A well-executed sales call can make or break your chance to close a lucrative deal. While the call is a great time to answer your lead's lingering questions and erase doubts, it’s also essential for nurturing the relationship with your customer through an engaging conversation.
Sales calls can be challenging for new and veteran reps alike. Here at Outreach, we know how easy it is to get lost in the wealth of advice about the best sales techniques. As the fastest-growing sales engagement platform, our data science team has access to huge data sets and delivers AI innovations that help our customers to increase sales. So, we know what works.
Using these insights, we've identified nine best practices for sales calls. By applying these tips in conjunction with a sound strategy, preparation, and consistency, you can optimize your sales call process:
- Prepare an Agenda For the Meeting
- Start the Call Strong
- Clearly Communicate Product Value
- Create a Pitch Around The Customer's Needs
- Know-How and When to Ask Key Questions
- Handle Objections Gracefully
- End the Meeting With Next Steps
- Follow Up Effectively
- Iterate and Improve Your Sales Techniques
1. Prepare an Agenda For the Meeting
Without a clear plan for the call, your prospect will likely have trouble retaining crucial information. An agenda helps set clear expectations for leads and sales reps, provides structure that keeps the meeting on track, and helps organize talking points.
Create and share the itinerary with the lead before the call and, if possible, welcome their input. One study found agendas were the most effective when both parties agreed upon the goals. Following an agenda also adds a layer of professionalism to your meeting, increasing productivity and the ability to nurture them through the journey. A typical agenda may include:
- Greeting: Welcome prospect and introduce yourself
- Prospect introduction — including all key decision-makers
- Review agenda
- Present prospect needs
- Review any relevant context or crucial past meeting notes
- Explain your solution and how it meets the prospect's needs
- Define next steps
2. Start the Call Strong
Sales calls don't happen in a vacuum, so leads may enter the call with biases and maybe even a few misconceptions about your product or your company. Starting the conversation well-prepared can help reinforce a strong positive image for your leads. A sloppy introduction or miscommunication, on the other hand, can hurt even the most promising deal. First impressions are lasting, and customers form an opinion about your company within the first seven seconds of meeting you.
Here are a few ways you can start your sales call right:
- Research and Plan Ahead: Read notes from past meetings such as discovery calls and review information about your prospects before the call. Ensure you have data readily available to address common questions, anticipate potential needs, and discover common interests.
- Save the Business for Later: Be cautious about immediately jumping into selling. Prematurely pitching your sale can make prospects feel unvalued and unimportant. Warm up to your lead first. Spending five minutes at the beginning of the call to learn more about their interests can go a long way toward building a relationship.
- Review the Agenda: Outline your conversation by telling prospects what to expect. Encourage leads to add and take away from the plan as they see fit; this will help create a sense of ownership in the process. Use language like "I've outlined an agenda to ensure we can cover as much as possible. Would you like to add or remove anything?"
- Set the Promise: Ask the prospect to commit to the next steps in the process. Pose questions such as "If you see the value in [X] product after our call, can you commit to moving on to discuss the next stage? If not, we can go our separate ways. How does that sound to you?"
3. Clearly Communicate Product Value
Customers want to save money, but the price is only part of the equation. You need to make a concrete case for how your product solves your lead’s problem or pain points in your call.
Use case studies and real-life examples to show how you've been able to solve similar issues in the past. The goal is to motivate your prospect to choose your product and recognize the value in the solution for themselves. Set yourself up for an effective conversation by using tools that give you real-time access to essential information such as notes from previous calls and details about the prospect’s pain points and priorities. As a sales lead, you can also ensure the product value lands for leads each time by coaching your reps in real-time. Find tools that allow you to provide live feedback, so your advice is tailored and specific to your reps.
4. Create a Pitch Around The Customer's Needs
A discovery call or demo is far different from a cold call, which allows you little visibility into the needs, pain points, and nuances of the prospect’s situation.
There’s no excuse not to prepare for a sales call. Immerse yourself in the client and their problem. Before the call, review customer data, social media, and other assets for recurring questions and stressors. Go below the surface to learn more about their values and what they feel is essential—review meeting notes, activities, and keyword search results for shared interests. Use this information to tailor pitch— including talking points, demo highlights, and use cases.
