If you think that people no longer make sales over the phone, think again. 92% of customer interactions happen over the phone, not in person or through email. Knowing how to make a good sales call is important to your business, and it’s essential to be prepared.
Making a sales call can be unnerving, especially if you’re new to working in sales. But making a great sales call can make all the difference in whether you make the sale. A friendly, well-informed sales call can lead to not just one sale, but a loyal customer that’ll come back for your business again and again.
Conversely, a bad sales call can cut off a lead completely. People never want to feel like their time is being wasted. You need to spend ample time in preparation before you ever pick up the phone. Once you learn how to prepare for a sales call, you can speak to your leads with confidence and authority.
Why You Need to Prepare for a Sales Call
One of the worst things you can do is make a call without having put in some prep time. If you call a prospect with no idea of what you’re going to say and aren’t able to answer any of their questions, you’ll look incompetent. It’ll reflect poorly on you and your company.
By preparing for the call, you’ll come across as knowledgeable, and you’ll be much more likely to make a sale or at least move the lead further along the sales funnel. With the right type of preparation, you can make a meaningful connection with a prospect.
It’s important to remember that each call needs preparation. You can’t just write a script and use it for all of your leads. Most of the people you talk to receive several sales calls a day. They can spot a standardized script a mile away. However, if you’re the one person who seems to know a little more about their company and can talk to them like they’re a real person, you may be able to close the sale.
10 Things You Need to Do to Prepare for a Sales Call
Now that you know how important it is to prepare for your sales call, it’s time to put in the work. Each sales call is kind of like a job interview. You’re presenting your product to the prospect while also trying to make a connection. This list will tell you everything you need to know about how to prepare for a sales call.
1. Have a Goal
Before doing anything else, you need to clearly define your goal for the sales call. While the obvious objective is to “make a sale,” getting someone to make a purchase is often an intricate process.
Different Types of Goals
Sometimes a call is about moving a prospect along the sales funnel as opposed to closing a deal. It may be about getting the customer to request a quote or sign up for an informational webinar.
Your goal may be more about information-gathering. You may want to know more about the lead and their needs. This understanding will allow you to follow up later with an offer that’ll win them over. Your objective could also be to find other ways you may be able to make a sale, even if with another client.
No matter your goal, you should have it written down before you make the call. While you don’t want to be pushy, your entire call should be centered around achieving that goal.
2. Know the Company
Before calling, you need to know a lot about the company you’re selling to. You should start with their website, but you need to do a deep dive. Don’t just skim their landing page and hop on the phone. Get a full understanding of what the company does and who they serve.
You should also spend time on the company’s about page to find out more about the company’s history. Look through their social media accounts. Your goal is to get a feel for the company culture so you can develop an easy rapport when you’re on the sales call.
Finally, as you look through the website and social media, try to figure out the company’s pain points. What problems do they have, and how can your product be a solution? If you can understand where the company struggles, once you get on the call, you’ll be able to sell a solution instead of a product, which has a much bigger impact.
3. Know the Person You’re Talking To
It’s not enough to just know the company – you should also know about the person you’re calling. If they have any professional social media accounts, such as LinkedIn or Twitter, take a peek and see what you can find out about them.
You want to develop a rapport with this person, but you also want to be able to sell to them. If you can figure out what’s important to them about their job or what their pain points are, you may be able to present your product as a more individualized solution for them.
Even if the person you’re talking to isn’t the person who’ll make the decision, you still have to sell them on your product first. If you can make them feel like the product will help them, along with their company, you’ll be that much closer to closing the deal.
4. Know Your Product
You need to know your product in and out. The more you can understand your product, the better you’re able to sell it. You don’t want the lead to ask a question that you can’t answer because you’ll either look incompetent or your product may seem less than incredible.
Further, if you know your product well, you can not only explain its features to a lead, but you can also explain how it will benefit them and their individualized needs. You want to be able to tell them what your product can do for them, not just what it can do.
5. Create an Outline (But Not a Script)
Scripts are the enemy of a good business call. You may be tempted to write a script, especially if you’re nervous about the call. A script may seem like a good way to keep yourself focused, but it can also make you seem robotic. Unless you’re a fantastic actor, the person you’re talking to will be able to tell if you’re reading from a script, and you’ll look unprofessional.
Still, you don’t want to go into a call with nothing in front of you. You’ll also look unprofessional if you freeze up. Instead of writing a script, create an outline for the call. Don’t write out exactly what you’re going to say, but briefly list out the main points of the call so that you can have a structure to refer to.
If there are any specifics you want to mention, you can include them in your outline. It’s a great place to include any stats or details that may be difficult to memorize. Just remember that if the call moves in a different direction, you don’t have to stick to your outline, especially if things are going positively. An outline is meant to be flexible.
There’s a chance you may get the person’s voicemail. It’s up to you if you want to call back or leave a message. If you plan to leave a message, be sure to have something written out. For some reason, even the best conversationalists will freeze when confronted with someone’s voicemail.
