We’ve all experienced great sales calls and not so great sales calls. Have you ever asked yourself, what are the best practices of a successful customer sales call? I did a search on this topic and found so many different variations that it inspired to share what I’ve seen work well for successful sales professionals. Here are some sales call best practices from planning to post meeting feedback you can immediately apply to your business:
1) Plan the Meeting No one wants to walk into a meeting without an agenda with clear goals and expected outcomes. Create an agenda that is shared with your “champion” before the meeting. It’s important to align on expectations, timing, and focus. Get their feedback. The best thing that can happen is they tell you the meeting agenda is wrong and you work together to create a better one for them. Be clear on what will be covered and what won’t be covered. Don’t try and do too much. If the meeting is scheduled for 60 minutes, plan for a 30 minute agenda. Ask yourself: “what do you hope to get out of the sales call?”
Tip: Share agenda with customer before the meeting
2) Prepare the Team Getting everyone on your team on the same page is critical to a meeting’s success. Make sure everyone knows where you are in the sales cycle, who is attending and as much as you can about their backgrounds. Besides what you know about their business from your own discovery, there is so much available on Linkedin, Twitter, InsideView, and other social channels. Do your research and share your findings with the extended team. Set up a briefing call with your meeting participants to get them on the same page as you.
Tip: Always connect on Linkedin with prospects before or after a meeting
3) Probe Customer Issues Always be listening and learning. Be just as curious about your customer business issues and their decision-making processes. Ask open-ended questions and avoid closed ended questions. Keep your customer’s talking. Make their business issues and priorities the focal point of the meeting.
Tip: Take notes knowing you’ll need to summarize the meeting in real-time
4) Playback What You Heard At the right point in the meeting, do a time check with the customer and then summarize what you heard. I appreciate the Challenger was of probing, but be respectful when you playback what you heard. You’re here to help. Validate what you heard and use their words. Quantify it with real metrics and numbers they shared during your discovery. Focus on their timelines not your end of month or end of year.
Tip: Use this part of the meeting to demonstrate you were listening not that your product is great.
5) Post Meeting Summary Notes In a timely manner, capture the notes and send them to your customer. Keep them concise and precise. Sending them out the same day or the next day is best. Anything longer than that and you’ll lose momentum. Focus the note on how you will solve their challenges. Hone in on the financial implications and quantifiable benefits.
Tip: Send it out in a format that best suits your customer.
Parting Advice: If five minutes have gone by in the meeting after the start and you’re still talking, stop talking, and ask your customer a question.
The next time your managers sit down with their teams have them review the basics of sales call planning. A little bit of sales coaching will go a long way in helping to boost quota attainment. Execution matter. Flawless execution happens with the right sales coaching reinforced by front-line sales managers.
Click here for a Sales Coaching Guide for Managers.