When it comes to nurturing and closing leads, sales calls take up a lot of your team’s time and resources. They are probably the most important and impactful communication channel for your sales team. This is why there needs to be solid processes and steps in place on how to make a sales call. When done correctly, a sales call process will enable you in making successful sales calls, repeatedly and predictively.
As per KBCM survey, companies using inside sales as a primary sales channel enjoy a 10% higher median growth rate. Making sales calls is one of the core functions within inside sales process. Which makes it a crucial part of your sales teams’ growth efforts.
Besides, 63% of sales leaders agree that virtual meetings with customers are just as or more effective than in-person meetings. Which reinforces the importance of a sales call strategy and process towards making effective sales calls. Focusing on-field sales or in-person engagements is no longer optimal, with calls getting more popular post the pandemic in 2020.
So throughout this article, we’ll lay out an 8 step process on how to make a sales call. Also, lookout for a bonus section towards the end discussing conversion-boosting tips and strategies. These practices will consequently help make the most out of your outbound sales calls.
How To Make A Sales Call Effectively in 8 Steps
Before you can reach out and schedule calls with prospects, you’ll need to look out for qualified leads. Especially so, if you generate leads for outbound calls. You have to find and fetch prospects to talk to, vs Inbound which is the exact opposite. Either way, the emphasis for sales call prospecting has to be around two things. finding the right person to talk to. And having the right and relevant contact information to reach them.
If you’re generating outbound leads — look for decision-makers within your target accounts or organizations. Prospecting for these leads will involve looking for characteristics like their title, role descriptions, background, etc to ensure they own the budgets and decisions when it comes to procurement. Find their verified contact information like email addresses for these decision-makers. Ensure that when you reach out, your emails don’t bounce and harm your sender reputation, along with having to dig out alternate addresses at a later stage and cause inconvenience.
Similarly, with inbound leads — look up their credentials using social platforms like Linkedin or lead enrichment tools, and ensure that they match your ideal customer profile. If not, ask them to introduce you to the decision-maker after introductory conversations, so you can have a direct line of communication with them.
Research and Deep Dive
Once you’ve narrowed down your prospect list to decision-makers and influencers, spend time researching them before making the sales call. This research should be done with the purpose of knowing your prospects’ expertise and background — departments they’ve worked in, previous companies, interest areas, etc. Next, conduct a deep dive into the prospect’s business. Get to know the organizations’ priorities, recent advancements, new hires, and so on.
Most importantly take note of problems and pains they might be facing. This could include competing products doing well and eating into their market share, poached employees, regulatory roadblocks, intellectual property violations, etc.
Information like this will help you gather context on the prospect and their organization’s strengths, pain points, market demand, and performance. Combined with your product’s use cases, you can then figure out how your product might serve them best, build a case around it and while making sales calls — nurture them accordingly.
Reach Out With An Agenda
Once you’ve studied your prospect and their organization, next, you need to reach out to them with a value proposition. Approach them with an agenda that matches their goals and priorities, so they’re more likely to be open to explore and evaluate your product. If you’re reaching out over channels like email, make sure you’re personalizing your emails to capture their attention.
Have a single call to action — in the first email, which ideally doesn’t have to do with getting on a call. Every sales email nowadays has the same ask, so prospects tend to avoid and ignore such emails.
Capterra’s email, offering free gift cards and reviews to prospects is a great example of this approach. It’s tied with an offering relevant to the prospects’ problem that they’re likely not to pass on, attracting more responses and engagement. The goal of this step should be to break the ice and get the prospect to get talking to you. Engagement generated in this fashion can later be leveraged to get prospects on a call at the next stage of the sales cycle.
Get on a call
Once you’re on talking terms with the prospect — get them to schedule a call with you. This is one of the trickiest parts of perfecting how to make a sales call. Prospects will still dodge scheduling and getting on a call — they’re aware it’s where the “selling” happens. Not a lot of professionals are open to spending time listening to sales pitches on their own time, hence the reluctance. This is why there was an emphasis on not starting your first email with a request to schedule a call.
