11 Quick Fixes for More Effective Sales Calls

In this Sales B12™ episode, Caryn and Jack discuss 11 ways to create sales conversations that avoid missed opportunities, which happens more frequently than it should. They share their perspectives on the ideal sales call structure, how sellers and sales leaders can uncover new opportunities and grow a robust pipeline filled with the right opportunities.

Here are the quick fixes for more effective sales calls:

  1. Avoid These 3 Common Prospect Meeting Mistakes
  2. Ask 2 High-Gain Questions
  3. Never Have a Prospect Meeting Without a Purpose
  4. Leverage Trust, Likability, and Information
  5. Implement the 4 Essential Criteria for a Great Sales Call
  6. How 3 Minutes of Prep Can Lead to $3 Million in Sales
  7. Block Time for Follow-Up
  8. Leave Time to Close Up for Next Steps
  9. Get Your Prospect’s Cell Phone Number
  10. 5 Ways Sales Leaders Can Facilitate Successful Prospect Meetings
  11. 2 Tools to Create a Better Sales Call Structure

Watch the video or scan the formatted transcript for some great insights and reminders about how to move sales forward through better conversations.

Caryn: Hi, this is Caryn Kopp and Jack Daly, and we’re here for the Sales B12 episode. This is the one dose of sales you don’t want to miss. Today we’re talking about how to create the most successful sales call structure. Jack, take it away.

1. Avoid These 3 Common Prospect Meeting Mistakes

Well, first of all, it’s good to see you again, Caryn, and we’re getting a tremendous response in the marketplace to these Sales B12’s. So, you and the Kopp Door Openers are incredible at getting meetings for your clients. So what are most people doing wrong when it comes to prospecting for meetings?

Caryn (00:46): This is our 24th year in business, and we get our clients in the door with their prospects for the executive level meetings. In the beginning, we would send our clients to the meetings alone. Over time now, especially because most of these prospect meetings are via Zoom, our senior Door Opener will join in with our clients to ensure the meetings go well.

(1:16) Even senior-level business developers don’t always do the right things to structure the sales call in a way that produces the best result. Here are a few common gaps that slow down pipeline development.

  1. First of all, sellers don’t always meet with the right people. A lot of meetings doesn’t necessarily translate into the right meetings. Sellers have to meet with the right people.
  2. Too often, sellers don’t get the second meeting on the first meeting. They have to ask for that second meeting to get it. They have to deliver enough value to the prospect so the prospect wants the next meeting. Sometimes they don’t do that.
  3. Finally, sellers don’t always ask the best questions, and sometimes they don’t ask any questions at all. Better questions elicit better responses from prospects and these better responses helps sellers uncover better opportunities.  (2:24)

2. Ask 2 High-Gain Questions

One of the questions sellers should ask is:

  1. “What’s your role here?”

Sometimes sellers forget to ask that. And just researching somebody’s role doesn’t really tell you what they do.  Here’s what happens when you DON’T dig deeper: (02:36) We had one client who was meeting with a prospect, and they thought that prospect had responsibility for one area, but actually, had responsibility for six areas. The conversation was a productive conversation, but it wasn’t the best conversation. If the seller had only asked, “What’s your role here?” he would have uncovered significantly more.   I also suggest that sellers ask:

  1. “If everything we talk about is nirvana for you, what’s the road to us working together? What paperwork needs to be signed and who else needs to be involved? And that way, there are no surprise decision makers at the end who come in and put the kibosh on the sale.

I can go on and on, but these are some things I see go wrong, where sellers may misuse time spent with prospects and don’t get as far as they could.

3. Never Have a Prospect Meeting Without a Purpose

Jack (03:23): Caryn, I’m going to jump in on this because one of my axioms that I’ve talked about for over two decades is very simply put, never make a call without a purpose. The meeting can’t be going well if you can’t articulate before the meeting even takes place; what are you trying to achieve? And as you said earlier, sometimes the purpose of the first meeting is to get a second meeting, period.

Caryn (04:01): If you start with that end in mind, you’ll build the conversation to get to that outcome.

