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Sales calls can be either face to face or over the phone, either way you are engaging with your customers or prospects. Apart from the odd occasion where an ad-hoc discussion is appropriate, if you want to improve your conversion rate you need to put some thought and effort into each call, simply making the call or showing up is not enough.

Planning Sales Calls

Objectives

Each call has its own objectives and these will depend on what stage of the sales cycle you are at. What is it that you need to know or what information do you want to make known? Set out your objectives clearly and decide on how you will achieve them.

Gathering information involves asking questions and asking questions in itself is an art. Almost all consultative sales methodologies practice a 3-stage questioning process, Open, Probe and Reflect (or variations ). Open questions are designed to build rapport and to get conversations flowing and are a precursor to probing questions. Probing questions are designed to extract clarification, to gain specifics about problems or processes in order to generate specific solutions. Reflection is the art of active listening, to portray to the client that you are in fact listening and you understand what is being expressed to you.

Although a consultative sales process is question based, there are times when you need to get a point across outside of the questioning process. You might want to explain a process or tell a story that will go towards bringing about a successful conclusion and winning the business.

Plan & Execute

Whatever your call objectives, you need to plan and execute. If you follow a structured sales process, planning is made a lot easier and can be assisted by templates. A structured process allows you to pinpoint what elements of the process are outstanding and because they are part of your process you will come up against the same issues time and time again. Create templates for repetitive actions so that you are prompted for the relevant information and you are less likely to forget something.

Topics

The following are topics that you should frequently look to address:

  • What is the Business Driver behind solving the problem at hand?
  • Is there an impending event linked to the problem and if so when does it fall?
  • Who is the Decision Maker for this project?
  • How are you going to get face time with the Decision Maker and how can you involve them in the buying/selling process?
  • Does the buyer have a predetermined solution for the problem and if so what is it?
  • Has the buyer recognised value in your solution and is the value different from your competitors?

It would be very useful to construct templates for these topics and spend time completing them in advance of a sales call. The old adage “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail” is very apt in the world of consultative selling and I urge you to do the necessary planning to help you succeed.