Making sales calls is one of the most difficult parts of sales. It can be tedious, repetitive, and disheartening, and is one of the reasons why so many people churn out of the profession, unwilling to put in the effort required to keep doing the same thing, day in, day out.
But too many people approach sales calls in an overly informal way. It can be tempting to view the calls as an informal process, or to rely on social skills to make them successful rather than doing the hard work of preparing beforehand. In either case, salespeople do themselves a disservice when they don’t approach sales calls with the seriousness they require.
This is why preparing before each call is so important. Not only will you be less likely to get caught off guard, but you’ll ensure that you will come off as a true professional, which, oftentimes, can be enough to win your prospect’s business. So before you make your next sales call, do these six things first:
1. Research and review
According to our friends at 30 Minute to President’s Club, before making a call, you should prep with the following information: Company (basic overview), Persona (title, role, tenure), Employees (# employees, location, growth), Funding (major investors, total funding, stage, recency), Reason (How did they get there? Why did they take the call?), and Other People (who might be involved after the sale?). If you cover all these bases, you should be well prepared for the call.,
2. Create an itinerary
One of the mistakes most salespeople make is letting a sales call flow naturally rather than coming up with an (informal) itinerary for what they want to cover. That’s not to say that you can’t let it flow, or that you need to be overly prescriptive in your dialogue. But once you’ve outlined the key points you want to get across, having a roadmap will allow you steer the conversation back in the direction you need it to go. Write out an itinerary, then, once the conversation gets going, let it guide you along.
3. Eliminate distractions
Since most of us are constantly glued to one screen or another, it can be difficult to peel ourselves away even when we’re on a sales call. Every single sales rep has checked their email (or worse) when on the phone with a prospect, so it’s not an unusual thing to do, but that doesn’t make it right. If you want to be truly present and give the prospect your undivided attention, you need to put away all distractions, which means closing out any screen that doesn’t have to do with the call. It might seem onerous, and perhaps a bit over the top, but you can bet a prospect can tell when you’re paying attention, and when you’re not.
4. Get yourself energized
If you’ve ever spoken to a sales rep who sounds like they’re half asleep, then you know just how demoralizing it can be. Nothing kills deals quite as insidiously as a lack of enthusiasm, which is why you should always get yourself excited before making a call. Everybody is different when it comes to getting themselves pumped up; some people like to drink coffee, others like to do jumping jacks or listen to some fast-paced music. Whatever your approach, take the time to get yourself energized before making your next call — you’re likely to see better results.
5. Come up with an “if, then” plan
Similar to number two, you should always have an if, then plan in place before making a sales call. An if, then plan focuses on what you’ll do if something happens. For instance, if a prospect brings up your price, and mentions that it’s higher than a competitor’s, you should have a plan for how you’ll respond, which is your then. So if a prospect says that your implementation schedule doesn’t work for them, then you’ll have an alternative proposal already in place. The good thing about if, then plans is that once you cover most bases, you can reuse them again and again for different prospects.
6. Make sure you have a goal
Before picking up the phone, make sure you have a clearly defined goal in mind. Of course, closing the deal is your ultimate goal, but it’s too amorphous, especially when it’s your first call or when your sales cycle might be on the longer side. A realistic goal will be to book the second meeting at the end of the first, or to present to other stakeholders if there are higher-ups involved in a decision. The alternative is to go in without any clearly defined goals, which usually leads to an unclear and undefined outcome. Take the time to plan strategically, and to set your goal beforehand, that way you’ll have something to work toward, and will understand whether you’ve succeeded or failed.
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