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The biggest mistake most “cold callers” make is that they try to get something out of a prospect before giving anything. They often show up, or pick up the phone unannounced with the objective of introducing themselves and telling the customer just how great their company and product are. The natural tendency of the prospect is to put up the defenses and then dismiss the salesperson, telling him they will look at the information and get back if there is interest.


That same salesperson, after not hearing back from the prospect, assumes the customer is satisfied with their current supplier, or that the product they were offering wasn’t a good fit. WRONG assumption! The reason the prospect didn’t give a positive response is the salesperson hasn’t proved himself worthy of anything more than a blow-off. 


In short, on your first few calls, it doesn’t matter how low your prices are, how you have the best service in town, or how fancy your corporate value statement is. You first have to prove that you are worthy of their trust, and that you plan to give more than you receive. You also have to prove that you are willing to keep giving.  The only way to do that is by communicating/showing up, and each time you do, you leave the prospect better because you of it.


Subhead: Gaining their trust

So how many times do you need to reach out to a new prospect before they buy from you? Well, if you believe the National Advertising Association, the number is 21! Whether the number is 21, 15 or 7, it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that you understand that gaining new business doesn’t come quickly or easily. But you DO have some control over how quickly the trust is developed. (Frankly, if it takes a salesperson 21 calls to show value and build trust, they probably have bigger issues).


Below are some tips to gain exposure with new prospects that will build the trust you will need to turn prospecting into purchase orders.


  1. Call #1: Have a planned and rehearsed introduction that tells the prospect who you are, who you work with, and what you do to help existing clients. (If you don’t have an “introduction pitch,” e-mail me at the address below and I will send you an article on how to create one.) Next, deliver information not directly related to your product that would be difficult for them to find, yet will provide value.  An example would be new healthcare related articles regarding topics such as reimbursement, health reform, ACOs, etc. Ask for nothing in return.


  1. Call #2: Deliver more information, perhaps in the form of a newsletter containing best practices from other medical offices, results from a survey of your customers, or payment updates from well-known insurance carriers.


  1. Call #3: Deliver a sample that they can touch, feel and put to immediate use.


  1. Call #4: Brighten their day with a Thank You note or something creative that shows you are a person they would like to associate with. And don’t be surprised if the response you get is, “My current supplier never did that.”


  1. Call #5: Once trust is created and you have shown your eagerness to give, you have earned the right to sell. In fact, if you wait too long to offer your solution, they may wonder why you keep showing up! At this point, don’t deliver your product presentation in the same way you delivered your free information. Prepare, then deliver a question that makes them curious to want to learn more.


  • An example would be, “Dr. Smith, I know the last time we spoke I showed you an article from the Medical Group Management Association that showed how electronic health records increased annual revenue by $49,916 in practices of your size. Would you be interested in seeing if you would be a good candidate for an EHR?”


  1. Call #6: Find the materials and support you need to deliver a presentation that shows you are THE resource regarding that solution. Once they see how good you are with that solution, they will turn to you for answers in others areas.


  1. Call #7: Baby-sit your first deal like your own mother bought the product. This is the real proving ground with prospect turned customer. Remember, they have been burned before. Too many in our industry have made a habit of the “drop the box and run” technique and as a result, perhaps it’s one reason some believe it now takes 21 calls to build trust.


Winning new accounts is not easy. But if you believe that the by-product of giving is that you will someday receive, then make plans to give more than ever. Become the source of information that they do not have with their current supplier. Because once you become the repository of information that makes them smarter, you will have become the irreplaceable salesperson. Become that, and they will refer you to accounts whose trust may only take two calls to gain.


As President of Kansas City-based PRECISE Selling, Brian Sullivan, CSP delivers seminars and internet training programs on sales, customer service, leadership and presentation skills to companies of all sizes.  He also hosts the radio talk show Entrepreneurial Moments, a show dedicated to personal and business development. To find out more, visit him at or e-mail Brian at

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