Sales calls, like all human interactions, can go sideways fast.
The best-laid plans can get off track after the conversation starts. The back-and-forth leads to unexpected places, and people’s unpredictable reactions (on both sides) can derail the best-case scenarios you had in mind.
Top sales performers understand this, which is why, rather than following sales scripts, they use sales frameworks for their calls. Those frameworks guide the conversation while allowing it to evolve at its natural pace.
While some of these sales call “secrets” have made it into the mainstream with the explosion of sales content over the last few years, others remain elusive and are used only by those who have made it a point to explore their role in the most important part of the sales process.
Here are the six secret things high performers do on sales calls:
1. Relinquish their ego
This is one of the most difficult things to do, as we are all driven to some degree by our pride.
The top sales reps, however, understand “your ego is not your amigo,” and can actually get in the way of closing deals. This tends to happen when a prospect challenges us, and our instincts push us to become defensive, trying to win arguments rather than winning the sale.
The top sales reps, however, put all that aside and remain laser-focused on their main objective, which is to keep the prospect on their side in order to earn their business.
2. Ask questions like a curious observer
Most sales reps understand that asking questions is the best way to learn about the prospect’s needs and to get a “roadmap” of exactly how to close the deal. But top sales reps take it a step further, and rather than sticking to sales script questions, they ask questions like a curious, passive observer.
Of course, there are a lot of nuances that go into this. But anybody with a modicum of emotional intelligence can tell the difference between prescriptive “checklist” questions, and curious, human ones, so, whenever possible, try to stick with the latter.
3. Explain each step along the way
This is something most sales reps avoid doing because they feel that it might come off as overly prescriptive, or patronizing. But top sales reps find that keeping a prospect informed throughout the process can be reassuring and that helping a potential customer understand what’s happening as it happens is a great way to build trust and communication — two critical components for a good business relationship.
Explaining each step along the way is fairly simple: have a bulleted agenda for every meeting and let the prospect know what you’ll do before you do it. Just make sure you get their confirmation and offer to address any questions or concerns along the way. You’ll find most prospects will be very receptive.
4. Focus on insights, not facts
When we’re speaking to a prospect, we want to make sure we understand their situation, their problems, and their needs. But there’s a difference between hearing facts, and understanding insights. Facts are easy, insights are nua. You can dig up facts after the call by re-listening to the recording, but insights require active listening and follow-up questions.
For example, a fact might be that a prospect’s company has seen their sales remain flat for the last three years. An insight, however, would be the reason why this has happened, and, perhaps more importantly, why this is a problem and how they intend to address it. Focus on the insights, and don’t worry so much about the facts — take note of them, of course, but keep the conversation focused on uncovering the rest of the story.
5. Value their own time
This usually comes with a bit of experience, and a little bit of confidence. But valuing your own time is one of the things that separates a confident, professional sales rep from one that is still unsure of his or her value, and whether their efforts should be respected or not.
If a prospect makes it clear that they’re not interested in speaking with you, whether it’s through words or actions, a confident, professional sales rep is unlikely to beg the prospect to reconsider, and will instead focus their efforts on prospecting for new business or working with somebody who will value their time. This comes from a place of confidence, and from a belief in their own abilities, rather than a place of scarcity.
6. Always ask for next steps
You might be amazed at just how many sales reps have an excellent conversation with their prospect, building rapport, asking questions, and uncovering needs, only to end the call without any concrete next steps planned out. Top sales reps never do this, making it the goal of every single call to walk away with the next steps clearly laid out.
Incorporating this mindset into your sales process will make a world of difference, as you’ll never walk away feeling confused, unsure, or without a game plan for moving forward. On the other side of the equation, a prospect will know where they stand too, and clarity is always a great thing, in personal relationships as well as business ones. So always ask for the next steps while you’re still on the call, otherwise, you’ll leave yourself open to ambiguity, and that’s usually the death knell for any potential deal.
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