The first aspect of sales you must be absolutely clear on, before you get on a sales call, is what a sales call actually is.
Weird question, right? You might say “It’s when I’m talking to someone and selling my product or services.”
That’s only partially true.
Here’s the definition I came up with:
A sales call is a mutually agreed upon time for you to speak with someone who is interested in your product or service, and has the financial ability to pay you for your product or service.
Small distinction, but this one “shift” in how you view sales calls will dramatically change your ability to close more deals in less time.
Well, first, you need to bifurcate your calls to two types:
A short qualification call
A longer, more focused needs analysis
The qualification call (qual call) can be just 10-15 minutes long and it’s your opportunity to quickly get up to speed on the needs of the person you’re talking to and to see if they have a problem you can solve. You can also check their budget on this short call. This is akin to meeting someone at an event and having a few quick questions for them, just to make sure it’s worth your time to have a follow-up call.
Essentially, what you are doing is figuring out if they are the right fit.
You need to value their time and yours, so don’t host a proper needs analysis unless you know they have the budget.
If everything looks good, schedule them for that longer needs analysis.
Here are some questions you can ask on your qual call:
Can you give me a high-level overview of what you’d like to talk about?
What’s your current marketing budget?
Can you give me a quick headcount on how many marketing, writing and design folks are on your team?
Be confident here and ask questions directly. Lead the call. Keep it to 10-15 minutes.
If they answer your questions in a way that makes you want to have a follow-up conversation, try a segue line like “Great. I’d love to hear more about what you are up to. Can you grab your calendar so we can schedule a 60-minute call for tomorrow, or early next week? What times or days are best for you?”
Now that you have them qualified, you know they have a need and you know they have a budget. If they didn’t rub you the wrong way in the process, then it’s time to prepare for your sales call!
How to skip the qualification call
There’s an alternative way to skip this initial qualification call, and that is to use some kind of freebie that provides value in exchange for the information you’d otherwise collect on your qualification call.
A great example of this is the small custom development tech shop One Stop Dev Shop. Geordie and his team have built a simple lead magnet where they’ll estimate your custom development for free. During this simple intake process, they’ll collect the information they need to fully understand what the prospect’s ideal outcomes are, as well as their budget and urgency.
Then, Geordie and his team will just have to review the leads that come in every day and prioritize those who are the best fit.
It may make sense for you to do something similar in your sales process, but I encourage you to spend more time on the phone if you’re just starting out in sales. Try to get as many sales calls as possible and improve with a sales script (detailed below). Only move to this “automated qualification” process once you understand your prospects extremely well!
What should the outcome be for your sales call?
Most people here will say “a sale, duh!” but I think that’s the wrong answer if you’re selling marketing services. Instead of having a mentality of pushing for the sale, try being curious.
That’s it! Curiosity.
Lead with your curiosity. Ask the prospect questions. Be interested in what they have to say.
Take notes. I use Notepad on my Windows computer (although I’m really liking Obsidian.md these days).
Bonus tip: Save your sales call notes directly to Dropbox or Google Drive. That way you have them on any device, even if your main computer shorts out after you pour a full carafe of yerba mate on it (don’t ask).
Should you use a sales call script?
You absolutely should consider using a sales call script.
Sales call scripts are the best way to improve your call flow and build your persuasiveness, ensuring you collect all the necessary information before making your pitch.
Whenever I try to host a sales call without a script, I tend to lose more than I win!
What should my sales call script include?
Your script doesn’t have to be overly detailed or complex. It can include just the major points to cover, or it can include verbatim lines about your product or service.
Here is an example sales call script:
Meet & greet – 2 mins (where are you calling in from?)
Why did you want to schedule this call? – 2-5 mins
Where do you see your business in 2 years, if everything goes according to plan? – 2-5 mins
What’s the danger if this does not come true? – 3-10 mins
What opportunities exist to grow your company? Have you thought about __? – 5-10 mins
Where is your company the strongest? – 3-10 mins
Ask additional questions for clarity
Request transition to pitch
Check their temperature
Define next steps
Some of these points are loosely taken from Dan Sullivan’s “DOS Question,” which is a book worth owning.
Write out your own version of this script and save it in a text file on your computer, then open it for a sales call and “Save As”. Or, if you’re using a tool like Obsidian or Evernote, this could become a template file.
Don’t over complicate your tech for sales calls. Keep it SIMPLE!
How should I pitch my product or service on a sales call?
GREAT question. I’ve definitely been pitched to before and it felt very icky.
It’s the feeling of someone inviting themselves to your party – you didn’t ask them to come, now you have to tell them no or just let them come, right? Ugh.
When you pitch on a needs analysis call, following the process I’ve defined above, you’ll find that people are actually very interested in hearing your pitch.
