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How to Prepare for a Sales Call In 10 Steps

For today’s sales reps, the rules of old-school cold calling are less relevant than they used to be.

To have a fighting chance at closing a new customer, you have to start every sales call armed with a plan of how you’re going to meet that specific buyer’s needs. Here are 10 things you should do to prepare for a sales prospecting call and increase your chances of winning the deal.

1. Do your research

Basic information on your potential customer is essential, but it’s not always enough. Sometimes you need to do your homework in order to understand the big picture as well as the details about the specific challenges they face and how you can provide the solution.

Before every sales call, you should check out the company’s:

  • LinkedIn page as well as your potential customer’s professional profile
  • Twitter stream
  • Website, particularly the About Us and News sections
  • Their previous conversations with your company as recorded in your customer relationship management (CRM) platform

2. Define your goals

Make your objectives clear. What do you want to accomplish before the call ends? What does your potential customer want to achieve during this call?

Write down specific, targeted questions that are relevant to your potential customer’s business, industry, pain points, needs, and buying behaviors. Be ready to listen and take notes so that you can react to what the potential buyer says. Limit your questions so that the meeting feels like a conversation, not an interview.

However, it’s also important to be on the lookout for any conditions that have changed since you last communicated with the prospect. Business moves quickly, and you need to be aware of any changes that could affect your call.

Before you pick up the phone, make sure each question you want to ask supports the goals that you defined for the call.

3. Structure the call

Creating an informal itinerary for the conversation will help you maintain control. First, practice how you’d start the meeting to point it in the right direction. Then, map out how to shift the conversation from topic to topic so that you reach all defined goals.

Plan out talking points that touch on concerns the potential buyer has already raised, as well as questions designed to reveal new pain points and opportunities so that you can collect all the information you need later in your sales process.

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4. Customize your presentation

Whether it’s one of your earliest calls with a potential customer or you’re about to make your pitch, tailoring your presentation of your product or solution to their unique situation is a must. You’ve already learned about their needs and pain points, so now it’s time to drive home how you provide the solution. 

Is your customer looking for software that will streamline certain processes? Do they need a product to help them save money? Touch on the specific ways your product can solve their specific problems, and you’ll be speaking to what matters most to them.

5. Know your value

The truth is that your potential customer is extremely busy. They may only have a small window of time to devote attention to their buying decision. That means they want to feel like they spent their time wisely when they talked to you.

Do you know the value you can provide to this potential buyer? How can you inspire them to speed up their buying decision or move them to the next step in the sales process?

Provide information that answers their questions, speaks to their needs, or explains any concerns they may have. The call should end with your potential customer having actionable steps to carry out and feeling positive about the experience.

6. Prepare for potential objections

You’re likely to encounter at least one objection during your sales call, even if you’ve done plenty of research and thoroughly connected your product’s benefits with your potential customer’s needs. It’s just part of the process. Mentally preparing for those objections is key to handling them graciously when they arise.

A good way to prep is to anticipate what objections your potential customer is likely to have. Consider factors like their company’s size and budget, needs, pain points, and objections from other customers you’ve spoken to in the past.

Write out these objections along with solid responses to each one and have your list handy during the call. That way, you can refer back to your notes when needed.

7. Visualize success

Think of how athletes prepare for an Olympic race. They control their breathing, stretch and shake out their arms and legs. They visualize each step around the track, picturing how hard to swing their arms, how wide to make each step, and how much energy will be needed to push through the finish line.

This is how you should approach your sales calls. Like an athlete, a balance of adrenaline and oxygen is what you need to maintain performance and focus.

Imagine the call the way you want it to go. Play out the conversation in your mind with the confidence and helpfulness you want to convey. Anticipate questions that could throw the conversation off course and have a plan to get back on track.

Talk out loud before the call to make sure you don’t sound nervous, jittery, or tired. Rehearsing introductions or key talking points out loud also helps you build up confidence in your voice, in the call, and in yourself.

8. Finish with specifics

When you’ve reached the end of your call, aim to get as specific as possible. Your contact is just as busy as you are, and leaving a sales call open-ended can result in them moving on to their other responsibilities and forgetting about your conversation. Getting specific about the next steps will help you both keep your conversation front of mind. 

While you may be at a place to ask your prospect for a decision at the end of your call, it can be just as helpful to create a specific timeline for any action items or follow-up. Set specific dates for when you’ll provide the product specs they requested or when you can meet for your next call. 

That way all you’ll have to do to move the prospect toward a sale is keep them on schedule.

9. Speak carefully about competitors

It may be tempting to bash your competitors on a sales call — after all, you want to convince your prospect that your product or solution is the best out there. While it’s helpful to understand what sets you apart from competitors so you can address those differences and highlight your product’s strengths, there are several good reasons to stay away from overly negative portrayals of your competitors. 

For one, the prospect might currently buy from a competitor and see their product in a different way. If they hold a different opinion about the product, you might just draw attention to your competitor’s strengths. Second, using too much negative language, even about a third party, could result in the prospect identifying you with those same negative traits. 

When comparing your product or service to a competitor’s, instead focus on the unique value you provide. Speak positively about the place your product holds in the market and be objective about what sets you apart.

10. Use the right tools

An important step when learning how to prepare for a sales call is using tools that will help you accomplish more with your time. There are many platforms available that can help you streamline your sales process. A CRM is one of the most valuable.

CRMs can help you maximize every sales call by:

Improve your sales process with Nutshell

When you prepare for your prospect’s needs and objections, tailor your conversation to their situation, get specific, and use the right tools in your sales call, you’ll set yourself up for success.

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