The Most Terrifying Moment in All of Sales

What is the scariest part of sales? Is it the certainty of impending rejection? Is it talking to strangers?

What is the most terrifying moment in all of sales? Is it that brief span of time after you deliver a price and before the customer gives you the verdict? Is it walking the Green Mile which leads to your manager’s office after he or she has called you in to discuss a bad sales month?

The answer: None of the above.

The most terrifying moment in all of sales comes when the prospect you are calling on picks up the phone and says “Hello?”

Hello? What you mean, Hello?

I was not expecting you to answer. I was expecting and was prepared for only voicemail. You have totally messed me up by answering your phone.

We are so conditioned to getting voicemail that when we finally hit the lottery and speak to a live person, we oftentimes aren’t prepared.

Worse still, it’s not out of the question that we’ve forgotten who we were calling because, while waiting for the inevitable, we switched screens on our computer to check our email or pulled out our cell phones for a quick game of Angry Birds.


The day will come when a prospect you seek will have the audacity to pick up the phone and say, “Hello?” Be prepared.

Oh, the horrors.

Weekly Sales Tips, free Short Attention Span Webinars, and sales training material can be found at Bill can be reached at 781-934-7036 or

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  • Joe Kern

    How true is that. Thanks Bill. I had a situation just like this yesterday. Same prospect. ALWAYS get his voicemail. I was caught totally off guard when he actually answered.

  • Walt

    A live person actually picks up the phone, and it is the person I am trying to reach! Not voice mail, not some grizzled gatekeeper who wouldn’t have allowed a Gatling gun salesman to speak to George Custer before the Little Bighorn. My prospect is actually on the phone! This is absolutely the best thing that can happen to a salesperson. Unfortunately, it happens less than 1% of the time. As salespeople we spend so much time fishing without any action, we forget to be ready to set the hook when we get a bite. Always, be ready to set the hook, with every cast.

  • Chris Colbert

    I have been welcoming the opportunity recently of having someone pickup the phone instead of voice mail. As long as the research has been done concerning your prospect it does not have to be terrifying. Though it has been a process to get to this point. What’s the worst that can happen? No? Not the end of the world!

  • Brent Clarke

    Yeah, sorry Bill, I generally agree with almost everything you write but for me its that time after the proposal has been sent and some time is elapsed for review and you call to ask about the proposal, that second between, when you ever so gently ask, will we be yours (it is after all Valentines Day) or not….