It doesn’t matter what industry you are in; sales are tough business. Over the past decade the way in which sales teams operate has evolved at a rapid pace leaving teams scrambling to stay on top of their game. Online business has been a major factor in this evolution, and now the way in which we handle our initial calls with potential customers have become more critical than ever!
Working in sales for over 10 years, I have derived a simple set of steps that are relevant to anyone in the business world and have helped elevate me towards winning some of the top sales awards in business. Like all aspects of running a business, having basic plan in place makes for a much smoother and more efficient sales call.
There are 6 steps that can be used to assist in create a road map and a clear goal for your call. By applying these 6 steps I am confident your sales process, engagement levels and meetings will start to show signs of improvement.
Step number one in the sales process should always be to establish a connection with the potential client. During an initial meeting with a client, one of our key goals is to gain their trust quickly, and this can be done in number of ways. The most common way to do this is by finding commonalties with your client. A quick and easy way to learn about the potential client is by using tools such as Linkedin and Facebook to find out more about the person and their company. If both of these options don’t give you results, you can also try Googling their name. The more we can learn about the client prior to speaking with them for the first time, the more we can tailor the call to match their needs and personality.
Another way to build rapport is discussing what you have learned in researching their company. An example of this is aligning the company’s vision and goals to that of your company. Finally, asking questions about the company and being genuinely interested in what they are doing and what they are working on will help to establish a relationship.
The second step in the sales process is to set expectations, or an agenda, for the meeting so that you are both aware of what will be covered throughout the call. This helps you establish control as well as staying focused during the meeting.
Here is a sample dialogue:
“Today I would like to cover a few things. First, to tell you a little about my company, then ask you some questions to better understand you and your business. Finally, I will be able to present a list of solutions based on your needs”.
The third step is to highlight strengths of your company. Some great details to mention are how many clients you have, names of high profile clients you work with, a brief company history, your vision, and how you stand out from the competition. During this stage it’s also helpful to include industry statistics or millstones you have achieved. The goal of this portion of the call is to increase confidence in your company and establish credibility.
The fourth stage is the most important, it’s when you gather information that will be used to introduce your product in a way that’s relevant to your client. The goal during the discovery stage is to learn as much as you can about the client and the problem for which they are looking for a solution.
The ideal conversation during this stage would involved the potential client taking the lead and speaking for around 80% of the time. There are a wide range of questions you can ask during this stage to prompt the answers you are looking for, and it pays to have a short list on hand as some clients may not be as clear in projecting their needs as others. Listening and preparing to address their specific needs is critical to this step, as they are telling you exactly what they’d like your product or service to do for them!
If you asked good questions during the previous part of your call, then this should be easy! At this stage you are selling the solution to the problem you have just discussed with your client. You want to clearly talk about their needs, and how your product/service can solve it. The goal is to give a clear and concise demo using features and benefits of your products and services that are relevant to helping address the clients need. Having a customized demo containing client logos and information is always a great thing to have prepared too.
The final stage of this process is closing the deal. Closing is asking for the sale, or progressing to next step in the process for making the sale. The next step on the process could be anything from a next meeting or arranging for a trial or signing up for the product or service. There are many different techniques in closing, and it’s important that you choose the one you are most comfortable with. During this stage we need to make sure that we give clear guidelines for the next step in the process, along with setting a timeline for when tasks need to be completed. Stay confident is the key to this stage, as our end goal is to get some sort of commitment.
There you have it. 6 basic steps to a successful initial sales call. Using this system, the more these steps are practiced and executed with clients, the more you will understand which elements work best for you and your company. Everyone has a slightly different way of doing things, but the underlying process remains the same.
Good luck, and go out and close some deals!