Salespeople often complain about customers “wasting their time,” but in truth, the biggest wasters of salespeople’s time are the salespeople themselves. Salespeople waste their own time by not having quality sales calls (NOTE – in this article, a “call” can be a phone appointment, a video appointment, or a face to face meeting).
What defines a quality sales call? A quality sales call is one where you have an idea, you know what you want to accomplish, and you work to accomplish that goal in the meeting. Here are 6 steps to a quality sales call that you should be using on EVERY sales call (with the exception of prospecting calls; we’ll talk about those in a future Navigator), to move your sales processes and relationships forward.
- Do your homework first: pre-call research is so easy today that there’s no excuse not to do it – and yet, I bet you’re doing it on less than 50% of your sales calls. In less than ten minutes, you can look at your prospect’s website, review your contact’s LinkedIn profile, and check out recent reviews on the company. You can even do it from their parking lot on your phone, if you arrived early enough. So if you’re not doing it, why not?
- Having a planned result in mind for you: What do you want to achieve with this call? Hint: A “PR” call where we’re going to sit down and talk about sports isn’t a planned result. Ask yourself this: How do I plan to deepen the relationship or advance a sales process when I’m in front of this customer? If you can’t come up with an answer, you’d better get one before you open the door. This video might help.
- Have a planned result in mind for the customer: In today’s selling world, it’s not enough to have results in mind for ourselves; we have to have a way for the customer to gain through the call. We have to earn our spot in the buying process. You can do this by imparting knowledge, by asking good questions, by bringing something to the table that the customer wasn’t aware of, but that can generate a positive result for the customer.
- Be prepared enough to be able to change the above plans as necessary: One of the biggest attributes for a salesperson is the ability to make adjustments on the fly to get the result you want. Maybe you prepared for one set of needs, and he’s throwing you different ones. If you’re still focused on the need you anticipated, you’re going to fail. We can create the best plans in the world, but if you don’t have the mental acuity to shift and change on the fly as the sales call and the customer requires, you’re going to fail – and you’ll lose business (and your sales calls) to someone who can.
- Have a quality conversation: The one thing that is not replaceable by the Internet is the sales conversation – the ability for the customer to have, in real time, a two-way discussion about his/her needs with someone who is expert in their business and in their products and services, and who can use that knowledge to benefit the customer. Don’t ever short-change this. This also means that we have to cast aside old techniques that are designed to maneuver the customer into ‘ordering NOW’ and instead focus what the customer is actually saying, react to that, and generate a positive result for both parties.
- Be mentally charged: This one is going to be controversial. Numerous experts will tell you that you should NEVER, and I mean NEVER, eat lunch alone on a working day. I do just that, quite frequently. I always have. It’s not because I don’t enjoy eating lunch with clients; I do. But, one thing I’ve discovered about myself is that I need a “mental recharge” period at some point during the day, and lunch is very convenient for that. By a “mental recharge,” I mean a time during the day where I can relax, disconnect a bit from selling (or whatever I’m doing), and re-focus myself. My sales calls and meetings are better afterwards. It doesn’t have to be lunch, and it doesn’t have to be long. Several years ago, I managed an inside sales department. I discovered, early on, that my top salesperson used to come into my office and complain about something (usually a bad customer call) for about 15-20 minutes every day. I was concerned about her “negativity” until I realized that she would come in, vent, and then go out and kick tail for the rest of the day. She was awesome until the vent, and awesome after. And if that was my investment in helping her succeed, that was a good investment. That was her “recharge.” Find yours, and take one ‘recharge’ break a day.
Every time you don’t follow the 6 steps to a quality sales call, you’ve wasted your time and the customer’s. If you focus on generating quality (and it’s not that much harder), your results will thank you, and so will your customers.