Sales calls can be fun, especially if they go the right way. Sales calls that don’t go the right way ... kind of suck.
There are many variables that will affect a sales call or meeting. If your prospect is dressed in a Hawaiian shirt and is drinking a Frosty, that’s an indication that you should have a good conversation. But if your prospect is scowling or checking their watch or yelling at you (yikes!), your conversation will be a little less fun.
The reality is that you can’t control what the prospect is like, but you can control your approach to the engagement. One of the keys to a successful sales call is preparation, which is critical in any service or discipline you are trying to master. Very few people reach the top 2% of their companies without working hard to study and practice the process.
While you should never be using the same script for all your sales calls (read on to find out why), going into your sales calls with a framework and plan should make you exponentially more successful. So before you pick up the phone to call that prospect, keep these three tips in mind to maximize your chances of success.
1) Be human.
It's important for all people to be genuinely and authentically themselves. You can’t be me and I can’t be you. Understanding that you are meeting a person is the best way to relate to your prospect. Everyone knows the stereotype of the sleazy salesperson who just wants to take your money and run -- that shouldn’t be you.
If you act like a person -- talking to your prospect like a human being and being authentic -- you should be able to establish confidence and over time, build a trusting relationship.
When I speak to a prospect for the first time, I don’t dive right into why I think HubSpot could be a great fit for their business. I ask them how they are doing. I try to read my prospects’ mood, get them to smile and then laugh, and try to establish human rapport before conducting business.
This process produces a few results:
We start off laughing about things.
We relate like human beings at a barbecue rather than falling into classic sales roles.
It differentiates our conversation from every other sales conversation.
We both have a lot more fun.
2) Ask questions.
No one cares about you or your product, and they rarely want some bonehead to call them to pontificate. Your prospects are talking to you for one main reason -- they think you can help them. So ask them, “What can I help you with?” -- and hopefully, they will tell you. Some prospects are guarded, but most are willing to have a conversation to see if there is common ground.
Asking questions shows you care about more than pushing your product, and it keeps prospects from tuning out what you’re saying. When it comes to questions, I find that the classics work best:
“How are you doing?” Many times, a prospect will say “Fine,” and you can move on. But if you hear them say, “I’m doing okay, but I could be better” or “I’m not doing great,” that’s a great opportunity to dig into their business pain.
“Tell me about that” / “Why?” Most salespeople talk and talk about the wrong things. Get your prospects to talk about themselves so you can understand what’s most important to them.
3) Take notes.
Is this old school? I don’t care. Do it. In my 30-year sales career, I’ve only ever met one person who could remember every detail of a sales call without taking notes -- David Scult, the CEO of Fonality. I love my orange HubSpot notebook and carry it to all my meetings. I place it in front of me, writing down the date and the name of the person I’m talking to, and take obsessive notes.
This routine helps focus me and enables me to remember critical points. It’s also a form of respect during an in-person conversation. Sure, you can take notes on Evernote or Google Docs, but if you’re behind a screen your prospect is going to assume that you’re surfing Facebook or checking Twitter.
A great thing to do is refer back to your notes during the call and say to your prospect, “So what I hear you saying is … ” Mirroring your prospect shows you’re engaged and gives them more incentive to be engaged with you. And the more involved both parties are, the better your sales calls will be.
So there you have it -- three great tips for your next sales call. What do you make sure to do in your sales calls? Let me know in the comments below.
Originally published Jun 2, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated June 11 2021