Have you ever felt the dread of picking up the phone to conduct a sales call? Do you ever feel like a sleazy car salesman when you’re delivering the same sales pitch over and over? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, sales is hands down the most important part of starting, growing, and sustaining a business.

The good news is, sales calls don’t have to be painful or demeaning. If they are, then you’re doing it wrong. Use the following five hacks to get over your telephobia and conduct a sales call without sounding like a desperate jerk.

1. Set the right expectation for the call

Never, ever, trick a potential customer or client into getting on a call. A few months ago I got a LinkedIn message from an old colleague who said he wanted to schedule a call with me because he wanted to talk about how we could collaborate on his new business.

As an owner of a PR firm, I took this to mean he was interested in chatting about how my services could help him. I later found out that he was only trying to sell me on a new credit card processing service. You can imagine my annoyance.

I think we’ve all had it happen where we’ve been tricked into a sales call unknowingly. Whatever you do, don’t ever be that person. Set up your sales calls but make sure the receiving end knows what you’ll be talking about and set the right expectation for the call. Call agendas never hurt either.

2. Ditch the script

I don’t care what the latest sales book or your sales manager tells you—scripts are a death wish and the only thing they succeed in doing is making you sound cheesy.

Ask the client or customer legitimate questions to get to know them and qualify whether or not they’re even a good target for what you’re selling. Turn the sales pitch into a real conversation and it will help you get to know the customer, uncover their hidden fears, and build a rapport.

3. Never offer a discount…

…Unless the client or customer is willing to give something up. Most people know (or at least believe) that the first price a sales person offers is just a starting point for negotiations. Dare to be different.

When a customer or client says no to your price, avoid coming back with a counter offer. Immediately responding with a lower price makes you sound desperate and places a lower value on what you’re selling. You can still remain flexible by showing willingness to offer a discounted rate, but only if the customer gives something up.

For example, I often offer a discount on my up-front retainer if the client is willing to pay more on the back end of the campaign. This shows that I’m flexible but that my services are valuable and any negotiations will come in the form of something that’s mutually agreeable and beneficial.

Another example would be agreeing to give a discount if the potential customer or client sends you referrals. Set the expectation that your services are valuable and you’ll immediately set yourself apart from your competition.

4. Set expectations for the next steps

Before you end your sales call, be sure to set the expectations for what happens next. Be sure to let the client or customer know when you plan to follow up and what the process is if they decide to come on board.

Without guiding the client or customer through the process, you run the risk of losing potential customers. Be very specific, down to outlining your response times and preferred method of communication. People need you to tell them what to do next.

5. Forget the follow up

That’s right, forget it completely—or at least, the follow up as you know it. The days of repeatedly calling, begging, and groveling to get a sale are over. Nothing says “desperate jerk” more than calling the same person over and over again to see if they want to do business with you.

With the popularity of social media, email marketing, and digital reporting, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with potential customers without begging. Every follow up you conduct should serve to provide value to the customer or serve as a way to strengthen your customer relationship.

Sending your client valuable news stories or trend pieces that pertain to their business is one way to keep in touch in a low key way. Interacting with them on social media is also a good way to help you get to know them and build a rapport without sounding sleazy. Once you make the sale, it’s equally important to keep communication valuable in order to keep your customer happy (corporate thank you gifts never hurt either!).

These tips probably sound counterintuitive to everything you’ve ever heard and that’s precisely why they work. If you begin to look at your sales calls as “get to know you” conversations, they will take on a completely different form and give life to new and engaging business relationships.

The best sales people realize that sales is largely a process of relationship building and partnership. Once you go through the process of mastering your sales calls, follow it up by mastering your client retention, and you will easily double or triple your bottom line.

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AvatarBlair Nicole

Blair Nicole is a serial entrepreneur, volunteer addict, Media Relations pro and single mom. She’s been featured on ABC News, NFIB Business Magazine and a dozen other news outlets.