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Putting Off That Sales Call? Eat the Elephant One Bite at a Time

February 2nd, 2015

During World War II, Creighton “Abe” Abrams was the only military strategist that Patton regarded as his peer as a tank commander. Abrams is perhaps best un-known for coining the phrase, “When eating an elephant, take one bite at a time.” Think about that as you look at your list of sales calls you never made.

You can’t and shouldn’t place a call if you’re not clear on why you’re calling. Yes, you want the business, whether it’s a million dollars or a few hundred dollars, but don’t try to eat that elephant in one call.

Greg, a business owner, set ambitious goals for growing his business. A Chamber of Commerce colleague introduced Greg to the CEO of a company that could use his products. Greg and the CEO chatted and exchanged cards, and Greg agreed to follow up. For two weeks, all Greg could think about was how big a sale this could be. The pressure of an all-or-nothing proposition prevented him from making the call.  

Getting out of elephant mode requires getting clear on why you’re calling in the first place. One option is to review your initial contact or conversation for comments that reveal ways that you can help your prospect and open the door to a meeting. Keep summaries of your conversations so that you can mine them for business-relevant infobytes.

In his conversation with Greg, the CEO mentioned that he was looking for inventory management software. Greg had a knowledgeable employee who suggested several applications that could be helpful to the CEO. By providing this information, and then suggesting a mutually convenient time to meet, Greg can take one bite of the elephant. Each clear and helpful bite will bring Greg closer to making the sale.

Placing a sales call seems simple enough. If you’re putting it off, you may be trying to squeeze an elephant into the conversation. Get clear on why you’re making that call, and eat that elephant one bite at a time.