The other thing that many people forget about is what the prospect wants out of this meeting. Not just what do you want, but what does the prospect want? And then to make sure that you give that to them.

What do you tell sellers in terms of how to structure the conversations? How do you coach them, Jack?

4. Leverage Trust, Likability, and Information

Jack (04:23): People are asking me all the time, especially since I’m older than just about everybody in my audience these days, “How have sales changed today from selling 10 years ago, or 20 years ago, etc.?” And I say, “It’s changed dramatically and hasn’t changed at all.”

Things that haven’t changed:

  1. Selling the transfer of trust; people do business with people they trust. That was true 20 years ago. It’s even more true today.
  2. People do business with people they like and tend to like people who are more like them. That was true 20 years ago. It’s still true.

What has changed:

But one of the biggest changes we’ve seen is technology and leveraging technology. (05:17) The things a salesperson spends their time on shouldn’t be what we spent our time on 10 and 15 years ago. So much of that can be leveraged in terms of leveraging social media, websites and all of that. For more on that, listen to the  Sales B12 episode, Business Development Strategies Working in Today’s Sales Environment.

5. Implement the 4 Essential Criteria for a Great Prospect Meeting

So I’m going to knock out four very quick bullet points on what I am recommending in terms of uncovering the best opportunities.

  1. The first of four things is this, hold off on doing presentations; look, I watch salespeople on the first call open up their laptops and start taking a prospect through their PowerPoint presentation. I’ll throw you out of the building for that. You haven’t made a diagnosis! You don’t even know if there’s a need, and you’re giving me a canned presentation not tailored to me, and that just violates everything about me. (06:14) You haven’t earned the right to make a presentation, in my opinion, on a first call.
  2. The second thing is to do your homework. You should be able to come in prepared today compared to 10 years ago or 20 years ago. A plethora of information is available about the company and decision-makers you’re meeting with. What a strategic advantage to the salesperson, the seller who does their homework!
  3. The third thing is to prepare your questions before you get there and rehearse them, practice! What are the best questions based on the purpose of the meeting? What are you trying to achieve? Let’s figure out the questions before we get there. Rather than reacting to the prospect, be a proactive person.
  4. And then the fourth suggestion that is just to stop selling! People do not want to be sold; help them to buy; help them with whatever their pain is; that’s the key. And your question should be all about uncovering the pain.

So I just teed up generalities. (7:37) Now, Caryn, I’m going to give it back to you. How do sellers become better prepared on the call?

Caryn (07:45): Well, that’s a great point. And there are a couple of key things that sellers need to do.

6. How 3 Minutes of Prep Can Lead to $3 Million in Sales

The first and probably most important step to a great sales call is to block time on your calendar for preparation and then block time for follow-up. So many people are now going from Zoom meeting to Zoom meeting, back-to-back – myself included. But if you are doing that, you have to set time aside for preparation, or it will not get done.

I like to say three minutes of preparation can lead to 3 million dollars of actual sales. And that’s a true story, by the way. I sat with a client once while she put the final touches on a contract for a new client. She said, “Let’s just email it.”

I said, “Why? Let’s present it to them. And, instead of just presenting the year long contract they requested, let’s present a 3 year option as well! I exclaimed.

“You’re crazy; they’ll never go for that,” she replied.

“Start with the end in mind,” I stated.

Why would the prospect say yes to a $3 million contract after requesting a $1 million? My client and I came up with “why they would do that”, made that presentation, and they said yes to the $3 million!

Had we not set time aside to do that preparation, the idea of asking for $3 million would never have even come up(9:10)

7. Block Time for Follow-Up

Also, set time aside, of course, to make sure that you’re following up within a reasonable timeframe.

Jack(09:22): Caryn, let me interrupt. Sorry, I’m interrupting your flow, but I can’t let it go. Look, this point about follow-up, let me put it in this context.

Companies and people are investing a tremendous amount of money and time at trade shows, yet the overwhelming majority of sellers staffing the booths have little to no follow-up. It’s horrific, and the speed at which you follow up is essential.

  • Time kills all deals.
  • And if you want to differentiate yourself from the marketplace, be quicker than your competition on follow-up.

