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Selling on the Phone - A Matter of Trading Marbles

By: Robert Middleton

Robert Middleton, of Action Plan Marketing in Palo Alto, Calif., has helped hundreds of professional service businesses attract new clients and get paid what they're worth.

His website is a resource for marketing professional services. Visit it at Action Plan Marketing.

One of the biggest challenges small business owners face is selling over the phone. I'm not necessarily talking about cold calls, although these are the biggest challenge, but simply selling to a lead you've generated through your marketing.

You know the scenario. Someone calls you up because they saw your name or were referred by a friend. And one of the first things they ask is, "...tell me about your business. What do you do and what do you cost?" And the mistake you make is answering them! You go on and on and on about what you do. And don't you feel it getting cold at the other end of the line? Don't you feel like you're losing them?

This is because you've forgotten the important principle of give and take in selling. They ask. You tell a little and then you ask something. And then they tell a little.

You keep the conversation balanced, not one-sided. But how do you remember to do this and avoid running off at the mouth, talking yourself out of a sale?

Last week at a presentation I gave at SCORE, one of the participants shared a powerful technique that I wanted to pass along to you. She said that when she was trained as a travel agent she was told to visualize a pile of marbles in front of her and a pile in front of the prospect at the other end of the line. And whenever she told the prospect something she would take a marble off her pile and put it on the prospect's pile. And every time she got some information from the prospect she would take a marble off their pile and put it on her pile.

The aim was to keep the piles even. If her pile got too small and the prospect's too big she knew she was giving too much and every time the situation was reversed she knew she was taking too much.

The next time you have a prospect on the line, use this simple visualization to keep the sales conversation balanced. You'll find you have a much better result.

© Copyright 2000, Robert Middleton

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