July 15, 2022
Sales Call Planning to Win in a Down Market
Selling takes grit in today’s economic landscape. By now, many organizations are feeling the momentum begin to slow down regarding growth and productivity. Economists are expecting inflation to continue and supply chain constraints to persist. The thing is, businesses are still working hard to push through the downturn to another more prosperous side. They need suppliers of goods and services that can help them overcome their most pressing challenges. That means organizations might have smaller budgets, but they are still buying. Transactions might require more creativity and ingenuity, but the point is, they’re still happening.
Salespeople can succeed in a tight buyers market if they commit to the grind and sharpen the planning process. Call planning is one of the most important parts of a sales strategy. And it is critical for selling through adverse times such as now. Effective call planning can also shorten the sales cycle and save loads of wasted time for the producer. That’s important because selling in today’s market already demands a tremendous amount of energy. Effective call planning can funnel producers’ efforts toward sales activities that yield more results.
Prepare Thoroughly for Internal Confidence and External Outcomes
Prospects can sense when a salesperson is nervous, which triggers immediate doubt. Producers need to believe that the phone works, believe in the solution, and believe in themselves as communicators. Beliefs don’t come from thin air. Salespeople must build beliefs on solid preparation. With the proper preparation, the salesperson’s delivery and nimble problem-solving strategy become bulletproof. They’re free to be the best consultant they can for a potential buyer, and if the sale doesn’t happen for one prospect, it will for another. Producers that put the work in ahead of time can recession-proof their sales calls. These call preparation tactics are key to maximizing the effectiveness of a touchpoint.
1. Strategically Select Accounts
Salespeople must be laser-focused on the right target accounts. They have to know why they’re calling and what they want from the conversation. If they’re confused, the prospect will be too. The prospect needs to understand that the salesperson called them proactively and selected them strategically, to solve their precise problem effectively. Prospects must look like your ideal customer, or salespeople should not call them. It shouldn’t feel like a random cold call to the salesperson or the prospect.
2. Stick to Getting the Meeting.
Unless your sales team is selling widgets, the complexity and cost of the product requires a meeting or demo (in many cases, a virtual one.) But prospects will inevitably try to move salespeople off their mission of securing a meeting by their line of questioning if the salesperson isn’t extremely prepared to guide the dialogue and keep it on track. While the call must offer opportunities for the salesperson to highlight their potential solutions, they’re really just calling to get the meeting. Jumping ahead for a moment to make this critical point:
If the salesperson has prepared their responses to steer the conversation toward the conclusion that a meeting makes the most sense, they’ll have executed the following:
- The sales pro strategically selected the prospect with thought and care.
- Asked authentic and complex questions.
- Delivered compelling talking points that demonstrated value relevant to the prospect. (I.E., they helped people like them and were able to get results for similar firms.)
- Eloquently articulated knowledge of the industry and the impending problem.
Are your salespeople able to hit on all four skillsets?
3. Use Powerful Messaging
Prepared salespeople know how to do more than rattle off information. Instead of answering questions with loads of data and insights at the first opportunity, they need to know how to tease to intrigue. For instance, when the prospect asks their first engaging question, they need to answer the question in a way that shows they know the industry well and pain points, but that also ensures the prospect will ask another question. Questions keep the dialogue going and let the prospect feel in control of the conversation. The salesperson must also lead the prospect along with strategic questions timed for precise phases of the conversation. According to 91 Essential Sales Statistics: 2020 Data & Strategies Analysis, there is a 74% increase in sales success if the rep asks at least 11 questions during the first call.
This can all be learned! With proper planning and practice, the prospect will be able to get enough information needed to proceed to set the meeting. Remember, it’s not just about putting the right talking points into the messaging. It’s about the exchange technique and the gradual revealing of those talking points.
Salespeople need to be “at home” in pushing past resistance. They must expect it and understand its value to the exchange. The first “no” most likely comes because the salesperson’s call interrupts prospects, and they’re not expecting it. But the more a salesperson reaches out, the more the prospect will respect their persistence and become curious about why they have selected them. They’ll curiously look at the potential need. Salespeople can keep their zest for the attack by understanding that it takes multiple hits to stand out. And if the prospect gets several calls from the same person, they’ll see that this salesperson doesn’t call from tons of lists.
It’s one thing to know about call planning. It’s another thing to customize and internalize the process. That’s why a coach is so important for salespeople and leaders implementing higher-level sales strategies. Sales coaches can help leaders hold salespeople accountable and drive winning strategies. At the associate level, sales coaches can help reps develop mastery in their craft and maintain a healthy mindset at every career phase. If you’d like to see how TaskHuman can support sales teams wanting to grow and thrive amid tough economic tides, reach out now for a demo.
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