So blocking time for follow-up was a terrific tip from your point.

8. Leave Time to Close Up for Next Steps

Caryn (10:18): Another tip is, really watch the time during your meeting. People often don’t manage their time well during the course of a conversation. If you have 30 minutes for the meeting by minute number 23, you need to start closing up for the next steps and get a date and time for the next meeting. Minute number 23, or you may not get the next steps and a date and time. If what you want out of that meeting is the next meeting, make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the time.

What to say to transition to the close of the conversation: No matter where you are in that conversation, you say, “I’m watching the time for you; we have about seven minutes to go. Let’s pick another time to continue the conversation. How is Thursday at 10?”

Get the time set. And you can always go back to the conversation if you want to. Don’t assume people can go beyond 30 minutes, especially now that these meetings are virtual.

Jack (11:09): Caryn, in California today, it’s two o’clock in the afternoon, and I have been on Zoom calls or regular phone calls, and I’ve had about eight so far today. Every single one of them starts with this statement. “I have X amount of minutes allocated for this call, and we must be very conscious because I’m jumping onto something else soon after that.” And so setting the parameter so the prospect understands what we have in front of us makes it flow much more efficiently.

9. Get Your Prospect’s Cell Phone Number

Caryn (11:46): Absolutely, (11:47) and here’s a tip: when you set a meeting, ensure you get the person’s cell phone number. You can tell them, “Look, in case the technology fails, let’s exchange cell phone numbers.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, technology was failing. Now, it doesn’t fail all that often, but when you have the cell phone number, you also have permission to use it. So if you’re on the Zoom line and somebody’s a little late, you can text them and say, “I’m on the Zoom line”, and then they come right to the Zoom line and don’t miss meetings.

You can use their cell phone later in the sales process to text them and ask them for 10 minutes at the end of the day. So make sure, as a best practice, that you’re getting that number and that now you have permission to use it., you can use it.  (12:33)

Did we cover everything associated with meetings?

10. 5 Ways Sales Leaders Can Facilitate Successful Prospect Meetings

Jack (12:39): You know what? I’m going to add just a few more things, Caryn. If you’re in a manager or leadership position, you want to ensure that your salespeople are doing the right things in those opportunities, meeting with prospects. So in my own particular style, I’m just going to knock out five bullet points.

  1. Provide proactive sales coaching: The first one is, are you actively coaching your people? Are you out coaching your people on what they’re doing right? And what could they be doing better? So proactive coaching, as the sales team manager, the less time you spend in front of a computer behind a desk or in your office, the better your salespeople will perform.
  1. Document best practices: The second is, and do I not care what you call that – sales playbooks, systems and processes, etc. – best practices win the day.
  2. (13:54) Practice: The third bullet point is practice, practice, practice! No matter what you do in life, including sales, the best people practice, and they don’t practice on real deals.
  3. Record and review: And a fourth bullet point is to record some of your practice sessions with your salespeople and then watch or listen afterward with a group debrief on what was impressive and not so impressive and what we can change.
  4. Do joint calls: And the last of five bullet points on this, in terms of getting our people to be better, is being in the field and participating with them on joint calls. If you are an active sales leader, manager, or chief revenue officer, and you’re out with your people and doing these types of things, your salespeople cannot help but be better when they’re out doing it with the prospects.  (14:59)

11. 2 Tools to Create a Better Sales Call Structure

Caryn(14:59): Well said. And for the people listening to this call, we have two tools they can write to me through the website, and we’ll get them these tools.

  1. One is a meeting preparation form so that as sellers do their homework, they’ll have the different things they need to do to be prepared.
  2. And the other one is a self-evaluation checklist to ensure they’re doing all the right things. You can grade yourself, not just be graded by management.

Download the two resources now!

I hope this segment was helpful for everybody who listened!

Jack(15:40): Hey, Caryn and I would tell you that those two documents that you just referred to are open to the listener; those are the types of things that I envision being a part of the sales playbook.

Caryn(15:52): Yes, absolutely, and they have to be, yes. All right. Great, well, thank you, everybody, for listening to the Sales B12 episode, and I invite you to listen to other ones in the series as well.

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