that he and his wife are available either tonight or later in the week.

Although I am tempted to cancel my tennis game to meet him this evening, I elect not to because I do not want to appear over-anxious, or worse, desperate for a deal. Although in reality I am quite anxious and I would love to make a sale.

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