During the COVID-19 pandemic, many distributors have had to rethink the way they operate. Without being able to visit prospects and connect with customers in person, field sales reps especially may be struggling with new ways of doing things.
As we’ve written in our recent articleson selling value internally and engaging with customers on value rather than price, more than competing on price or feature alone, successful sales today are about listening to your customers’ challenges and bringing them products and services that match their particular needs.
These are tough times, and customers are seeking support to improve efficiency and make their lives easier. The good news is, there’s an opportunity to provide that, even if not in person. A sales call guide can be a useful tool to help salespeople connect with prospects and ensure they are firing on all cylinders with every interaction, whether in person or virtually.
What is a sales call guide?
Sales call guides are used when you want to ensure you hit all the important points and make a great impression. A sales call guide can help you plan your call strategy, whether you are visiting a prospect or customer in person or jumping on Zoom. It’s not a script, but rather an outline to help you remember all the points you want to cover. It’s a guide, giving you questions to ask along the way.
Here are a few key considerations when creating a call guide:
- Know the purpose of the call. Why are you calling? What are your goals for the call?
- Know who you are planning to contact. Google the company to find out more about the organization’s leadership. You can often get the names and phone numbers of key contacts right on the company’s website. If you can find a name, look them up on LinkedIn to learn more about their position and work history.
- Plan your introduction. Think about how you will introduce yourself to whoever answers the phone — an executive assistant, perhaps — and how you will ask for the person you want to reach. Also think about how you’ll introduce yourself to your contact. How will you grab their attention?
- Write the probing questions you want to ask. Your goal is to get the contact talking. Have your questions written out ahead of time so you can easily follow up and dive deeper during the conversation. A probing question doesn’t have a quick and easy Yes or No answer.
- Get clear on the customer benefits you want to cover. Your call should be directed at the customer and how your services benefit them directly.
- Plan a compelling voice mail message. It’s not uncommon to get your prospect’s voicemail. What hook will you use? How will you get the prospect to remember you and possibly give you a call back?
Include the following in your sales call guide:
Make an impression
Sometimes, simply reaching the person you need to speak with is the biggest challenge. Here are a few tips for successfully contacting the person you need to reach.
- Do your research first. Look up your contact on LinkedIn first and reach out there before calling. Position yourself as an expert in their industry and talk about how you’ve helped other companies like theirs save money or become more efficient. If you have an email address, send an email before calling, then reference the email when you call.
- Be respectful and friendly with the gatekeeper. Introduce yourself, listen carefully, take your time and make that person feel important. This is a good relationship to nurture. Don’t sell to them. Instead, be clear about whom you want to reach. Start at the top, such as the Vice President of Purchasing; chances are, the gatekeeper will talk with their team and pave the way for your call. If your primary contact is not available, ask for their voicemail.
- When you reach your contact, be confident and courteous. Always ask the prospect if it is a good time to talk. Speak with confidence, but don’t be pushy. Have your introduction planned out. Think about how you have helped customers in the past. What cost savings have you provided? How have you made customers more efficient? Work these things into your introduction.
Get the customer talking
The goal of your call is to get your customer talking. After all, it benefits you to learn as much as you can about their business, their challenges, their goals and their successes so that you can become an integral part of the equation.
Part of this involves asking probing questions. These are specific, targeted questions that move beyond simple “yes” or “no” answers to really get a feel of the customer’s role, their pain points, their communication preferences and their role in the decision-making process.
Here are some examples of probing questions:
- Tell me about your business.
- What is your role there?
- What products and services do you typically purchase for your business?
- What challenges are you encountering within your business?
- How do you typically grow your business?
Plan to talk only 10% of the time and listen for the other 90% of the time. Focus on “active” listening, and don’t try to solve the first pain point you hear. Stay focused on what the prospect is saying so you don’t miss any opportunities.
Don’t wait to start helping
If you can, start helping right away. Give your prospect advice or insight without asking for anything in return. Offer ideas that can help the prospect be more efficient and save money.
If you have some case studies developed for your company’s past work, share them as an example of the kind of work you could do for this prospect. Include those examples in your call guide so that you have them ready to share.
Wrap up the call
When you’re ready to wrap up the call, determine next steps. Will there be a next call? What will that be about? Consider any final information you need, and determine action items for once you hang up. Action items may include:
- Adding or updating contact information in CRM. Be sure you have the latest information about your contact saved in your CRM tool so you’re not searching for it later.
- Save your notes. Note the key points of your call in the CRM and set your strategy for the next call. You likely won’t remember everything you talked about, so be sure to enter your notes soon after you hang up.
- Send a follow-up email. If you were able to get email addresses, be sure to send a follow-up email to thank the prospect for their time, and include any other information or resources you may have promised.
A call guide is a useful template for reaching out to new prospects or existing customers. It helps keep you focused, ask the right questions and learn more about how you can better serve your customers. In short, it’s a good way to make sure you are providing value with every interaction.
Learn more about creating a call guide or get customized assistance by contacting us today.