How To Prepare For a Sales Call

Preparing For The Sales Call

There are very few sales professionals who enjoy making cold calls. Even making phone sales pitches to known customers is a challenge for many salespeople. Cold calling can be particularly for those who struggle with the lack of personal contact available in a face-to-face sales meeting.

 The reality is that with expanding sales territories and less budget for travel, most companies are requiring their sales professionals to spend more time using the phone and online technologies as opposed to person to person meetings with customers.

 The good news is that techniques, strategies, and approaches to successful sales calls are something that can be easily learned and mastered. Like any type of sales process, there are things that the sales professional must do to prepare for the sales call. Strategically prepare for the sales call by keeping these key factors in mind.

Related Reading  4 Cold Calling Scenes From Movies That Will Inspire You To Make The Sale

Strategic Sales Call Preparation

One of the key factors to keep in mind is that a cold call should never be a call to an unknown entity. There is enough online information to have a basic idea about the size of the company, what it produces or the services it offers, and what products or services you are selling that can solve a problem they are experiencing.

This does take prep work, but it is not long or tedious work. Ideally, when doing your due diligence on the company and the individual, jot down a few notes that you can keep in front of you during the call.

Related Reading How To Sell Strategically

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Keys to Mental Preparation

If you are dialing a phone number and you are stressed, distracted, unhappy, unmotivated or frustrated from the last call, this will set the tone of the first words you speak. A flat tone of voice and lack of passion and belief in making the sales call can easily persuade the customer to end the conversation. Once the prospect senses you are not interested, he or she is not interested either.

Take a minute or two and disengage from any negativity you may be experiencing. Take a couple of deep breaths, close your eyes, and visualize a winning sales call. Play a mental movie of just what you are going to do. Build your confidence up, and get mentally prepared with a positive and energetic outlook about the opportunity to have this conversation. If you feel more energetic with a quick physical activity break, take a walk, step to the window and look outside, and just give yourself a minute to come back to a calm, composed mental state.

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Next, be sure to have your written notes easily visible, either on your desk or have the CRM page, spreadsheet, or document open and visible on your computer. Also, be sure all the specs and technical information, if applicable, is right at your fingertips, so you are not hunting around if there is a request for more information.

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The Benefits of a Great Sales Playbook

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What Can A Great Sales Playbook Do For Your Team?

For sales leaders, a great sales playbook provides clarity around the most critical aspects of running a high-performing sales team. You can’t vacillate on your sales methodology or be wishy-washy on what makes a qualified lead when you’ve put it in writing for your organization. To be more clear about the importance of a great sales playbook, here are several little-known facts:

  • “Best in Class” sales teams (top 20%) are more than twice as likely to deploy sales playbooks compared to Laggards (bottom 30%).
  • Research by the Aberdeen Group reveals that 54% of salespeople using Sales Playbooks are likely to meet their sales target versus just 46% when no Playbook is available to the sales team.
  • The average Selling Price increases 3.9% when using playbooks because you transition from selling a product to selling a solution.

A great sales playbook can increase performance and efficiency by allowing for faster onboarding, more effective sales training, and skill development. Great sales playbooks support team culture, promote repeatable processes. A great sales playbook can identify gaps in your sales, marketing, and product by highlighting why opportunities are not progressing in the pipeline.

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When executed properly, sales playbooks can have a tremendous impact on your revenues, sales efficiencies, and profits. Sales playbooks create healthy interactions between Sales, Sales Engineering, Services, Product Management, and Marketing. Using it as a starting point, these units will be better able to work together to systematically review assumptions, discuss where opportunities lie and distill best practices.

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Watch any team sport and someone on the sidelines has a playbook in their hands. The coaches and players have worked continuously on this book since the beginning of the season focusing on executing their plays flawlessly. Sometimes, things don’t go the way they had planned, but they don’t just throw out the whole book.

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Players and coaches review the plays they’ve run during time-outs and half-time and make whatever adjustments they deem necessary. They try again and make further adjustments continuing the process until the play is successful. Top teams’ playbooks are living, breathing documents that they work on and practice every single day. Follow their example with the way you approach your playbook, and your sales team will be well on its way to new heights!

