Sales Call Planning Should Never Stop

Salespeople make sales calls. It’s so simple as to be second nature and thus easy to overlook. But the best sellers know each sales call is an opportunity. After all, every closed deal starts with an initial call, but that puts the cart before the horse.

For most sellers, sales is a process-oriented profession. Each step must be carefully calibrated to achieve maximum effect. Rome wasn’t built in a day. However, the best outcomes begin with the best process, and the best sales calls start with a plan. Here’s how to plan for winning sales calls that build relationships and achieve positive results:  

Do Your Research

As part of discovery, sales calls follow prospecting. Clients should have been properly qualified. Therefore, sellers already know the basics, including their industry, business, size, revenue, etc. However, before the call, know your clients as more than firmographic characteristics. Know them as people.

Today, sellers seek long-range partnerships over one-off sales. This starts with the individuals on each sales call. To build rapport, learn the following:

  • The names of each new contact
  • Communication preferences and customer style
  • Their interests
  • Previous experience, such as other industries and companies
  • Mutual contacts on LinkedIn or other social media

Aside from making pleasantries, you never know when this info may become relevant. When the client’s Rottweiler, Gus, crashes your Zoom call, note your Cockerpoo, Einstein. For sports fans, know the trade buzz on their favorite team. If Bridget from Bridget’s Widgets posted on their timeline, recall your brunch in Burlington. And her deceptive golf handicap. These small details are gold when waiting for meetings to start.

More than making deals, the goal of any sales call is building connections. It’s not just about products. It’s always about people.

Better Call SAM

In addition, be armed with your objectives. In keeping with the names of people and pets, let’s make this simple. Your objectives should always be specific, appropriate, and measurable, known by the acronym SAM:

  • Specific: Establish and state what you hope to achieve with your call. More than learning about Sunny’s Sundries, you seek intros to the top players you’ll need.
  • Appropriate: Ensure this objective is inline with your sales process and the client’s needs. To this end, know where you are in the sales process before pushing too hard. A first call might be too early to rattle off solutions or press for an in-person meet.
  • Measurable: Define the tangible measurements of the call. If your goal was learning three top decision makers, you should see three names on your notepad. If it was to gain agreement to move forward, note the specific next steps.

SAM objectives remind sellers the reason for the call. And they help sellers gauge where they are in that process. This lets them make the most of their own and their client’s time. This way, sellers get the info they need. And clients better understand the value they offer.

Offer Value

On each sales call, know your value. This is what you can offer them that others cannot. It also goes beyond products. You might not yet know which solution best matches their issue. But on each call, learn the parameters of their problem.

To demonstrate value, be the most knowledgeable person on the call. This does not mean you’re an insufferable know-it-all. Don’t start stories with, “Those of us who have been to Prague…” Instead, listen more than you speak. Know where you are in the sales process and guide clients to their own insights. Consider the following:

  • Build on previous communication
  • Reference specific emails and calls
  • Know your offerings
  • Understand your competitor’s products
  • Be personable, attentive, and engaged

Of course, your place in the process can dictate the questions you ask. However, today’s clients are more knowledgeable. They’ve done their research. They’ve seen your competition’s products. They are aware of alternative solutions. Be prepared to answer questions and address concerns.

Today, buyers know their options. More than products and services, they need sellers who put their needs first. They need guidance, reassurance, and a partner they can trust. That’s your greatest value. A successful sales call won’t necessarily end with a signed contract. It’s not about X number of widgets for Y dollars within Z timeframe. It’s about moving the needle, earning trust, and keeping the process going.

Anticipate Objections

With any sales call, sellers can expect questions. You can’t expect clients to simply agree with whatever you say. They’re going to challenge you. They may shake their heads or roll their eyes. And you can bet they will raise objections.

Anticipating objections lets you address concerns before they occur. This helps you control the flow of the call. Rather than breaking momentum, this keeps your offense on the field.  

Since you know they’re coming, here are some tips when anticipating objections:

  • Objections are not necessarily challenges
  • Objections are often requests for more information
  • Objections are clues to pause, reflect, reaffirm
  • Objections help gauge interest and note alignments

If you keep their attention, that’s a win in your pocket. Also, remember the number one objection of any client is typically price. When these objections pop up, consider these tips:

  • Price is contingent on value and need
  • Deflect or hold off on price discussions until you establish value
  • Price objections are an opportunity to demonstrate value

In a call with multiple decision makers, anticipating objections can build consensus. For example, consider who’s on the call and the types of objections they may raise.

Tech people want to know how your solution integrates with their tech stack. Is it scalable? VPs and others in the C-suite typically have price objections. How does your solution save money over the long term? Department managers often seek user-friendly solutions. They will object to anything complicated. Sellers whose solutions and insights tie these objections together build consensus.

Anticipating objections positions you as a proactive partner in meeting their needs. Often, when clients raise objections, it means they are listening and considering your proposals. By anticipating objections, sellers can speed the sales process and shorten the sales cycle.

Post-Call Evaluation

Believe it or not, the time to prepare for your post-call evaluation is before you call. A lot can ride on our ability to close. We have quotas, commissions, bonuses, and any number of other incentives. However, one call does not make or break a deal. Instead, most closed deals are the cumulative result of many actions and calls. The most important thing is to keep the process moving.

Therefore, immediately following your sales call, ask the following questions:

  • Did I reach my objectives?
  • What went well and what were the challenges?
  • What keys did I obtain?
  • What are the next steps?

It’s a good idea to have your post-call, self-reflective questions ready before the call. This way, you can note the answers while the call is still fresh. Of course, some calls are recorded. However, these will not reflect the in-the-moment feelings received from a decision maker. Get these down in your CRM. They will be useful on your next call.

Earlier, we noted how each sales call is an opportunity. It’s a chance to facilitate discussion, understand needs, and work toward collaborative solutions. It also means your previous communication worked. Whether it was a phone call, email, or in-person meeting, the process is progressing. As with cold calls, preparation is key. Knowing your client, remembering SAM, offering value, and anticipating objections help ensure successful sales calls. We hope these tips help you win yours.