The key is to ask a transition question. My favorite question to ask is:
“Great, that makes a lot of sense. Would you mind if I shared how I think we might be able to help you?”
That’s it! This is your invitation.
I’ve NEVER had someone say nah to me. The most common replies are:
Yeah, that’s why we’re talking, isn’t it?
Do you see how welcoming this is? You’re not pressuring someone into a pitch, where they’re glancing left and right for the exit… in this situation, the prospect is inviting you to solve their problems.
Once you get the approval to pitch, you need to remember you’re there to solve their problems.
You getting paid is just the byproduct of the value you’re providing. So, sell the value.
How to close sales on a sales call
Let’s review where we are in the sales process…
You’ve qualified the person that they have a problem you can solve and they can afford your services
You’ve asked them about where they want to be in 2 years and what that means to them
You’ve identified the dangers or negatives if they don’t reach that goal
You have sussed out the opportunities within their business
You know their strengths
AND they’re ready for you to pitch your services.
Welcome to the rock show!
First things first, review their desired outcome and where they currently are. Try saying something like:
“Based on what you told me, your revenues have gone down as a result of COVID and you’ve had to let some team members go. That’s really hard, but you’ve got your eyes focused on growth through a digital program, which is a great idea. Especially because digital programs like this have a near 100% profit margin. You’ve also told me that if you don’t get back to your pre-COVID revenue, you’re going to have to let more staff go. That makes sense. So there’s urgency here to get this solved. But what I loved hearing most is that your team is rock solid. Your confidence around your knowledge of your space is great. I really believe y’all could create a winning digital product here.”
This recap makes them feel heard and understood. Maybe ask “Did I get that right?”
Then you transition to the pitch.
“Now, in order for you to launch that digital product, you’re going to need marketing support. You’re going to need the offer figured out, the price point, research around what competitors are doing. Someone is going to have to pick out the software to deliver the product and tie it all together with the payment processor. Then there will need to be a full launch marketing campaign, and ads to drive sales. And based on what you said, you don’t have anyone to do that work. Is that right?”
Again, get their confirmation.
“Got it! Ok, based on that, I think we can help. The way I see this working is our team will…”
Then use that space to detail your process. Don’t be specific in the software. For example, don’t say, “We’ll get you on Kartra and send emails to launch to XYZ list on day 0, 3, 5 and 7 for a pre-launch.”
Instead, you should say “We’ll figure out the right email marketing software for you, based on your business trajectory. We’ll write all necessary emails following best practices.”
In the B2C business MensGroup.com, Sean Galla does a fantastic job of identifying the pain a man is in. Sean is an expert at understanding the male psyche when it comes to relationships, business and meaning. As a result, his calls are typically very emotional. He uses those emotions to direct the men he speaks with to envision a future where they have the support of other male friends who help uncover blind spots.
Some may see a men’s group and think it’s just some guys talking to each other. But the men’s groups Sean and his team orchestrate are much more than that. There’s transformational power in his groups and Sean uses that energy not to force the prospect to sign up, but to see where they are (in pain) and where they want to be (challenged, supported, nurtured).
Sales should not be “icky.” It should be supportive. The sale should provide a better outcome for the prospect.
Define the next steps for the prospect
Your prospect is now in a place where they have spent more time defining their 2-year goal than possibly ever before. They trust you (otherwise they would have hung up!). You’ve pitched. They’re interested.
You’ve gotta drive this prospect to the close! This is the last 10 meters of a 400-meter race. Don’t give up!
While on the call, you’ve pitched your product or service. They’ve said they’re interested. You’ve shared your price. They’re interested but maybe won’t buy immediately (possibly because you sell a service and need to get a proposal out to them).
In this case, clearly state the next steps.
“I’d love to get you a proposal for you to review with your team. If I got that to you by Friday, could you get a review of it completed by Tuesday? And then let me know if you’re ready to move forward or not?”
Mark your calendar. Deliver the proposal. Follow-up on Tuesday. Keep pushing to solve their problem. Don’t push for the sale as much as push to have their problem solved. The sale is just a byproduct of the solution.
These are things to remember when you’re thinking of your sales calls:
Have a qualifications call (or use a qualification form) to save your salesperson’s time
A sales call is only a sales call if the prospect is interested and can afford your product or services
The goal of the sales call is to understand the pain your prospect is in, then paint a picture of a better world with your help
You’re not there to sell your services, you’re there to make their dreams come true
Ask for permission to pitch, then solve their problem with your offering
You’ll lose nearly every sale unless you follow-up
Sales is not a 4-letter word.
Everything is sales. Dating, shopping, parenting.
Your success will increase dramatically when you master the art of solving problems with your products and services!