At a later stage when the prospect is on board with your product’s value proposition, offer them to take a tour of your product through a demo, or a presentation. Follow-up a couple of times if they don’t respond, just to make sure they’ve seen your messages. Additionally, add freebies to the mix so they’re incentivized to get on a call.
Once scheduled for a call, prepare a list of questions and info that you’re looking to have cleared over the call to further qualify the prospect’s intent. Preparing a demo or presentation personalized to the prospect’s pain points and use case is the best way to make sales calls. Before the scheduled call, personally reach out to confirm their attendance and remind them of the call, with a list of points to be discussed, or an agenda. Include any preparatory notes if needed, as in things they might need to make the most out of the call. Hop on the call a few minutes earlier than the scheduled time to ensure your prospect doesn’t have to wait on you.
And here’s how to start a sales call — lead by introducing yourself and your colleagues. Go through the agenda and cover the components of the agenda one at a time, offer to clear questions and clarifications. Ensure each part of the call is geared to pique the prospect’s interest and intent to give your product a try.
During the call, take note of how your prospects are reacting to the presentation and demo. Note down the questions they ask during the call, so you can refer them later on and put them into context, and better understand your prospect’s concerns. Also, record the call with their permission for recordkeeping and reference.
Notes and recordings from the call will later help you analyze if the call went according to plan. Observe if there were areas of improvement that could be brought into practice within other deals, and if the same deal needs to be handled any differently. Sales call notes and recordings can also be used to educate and train internal team members, apart from being able to monitor and record their progress.
During the call (and post-call), look out for questions or concerns placed by your prospects that could stem from underlying objections. Unless you were referred by an existing customer, or have a decade-old brand, prospects are less likely to trust and agree with you right away. This will be more of a problem with outbound engagements, as inbound prospects have usually evaluated the product clear of such objections before signing up.
Be quick to come up with answers and clarifications to questions or comments wherever possible — anything ranging from competitor’s lower prices, features, bad reviews for your product, etc. The goal here isn’t just to come up with an answer for the sake, but to bury the concern for good with something that completely nullifies a bad outcome for your prospects resulting from the said objections. If you cannot get back immediately, work on resolving the objections post-call and follow up with your prospect ensuring your commitment and value.
Draw out actionables before parting
As you’re getting towards the end of the call, assess your prospects’ intent to proceed further into the next stages. If you’ve helped them clear all their questions or objections and received a positive response, they should be in a position to move forward. Similarly, if there are objections that need additional attention or clarification post-call, draw out the next course of tasks, ideally with actionable on both parties’ ends.
Unless you leave the call with the next course of action, the deal isn’t going to move forward. Prospects might not follow up with you and ask for directions towards the next steps, which is why you as the salesperson need to initiate it. Draw out a clear roadmap for the rest of the deal during the call with tasks and deadlines, and layout the next steps in the sequence. Ask your prospects if they need clarifications around the same and if they’re ready to move forward with it.
Keep track of progress and conversions
Once you’re out of the call — document everything with regards to the interaction. You need to be able to track the deal and prospects’ engagement along with the rest of the deals in your pipeline. This will enable you to keep a watch on every deal, taking actions on the ones that require attention and are close to the deadlines set for each stage.
If you have a sales engagement platform to manage your outreach activities, you can use in-built reports and analytics there. Once you’ve updated and tagged all of your deals to date, you’ll be able to monitor high-level metrics like bottom-funnel performance and conversions, drop-offs, churn, etc.
Use these metrics to analyze and improve your sales call process. It will help you convert more prospects into customers per cycle. Once you figure out how to get more sales calls, an improved process will enable you to scale your sales revenue more effectively.
The purpose sales calls serve is to nurture, qualify leads and convert users towards the next stages. Once your sales call process is up and running, continuously monitor and tweak it to improve conversions.
As a bonus — we’ll make it easier for you, and list out sales call tips and tricks to improve conversions in the next section.
