Manager: “How did that sales call go?”
Manager: “Did you close the deal?”
Salesperson: “No, but they love me and they want the product.”
Manager: “When will the deal close?”
Salesperson: “Um ... probably this quarter.”
Does this post-call dialogue sound familiar? What does this sales manager know about the call his salesperson just finished? Not much.
Coaching reps when they complete or return from a sales call is important business, and needs to be done routinely and consistently. Salespeople will approach their calls differently if they know they'll be asked for very specific information afterward.
A quick email or phone call with the right questions can tell you exactly where the salesperson stands on a range of objectives. You won’t be able to assess every call, but you should aim to check in with each team member intermittently.
Here are some questions you could ask:
1) What did you do to prepare for the call?
2) What was your objective for the call?
3) What did you do to make good use of the customer’s time?
4) What questions did you get answered that helped you understand where the customer is in the sales process?
5) What are the next steps?
6) What action did the customer commit to take?
7) What action did you commit to take?
8) Did the customer tell you when they would make a decision by?
9) What will you do to follow up?
These questions will help both you and the salesperson understand more about the state of the deal. Far too often, salespeople get way ahead of the customer. As in the conversation at the beginning of this article, they predict a close date based on their quota instead of on the customer’s needs.
However, the only way to know when a deal will close is to ask the customer. Salespeople must learn to ask for the implementation date and a time by which a decision will be made, and they'll be more apt to if they know you might inquire after their meeting.
Another problem this process will help address is overcommitment on the part of the salesperson. Salespeople are quick to promise the world if they think it will close a deal. By asking questions six and seven, you can determine if the commitment of the salesperson is comparable to that of the customer. If the levels are out of whack, it could be a sign that the salesperson doesn’t understand where the customer is in the sales process. A change of strategy might be in order.
Managers will have fewer surprises if they make these questions a part of their daily coaching routine. Benefits include a shorter sales cycle, more efficient selling, better close ratios, and more accurate forecasting.