Salespeople are the face of your organization. Every time one of your salespeople makes a sales call, they are telling a story about your company and your culture. The message salespeople can send is more powerful than any marketing campaign. It is critical that your sales team make effective, powerful, and memorable sales calls. Below are five keys to making effective sales calls.

Effective Pre-Call Planning. Salespeople have a tendency to use the excuse that they will just “wing it” when speaking with a prospect. This is a huge mistake. Without proper pre-call planning the salesperson may appear disorganized. A few questions to ask yourself when planning a call…

  • What is the goal of your call?
  • What are your key selling benefits?

Discovery. This is often called “qualifying”. A common mistake salespeople make is to assume they understand the customer and their needs. Every customer has different needs and is motivated differently. It is the salesperson’s responsibility to uncover what interests the prospect and what motivates them. Some things to consider when going through the discovery phase…

  • Do more asking and less telling. The prospect cannot tell you what they want or what they like, if you are too busy talking about you product.
  • Engage your customers in intelligent conversation, rather than a sales pitch. One of the biggest differences between a good salesperson and a great salesperson is how well they engage their customers.
  • Practice effective listening. Many sales people are taught how to ask good questions, but many do not practice effective listening. Listening with the intent to understand is much more effective than listening with the intent to respond.

Build Rapport. It’s been said that the first thing a prospect needs to buy is you. Your product comes second. Sales trainer extraordinaire, Jeffrey Gitomer, says that “With all things being equal, people will buy from who they like. With all things not being equal, people still will buy from who they like.” Take time to learn about your prospects. What are their interests? What motivates them? What do you have in common?

Remember your manners. What is one of the first things your parents taught you? “Always say please and thank you.” This same rule applies to sales. One of the lost arts of sales is a “hand-written” thank you note. Some key items to a good thank you note are…

  • Show appreciation. Don’t try to sell them something. Your prospect will see right through that.
  • Personalize the note. Go out and spend a few dollars on some professional or formal notes and write the note with a good pen.

Follow-up. Follow-up is different than the thank you note. When you effectively follow-up you are showing the prospect that you are a professional who takes his or her career seriously.  Some things that should be included in your “follow-up” are…

  • A summary of the items discussed.
  • List of action items and who is the owner of each item.
  • Time of your next interaction.

The five keys above are not only effective for salespeople, but also for anyone in your company who interacts with customers. Discuss these principles in a meeting and ask your team to grade how well they are practiced in your organization. Reinforce these key points and you will see positive sales results.