By John Holland, Chief Content Officer, CustomerCentric Selling® – The Sales Training CompanyImage courtesy of Hin255 at
In my mind, sellers are in the business of asking relevant questions. A good measure of how well sales calls go is the percentage of time buyers are talking. Let’s assume you call on the CFO of a prospect for the first time.

1. Set the Table with Objectives
Besides the initial rapport whether it be limited to shaking hands or a few minutes of small talk, I believe it’s up to sellers to set the table with the objectives of the call. This can be as simple as:

Today I’d like to briefly introduce ABC Co., tell you about the CFO of a manufacturing company I worked with and then learn more about your organization. We should be able to mutually determine if further conversations are warranted. 

My thought is that sellers’ initial objectives are to have buyers conclude that they are sincere and competent. These decisions are critical if you expect a buyer to open up and share either business goals or problems they want to achieve/address.

2. Revisit Your Company Positioning Statement
The company positioning statement (what you help clients do) should be 15 words or less about what you help organizations do, followed by 3 or 4 facts (no hype) about your company. 

0-passing-baton3. Share a Success Story
The next step would be to share a relevant Success Story, which should usually be for the same title/industry as the prospect. At that point you would turn it over to the buyer to tell you about their situation. This transition will be critical in determining the outcome of the call. Best case, the buyer shares a business goal and you can then begin to develop his or her needs.

If the buyer doesn’t readily share a business goal or problem, the transition hasn’t gone as well as you’d like. Be prepared with 3 or 4 environmental questions (often starting with the phrase: How do you …?) that probe potential problem areas. If a business issue still hasn’t been shared you could then offer a menu of goals for that title that your offering can help address.

Key: Being prepared for transitions can make a higher percentage of your calls successful.

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