If you’ve ever received a sales call in your business, you know they can be distracting, annoying, and mostly unwanted.
So when it’s your company making the calls, it can be difficult to figure out how to avoid the trap of becoming just another nuisance sales call.
When they’re done wrong, sales calls are next to useless for getting new sales leads. But when they’re planned out well, they are an effective tool for booking more appointments with prospective customers and improving your sales process.
In this post, we’ll give you the ultimate sales checklist to help you nail your sales calls every time.
Do you use buyer intent data for your outreach campaigns? Check out this post to find out if it’s worth your time.
Importance of Sales Call Planning
Your sales team might call a potential customer and wing it. But did you know research shows that asking 11 questions on a call can increase conversions by 74%? Sales reps can’t wing that – you need some planning.
Planning your sales calls not only boosts success rates but also gives your sales reps a clear understanding of the goals of each call and gives a blueprint for the way you want them to communicate with prospects.
On the customer end, it also sets expectations. With a plan, it’s easy to give prospects all the necessary information they need and lay that foundation needed for follow-up meetings to move them further along your sales funnel.
Sales Call Planning Checklist
So, we know why sales call planning is important. The next question is, how do you plan your sales calls?
There are some easy steps to check off follow to get ready for each sales call:
1. Define Your Goals
Start by knowing the objectives of your sales call. And this shouldn’t be limited to just closing the deal.
Instead, think about what you want to communicate with your prospect, what do you want to convey? What questions do you want to ask them, and what information do you want to get about them?
Finally, what’s the ultimate goal? Perhaps it’s to book a follow-up meeting or get a sign-up for a free trial period.
By having set goals, it’s much easier to structure your call and assess whether each call was a success or not.
2. Structure the Call
You won’t be able to stick to an exact script when you’re on a sales call. In fact, you need to be flexible and adapt to what your potential lead is saying.
But having a planned structure means you can keep the conversation moving in the right direction, and have all the important information to refer to as you need it.
If your potential client asks a specific question about your offer and you don’t have an answer, it’s going to look unprofessional. Having a structure and plan to refer to will make the entire call feel more professional and planned.
3. Know Your Value
No matter who your prospective customer is, they’re busy and probably don’t like sales calls.
So you need to stand out from the endless sea of generic offers and immediately show them why they should listen to you.
You do this by opening with value. Your service or product needs to solve a problem, and the better you are at communicating that benefit to your ideal buyer persona, the better the call will go.
The more tangible you can be, the better:
- We can save you X hours a week on social media planning.
- We can help you generate X amount in additional revenue next year.
- We can make sure you reach the number one spot in Google searches.
- We can streamline your hiring process and fill your open positions within a month.
4. Do Your Research
Once you have all your stats and information in place, you’ll also need some information on your prospect.
Before you call someone, you need some basic information about them including:
- Their name
- Their position in their company
- Their company’s name
- Their location
- Any previous communication they’ve had with your company
- Their company’s values
You can take this a step further and find out a fun fact about your prospect. Maybe you scrolled their social media and found out they have a golden retriever.
You don’t want to sound like a stalker, but it never hurts to subtly mention something that is going to get a positive response out of them.
5. Prepare Marketing Material
Prior to a sales call, make sure you have any marketing or promotional material to hand. Your prospect might ask to see your portfolio or if you have customer testimonials.
Send them over during the call so they can see this straight away. If they have to wait days, they’re probably going to forget about it or ignore your email when it finally comes through.
How to Structure a Sales Call
The structure of your sales should be simple. This makes it easy to follow and gives you the flexibility to diverge based on the customer’s responses.
Remember, 82% of buyers are willing to book a meeting with salespeople who reach out to them – so you’ve just got to convince them you’re worth their time.
Here is how you should structure your sales call template:
This is the most important part of a sales call, but most sales reps open with a generic question like, “Hi, this is Beverly from [company], how are you today?”
To grab the attention of your prospect, you need a much more creative introduction that makes them want to listen:
“Hi [prospect’s name]. This is Beverly from [your company]. I’m calling because I think we could help you make an extra $2000 next quarter with our automation software. Is that something you’d want to hear more about?”