This preparation makes your lead the star of the conversation. Your entire pitch will show the prospective client how your service can make their lives better. Without this dedicated touch, your pitch is no different than a cold call.
5. Know-How and When to Ask Key Questions
The marketing guru David Sandler suggests that sales reps listen more than they talk during sales calls, with leads speaking 70% of the time and the rep only 30%. Asking questions is a great way to show your interest in their business, your thoughtfulness about their problems, and your desire to help them rather than just to sell at all costs.
Spread your questions throughout the meeting, so the call has a natural conversational flow and does not feel like an interview. Your questions should be open and allow the lead to provide more information about their thoughts and feelings. Start with language such as, "Can you describe..." or "Please walk me through a time when..." Tracking customer's questions and concerns will allow you to personalize the customer experience further to meet their expectations. Organize, detail, and store notes in an accessible location to easily reference later.
6. Handle Objections Gracefully
It’s crucial to understand that an objection is not necessarily a hard “no!” In fact, it’s another opportunity to educate the prospect and show your interest in their pain points. Objections are relatively common, and the effective sales reps should expect and prepare for them. Fears, budget constraints, and nuanced pain points can keep prospects from taking the next steps. Each objection is a chance to allay your customer’s hesitation and present the product's specific value proposition.
Some tips for working through objections include:
- Take a Moment to Pause: Digest what the customer is saying, remain objective, and maintain a conversational tone. No matter how passionate you may become, be cautious about appearing defensive or pushy.
- Ask Questions: Why does the lead feel the way they do? Understanding their perspective will make it easier to get them to understand yours.
7. End the Meeting With Next Steps
At the close of the meeting, your lead may have questions about what happens next. Dedicate time in your call to summarize the main points of discussion and explain what the prospect should expect after the meeting. This sets the tone for you and the customer as you move forward in the buying cycle. Information can be misunderstood and forgotten over time, so consider automating your follow-up to maintain a seamless process.
8. Follow Up Effectively
Closing the deal is always the goal, but sometimes leads need more time. It may take 80% of leads up to five to twelve points of contact before deciding. Unfortunately, only 8% of reps follow up with prospects more than five times and miss out on potential deals. A follow-up helps you maintain the call’s momentum and lets a lead know that you are committed to solving their problem, giving you a competitive advantage.
When discussing follow-up, be specific; set a date and time during the meeting. While the meeting should be at the customer's discretion, don't let too much time pass as it may be difficult to reconnect. Ask prospects to spend this time thinking about what they want to do and be ready to decide at your next meeting. You might even include key meeting notes in your meeting invite to keep everyone on track. To ensure effective and consistent follow up after every call, consider creating a follow-up sequence, or email blueprint, that all sales reps can utilize.
9. Iterate and Improve Your Sales Techniques
Once the call and follow-up are over, connect with team members to discuss what worked and what missed the mark. Bring major takeaways to meetings with the entire team, so you can replicate success and avoid anything that could be hindering your sales process. It can be challenging to track call activity across accounts, but with platforms that offer conversational intelligence, you can access live customer and rep insights. These platforms may also allow you to review your meeting notes, search transcripts for keywords, and leave feedback that you can use during your coaching sessions and training.
Give Your Reps the Power to Accelerate Deals in Real-Time
With so much weighing on the outcome of your sales calls, your team needs tools that will surface the exact information they need when they need it. Outreach Kaia provides real-time sales enablement and automation that improves your team's productivity and efficiency. Move through calls with confidence as Kaia transcribes and records the conversation, captures attendee information, and delivers content cards with relevant information about competitors, integrations, pricing, and much more. Keep prospects engaged with immediate and automated email summaries and meticulous logs of action items. Leaders can coach reps in real time with Conversation Intelligence, bookmark key teaching moments in the call, and review stats from conversations.
Sign up for a free demo with Outreach Kaia and discover how you can transform your live meetings into more productive customer conversations.