Top sales insights | Checklist for a perfect sales call
Sales is one of the oldest occupations in the book. The dawn of commerce arose when people started trading goods and services—and suddenly the list of essential survival skills grew from hunting and gathering, to hunting and gathering and sales. And although the world has changed immensely since shells and stones were a viable form of currency, the art of sales still comes down to fundamentals.
Sales professionals know the real key to success is making connections with their future clients. And while every salesperson should use her own personality to her advantage, having a tried and true routine to fall back on is a great way to drive more wins. Here’s an easy checklist to give your next conversation some structure without sacrificing style.
1. Prepare for the hello
The first words out of your mouth can make or break your opportunity. You only have a few quick seconds to make a connection with your prospect, so start off strong and confident. Practicing your opener is a great way to make it second nature. That way you can focus on what comes next and how to respond.
A great opener makes the prospect feel receptive to your conversation and curious about what you’re saying. Here are a few great tips and suggestions for how to start a conversation no matter what you’re selling or your business model. Make sure your tone is friendly, professional, and sincere to build trust right away.
2. Use the prospect’s name
In 1936, Dale Carnegie asked us to “remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language” in his famous book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” That advice still proves true—after all, humans are still humans. In a world that feels less and less personal, we could argue this tip is even more important now than when it was written.
Remembering and using a person’s name, especially in a sales situation, helps the prospect feel like your conversation is on purpose—that they’re not just another name on your call list. It helps the conversation feel intentional and like you’ve done some thinking about why you chose them as someone who could benefit from it.
3. Determine the pain point
A stereotypical salesperson is a pushy, manipulative, fast-talker who never lets you get a word in until they’re done with their spiel. Don’t be one of those. A great salesperson listens more than they talk—and asks more than they tell.
Asking questions about your prospect’s needs and struggles helps you learn how your solution is the best possible way to solve the problem. That way you can tailor your solution’s benefits to their specific needs, and let them know exactly why it can improve their lives. Asking questions makes your prospect feel in control of the conversation and helps you build a relationship that feels mutually beneficial.
Why do most prospects say no? They feel like your solution won’t help them, or that it’s a scam. Focusing on their needs helps your prospects feel heard—and makes your job easier because you can deliver benefits that speak to them directly.
4. Confirm and paraphrase
Show the prospect you’ve heard what they’ve told you so far by putting their answers in your own words. That shows you’re listening and helps prospects feel confident in your understanding of their problem. It also helps ensure you can deliver a solution that they can’t refuse—another win-win.
Start with, “So if I’ve understood you so far, it seems like your biggest need is ______. Is that correct?” Give them the opportunity to say yes, or further explain the pain point. That helps prospects feel even more in control of the situation and makes them ready to hear how you plan to solve it.
5. Diagnose, then prescribe
Now that you’ve done all the investigative work, you should know exactly why your prospect needs your solution—and your prospect should be ready to hear it. Diagnose the problem, then tell them why you can solve it. Your prospect doesn’t need to hear every single benefit your solution can provide—only the things that solve their specific problem.
It’s important not to overwhelm them with a flood of irrelevant information, or else you’ll have undone everything you’ve built up until this point. Muddying the conversation with a bunch of additional nonsense right away makes prospects feel like you’re not listening. Instead, make it a conversation. Keep the talking points relevant and concise, and let them ask questions if they want to learn more.
Sales is a tough job—but having a solid plan to rely on in every conversation can help convert more of your hard work into real dollars. Technology has certainly changed a lot of the ways we work, but the fundamentals cannot be overstated. Sales boils down to building great human relationships, and improving your people skills can improve your bottom line significantly.
This outline can be applied to any sales opportunity in any industry—and is even a great outline for resolving conflicts. Keep a few important rules in mind—open strong, personalize the message, listen more than you speak, confirm the problem, and deliver a tailored solution. You’ll be on your way to more wins in no time.