20 Tips For The Most Effective & Successful Sales Calls
Sales is an art of establishing trust and making personal connections with customers, not simply offering a product someone happens to need at the right time and place. Salespeople must convince their prospects that they are a good choice for a long-term relationship as well.
To better understand the social aspect of sales, we can look to social science for insights into what helps develop positive relationships between people and what causes relationships to deteriorate.
Below are some tips that have proven to make sales calls more effective.
1. Begin Positive And Avoid Negative Comments
Starting every call with an positive introduction or anecdote creates a good impression, even if it's only an observation about the day or a hearty "Good Morning!" The positive energy it brings to the conversation is what counts.
A habit some people have is to look for sympathy by sharing complaints, but this can have the opposite effect because it often makes a poor first impression for the listener. For example, don't be tempted to badmouth superiors or competitors when you are creating a rapport with a client. Psychology has shown that such negative remarks are often taken as a reflection of the speaker's character rather than person they are about.
2. Stick to Your Agenda
Agendas help both yourself and your prospect stay on topic during a sales call. Start calls with a tactful suggestion about the subjects and goals you want to accomplish and steer the conversation back to that agenda when it strays.
Be sure to summarize what you've covered when closing the call and come to an agreement with your prospect what the next steps will be before hanging up. Just as they help meetings stay focused, agendas can help your calls be more productive.
3. Using a Personal Touch Works
One conclusion that researchers have come to when studying how people make economic decisions is that they are as much motivated by sentiment and personal loyalty as they are by rational arguments.
Explaining the value of your product and how it can improve your lead's life or business can get your foot in the door, but it's a personal touch that will often close a deal. Pay attention to a prospect's emotions during your conversations and take note of what generates positive reactions. Above all, work to establish personal trust in your relationship with them.
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4. Review Your Sales Calls
Another way to improve your effectiveness is to record sales calls for you to review afterward. In the same way, recording presentations can help you notice ways to improve your communication skills, reviewing sales calls can help you become aware of habits that could be changed and strengths in your technique that can be reinforced.
Reviewing calls afterward is also an opportunity to note any details you didn't catch while you were on the call.
5. Let Customers Make Decisions Themselves
One of the best ways to convert prospects into repeat customers is to let them explore your services and find the products that are most relevant to their needs.
They know their own pain points and requirements better than anyone else, after all. The process of discovery helps customers feel empowered and more comfortable, which makes it more likely they will make future purchases.
You can also retain customers for longer-term relationships by involving them directly in crafting the solutions to their problems, then selling them the product or service that results. They walk away feeling like a partner of your business instead of a one-time sale.
6. Get Excited About Your Products
A sure way to get prospects excited about your products is to get excited yourself. Study your products and find the strongest selling points that they have for a prospect.
When you stand behind a product with genuine enthusiasm, it will inspire similar excitement in the leads you interact with. That, in turn, will give you the influence you need to guide their decision-making process.
7. Make Value Your Focus
Relating to prospects the value of your services to their particular business problems is a good way to make them feel understood. When you listen to their concerns and show them how your services are relevant, it will help prospects relate to your pitch rather than feeling pushed into a sale.
Break the ice with hard numbers that quantify the service's value when you begin negotiations, then follow up the economic arguments with problem-solving and an emotional closer.
8. Phase Out Cold Calling
As technology and culture have changed, cold calling has become more and more futile. The small return on the effort can make it simply uneconomical as a sales strategy, but there are ways to mitigate this problem.
Social media, websites, and business intelligence can combine to make cold calls warmer. Research the pain points of prospects before you contact them and use what you discover to make the first phone conversations more personalized. Your new prospects will feel less defensive if you show up with solutions to the problems they are struggling with.
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9. Do Your Homework
By the same token as the previous point, it pays to do your homework with each prospect during phone conversations. Treat them like a research project, taking notes and probing the background of their business needs.
Give them more time to talk and listen to them carefully. You'll learn what you need to know to advance the process and make the negotiations more personalized. Most clients will appreciate that you remember their needs and interests the next time you meet, and you’ll be better equipped to steer them to the products or services that will solve their problems.
10. Ask the Right Questions
Discovering the ways you can solve a lead's problems with your products is a major step towards making a sale. Asking the right questions early in an initial sales call can get to the heart of your lead's business needs and establish the rapport needed to continue negotiations.
It'll also reduce the time you spend talking and give your lead more time to explain their situation, which allows you the opportunity to discover a way to capture their interest and move the process forwards.
11. Ask Why, And Get Comfortable With Silence
Prospect often respond with an objection as a reflex, without giving much thought to the objection. They can get overwhelmed with the proposed offer or change that the product was intended to bring about.
When a prospect objects to your sales pitch, reiterate the pain points you identified, and then just ask them why they’re objecting. It forces the prospect to give the objection some thought.
