The Sales Call Planner: Setting the Table, Opening, and Closing

This is part five in this series. It started with determining the purpose of the sales call, moved on to identifying the stakeholders that would be necessary to achieve the outcomes necessary, then covered planning to capture and share information and how to provide enough proof to create or advance an opportunity. You can read these first, or you can dig in here and go back to them as you see fit.

Once you have asked and answered the questions from the posts above, you can start to plan some of the more technical aspects of the sales call. This is important even if you are making a call alone, but it is critical if there are other people from your team joining you on the sales call.

It’s starts with your opening.

Planning the Opening

I have written about how to open a sales call here. I like this formula for opening the sales call. It starts with thanking your dream client for their time, and then you establish your agenda, build in your advance, and invite your client’s collaboration. You can read the post linked above. Here’s a bit more to consider.

First, when planning your opening, you should write a script. This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, just some notes on what you want to say to set the table. You demonstrate your professionalism by sharing your agenda and telling your dream client what you hope the next steps will be. Your dream client expects you to know what you want to accomplish with their time.

Second, if you have some of your team members joining you on a call, then it is important that know what role they are playing. A few minutes of discussion orrehearsal makes a world of difference to how you come off in front of your prospective client. It’s important that you decide who will open the call and who take each part of the sales call. Planning this ahead of time makes the transition from one person to the next smooth and professional.

Finally, it is important to consider your dream client’s needs. Asking them for input on the agenda at the opening of the call can allow you to make changes to your agenda to meet their needs. You may get an answer like, “We were hoping you would be able to talk about how you handle these two issues.” Knowing what they are interested in, you can reply: “We’d be happy to share some of our experiences around those areas. Would it be okay if we asked you some questions first so that we can understand your needs and concerns around this area?” Or maybe, if it’s something really important to your prospective client, you say: “Would you like us to address those two areas first?”

A solid, planned opening sets the table for a productive and successful sales call.

Closing the Sales Call

The formula here is to thank them for their time, review the outcomes that you achieved together during that time, to confirm any commitments that you made, and to confirm your client’s future commitments.

The thank you part is easy. But once you have said thank you it is important to review what you accomplished during your time together. You can start by confirming that you achieved the outcomes that described in your opening. You might say something like, “We have learned a lot about your business and your challenges, and we have enough information to start working on some ideas.”

From there you can move to your commitments: “We will email you some information regarding your questions about the two areas you described tomorrow.” And then you have to ensure that you receive the commitments that you need.

It’s far easier to get agreement on next steps when you are sitting face-to-face with your client. This is true even if your sales call is done over the telephone or using some web conference solution. It’s a mistake to leave a sales call without gaining the commitment you need to move forward (this is responsible for many astalled deal in many a pipeline, and it explains in part why so many salespeople struggle to get their client on the phone for their next appointment).

It’s important that you begin by knowing what commitments you need in order to advance an opportunity. You decide in advance what are the best next steps to advance an opportunity. If you explain during your opening what you hope to accomplish during the sale call and what the next steps should be, you can get an early agreement to taking those steps.

This isn’t all about you. Your dream client expects you to know how to help them, and they expect you to know what that process should look like. They expect you to know what you need from them in order to get them to their desired future.

You have to tell them what the next step is and how it will help you to help them. You have to ask for an obtain the commitment you need, “We believe the next step would be for us to meet with some of your team to get a greater understanding of their needs and how they might need us to work with them. We can do that next Thursday. Does that make sense to you, or does it make more sense to do something else first?”

A Quick Note on Team Calls: If you are making a call with a team, you need to decide who is going to close the sales call. Someone has to be responsible for asking for an obtaining the commitment to take the next step.

Planning your closing of the meeting and asking for the meeting is, like most things, far more effective than winging it.

Questions

What is the most effective way to open a sales call?

How do you set the table to accomplish the goals and objectives of your sales call?

What do you do to ensure that you capture your prospective client’s agenda?

If you are making a team call, how do you divide the sales call responsibilities?

How do you set up the goal with your dream client so as to agree upon what needs to be accomplished before taking the next step?

What do you need to do to professionally close a sales call?

How do you plan to ask for and obtain the commitments that advance your opportunity?

Filed under: Sales 3.0

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