A sales call shouldn’t be something that happens by accident; it should be a planned event. When sales calls aren’t planned, they often result in wasted time and effort, resulting in a no sale. No matter how hard you try, you can’t make a sale on every call but, as a minimum, you should be either starting a sale, moving a sale along, or trying to close one.
Before you pick up the phone to make a sales call or approach a prospect, you should be setting a sales call goal. It will improve your sales performance. Each call should have a specific purpose, desired outcome, or intended result. Before making a sales call, ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish or have happen as a result of this call?” If you can’t come up with a good answer, perhaps you shouldn’t be wasting your time or your prospect’s time.
Beware of unrealistic call goals. There’s little chance of “getting an order” or “making a sale” on an initial cold call. The best you can probably hope for is to get the name of the person you should be talking with. Just getting a future appointment with that individual would be considered a very successful conclusion to a cold call.
A sales call goal should answer one of these questions: “What do I want to happen as result of this call?” or “What do I want the prospect to do as a result of this call?”
Typical sales call goals might be: get the name of key contact(s), qualify an opportunity, make a presentation, get an order for…, get a decision regarding…, determine a close date, negotiate a sales contract, close an opportunity or get a purchase order.
On multi-call sales, finish the call by setting mutual goals for the next call. Whenever possible, you want to get a commitment on the part of the prospect to do something, and you want to leave the call knowing exactly what you need to do for the next meeting.
Ending a call with, “I’ll send out the literature for you to review. If you have any questions, just give me a call. If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll give you a call.” is all right but it could be better. You’ve left the prospect with no clear commitment for a next step. Ending a call with the following would be even better:
“Let me send you the literature so you can review it and make notes of any additional information you want. I’ll give you a call next Tuesday to answer your questions and see what the next steps are. Will that be okay?”
This approach attempts to get the prospect to commit to read the literature as well as accept a call from the salesperson.
Sometimes simply asking the prospect what he wants to have happen next is enough to set next-call expectations. Here are a few examples:
“What’s the next step?”
“How do you want to proceed?”
“What do you want me to do next?”
Whenever possible, put a timeline on these action items:
“When should we get together again?”
“Can we set a time for our next meeting?”
“When do you want me to get back to you on this?”
The advantage of setting next-call goals or expectations is that it makes the next call much easier to start and gives you an opportunity to service the prospect in a personal value-added manner.
Commercial Visitor or Valued Resource
How do your prospects and customers perceive you? Are you someone to pass some time with (a visitor), or do they welcome you because you bring something of value (a resource)?
Always try to bring something along with you on the sales call that you feel might be of value or interest to the customer. Typical value-added items might be:
reprints (technical article, industry news, etc)
industry-specific, general information
new product information with items highlighted for the particular customer.
The idea is to make your prospect feel special. If you know your prospect is interested in a particular topic, almost anything pertaining to that area would receive favourable attention. Do what you can to ensure that customers look forward to your visits and calls.
Calls to Avoid
Avoid these calls at all costs. They’re guaranteed to annoy your prospect and make you sound like a self-serving salesperson.
“ Hi, I’m just calling to see if you got the literature I sent.”
“I’m just calling to see what’s happening with the proposal we sent you.”
“I’m just calling to see how things are going.”
“Hi. I just happened to be in area so I thought I’d drop in and…”
These simple rules can substantially improve your call effectiveness so start planning your calls today and prevent sales call accidents.
For more information on sales coaching and training, please refer to The Right Skills.
Salesforce Training & Consulting is a professional sales training firm and registered Salesforce.com Consulting Partner based in Toronto, with offices in Boston and Chicago, providing sales coaching, sales management consulting, salesforce implementation, sales training and sales personnel assessments.