As with a call itself, keep the voicemail brief and to the point. You want to be friendly, but you don’t want to ramble. If you’ve never spoken with the person before, you may want to avoid leaving a voicemail. People tend to ignore voicemails for a sales call if they’ve never spoken with the person before.
6. Keep It Brief
As you’re creating your outline, it’s important to plan on keeping things brief. While you may feel like you can talk about your product for hours, the person you’re speaking to is likely very busy. They won’t have a lot of time to talk, so you don’t want to tie them up and annoy them.
You need to get right to the point as quickly as possible. After learning about the person and their company, consider your product and decide on the most important things they need to know. What is it about your product that’ll be the tipping point for them?
If the lead is interested and prolonging the conversation, then you don’t have to keep things brief. Never cut them off if they’re interested. Your plan should be to keep things brief but ultimately let the customer set the pace for the conversation.
Not everyone is a born salesperson, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t be great at selling. You don’t have to have a natural talent, but as with any skill you want to learn, you have to practice. There are many different methods for practicing selling, and one of the best things you can do is try a variety of methods.
Once you have an outline, practice out loud. Say it alone or record yourself so that you can play it back and see where you can make improvements. After practicing on your own, work with a friend or colleague. Ask them for advice on what you can do better.
There are also plenty of ways to learn from others. You can read books by some of the greats or sign up for an online course. If there are others in your company who’ve been selling longer than you, you can ask someone to be your mentor.
8. Plan for Questions
Questions from a lead may make you nervous, but questions are a good thing. Questions mean that the lead is interested in what you’re selling and wants more information. You can’t let questions paralyze you, though, because if you’re unable to answer, the lead may lose interest.
To keep from freezing up, you need to prepare for any questions that the lead may throw at you. With any luck, your company will already have a list of frequently asked questions that you can study. If not, think about the questions you had when first learning about your product. These questions are a good place to start.
Before each call, consider the lead and their company. What are some things they may ask about your product? Try to figure out answers before they ask. However, if you are thrown a curveball, don’t stall out. If you don’t have an answer, be confident in your ability to find the answer.
Gather Related Materials
If you have any extra information on your product, be sure to have it nearby. This information can include white papers, case studies, manuals, pamphlets, and other physical documentation.
If you have online information about your product, be sure to have the websites pulled up before making the call. If you have everything on hand, you may be able to answer a question quickly without having to call back later with an answer.
If you have marketing materials that you can send to a lead, be sure to have those ready as well. Whether you email or snail mail it, it’s a good idea to get it to them as quickly as possible.
9. Prepare Your Own Questions
You don’t want to talk the entire time. The best way to get a lead talking is to ask them some open-ended questions. Again, you don’t want to pester, and you don’t want to use language that reminds them of a used-car salesman. You want to sound more like a friend who’s genuinely interested in the struggles their company faces.
You should also listen to their answers and respond in kind. People want to feel heard. Don’t just spend the entire time they’re talking, planning what you’re going to say next. Take what they’re saying and let it guide your conversation. If you can make that connection, you’ll be much closer to making a sale.
Sample Questions to Ask:
- What does the day-to-day look like at your company?
- Which parts of the day go smoothly, and which parts are a struggle?
- What could you change to make everything go smoothly?
- What are some of the goals you’re trying to accomplish?
- What are your company’s long-term goals?
- What challenges do you (and your company) face?
- What solutions have you tried?
- Why didn’t those solutions work?
Each of these questions can be tailored to fit the specific company you’re calling. Be sure to ask follow-up questions based on their answers. You can also use their answers during the call or in a future call to explain why your product could help them solve some of their challenges.
10. Mental Preparation
One of the most important (and hardest) parts of a sales call is psyching yourself up. It’s always difficult to have confidence, especially if you’re new to the company or new to selling. There’s no one-size-fits-all method to gain the confidence you need to sound effortless on a call. You’ll have to figure out what works for you.
Preparation is key. If you follow the previous nine steps, you should be thoroughly prepared before you even pick up the phone. Just knowing that you have practiced the call backward and forward and know your product inside and out should give you at least some of a boost.
The rest is up to you. You can try giving yourself a pep talk in the mirror, getting a friend to give you a boost, or playing a song that makes you feel strong. Just do whatever you need to do to psych yourself up.
A No Isn’t Always a No
While you may get turned down, it’s important to remember that you can still follow up with someone. Unless they’re completely turned off by your product, they may be willing to listen the next time you call. Some people need time to think about something before making a decision.
If someone tells you no, don’t let it get into your head. Most of your calls won’t end in a sale. You have to keep at it and keep finding new leads.
It’s human nature to get nervous before making any sort of phone call, but sales calls can be particularly intimidating. It’s a bit of a Catch-22, considering sales calls are when you need to be at your most confident.
However, if you follow the tips above on how to prepare for a sales call, you’ll be much more confident. You’ll come across as calm, collected, and competent. With the right attitude and preparation, you can make a real connection with the person on the other end of the line.
When you make connections with others and understand their business and its pain points, you’ll be much more likely to walk away with a sale.