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3 Strategies to Cut Through Sales Calls — Fast

My voicemail is full of pitches from salespeople. My email inbox is stuffed with them. Same for LinkedIn.

You’re probably experiencing a similar phenomenon. It’s a side effect of technological progress and the rise of social media: We live more of our lines online and we are exceptionally easy to track. Every website we visit, every Instagram post we like, and every LinkedIn thumbs up offers an opportunity for the sales people who spend their time reaching out to entire categories of small business owners — in my case, a successful coaching business.

This barrage is maddening to me because a sales call and a phone call will often start the same way. A sales person will

ask me questions about the services I offer and my availability, just as a prospective client would. Sometimes, I’m 10 minutes into a call before I realize what’s happening.

That’s time I could be spending working or finding my own clients. After an especially aggravating incident recently, I devised this three-step process to end unwanted calls ASAP.

Ask for ID. If you receive a phone call and the caller doesn’t identify themself immediately, ask who they are and the company they are representing. Then ask what the company does. If you’re communicating through LinkedIn InMail, you might be able to click on the person’s profile page for more information.

Cut to the chase. Within the first five minutes, ask: “What, specifically, are you calling me about?” This will clarify whether the person is trying to provide you with a service — are you speaking with a potential client or a sales person.

Be clear about your interest. If you are not interested in what the person is pitching, firmly but politely decline. Don’t let anger seep into your tone or your words; business careers are long, and the person you’re speaking to today might be in a position to hire you or collaborate with you in the future.

If you are interested in the service being offered, don’t be afraid to shop around before committing. Just because you’re a candidate for a pitch doesn’t mean it’s the best you can do.

Bonus points: Add the caller’s information to your phone contacts. That way, if they call you again from the same number within a few days, you’ll be better able to evaluate whether answering is worth your time.

How do you deal with unsolicited sales calls? I’m always looking for new ideas. Please drop me a comment below.

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