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5 Defining Characteristics of a Winning Sales Culture

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Defining a Winning Sales Culture

Defining the characteristics of a winning sales culture is very important. Unfortunately, many companies fall short in this area and mandate a revenue or quota objective as the single success characteristic. While increasing sales by 12% in a specific time frame is concrete and easy to understand, it is not motivational, and it is highly unlikely to get buy-in from the sales team.

Even offering incentives such as cash bonuses, trips or other tangibles only has limited impact as they only apply to those sales reps with the ability to meet those sales levels. In other words, these types of motivators only motivate those already reaching top sales levels.

These types of competitions completely discourage and de-motivate the lower performing salespeople, which is the group that most needs to buy into a positive sales culture. By motivating and engaging these individuals and the top-performing salespeople, a team sees amazing results and results drive positive cultural changes when everyone is involved.

Several factors need to be considered in making positive culture changes. These are not in any particular order, and it is very likely that throughout the journey some of these factors may be refined, improved or modified as the team moves toward reaching the vision. Here are 5 defining characteristics of a winning sales culture.

Great Communication

Thinking about how to communicate your vision and your understanding of the current and future sales team culture is a critical point in involving the team. It is essential to have a clear message that is not confusing, and that does not change daily. Knowing what you want and how you are going to demonstrate or manifest these changes in how you work within the team is essential for the sales manager and is one of the most important characteristics that define a winning sales culture.

Taking the time to be clear in this message and the method of communication makes it easy for your team to recognize the goals, the specific elements of a positive and winning sales team and the benefits to them in bringing about this change. And most important, your actions cannot conflict with your communications. You can’t say one thing and do another. You can’t step out of your culture when in crisis. This is when your actions must be dictated by your culture.

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Amazing Sales Cadence

Executives who create winning sales teams never stop focusing on the progress that is occurring and where the team is in relation to the vision or the goal. They also do not minimize the importance of a positive sales culture. They make it a top agenda item at weekly and monthly meetings, and Quarterly Business Reviews, to ensure everyone on the team is comfortable with the progress being made and to obtain feedback regarding modifications or alternative options to explore to reach the vision or goal. It is also essential to integrate your CRM tools to reflect your vision so you can measure your progress.

Team Building Events

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While team building exercises are not always convenient or possible, a key characteristic of a winning sales culture is that they always find ways for the team to get to know each other. It is also necessary to include those that are not part of the core sales team but where there is commonly more friction such as field marketing, and professional services.

These events should be natural and unforced, and often asking the team for ideas on things they might like to do outside of the corporate setting is a great way to develop this type of team interaction. Many companies are using gamification tools now to increase engagement. Other common suggestions are to volunteer as a team to sponsor a local charity or non-profit or other similar types of activities. This is less about work and more about getting to know each other outside of the office.

Internal Mentoring

New team members or those who are struggling can be paired with collaborative, productive and experienced sales professionals on the team. This is great for the experienced salesperson as it provides recognition of their skills, and it allows them to be in the “coaching/mentoring” role.

It also benefits the salesperson as they have someone to ask questions and to model their sales techniques after who has proven success. There is a third benefit to this option as well. Winning sales cultures utilize internal mentoring to help draw the team closer and prevent the challenge of distinct factions forming within a team that can derail your progress and limits the ability to make sustained cultural changes.

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Sales Manager As a Coach

A significant cultural change for winning sales teams is in the role of the sales manager. This individual must be actively engaged as the executive sponsor to lead the top 20% of the opportunities to closure. It doesn’t mean they lead the sales cycles. However, by playing an active role in the sales cycle, they can coach the salesperson and address issues very early in the game to ensure success.

Read Related Article : 10 Benefits of Sales Coaching

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Creating a positive, winning sales culture is an ongoing process. Continual training and development, having management involved and developing sales managers who are coaches are just the starting points of turning a sales team around. If your company doesn’t have a sales culture that everyone understands, you may have an identity crisis on your hands. Your sales team doesn’t have a clear direction or core values to help guide it into the future. There are plenty of distractions in your day to day life. But, if not now, when? Moreover, it has to start with you as the sales leader.

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4 Keys To Creating a Winning Sales Culture

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What Are The Keys To Creating a Winning Sales Culture?

