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Sales Call Tactics – The Medium Controls the Message


tv-old20th century Canadian scholar and media theorist Marshall McLuhan once stated that when it comes to communication, “The medium is the message.”

In his mind, it was not always the content of the message that mattered, as much as the the method in which it was delivered.

For example, a television set can deliver a broad variety of messages through the media of video and sound—sitcoms, “reality” shows, newscasts, the NFL, talk shows, cartoons, full-length feature movies, and Shark Week. However, we often forget what TV can’t control—the fact that the recipient has to receive those messages under a very specific set of conditions.

The viewer has to be in front of a television screen, tuned to the right channel, able to hear the audio portion of the broadcast, and have a minimum level of outside distractions.

Have you ever considered just how much time, money and energy we dedicate to having a “maximized TV watching experience”? If the “medium is the message,” based on its use conditions, the message of the TV medium is that it’s a big deal. An investment. An experience compelling enough for us to plan our living arrangements around its very existence.

And here’s the kicker:

A sales phone call is no different.

It’s been a part of our culture for so long now that we forget that the telephone is, in a fact, a communication medium, and has a set of use conditions that constrain how it works.

The “use conditions” of a successful sales call requires the recipient to actually pick up, be in a circumstance / location that allows them to talk, and to have access to information related to the product or service being offered, whether it’s their own internal data or new information provided by the rep.

It’s so transparent that we frequently don’t recognize that the “use conditions” of a sales call create a high level of necessary engagement—a commitment of time, and a “space” that allows the recipient to derive some benefit from the conversation.

Is it any wonder, then, that it takes between 6 and 8 call attempts to make a real contact with the average new sales lead?

(As a side note, have you planned out phone calling scripts, or “plays,” depending on where the prospect is currently located, and how likely they are to be able to access information? Do you have sales collateral tailored to the delivery method on which the prospect is going to see it? In the future, creating different sales content to be delivered on a computer vs. iPhone vs. iPad, etc. is going to be a very real consideration.)

In the end, the “message” of the telephone medium is that unless it’s about picking up baguettes at the local grocery, a sales conversation requires a very real set of conditions to be productive—and if a sales rep ignores that reality, they’re literally and figuratively hurting their prospects.

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