Sales Call: What, When and How

Sales Call: What, When and How

When making a follow-up sales call, or sending an email, it’s important to remember a few keys steps. When, and using what method do you make your sales call? How often should you check-in? What should you say and are there certain questions you should ask? What are you looking to accomplish from the sales call?

When to check-in

Previous interactions you have had with your potential customer should be shaping your future conversations with them. Having a CRM will help you track this information. Consider the time of day that you have had conversations with them or received email responses. These times should be the target for your follow-ups. How about the preferred method of communication – do you email or call with no response, but texts are answered right away. Stick with that as your primary method of communication.

Avoid being a pest

While you don’t want to be the annoying pushy salesperson that calls three times a day, you also don’t want to be forgotten. The frequency of your check-ins depends on where you are in your sales process. If the customer told you they have a lot going on and you have agreed to reach out again in two months, don’t call them two weeks later. However, if they say they aren’t ready until next year, make sure you don’t wait that long to reach out to them again. Remember, things change.

Changes frequently occur

Regardless of if it’s been a couple weeks or a couple months since you last spoke, ask the question “Has anything changed since we last spoke?” You may gain valuable insight to a new issue that has arisen for them, or another new product or service that they have started using that will change the direction of your sales pitch. This question is vital to keeping the conversation going in the right direction.

Go for the Goal

Go into each call with a goal in mind. The goal of every call is not closing the sale. If you have a 9 month sales cycle, don’t go into one of your first calls pushing for the close. If you have qualified and educated your prospect, and after review of your sales process you are ready to go in for the close, don’t get side tracked on your call, make sure you go for it.

While you need to be flexible to the customer’s needs based upon the conversation that comes up, focus on your goal. Remember, the call is about them, so you should be asking questions that you can use for future communications with them. Always finish the call or conversation letting them know what the next step is or when you will follow-up next.

Is Empathy Good or Bad in Sales?

Is Empathy Good or Bad in Sales?

Some may say empathy and sales go together like Peanut Butter and Jelly. In some cases this is quite true. However, my daughter is allergic to peanut butter and it could kill her, just like too much empathy could kill your sale.

Sales people with empathy are able to relate to their customers and understand how they are feeling. People may even be more likely to open up to an empathetic person. This could make it easier to gain the know, like and trust to close that sale naturally, without the “slimy salesperson act.”

Blind spots

We all have blind spots, or areas of our personality that are not as strong as others. When you look at that for an empath, you see that they are highly sensitive, introverted and easily affected by others’ negative emotions. Imagine how sales rejection or cold calls most feel (if you are reading this and you are not empathetic, it is probably hard for you to imagine what this is like, so you will have to just take my word for it).  

A well balanced sales team

When hiring a salesperson, or coaching someone already on your team, if you notice they have some of the highly desirable traits, being a great listener, opening up and communicating with care, then be on the lookout also if they are negatively impacted or stressed out by sales calls that don’t go according to plan.

The first step to a happy and successful sales team is to understand each of them individually, the second step is getting them the individualized coaching support they need. Your best approach is to have a well rounded sales team. Personality trait and communication style assessments like Gallup or DISC are a great way to get to know your team better and how they interact with each other and with your customers. 

 

Sales Coaching versus Training

Sales Coaching versus Training

Are you looking for a sales trainer or a sales coach? You might already have an idea in your mind what you are looking for. Did you consider that the answer might be both? Determine which will best meet your needs and will help you create a more productive team.

Understanding Sales Training and Sales Coaching

Let’s first start by understanding the difference between the two in the simplest way. Training is putting your best into someone, coaching is drawing the best out of someone.

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, by those who don’t know any better, or those who simply think coaching is trendy and want to say that is what they do, I like to keep them quite distinct when working with my clients.

When I talk about training, it is often in reference to implementing a new technology, process or system. Something where you could use a manual to describe how to proceed.

Coaching however, is about listening with intention, understanding not only what is being said, but why it is being said, and helping the speaker discover the path best suited for them. Too abstract? Let’s look at an example…

A deeper look at Training and Coaching

Sally is a new salesperson at Company ABC. She needs to learn how to use the company’s CRM, how to track her leads, and how to follow the proven and repeatable sales process that is in place. Sally needs training.

Fast forward a month, Sally is actively selling to prospective clients. She is running into objections. The sales process has tools in place to help overcome these objections, however Sally is still not having much luck getting past them to close the sale. At this point, simply training Sally again on the sales process or use of the technology tools isn’t going to cut it. Sally needs coaching.

With coaching, we work with Sally to understand what is going through her mind before, during and after that objection arises. Also, we can look at what Sally thinks is going on inside her prospects mind at this time. This is often where the key lies. A salesperson with a lot of natural talent typically has a lot of empathy as well. This allows them to relate to their prospects on a deeper level and build that trust and connection. However, this often means that the same salesperson projects their own feelings or beliefs into the situation, when it isn’t the case.

