Sales call - cover

Originally published on the Exotel blog.

Zara was the latest addition to our sales team at Exotel. Straight out of college, confident, smart and all set to conquer the world. Her attitude is what let us know that she was right for the job.

She spent 3 days with the product and the sales team and boy, was she thorough! The next step was to put her on calls and get her to speak to some customers.

She spent a month talking to our customers. She had some good conversations and was on track with her daily call targets. In spite of feeling positive about her sales calls, she was way off target with her sales target for the month. And to top it all, the hard work and not seeing results made her fall low on confidence.

When we worked with Zara and analyzed her processes and where she went wrong, we realized it was the really small things that let her down.

Like Zara, if you’re a newbie in sales, here’s some gyaan from us on what you can do to be a fantastic salesperson.

Before getting on a call:

1. Research:

I can’t stress the importance of this. Before getting on a sales call, it is necessary to get a fair understanding of the person you’re about to talk to. Like a wise person once said, information is wealth. Make sure you find out absolutely everything you can about this potential customer. Here are some pointers that will help you.

  • Website – This is the best place to understand the client’s business. Who does their business cater to? How can your offering fit in? If you can think of ways your offering will add value in tangible ways, you already have one foot in the door.
  • News Articles, Blogs, and Press Releases –  Look for any news you can find on them, be it on their funding or their hiring or even their campaigns & events. It will give you an insight into the health of the business. Knowing the health of the company can help you determine which way you should direct the sales pitch.
  • LinkedIn – Know the client’s past ventures/jobs, their academic background, their interests, and skills.
    It will help you build a connect and develop your talk points as well.
  • Facebook – Well,  this seems quite stalkerish but if you don’t find enough information from the above sources, this can be your last resort.

2. Client’s competitors:

Know who their competitors are:

  • Do their competitors already use your product
  • If yes, what are they using it for?
  • Have they seen benefits after using your product? Do you have a case study to share?

This is a simple tactic that can help you nail the conversation!

3. Always talk specifics:

This is an extension of point 1. When you know what your customer’s business is about, make sure you give them details when you speak to them. Quote relevant case studies, use cases that have been implemented by other companies in the same vertical, etc.

4. Good phone and internet connection:

Ensure you ask your customer their preferred mode of communication. If you’re speaking to them over the phone or the internet, make sure your connection is impeccable. Have a backup plan in case your phone connection or internet give way. Make sure you’re in a place that isn’t overly noisy. If you spend half your time asking your customer to speak up or telling them that their voice is breaking, you’re not going to make a good first impression.

Once you have a fair idea of who you’re about to talk to, it’s time to make that call.

During the call:

5.  The right mindset:

The first call should not be made with the intention to sell the product. Rather, it should be done with the intention to merely build a connect with the customer. You just need to understand them, the company and what they require. Remember, you need to be a consultant that the customer trusts and not a salesperson they avoid.

6. Ask the right questions:

One of the key things to do on a sales call is to let the customer talk as much as possible and listen. If the person at the other end of the line is not forthcoming with answers, here are some ways you can understand more about their business and what they’re trying to solve.

For example, these are some of the questions I usually ask the customers

  • What is the problem you’re currently facing?
  • What are your biggest challenges?
  • What does your team structure look like?
  • Who are the teams directly responsible for the problem you’re trying to solve?
  • What have you already tried?
  • How did you hear about Exotel?
  • Will be directly implementing Exotel or is there someone else who will be doing that?
  • Will the final decision be yours?
  • What is the budget you have allocated to this solution?
  • When do you intend to go live?

These are, of course, guidelines for the conversation. When you start talking to the customer, based on the flow of the conversation, you will need to figure out what all you need to ask them.  Do not bombard the customer with questions. Choose your questions wisely.

Prepare specific questions that are relevant to the prospect’s business, industry, and needs. Be ready to listen and comment on what the customer says. Do not throw a battery of questions at the customer. If he wants to go a different direction, follow his lead. He may have a different agenda than you. Top salespeople listen, ask good questions, and leave with action steps for both the customer and themselves.                                                                                                            – Joanne Black, No More Cold Calling

After the call

7. Sum up the call

Once the call is done, shoot an email within 30 minutes! This email MUST contain the customer’s problem statement and your solution in brief along with the necessary videos or product decks. Include fair timelines for follow ups and a call to action based on your conversation with the customer.

8. Follow-ups

Give the customer a fair amount of time to digest all the information you’ve thrown at them. But make sure you follow up in 2-3 days if you do not hear from them.

Every client has a medium they’re most comfortable with. Some will be quick to respond to an email whereas some talk your ears off on a call! Therefore, giving the customer a nudge is critical. For all you know, you’ll figure out something new that’ll help bring to client one step closer to converting.

9. Relax

Lastly, take a deep breath and stay calm. The initial calls might be nerve wrecking but like everything else in life, it is only a matter of time before you master it.

The idea is to sell confidence, and the product will sell itself.

That confidence will come from two things – strong product knowledge and experience from talking to customers.

All this might seem a bit too much to do before every call, but believe me, it takes no more than 5 minutes. Once you get used to the above regime, a 2-minute glance is all it would take to get on a call confidently. Now pick up the phone and start dialing!

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