For this to work, you need to be comfortable waiting for them to elaborate in silence. Once you get them talking, just be quiet. Let them continue to speak, and you’ll find that most times the prospect will simply talk themselves out of their own objection.
12. Give Customers Positive Labels
A psychological trick that often works to influence people is to tell them what you want them to do by complimenting them. This can be done by giving them a label that expresses what you'd like them to be in your relationship with them. This can create some influence if the relationship is on good terms.
For salespeople, this can mean telling a customer that they are a "great customer" or that they are one of your company's "best customers," even if they aren't. They will feel a desire to live up to your assessment, and that can influence their decisions.
13. Don't Read Directly from a Script
Scripts are useful for organizing your pitches and keeping them consistent from call to call. It's a good idea to plan the questions and points about your products that you need to make during a call.
Reading directly from a script, however, is a practice that alienates prospects. Many people find it to be impersonal and demeaning, which creates a barrier to establishing a personal connection. Instead, treat scripts as guidelines or reminders that you reference during a call.
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14. Avoid Giving Upfront Quotes
One of the traps salespeople sometimes find themselves caught in is what's known as column fodder. Prospects and leads will sometimes ask for quotes at the outset because they are looking for a lower price point to use during negotiations with one of your competitors.
There's also the danger of making blind promises that turn out to be unrealistic. Avoid giving out quotes early on in a conversation before you know all the details of a deal. That way you can discover how interested the prospect is and work to increase their interest if they aren’t.
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15. Don't Hesitate to Send a Follow-Up
Prompt follow-ups are a great way to demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in building a relationship with a prospect and that you are trustworthy. Hesitating too long before following up can cause you to forget it completely or procrastinate too long, which can be taken as a sign of disinterest.
After a call, send an email to thank prospects for the time they spent with you and summarize the key points or next steps that were agreed upon. It can also be a good practice to set a date and time for the next meeting or call before ending a sales call if the prospect is interested in moving forwards. It can seem dismissive if you fail to do this and then wait too long to reconnect.
16. Don't Make Blind Promises
It's tempting to promise things to a prospect before you know whether they can be fulfilled or not because you want to keep the process in motion. The problem is that sometimes what you're promising may be a key feature or condition to the prospect, and they'll hold you to it down the line.
Blind promises can put you in a position that will lead to disappointment. Not only may the prospect not get the product they were hoping for, but your production department may be put in a difficult situation. It's always best to admit when you're not sure about something and follow up with the prospect once you get a definitive answer.
17. Address Your Customers by Name
A great way to add a personal touch to any conversation is to address your listener by name as soon as you learn it. Most people are impressed and feel more of a connection to you because of this simple practice.
Many of us have difficulty remembering a name the first time we meet someone, so it makes a good impression that you’re respectful and interested in the prospect’s needs as the conversation continues. It’s one of the ways you can separate yourself from the pack in a prospect’s mind.
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18. Storify Your Sales Pitches
Technical information, facts, and ROI numbers are a good way to back up rational arguments for the value of your service to a prospect, but many people respond emotionally to stories that they can relate to in their personal experience.
Stories are also a great way to communicate difficult concepts metaphorically, as most trainers and instructors can attest to. Making stories part of your sales pitch can develop a personal connection with your leads by making your conversations enjoyable.
19. Don't Be Discouraged by the First "No"
Many prospects may feel defensive during initial contact, especially if it's a cold call, and they may want to disengage quickly. Often if you insist politely that they reconsider, it will keep the conversation going.
It's important, though, to be respectful and positive in your tone. Being aggressive in that situation will cause the prospect to end the call faster. If you have a pitch prepared that's applicable to their business, they may decide to listen. Use personal, trust-reinforcing tactics to counter their defensiveness.
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20. Always Keep Your Door Open
When a prospect insists on ending a conversation, be sure to give them every opportunity to reach out again or arrange a better time to talk. In many cases, it really is just a bad time for the conversation on their end. Politely ask if you can reach out again and when a good time would be before ending a conversation. You have nothing to lose in these situations, and sometimes giving a prospect the opportunity to reconsider in the future will pay off. They may not be interested now, but things may change, and they’ll have your contact information if they want to give you another chance.
Sales and marketing have become more demanding in the increasingly competitive market we find ourselves today. Cold calling continues to get the cold shoulder from leads as existing business relationships and social media networking become the sales channels of choice. This is why it's important to understand the social science behind building long-lasting relationships with customers and creating new ones with prospects.
In the collaborative environment that has developed in recent years, treating customer relationships like partnerships is the key to long-term success. One way to do this is by leveraging technologies like VoIP and video conferencing to add visual aids and online collaborative tools to your calls. When your customers become stakeholders in the products they buy, it becomes a win-win situation for both of you.