One of the biggest mistakes that many businesses make is failing to invest in developing a formal sales culture. Just hiring the best sales professional and using experienced sales managers only achieves a limited short-term amount of success if the underlying culture is not sales oriented. Sales leaders must ensure that the company sales culture is designed to build on positive behaviors, habits, and values that promote long-term success and produce measurable results. Understanding the keys to creating a winning sales culture and building on your sales team’s unique capabilities and strengths will streamline sales performance and improve efficiency.

Critical Components of Creating a Winning Sales Culture

There are several critical components to consider in developing a healthy, positive and winning sales culture. By ensuring these basics are in place, the rest of the process is more natural and more effective.

1) So Goes the Leader, So Goes the Culture

Creating a winning sales culture starts at the top. It begins with a Mission Statement that reflects the character of the organization accompanied by a shared vision that is metrics-based and that can be measured and quantified. It is typically and most effectively created by the Head of Sales with the support of the executive management team.

While it is possible to work just within a single sales division, changing the culture in one division can be difficult if it doesn’t align with the overall company-wide sales culture. Alignment in cultures across divisions will more effectively leverage common processes and a consistent commitment to the changes that are being encouraged.

Without Senior Leadership involvement and commitment, the gains may be minimal because there are often limitations, restrictions, or challenges that are above the sales manager’s ability to resolve or to remove. Executive Leadership buy-in ensures these factors do not negatively impact the process either now or in the future.

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Read Related Article: Sales Leadership 3.0

2) Ensure There Is a Clear, Unified Vision in Place

Not only does the Head of Sales and their direct reports need to understand the vision for a successful and positive sales culture, but this also has to be shared with the entire sales organization as well as the company.

Think of this as a shared value or understanding of what the team is there to do. When this shared vision is in place, the team can more effectively make changes that bring about success by doing things that are based on this clear vision. Additionally, when the individuals, managers, and executives are all pulling in the same direction, there is greater synergy and focus, bringing about results that often exceed even the projected objectives.

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3) Understand the Processes That Are Required

If you don’t know where you’re going, you won’t know when you get there. Babe Ruth said something similar “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” The point is changing the sales culture requires both a clear vision of the destination and an understanding of where the starting point is in the journey and the steps along the way.

Without knowing what needs to be changed to bring about the vision or the desired winning sales culture, the team can quickly become frustrated, confused and even exasperated with what may seem like random changes that have no logical foundation or end goal.

By acknowledging and defining your starting point and your desired vision for a positive, winning sales culture, the processes used become clear to get from where you are today to where you want to be. These processes may include changing your sales methodology, how you support clients, or even how you define success and winning as a team.

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4) Provide the Resources Needed

Creating change in a sales organization’s culture may require a range of different resources. Consultants, advisors, facilitators, and even specialized team coaches can all be part of the resources a sales team chooses to use to move the process forward in a team environment. These third parties can help you define your mission and vision statement.

Their services may include training sales managers to be coaches or to develop a mentor or peer-support process within the team or the company. Be prepared to invest to get the right people on board and continuing education. Organizations that are engaged in active and ongoing learning are more open to trying new things and less resistant to change. Look at technologies that support your sales culture, motivate the sales team, and strengthen your customer relationships.

Read Related Article : How Successful Sales People Grow

The key to creating a winning sales culture lies in developing sales leaders that can guide and steer the team towards their goals. Great sales leaders have the ability to rally and inspire others to come together. Encouraging others to learn and grow their professional careers while carrying out the organization’s goals and vision is conducive to creating a winning sales culture that will improve the longevity of your business.

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Winning Sales Cultures Have Great Sales Leadership

The key to creating a winning sales culture lies in developing sales leaders that can guide and steer the team towards their goals. Great sales leaders have the ability to rally and inspire others to come together. Encouraging others to learn and grow their professional careers while carrying out the organization’s goals and vision is conducive to creating a winning sales culture that will improve the longevity of your business.

Want To Learn More Sales Strategies?

If you would like more tips on how to succeed in your professional sales career, contact us for more information!

How To Establish an Effective Sales Playbook

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What Difference Can an Effective Sales Playbook Make?

Think about sales “teams” you’ve been around in the past that have not adhered to an established sales playbook. Each salesperson uses their own methodologies and processes and every time they lose a deal to the competition or a no-decision, everyone points fingers at each other instead of identifying the root cause. Without this process, there is no sharing of information that will allow the rest of the team to avoid repeat mistakes. Continue reading “How To Establish an Effective Sales Playbook”