By Scott Gruher, Sales Benchmark Index (SBI)
Sales Leaders miss or make the number one sales call at a time. Yet they typically don’t pay enough attention to each call. They look at each rep’s performance to quota. They review the pipeline. These are difficult to control. Sales leaders can control the quality of sales calls every day. Great single sales call execution will lead to great results.
Your team is wasting at bats. Every week sales reps attend sales calls unprepared. You have a Sales Process. You have a team of experienced salespeople, so what is the problem?
In this post we will explore common sales call mistakes. Then we will review four simple steps sales leaders can implement to prevent them.
10 Mistakes that Kill Sales Calls:
- Show up and throw up (Inward-Out Approach) – Quit talking about how great your product or company is. Nobody cares about your company or product. Humans are selfish. They want to know how it will help them. Speak to their personal wins and business objectives. How will your solution help get them promoted? Make them more money. Get them recognized by their boss. This approach will keep your customer’s attention.
- Poor self-preparation (no call plan) – Entering a call unprepared still shocks me. But 8 out of 10 calls I observe don’t have completed call plans. Sales people don’t think they need them.
- Call is one-sided – Talking head syndrome. Your sales rep talks a lot, but doesn’t engage the audience. The audience loses interest after 5 minutes.
- Overlays/Specialists aren’t on the same page as the sales rep – I have witnessed many sales calls where this is the problem. 3 or 4 people are all trying to get their point across in a 60 minute meeting. This leads to little customer interaction. The customer ends the call because time is up without next steps being discussed.
- Front-line Sales Managers aren’t providing adequate coaching – Sales people need a second opinion. We all miss things. A little coaching and inspection can make a huge impact on a single call.
- Objectives for call aren’t clear – You know you want to move the deal forward. Is that an objective? No. Set clear, measurable objectives for each sales call. Then self-assess post call.
- Topical conversation – The best sales people ask tough questions. They surface fear and risk. Average sales people talk about product and avoid “awkward” discussions.
- Sales rep happy ears – The rep that thinks every call went great. They ignore risks, gaps, and pitfalls. While optimism is a good thing, it has to be balanced with reality.
- The call ends without next steps being defined – The easiest way to reduce your sales cycle length is to establish next steps. Never end a meeting with “I’ll call you next week to catch up”.
- Lack of value – Sales people that talk product and price are a dime a dozen. Great sale people teach the customer something new. They speak at the level of their audience. They challenge the status quo. They bring insight and thought leadership that isn’t the norm.
The best sales teams do something that is very difficult. They execute on a daily basis. Every interaction is treated as a golden opportunity. You either move the deal forward or you don’t. As a sales leader you should ensure your reps are ready for major interactions. Major interactions are sales calls that either advance an opportunity or kill it. Major interactions should be identified in your Sales Process and require additional preparation.
How to Prepare your Sales Team for Major Interactions:
- Track: You have to know what interactions are coming up. Discuss them in your weekly 1-on-1 meetings. Call them out in your sales process and track in your CRM system.
- Inspect: CRM – is the deal progressing? Is there information missing? Is it in the correct sales process stage?
Job Aids – has the rep completed a call plan? Do they know what gaps they need to address? Have they assessed the opportunity? Do they know where the buyer is in their buying process? Are they ready to engage the right people?
- Ask: Probing questions to ensure they are prepared.
- Provide: Ideas, insights, content, examples, use cases and best practices. Ensure your salespeople are bringing value to the conversation. Enable them to take a different approach than the competition. Help test the strength of their story and provide improvement ideas.
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