This is it. The all-important first call with a new prospect. This conversation will set the tone for the rest of the relationship, and could even make or break a deal.
No pressure, right?
Considering just how much hinges on sales calls, reps would be wise to get the conversation off to a strong start. But kicking off a call can be awkward, as anyone who's asked "So, uh ... how's the weather there?" at the beginning of a meeting knows.
During the Sales Acceleration Summit on Wednesday, Dave Mattson, CEO of Sandler Training, shared his strategy for starting a sales call the right way. Mattson recommended that salespeople touch on four crucial points within the first five minutes of a call:
First, Mattson suggested that salespeople establish the purpose of the call. "Make sure you're on the same page about why you're here today," he said. Talking about the purpose of the call early on not only refreshes attendees' memories, but it also clues in parties who might not have been a part of the sales process until this point, Mattson explained.
Next, it's time to agree on time. According to Mattson, reps should review how much time they have for the call, by asking a question along the lines of "I know last week we spoke about spending 60 minutes together today -- is that still good for you?" This lets the salesperson know if they need to shorten their talk or compress their agenda, and prevents a conversation from being cut short prematurely.
After talking about time, Mattson advised salespeople to "deal with agendas -- that's their agenda and [your] agenda." By asking what the prospect would like to get out of the call, the rep shows respect and gains insights into what's on the buyer's mind. By sharing their own agenda, salespeople prepare the prospect for the topics they'll be bringing up, and negate any potential surprise.
Finally, Mattson said that salespeople should touch on the desired outcome of the call -- whether that's scheduling another call, setting up a proof of concept, or some other result. Discussing each of these four points at the beginning of a sales call constitutes what Mattson called an "upfront contract."
As for the benefits of starting sales calls with an upfront contract, "I think a call that starts well ends well," Mattson said.
What do you talk about during the first five minutes of your sales calls? Have you used this technique, and if so, does it work for you? Share your thoughts in the comments. Next, we have the perfect formula for the rest of the sales call.
Originally published Mar 11, 2016 8:30:00 AM, updated June 11 2021