Continue looking at the example with Sally. There is an objection over price that seems to keep coming up for Sally when talking to customers about a particular service Company ABC offers. Sally is selling this service to people who make at least double her salary. When Sally is quoting the price, in her head she is thinking “this is way too expensive” and that is reflected in her pitch (whether she is reading the exact words from the script or not, the tone and inflection of her voice indicates she is not comfortable with that price. Sally is projecting, as expensive is relative. What is too expensive for Sally may not be for someone making twice as much as she does.

Do you need both?

No training program or manual is going to help Sally recognize that she is over-empathizing in this situation. The training provides Sally with a script that is proven to work. The coaching sessions are necessary to help Sally discover how she needs to act and think and be as she is presenting that script.

So how do you determine what your sales team needs? The best way to proceed is to hire someone like Adroit Insights, who provides both coaching and training services, making them more objective to the decision. Have a company conduct a full analysis of your sales process and sales people first and then determine the best approach moving forward.

Conversational Sales

Conversational Sales

Conversational Sales is not a new concept, however it is one that few are employing effectively. Customers come to business seeking information and ideas, not just for someone to recite a product spec sheet to them. Conversational sales is all about education. The most important part to remember is that you are not only educating your customers, you must also educate yourself.

Educating your customers

Many sales calls start with discovery questions asked by the sales rep, following shortly thereafter with the rep talking about how great their product or service is to meet the customer’s needs. However, if all you know is some basic information from your questionnaire, are you really aware of their needs and what will make an impact on their lives or businesses?

Answer: No. Your potential customers know this too. In Linda Richardson’s Book, Changing the Sales Conversation, she states “Today clients will respond to straight discovery questions and product talk with impatience.” They don’t want to feel like another number being given a script. Engaging in a back and forth dialogue will help you start to build the know, like and trust that is so crucially important in the sales process. Consider switching up your script, instead of discovery, like the one above, try “Thank you for that basic information, Mr. Jones, we offer a variety of services, can you tell me a bit about how you are currently using “X”.” Now, allow Mr. Jones to speak, and actually listen to the conversation. TAKE NOTES. This is key, as you will want to recite some of what Mr. Jones said back to him when it’s your turn to speak again.

Continue the conversation in this back and forth format until you have all the information you need and can make a truly information recommendation on which product or service will be best based upon the client’s needs, and not just your opinion of why your offering is superior.

Ms. Richardson goes on to say, “Clients want to be educated but not about products. They want new perspectives and ideas.” As you engage in the conversation with your prospective clients, enlightening them to something they were previously unaware of will open up entirely new doors. If you do not engage in a dialogue and find out what they already know, you aren’t bringing any value to the conversation.

Educate Yourself

In the busy world of sales, we don’t always take the time to research prospective customers before engaging in a conversation with them. The old school way of sales thinking is that this was a nice thing to do, but not really necessary if you just didn’t have time. That is not the case in today’s market. You must be informed on your potential client before you engage in a sales conversation with them.

People want to be heard, and know that you are listening to them. This helps to build trust in the relationship that is not only important in the initial sales conversation, but later down the road when they are customers as well. If you have done your research, you can ask informed questions that will help guide the conversation in the right direction.

Move away from the monologue sales pitches and engage your potential customers in a meaningful conversation that you will both benefit from.

Does your business need a sales health check?

Does your business need a sales health check?

Would you allow a loved one to go years without going to the doctor for a check-up? I’m guessing not, so why wouldn’t you treat your business the same way?

With another year ending, you are likely reflecting on the goals you set for your business in 2018. Did you achieve or exceed them all? How do you know if you are focusing on the right areas as you make your businesses New Year’s resolutions?

Hopefully you are sitting down with your business partners, managers and employees. While you should certainly take their feedback into account, often times an outside perspective can bring things to a whole new light.

When you look at your sales for 2018 and set your targets for 2019, consider the following:

What are those numbers based on?

Did you simply select a number you thought sounded good, did you select a percentage of growth? Is that number based upon an expected increase in expenses? Or did you determine certain aspects of your products or services that will see greater increase than others this year and build out your 2019 goals accordingly.

How do you plan to achieve these targets?

Let’s say your goal is to increase revenue in 2019 by 20%. What does that look like? If your response is to tell your sales people to sell 20% more in 2019, then we definitely need to talk. You need to take a good hard look at your sales process and see where inefficiencies exist, where your sales leakages are occurring and what strategies or technologies you can put into place to resolve them.

Does your team need additional coaching, training or management to keep them on track?

If you have been managing your sales team for the past year, you may not have seen as much growth as you had wanted, or on the flipside, you saw the growth, but spent so much time on it, you were stretched too thin or unable to spend enough time on the other aspects of your business. Hiring a part-time sales manager who can coach your team on how to sell with increased efficiency and overcoming objections, someone who can train them on the new technology you will be implementing or manage them regularly to ensure they have everything they need to succeed and help grow your business and their careers.

While this can be done by your team internally, it’s a good idea to get an outside advisor to assist you with this process. Sometimes, you are just too close to the work to see everything that needs to be addressed. Perhaps you’ve been following a particular process for years and you have just accepted that is just the way it is. It doesn’t have to be, and an advisor with specific knowledge of sales processes and technology can help you through this.