Bonus: Tips To Increase Sales Call Conversions
Setup a follow-up cadence post-call
As mentioned earlier, prospects are likely to delay or avoid prioritizing the deal’s next steps. This can include, introductions to the decision-makers, or greenlighting a POC (Proof-of-concept). This is going to be a norm across a lot of your deals. This is why it’s important to set up automated email sequences. These sequences will allow you to follow up with your prospects post-call. Follow-ups are known to increase conversion rates. Hence setting these sequences will ensure your prospects move forward with the deal post-call.
You can set up automated follow-up sequences using platforms like SalesHandy to avoid setting up reminders, writing and sending every individual email manually.
Add value before you pitch
Before setting up and scheduling sales calls with your prospects, lead into the conversation with things that will
a) Provide the prospect with value and get their attention
b) Showcase and prove your product’s core value proposition.
By doing so — you’re setting up the conversation to be more engaging, and as a result, convert better. The previous example from Capterra demonstrates this principle perfectly. Essentially offering the prospect to generate free reviews for their product, without asking for anything in return. Not even a call.
Use customer cases and stories
One of the reasons why prospects tend to lose sight of your product’s value proposition has to do with them not being sold on your marketing message. Lack of insight into your product’s core value, combined with low credibility and trust can often turn your prospects cold.
This is where customer stories, testimonials and success stories can help. Positive customer experiences and testimonials impact buying decisions 90% of the time. This sums up the importance of such content and assets in boosting conversions.
Reduce communication turnarounds
Between sales calls and post-call follow-ups, ensure you’re proactively responding to your prospects’ engagement, with minimal turnaround time. Quick communication turnarounds contribute towards a speedy sales cycle, by enabling you to move through stages and tasks quicker. As a result, converting or churning prospects out of your pipeline gets easier.
If possible, enable read receipts on all your prospect communications. It’ll help you keep a track of your prospect’s engagement with your messages. You can then nudge them towards further stages using follow-ups, and better conversions.
Look out for objections
While evaluating your product, prospects might come up with questions and objections with respect to competing products’ pricing, features, etc. Your prospects might be evaluating multiple options. When your product doesn’t show as much promise and value in comparison, objections are bound to come up. Look out for such questions and objections, and solve them to put your prospect’s concerns to rest. Go out of your way to assess and address deeper concerns behind these questions.
Let’s say, a prospect asks for clarifications around your billing and refund policies. If you know these questions might stem from the fact that your reviews mention bad policies, respond accordingly. Address the negative reviews in your response to their objections. This will help you reinforce trust with your prospects. And consequently, easier for them to move further towards closing without objections, and convert quicker.
Leverage warm and mutual connections
When conducting outbound sales, it’s important to remember that your prospects don’t know you well enough. And hence, they’re less likely to trust you right away. This is where mutual connections and rainmakers can help expedite the process. You can find these mutual connections by looking for them through your prospect’s Linkedin.
You can also use other social platforms like Twitter. Look for your acquaintances’ engagement (likes, comments, shares) on your prospect’s profile. Ask them to introduce you to your prospects over emails or social platforms. To make it easier for them, offer to send them templates and scripts for these introductions. Once you’re introduced to your prospect this way — they’re likely to take your deal a bit more seriously. This indirectly results in improved engagement and conversion rates.
Better the sales call conversions, more the sales yield and growth
Sales calls make for one of the most important parts of your lead nurturing process, but they’re tricky. Prospects aren’t interested in getting on sales calls in general. And for the same reason, conversions take a hit and deals drop off.
As we discussed, offering value early on in the conversation helps build the engagement. Once engaged, get the prospect on board for a demo or presentation — essentially a sales call. Along the way, ensure to set deadlines for deal stages, record and document calls, and optimize your process for conversions.
Sales call conversions can be optimized using the same principles as other communications channels. Yes, sales calls are difficult to have scheduled, time-intensive, and non-scalable. So improving the process for conversions will boost the yield of your sales team, and help you grow sustainably.