Making a living as a sales executive isn't easy. It's a high-pressure, sales goal-focused, make-or-break field. On the other hand, for those who are driven to set and exceed their personal goals, it offers the single best way to reap financial rewards that other positions lack.
Preparation is key to becoming a successful salesperson. Sales call planning results in shorter sales cycles, higher value sales transactions and more closed deals.
Here are a handful of sales call planning best practices that top salespeople use daily to stay at the top of their games. And you can too!
1. Research everything
Arm yourself with information about your prospect’s industry regulations and trends. Find out who the competitors are in the field and whether or not they are one of the industry leaders.
Scan their website and LinkedIn page for information that will help you with your sales call planning. Find out the size of the company, its leaders, mission statement, and social media presence. Take note of charitable announcements or participation in fundraisers. File this information in your CRM to refresh right before the call. If you are calling on a public company, learn how to read quarterly reports. Look for “risks” section. It will detail what the leaders of that firm are worried about. Speak to your contacts in the same language.
It’s also imperative that you research the person you’re speaking with. Note any past positions they held so you better understand where they might be coming from. Have they always worked in this industry? Information like this will give you insight into their concerns. You don’t need to learn about them personally, but instead focus on who they are professionally. If you do run across personal information that might be relevant, like a common hobby, remember it. But don’t base your sales pitch around the fact you both love skiing.
Once the research is complete, it’s time to analyze your own performance.
Examine Your Past Calls
A successful sales call plan demands that you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Think about calls that ended positively, and those that got derailed. What were the drivers of both calls? How can you replicate the positive outcomes and avoid the negative ones? The more you edit and revise your process based on past experience, the more rewards you will reap.
Call recording is a great, unbiased way to examine your performance. Don’t go by memory, go by actual interactions. Talk to your sales manager to see if they’ve noticed anything about your calls that you haven’t. Outside opinions are beneficial in instances where you’re judging your own work.
Determine Your Goal
Never contact a prospect unless you can verbalize your purpose for the call. Part of your sales call planning should be outlining exactly what you hope to achieve on the call. This will make it easy to verbalize to the prospect if they ever ask, as opposed to stumbling through the answer. Understanding this sets the tone for a confident, self-assured delivery that will impress.
So before you pick up the phone, ask yourself why it is you’re calling. Is this a follow-up or introductory call? Are you interested in them to take a look at your product or a specific resource? The important thing is to pick a single goal so you don’t overwhelm the prospect. Communicate your goal clearly, and don’t go back on it.
Prepare Questions in Advance
For every call you go on, have a few questions prepared ahead of time in case you lose your train of thought. These should all be open-ended inquiries so they encourage a productive dialogue. And it doesn’t hurt to have more questions. The more research you do, the more questions you should have.
Create these questions by thinking about past calls, both with this prospect or prospects in a similar industry. Bounce ideas off of the rest of the sales team to see what questions work for them. These questions will vary based on your prospect.
Write them in your note pad or tablet and refer to them if the call hits a lull or you lose your train of thought.
Even if you don’t use these questions on a call where your conversation with a prospect takes a more natural course, this is an important step for that moment you do need a reminder.
Being prepared doesn't mean being robotic! Let your personality and humor shine through. Work the questions and the other research you have done naturally into the conversation. Respond to what the prospect says instead of sounding like you are reading off a list. It pays to practice this in a role-playing environment with others in your organization so you are comfortable.
Remember, if you seem ill at ease, you will come across as inexperienced. Always listen attentively and avoid sounding rehearsed. Ditch the script, and rely on all of your sales call planning to have a successful sales call.
Sales is hard, but developing a sales call plan is not. Do some research up front and plan the goal of your calls in advance. The preparation on the front end will pay off big. Use these sales call planning best practices to elevate your performance and crush your sales goals!
But to be fully prepared for your sales calls, you also need intuitive sales engagement software that you can rely on. Learn more about ConnectLeader’s solution today.