10 Tips for More Productive Sales Calls

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Sales involves the art of connecting with customers and establishing trust, not just being in the right place to offer a product that someone happens to need. You need to convince a prospect that you're a good choice for the long term, too.

This social dynamic of sales means that we can turn to the social sciences to learn what helps establish positive relationships and what is detrimental to them. Here are some proven tips for making your sales pitches more productive.

1. Start Positive And Avoid Negativity

Create a friendly impression by starting every conversation with an upbeat comment or anecdote whenever you begin a sales call, even if it’s just a comment about the weather or a cheerful “Good morning!” It’s the positive feeling that’s important.

Many people have a habit of sharing negative comments in search of sympathy, but this often leaves the listener with a poor first impression. Don’t succumb to the temptation of saying negative things about your competitors. The psychology of the listener is to associate the negativity with your own character rather than who you are talking about.

2. Bring an Agenda and Stick to It

An agenda can help you and your caller to stay on task if you agree to a set of topics or goals at the start. Begin with a polite suggestion to cover one or more points and use that agreement to steer the conversation. When closing, be sure to go over what you’ve covered and any next steps that have been agreed to and follow up afterwards. It won’t just help your prospect feel like a partner; it’ll also help you stay organized.

3. Let Your Prospects Make Their Own Decisions

Losing a customer is not just losing a sale but a revenue stream. Let prospects explore your products and services and find the ones that address their pain points themselves. That discovery process will make them feel like the decision makers, which makes closing easier. Another way to retain their business in the long term is to involve them in a process that crafts a solution to their problems and then sells the resulting solution to them. They’ll feel like they are stakeholders and that satisfaction will translate into brand loyalty.

4. Stand Behind Your Product

A way to excite your prospects about the value of your product is to be excited about it yourself. Learn about the product or service you’re selling and find the selling points that inspire you. Standing behind a product with genuine emotion will inspire the same feelings in your leads when you interact with them, which will in turn influence their decision making.

5. Focus on Value

Find ways to relate the service’s value to the prospect’s specific problems by listening to their concerns and addressing them with your services. This helps them relate to your sales pitch instead of feeling pushed or manipulated. Being able to quantify that value can also help break the ice at the beginning of negotiations. Begin with the rational arguments of ROI and problem-solving before closing with an emotional pitch.

6. Find the Right Questions to Ask

One way to discover how your product or service can be a solution for a lead is to find the right questions to ask early on in a conversation. A couple questions that get to the heart of the prospect’s needs can establish a rapport quickly. It can also minimize the amount of time you need to talk and give the caller more time to express themselves. That’ll give you more opportunity to find ways you can generate the interest needed to move the process forward.

7. Record Calls and Review Them

Just as recording presentations and reviewing them can help you improve your skills in front of an audience, you can increase the effectiveness of your sales pitches by recording sales calls and analyzing what went right and what went wrong. Sometimes during these reviews you’ll recognize the habits you have that could be changed and the good habits that should be reinforced. You’ll also be able to take detailed notes afterward, which will improve your business intelligence and relationship management as you catch details that you missed during the conversation.

8. Ditch the Script

It can be tempting to use a script to keep your message consistent. You may want to plan the questions to ask and points to make ahead of a call. These are good practices, but reading from a script verbatim on the phone will alienate your prospect. Many people find such impersonal methods insulting, and it makes it difficult to make a personal connection. Think of a script as Cliff’s Notes to remind you what you need to cover during a conversation and make it sound natural to your listener.

9. Follow Up Promptly

Following up promptly communicates that you’re trustworthy and genuine in your previous conversations. If you wait too long or forget to follow up, your prospect may take it as a sign of disinterest or sloppiness. Send an email thanking prospects for their time and outline what you had discussed during a meeting or phone conversation. It’s also a good idea to arrange for the next contact with prospects if they are interested in continuing before you hang up. Promising to do it later can feel dismissive and be detrimental to your prospects’ loyalty to your brand.

10. Don’t Take the First “No” for an Answer

If it’s the first contact you’ve made with prospects, they may attempt to disengage immediately as a defensive reaction to your reaching out. If you politely insist they reconsider, you’ll find that sometimes it’ll be enough to keep the conversation alive. Be positive and polite in your approach. Aggressiveness will just drive prospects further away. Have pitches that are relevant to prospects’ businesses ready if they decide to listen, and use personal, trust-building techniques to counter defensiveness.

Managing a sales operation is a demanding task in today’s highly competitive market. Unsolicited contacts are getting the cold shoulder far more than in the past. When you do get prospects, your salespeople need to be able to focus on relationship-building. Phones will always be an important way to communicate long distance, but today’s VoIP and web conferencing technologies can make meetings with leads productive and personal. You can use visual aids and collaborate with online apps while you talk. In today’s collaborative business environment, one of the best ways to bring in sales is to treat your customers like stakeholders in the process.

Claudio Nespeca is the vice president of marketing at Epik Networks and has more than 15 years of experience managing sales and business operations in the technology and telecommunications market. Epik Networks offers cloud-hosted VoIP and fiber optic internet solutions for businesses.

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