Sales doesn’t come naturally for most of us.
There’s a lot of pressure to be on your “A” game for a sales call. And for many people, the pressure is compounded by the fact that you were never trained in sales!
Much of your stress and anxiety can disappear simply by having a solid sales call structure. A sales call structure anchors you into which phase of the call you’re in, what goal you have during that portion of the call, along with what’s coming next and how to set it up.
Plus, utilizing a sales call structure gives you a way to lead the sales call and guide your prospect through the conversation. So, let’s dive into the sales call structure and talk about key ways you can succeed in each section.
How to Structure your Sales Calls
One of the biggest pre-call stressors is not having a real plan in place. You know you’ll open with a “Hello,” and hopefully conclude with a new client, but you’re a bit fuzzy on what happens in the middle.
How exactly are you guiding your prospect from “Hello,” to “SOLD!”?
A structure for your sales call will help massively with this conundrum.
Generally speaking, there are 5 main stages of every sales call:
- The Opening
- Gathering Information
- Handling Objections
- The Close
Let’s start with the opening.
The first hurdle that everyone worries about on a sales call is how to smoothly transition the conversation from the pleasantries and chit-chat to talking business and opening up the sales conversation.
This transitional phrase is what you’re looking for. Gracefully open the sales discussion by saying something like:
“I’ve been looking forward to our call. I’m excited to learn more about you and how I can help. Typically, here’s how these call work. I’ll ask a few questions to help me get a clear picture of what’s going on and what you’re looking for. If we both feel like there’s a fit here, then we can talk about what it would look like to work together. Sound good?”
And, boom, just like that, you’re able to politely and assertively open up the business conversation. And you did so by laying out a simple structure for the call, giving your prospect a clear picture on what to expect.
By using a transitional phrase like this, you can seamlessly kickoff your sales discussion and avoid any awkward “gear shifts.”
Most people become a bundle of nerves before a sales call because they’re worried about what to say in order to impress the prospect.
If you’re one of these people, then you’re probably rehearsing a few talking points and reviewing your product’s highlights pre-call.
Guess what? This is a fantastic way to skyrocket your sales stress!
This approach isn’t serving you because you’re operating off of half-baked information.
You’re coming up with talking points based on assumptions and guessing at what your prospect might be interested in. There is information that you don’t have, and you are filling in those knowledge gaps on your own.
No wonder you’re nervous.
Instead of spending all your pre-sales call time and energy towards what you should say, come up with questions to ask during the call.
Ask yourself, “What do I NOT know right now that would help me determine if this prospect is a potentially good client?”
This section of the call, Gathering Intel, serves many purposes.
First, it helps you fill those knowledge gaps. Second, it alleviates a BUNCH of pressure for you to “perform.” Third, you can demonstrate your expertise through the quality of questions you ask – which will impress your clients much more than a well-rehearsed pitch. Plus…
This actually creates a sales CON-VER-SA-TION.
An actual back and forth dialogue will happen when you focus on gathering intel. When you spend too much time worrying about what to say, you end up talking too much!
Which leads us to the last benefit of the Gathering Intel section of the sales call…
It gets your prospect talking.
People love to talk. They love to talk about themselves. And they love to be seen, heard, and understood.
The Gather Intel section of your sales structure creates the opportunity for your prospect to get all of those things that they love.
Have you noticed something missing in the sales call structure described in this article?
Go ahead. Take a look at it again.
- The Opening
- Gathering Information
- Handling Objections
- The Close
What you don’t see in this structure is the concept of “the pitch.”
When do you pitch your offering? That’s what we all want to get good at, right? The sales pitch?
Pitching is a terrible concept for sales. Tweet This
Sales isn’t a game of baseball. When your approach is based on pitching, you have something you are going to pitch to your prospect; then, you’ll see if they hit it for a home run or if you’ll strikeout.
Look! Even the pitching metaphor is f’ed up! If a batter hits a home run, then that’s bad for the pitcher. If the batter strikes out, it’s good for the pitcher. One wins, the other loses.
In sales, you want BOTH of you to hit a home run TOGETHER.
So, there’s no pitching. Instead, together you and your prospect should be Matching.
Pitching is for investment competitions and the like. Matching is for sales calls.
During Matching, your focus is to match your prospect’s answers to what you have to offer.
When they share a problem or issue, match it with your solution.
For example, if they mention not having enough time in the day, match that challenge with one of your solutions. Talk about your productivity system or how they won’t have to be super involved in the project.
Matching doesn’t just apply to the problem/solution equation. You should also look for opportunities to match their preferences to your offering. For example, if they say they enjoy collaborating, match that by talking about your creative process and how you can utilize their ideas.
As they answer your questions, listen for where you can MATCH their problems and preferences with your offering.
This is a BIG topic. Thus, it has its own article. Learn how to handle objections here.
Let’s be clear here:
The deal isn’t done until you have the dough.
The BIGGEST mistake I see many entrepreneurs make is believing that they closed a deal when they really haven’t.
“It went so well. We had a great talk. They’re definitely signing up.”
They’re signing up? Or they signed up? Because here’s the truth: If money hasn’t been exchanged, then you haven’t closed the deal. You’re still in the sales process.
This means that you might need to follow up, schedule another call, continue asking questions, find more opportunities to match, or handle objections.
Too many times, I’ve seen someone miss out on a great opportunity because they mistook a “great sales call” with a done deal. After the call, they sat back and relaxed, expecting the prospect to meet them at the finish line. It’s a decision they ended up regretting.
The sales conversation is only closed when you are either taking down their payment information or they’ve declined your offer.
(And even then, that “No,” might just be a “No, not right now.” … which is a deal you still can close at a later date.)
So, unless you get the dough or are told no, schedule a follow-up call and cycle back through this sales call structure until you actually reach a real close.
The truth is, once you build your confidence and abilities in sales, these calls are actually a lot of fun!
They are simply opportunities to learn about and connect with people whom you can help. How awesome is that?