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About The Author
Jill Konrath
Jill Konrath, President of Selling to Big Companies and Leapfrog-Strategies Inc., helps sellers create value, differentiation and demand in competitive markets. For info on speaking, training or consulting services, please call 651-429-1922 or send her an email.

Winning More Sales: Take Your Business to the Next Level with Insightful, Powerful Questions by Jill Konrath

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Ideal for salespeople, entrepreneurs, consultants & independent professionals. This ebook has 160+ pages of hands-on sales guidance in this much-needed manual.

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Transforming Your Sales Force

Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century
The book, written for sales managers and executives in the distribution industry, provides a blue print for executives to transform their sales forces into highly directable, effective, focused performers.
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Other Articles || Sales Training Resources || Press Room

Dialing for Dollars How to Get Appointments with Your Best Prospects
by Jill Konrath

Six months ago I temporarily shut my business down to refocus, rename and rebrand my company. I also needed to create a web site. Finally, after several months of gut-wrenching work, I was ready for prime time - eager to get back to work.

My value proposition was strong; my target market clearly defined.

After identifying companies that met my parameters, I went on-line to research them. I requested annual reports and read them carefully. I wanted to ensure that when I talked to the executives, my services were aligned with their business objectives. Then, I developed my Top Ten List.

But my preparation still wasn't complete. I needed a phone script to make sure I didn't sound like a blathering idiot when I reached their voicemail. So, I went to work on that.

I wrote a script and then rewrote it. To hear how it sounded, I called my own phone number and left a message on my own voicemail. At first I sounded awkward, stilted. How you talk is really different from how you write. So, I'd make changes and try again - and again.

Finally, I got it down pat and was able to leave a personable message that conveyed exactly what I wanted to say in about 30 seconds. By the time I was done, it wasn't a script anymore; it was just me talking.

It was time to pick up the phone! I'll start tomorrow, I promised myself.

Well, after about a week of doing just about anything to not make calls, I decided I couldn't avoid it any longer. I stared at the phone. My stomach was churning. Thoughts of saying something stupid and stumbling over my own words raced through my mind.

I looked again at my list of targeted companies, thinking it was nicer to have them on my prospect list than to have them say 'no' to me. At least there was still the possibility that we could do business in the future.

"This is absolutely ridiculous," I thought to myself. "Here I am, a seasoned sales professional and I'm suffering a severe case of call reluctance." There was only one way to put a stop to this. I had to call someone - right away.

Taking a final look at my Top Ten list, my eyes zeroed in on my top prospect. I picked up the phone and started dialing. 6...1...2... I paused, wanting to hang up, but I didn't. I took one last look at the highlighted bullet points I wanted to cover in the voicemail and forced myself to continue dialing.

The phone rang. I stood up - erect, with good posture to ensure the best possible voice quality. It rang again. I smiled, to make sure I sounded approachable... personable. It rang again.

"This is Peter," the voice said in a brisk British accent. I waited for the voicemail to continue, ready to deliver my message at the sound of the beep. There was a pause - a long, silent pause.

Suddenly I realized I was talking to a human, not a machine. I was dumbstruck. The last thing in the world I expected was to get the Vice President of Sales in person. No one ever answers phones anymore.

My mind went blank; everything I planned to say totally disappeared. Words came pouring out of my mouth. I bumbled. I stumbled. I sounded like a blathering idiot. I would have hung up on me!

Sure enough, the VP was quick to cut in, "We don't need any of that. We handle it all internally."

Under just about any other circumstances, I would have taken the comment in stride and addressed it easily. Instead, I sputtered, "Oh ... Well, thank you for your time," and got off the phone as quickly as I could.

Shaking my head at my own incredibly stupid behavior, I started to laugh... and laugh and laugh. It couldn't get any worse. Now, I was ready to make calls.


  • NEVER, EVER call your best prospects first. When you're selling something new, there are always glitches to work out and new obstacles to overcome. I tell this to every sales group with whom I work. If I've said it once, I've said it a million times. "Practice on your B or C prospects - ones you can afford to lose."
  • Have a voicemail plan AND a real person plan Even though 95% of the time you'll probably get voicemail, you must have a contingency plan in case a human answers.
  • Be prepared for common obstacles too. As a salesperson, you can almost count on hearing things like, "We don't need any" or "We're happy with our current vendors." Don't be stupid like I was and say, "Oh." There are much better responses. Plan for them.
  • Make the process a learning opportunity. If you don't get the reaction you hoped for or you run into some obstacles that are difficult to overcome, simply consider that feedback. Look at what you're saying and how you're saying it. Make changes and try again. Don't let yourself be defeated by a few rejections. Figure out what needs to be different and experiment. It truly isn't the end of the world unless you let it be.
  • Laugh at yourself - we all make mistakes. Sometimes I can't believe I actually called my best prospect first. I knew better. I also can't believe I didn't prepare for talking to a real person. Again, I knew better. Don't ask me where my head was that week. I guess I just wanted to get out there and make things happen. And I really did want to do work with that company.
Fortunately, the conversation was so short I didn't make any lasting impression. I think I'll call Peter again soon and do it right this time!


Dave Kahle offers a variety of resources that can help your business stay competitive in changing times. To learn you can reach Dave by phone at 800-331-1287 or send him an email request.

Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century
Transforming Your Sales Force for the 21st Century
Buy it now!
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Distribution companies, by their nature, should be sales-oriented companies. But, most distributors don't do sales very well. That's the premise behind this new book.

The book, written for sales managers and executives in the distribution industry, provides a blue print for executives to transform their sales forces into highly directable, effective, focused performers.

The book begins with an analysis of current conditions that pressure the distributor to revise the way he/she thinks about his sales force. Kahle then paints a picture of the distributor sales force of the future. The sales force will be:
  1. more specialized
  2. more directable
  3. more flexible
  4. more professional
  5. more productive.
His advice begins with "See it as a system," a concept that is based on one of the key principles for the book, "When you change the structure, you change the behavior of the people who work within that structure."
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