How to Tell If You Had a GREAT Sales Call
One of the most common, but often misunderstood, expressions after meeting with a customer is that “it was a great sales call.” The problem with this expression is that it is intended to describe a positive interaction with a customer but is typically stated without a clear definition of what the call objectives actually were. Over the years, I’ve found that sales people often meet with customers in the spirit of relationship building but without a specific set of objectives in mind.
Relationship Building is Fundamental but Not the Driving Factor
Relationship building is a fundamental part of selling but the notion of how we build relationships has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. While buyers still prefer to buy from sales representatives they like, this is not the driving factor. In fact, there are a lot of likable people who fail to close business. Other essential aspects of relationships include building trust and creating value throughout the sales process. To do this, you need to make sure the customer is “open” to learning more about you, your company, and, most importantly, how your solution will be able to address the customers’ priorities.
By taking the extra time to prepare, you will demonstrate to the customer that you are truly interested in their needs and increase their receptivity to learning more about how you can help them address those needs. Additionally, if the customer sees that you are prepared they will generally be more open in speaking with you, and, as a result, share more information with you about their priorities.
Three Factors to Consider When Developing Sales Call Objectives
Unfortunately, too many sales people tend to “wing it” and decide to rely on their experience and charisma as sufficient preparation to have a “good call.” While this may have worked in the past, today’s buyers are far more empowered and can access most of the information they need about your offerings and your competitors’ offerings on the internet. As a result, to build trust and add value it is essential that you research the customer to get a better sense for who you are meeting with, their priorities, and what you hope to accomplish (i.e., your call objectives).
In developing your sales call objectives, it is important to consider the following three factors:
1) Are they attainable?
This is often a problem for newer sales people who tend to set their site too high by focusing on objectives that are not realistic. As an example, they may focus on closing a sale when meeting with an influencer as opposed to having that person agree to set up a meeting with the true decision maker.
2) What action will the buyer take?
In other words, the objective should focus on specific action(s) that the customer will take as a result of the meeting. Examples include placing an initial order, agreeing to a trial, setting up a meeting with a decision maker… All too often, sales people leave the meeting with a list of actions items for themselves and fail to focus on the actions they need the buyer to take to advance the purchase process.
3) How will you measure success?
This involves making sure that the objectives are detailed enough to truly define success. This includes not only the specific actions the buyer will take but also over what period of time.
Ultimately, you may not achieve all the objectives you set for your meeting. But even if you achieve some of them, you will have had a “better call” and understand what work still remains to further develop your relationship with that customer.
About Norman Behar
Norman Behar is a Managing Director at the Sales Readiness Group, A Part of SBI. He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications, including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.