Assuming you're a good sales professional, you already build rapport with buyers, ask your buyers thought-provoking questions, and then skillfully manage their objections. These are all skills you use during the sales call. But what are you doing before and after the sales call?
If you want to raise the bar on your selling skills, create a clear call objective before each sales call. Then after the call, conduct a rigorous post-call analysis. This will help you improve your selling skills and raise your expectations around the quality of your sales conversations.
Before the Call: Develop a Call Objective
Good pre-call planning starts with the end in mind: What do you want to accomplish on the call? That means having clearly defined call objectives.
Many sales professionals confuse goals and objectives. Goals are what you want to achieve long-term (e.g., close the deal or grow the account); objectives are the steps you take to reach the goals. Without a clear call objective, you risk having your sales call morph into an unfocused social call.
Effective sales call objectives share three characteristics:
- They're attainable. When creating a call objective, first ask yourself, “Is it possible to accomplish this objective on this call?” Closing the sale may not be a realistic objective for a first meeting (remember, closing the deal is your goal), but qualifying the opportunity is achievable.
- They include buyer commitment. You can include a buyer commitment by starting with the statement: “As a result of this call, the buyer will agree to…” The buyer’s commitment should relate specific actions that will advance your sale (e.g., “buyer will introduce me to the decision maker”). The key here is to focus on the buyer’s behavior, not your sales activity.
- They're measurable. Finally, an effective sales call objective should include detailed information about the commitment you want the buyer to take so you can measure your progress and accomplishments. This means making sure the action is time-bound (e.g., “the buyer will review the proposal with the buying committee by next Tuesday”).
A sales call objective is the what, when, who, and how much you can accomplish on the sales call. Having a sales call objective will also make it easier to hold yourself accountable to how well you did on the sales call.
After the Call: Analyze What Happened
Just like professional athletes study videos of their performance after a game, you should do a post-call analysis after each sales call.
Your first area of inquiry should focus on results: Did you achieve your sales call objective? If yes, how? If not, why not? What did you learn about the decision-maker or the opportunity? Is this still a qualified sales opportunity?
The other area of analysis is your performance. What did you do well on this call, and what will you do differently on the next call with this decision-maker?
Here is a checklist you can use to analyze your performance:Building Relationships
- How well did you establish rapport?
- To what extent did you start to build trust?
- Did you build relationships with other decision-makers and influencers?
- Did you research the account before the call?
- Did you develop a call objective for the call?
- Did you uncover significant problems or concerns?
- Did you explore the impact of a problem with the buyer?
- To what extent are you spending too much time with unqualified buyers?
- How well did you explicitly connect the buyer’s need to your solution?
- Did you differentiate your solution from the competition?
- Did you ask for feedback frequently?
- Did you clarify objections before addressing them?
- Ask for some commitment at the end of each call?
- Did you ask for commitment too early (before the buyer was ready to make a decision)?
The purpose of conducting a rigorous post-call analysis is for you to take ownership of what you did or didn't do during the sales call and what you need to improve. Combining this post-call analysis with a clear call objective will help you take your selling skills to the next level.
About David Jacoby
As a Managing Director at Sales Readiness Group, David helps large B2B sales organizations improve sales performance. Previously, David was a Principal at Linear Partners, a sales consulting firm providing sales strategy, sales operations, talent management, and interim management services to emerging growth companies. In the past, David has served as Vice President of Business Affairs of Xylo, Inc., where he was responsible for the Company's business development, sales operations, legal affairs, and financing activities.