Immediately communicate the benefit of your offer to give the client a reason to listen.
2. Qualify the prospect
Even if you’ve done your research, not everyone you call is going to be the right fit for your product or service. So once they’re willing to listen, qualify them so you know you’re not wasting your time:
“I have just a couple quick questions for you to make sure our software is the right fit for your company…”
This not only makes sure there’s a chance of a sale, but it makes your offer seem exclusive, which will draw a prospect in more.
At this stage, make sure you’re also dealing with the decision-maker of the company who can close a deal.
3. Give your sales pitch
In the process of addressing concerns, it’s time to give your sales pitch. Make sure this focuses on the benefit your prospect will get from your offer and the value you can provide.
Be clear and concise and as quick as possible. If you give a long, detailed explanation of your service, your prospect is going to switch off and stop listening.
3. Address concerns
It doesn’t matter how amazing your offer is, every prospect will have concerns or obstacles that are in the way of a sales opportunity. It might be price, time investment, or risk aversion.
At this point in the conversation, ask your prospect some questions that will help address concerns:
- What are your issues with your current software?
- What is the main problem you’re looking to solve?
- What are the top concerns you have about investing in new software?
Since you’ll have your sales call plan and notes to hand, you should have answers for most concerns they have.
6. Closing with your call goal
Once you’ve finished addressing concerns and you’re wrapping up the conversation, keep your end goal in mind.
Most sales calls will end in booking a follow-up appointment since most prospects won’t be ready to make a buying decision after the first contact.
If you do want to schedule a follow-up appointment, make it specific and get your prospect to agree to a date and time.
If you need them to schedule a spot on your calendar, ask for their email on the call and send it over immediately. You’ll be much more likely to get that second meeting this way.
How to Open a Sales Call
The way you open your sales calls will be unique to your company and sales style, and it’s something that will need to be consistently tested and changed to get right.
But in general, there are some key goals you want to hit with your opening:
- Keep it positive, friendly, and professional
- Hook them with the value or benefit your offer provides
- Encourage engagement – you don’t want to talk into a silent phone line
- Make it easy for them to make a purchase decision
Here is a sales call checklist for your opening:
- Introduce yourself and your company
- Drop a name of a mutual connection if you have one
- Reference a referral if you have one
- Mention information from their LinkedIn profile
- Qualify the prospect
- Make the benefit of your offer clear
- Cover concerns or pain points
- Keep it light and engaging
- Encourage them to ask questions
After the call has ended, there are a couple of key things you need to do to maximize your chances of turning that prospect into a client:
- Send them a follow-up email with your scheduling software to book a follow-up meeting
- Send any materials or resources you talked about on the call (a link to a free trial, a portfolio, etc.)
- Make a note of the date and time of the call and how it went. Note down any important information and file away any information you gained on the call – you’ll need all of that for follow-ups.
Pre-call and Post-call Analysis
When you’ve finished your sales call, you need to assess what went well and what you need to improve for next time.
It’s tough reviewing your own performance, but it’s the only way to improve your sales calls and boost conversions. Here are some questions you can use as part of your analysis:
- Did I achieve my objective? (book a follow-up, make a sale, etc.)
- What went right?
- What went wrong?
- Is this a viable prospect for a sale?
- What will be my next move? (meeting, follow-up call, etc.)
- Are there other people I need to talk to? (additional decision-makers, etc.)
- What will be my next call objective?
Knowing where this prospect is in the sales process and how you are going to proceed will give you a clearer path to reach a sale.
You’ll also be able to improve your communications if you are honest about what went well and what you need to improve on.
How to Deal With Multiple Decision-Makers
With a sales strategy and research, it’s easy to improve your success rate with sales calls. Having a structure to follow doesn’t mean your calls need to be generic or bland, but it will help you communicate all the important information with your prospect and keep the call on track.
The main issue sales professionals face when trying to make progress with a sales call is facing multiple decision-makers. In larger businesses, there is usually more than one person responsible for making buying decisions, which can slow the sales process down.
If you’re dealing with a buying center on a sales call, our guide will show you how to work it to your advantage.