Sales calls are interesting because there is no right or wrong way to carry them out. A lot of the strategy behind a sales call can be situational based on who you’re calling, what you’re selling etc. Part of what makes a successful sales person is adaptability and the willingness to pivot strategies when something is not working. However, there are certain guidelines that you can follow that will help to make most, or all sales calls more successful.
The first step to making a sales call is prospecting.
You will want to do your due diligence before each call to make sure you are targeting the right point of contact, and that the information you plan to provide them will be relevant to their role. If you are calling to sell an accounts payable software for example, it would be best to target someone within the finance or accounting department; ideally someone of a high enough level where they will have decision making power.
Once you have a list of contacts that you are confident in, you will then need to understand who you are speaking with. Do your research! Scope out the current company they work for, and their role. Impress them with your homework and really connect with them on a deeper level. Establishing a good relationship is crucial to any sales call and research helps!
Now you’re ready to start dialing.
The first step to a call when you finally have your desired point of contact on the phone is to make an introduction. Before diving into any sales pitch or value proposition, we want to appropriately introduce ourselves. This can include our name, as well as the company from which we are calling. This should give them an idea that this is a sales call without coming on too hot.
Once you’ve made your introduction and given them a chance to do the same, this is where I like to ask a leading question that is relevant to the product or service you are selling.
For example, if you are selling a cybersecurity tool, you might ask something like “What is your level of comfort with the current protections you have in place against cyberthreats?”. Remember, that asking questions is key! Show interest and understand their needs!
Once you have asked the questions, sit back and give them a chance to talk.
At this point, you will get an idea of how qualified this lead may or may not be. If they admit that they are not confident in the current protections they have in place, that should be an immediate indicator that there may be some need for the product you can provide. However, more often than not, prospects are not going to initially be interested in whatever you are selling. That is the nature of sales. Be prepared for rejection!
This is a numbers game, and you will hear many no’s for every yes. Because the prospects first instinct is to resist a sales call, whether they have a need for the product/service or not, you must be ready to deal with objections. If we gave up at the first objection on every sales call, we would be unlikely to ever sell anything.
If the prospect says something like, “at this time we don’t have a need for cybersecurity, and we don’t have the budget for anything like this right now anyways”, don’t consider it to be a lost cause or a dead end. Listen carefully to their objection. Really digest and comprehend what they are saying with an open mind. There are many things we could say in response to continue the conversation and give ourselves a better chance of doing business with this person down the line but they also have to know that we genuinely care and this isn’t just a “sales pitch”.
One of my favorite strategies for dealing objections is to listen with empathy and understanding and then respond. For example, a good response to the previously mentioned objection might look something like this: “I totally understand that additional security measures might not be in the budget at the moment. A lot of my clients had to have extensive conversations internally before they could commit their budget to our products, especially in these difficult times. Would you be open to me sending you some materials on our offerings should the need arise or the budget become available?” This also opens the opportunity for you to show why they might need the product/service. I find that providing case studies along with a pitch deck or product/service materials can be essential to a point of sale. If there is no interest in even receiving some follow-up information, at this point we have done our job on the call. If the prospect agrees to receiving some additional info, this is an opportunity to validate contact information. This will not only be important to ensuring they receive our follow up, but will also go a long way towards building out a CRM system with relevant and accurate contacts. Once they’ve agreed to take information, (if applicable), you could ask if they would be willing to have a follow-up meeting with an expert (someone in higher management), to discuss the product/service further.
Overall, the one mistake I found myself repeating early in my sales career was taking no as an answer far too easily. Because a prospect is not interested in the moment, does not mean there is no potential for business down the line. Confirm that contact info! Send that follow up! You will be surprised how fruitful these simple steps will end up being in the long run.