What telephone sales can teach you about expectations

Dialing for dollars


When I was in university, like many I was always looking for ways to make a little extra cash.

Beer and pizza money. You know how it is.

The job was to call small and home based businesses from a list and to sell pens and keychains with the company name on them.

Having your name on a pen or keychain doesn’t sound like much today, but then it was a common way to market a business.


Big expectations can be a problem


On occasion instead of making a sale I would get a complaint.

During one particular call a woman was upset not about the product I was selling, but based on another experience she had.

She told me how someone called her and offered her a pool table. Not just any pool table, but specifically a 4 X 6 pool table.

For 100 bucks.

At this point I was intrigued.

When her pool table arrived it was indeed 4 x 6.

But 4 X 6 inches, not the 4 foot x 6 foot one she was expecting.

Yes it seems silly. The price should have given it away but for some reason it didn’t.

She was mad. Felt she had been misled.

But it gets better…..


When not to double down


A few months later the same outfit called her again and promised her the same thing.

So what did she do?

She bought another one!

And now she had not one but TWO 4 X 6 inch pool tables.

I never did figure out why she thought the result would be different. I didn’t have the heart to point it out.


Once a buyer. Always a buyer


The manager saw me on the phone during the extended call. And when I got off he told me not to waste time on these types of calls. To get them off the line and make more sales.

Then he told me something I have never forgotten.

He said that once someone bought from an infomercial on TV, a phone salesman or a sales letter they would be highly likely to buy again.

That’s why she bought twice. She was in a giant sales funnel and the process of buying became almost automatic.


Honor your audience. And they will love you


The other lesson from the call was more important. It was about expectations.

When you make a promise and create an expectation you need to deliver. In the digital age these expectations are more fickle than ever.

For the writer that means respect your audience. The buyer reading your material.

Your message must build trust through clarity and honesty. Then it must meet or preferably exceed the expectations you created.

And if these conditions are met, your buyer will be more willing to move up your funnel. And feel as if they have received real value.

Because once they buy, they will be inclined to continue buying.

So as you craft your message and make your big promise, remember the pool table.


Tristram Waye