By Jamie MacVicar

Rarely will an e-mail, a tweet or a brochure make a sale. But personal, congenial, professional contact often does. But with the modern day computer a certain impersonalized distance has developed in the business world. A distance that could be mitigated by picking up the phone and making a sales call, the old-fashioned way.

But prospect calling isn't easy. By nature, we all want to feel accepted, and rejection is a part of any sales effort. That same trepidation can lead to inactivity, or wasted, unproductive time behind the computer. So here is how you can make it easier:

  1. Find your rhythm, your highest positive energy of the day. For me it's mornings. From 8 a.m. until noon I am fearless. At 9 a.m. I'd call Vladimir Putin and pitch an idea! But my confidence fades in the afternoon. So its mornings that I make my sales calls. No interruptions. I then schedule my presentations for the afternoons, leaving my mornings free — for more sales calls.

  2. Smile when you speak into the phone. It will show in your voice.

  3. Today's selling is far more consultative. Your first call isn't meant to sell anything. It's to open a dialogue, and get an appointment.

  4. Use referrals no matter how obscure. The prospect is more likely to listen when you start by saying, "So and so spoke highly of you and suggested that I give you a call."

  5. Sell like to like. People are more receptive when they hear that a company or someone they know has done a similar tie-in or promotion.

  6. And most important of all, focus almost solely on their "needs," not yours, and more often than not you will close the sale.

In summary, there are numerous win-win alliances that can multiply your advertising dollars. But we mustn't forget that all things start from actions — actions that emanate from the heart of a good salesperson.

Jamie MacVicar is the author of the newly released non-fiction narrative "The Advance Man: A Journey Into the World of the Circus," about his experience as an advance man for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.