The sales call. 📞
The one activity most business owners dread — yet highly effective when done right.
It’s not hard to see why people avoid sales calls. If you’re shy or anxious, you might be afraid to lose control of the conversation. Maybe you’re scared you won’t sound convincing enough to pitch your product properly, or that they won’t have time to listen to you.
More importantly, C-level executives prefer to be contacted by phone (57%) — even more than directors (51%) or managers (47%).
In short, those who control the money want to hear your voice. Skip the email and pick up the phone.
As I wrote in You’re Wasting Your Time Advertising, you can conclude a lucrative deal in 10 minutes of conversation than over six months of running an “end-to-end campaign” over Facebook and email.
Your voice — and the humanity behind it — can be far more effective than a written proposal. As my friend Karabo Banda of Coolcumba Communications says, “My email to you is merely a formality — I only send it after we’ve spoken over the phone.”
The good news is that there’s a formula for nailing sales calls which I’ll share with you today. I’ve broken it down into three sections: prep, in-call, and next steps.
Let’s dive in.
Long before the call, you should research your client as much as you can. This shows effort and helps you quickly build rapport with them.
Firstly, find out everything you can about the company. Let’s say you were trying to pitch food delivery services to a new pizza joint in town. Some things to find out include:
- What industries do they play in? (The restaurant/food business)
- What audiences do they sell to? (Families and individuals in the Randburg area)
- Who are their top 3 competitors? (Debonairs, Pizza Hut, Roman’s Pizza, etc.)
- Have you worked with any other clients in their space?
Then, gather as much intel as you can about the person you’ll be talking to. LinkedIn is a good place to start.
- Where do they live and/or work? (“Your office is right around the corner…”)
- Which college did they attend? (“I see we both went to Wits…”)
- Do you have any mutual contacts or interests? (“Looks like we both know Stella…”)
- What’s their background like? (“We’re from the same hometown!”)
Lastly, understand their role in the company. Some things to suss out include:
- How long have they been working in that role? New hires might be more open to exploring a new service. Use LinkedIn to check their current tenure.
- What challenges do people face in that role?
- What are the common KPIs for that role? What does success look like?
- How would your solution help them?
When you understand the company, the client, and their context, you’re better prepared for the phone call. Let’s look at what to say next.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression. This means you shouldn’t rush through your pitch. Take your time, talk slowly, be polite, and smile a lot (they can hear it in your voice).
Remember, they’re taking their time to listen to you. Respect that privilege.
Here are a few ways you can open the call:
- “Thank you for taking the time to chat today…”
- “I’m calling you to understand your needs better and see if what we offer might be of use to you…”
- “You might already know a bit about our product, but here are the key features and benefits…”
The next step on the call is to ask them questions and take notes. They should be talking most of the time — 69% of buyers just want you to listen. A few questions to ask include:
- “How are you currently handling ______?”
- “What is your biggest challenge with ______?”
- “What do you like about your current solution?”
- “What are your main goals for the next month or quarter?”
Their answers to these questions will help you tailor your product to their pain points. Chime in from time to time with:
- “Hmmm, that’s a great question.”
- “I’m glad you asked that. We actually offer…”
- “A few of our clients asked us the same question. The short answer is…”
- “Let me write that down — that’s a great point.” (Makes them feel like Kim Jong Un)
#3 Next steps
So far, you’ve done your research, hopped on a call, and had a productive conversation with your prospect. What’s next?
Simple: End with a clear call to action.
Before you hang up, agree on what will happen next and what they can expect. A few options include:
- Sending them some materials to assist with internal discussions
- Scheduling a follow-up call with them or their supervisor
- Sending them a proposal with the discussed terms
- Sharing a link to your previous work
It’s important to know who their key decision-makers are. This ensures you’re talking to the right people and speeds up the process.
Other things to figure out include:
- Are they considering other options?
- What’s their budget? Is it flexible?
- What’s their timeline? Is it urgent?
Once you’re satisfied with their answers and have discussed next steps, it’s time to end the call. Use any of these lines to close off:
- “Thanks again for your time today. It was a pleasure talking to you.”
- “Now that I understand your needs, we can align our solution to your goals.”
- “As discussed, I’ll send you a _____ by close of business.”
- “Let’s schedule a follow-up call with your director later this week — how does Monday sound?”
- “I look forward to connecting with you again next week!”
And that’s it. Use these tips to nail your next sales call.
Till next week,
In my last post, I talked about the 4 crucial skills that make a great marketer. Read it:
Need to talk about your brand, career, or project? Get in touch.
Mohammed Shehu, Ph.D. writes on marketing, content, and tech for fast-growing B2B clients. You can find him online @shehuphd everywhere.