Sales Calls: The Backbone of Selling
Sales calls are the backbone of sales activity – they refer to any calls made by salespeople to prospects or customers. Typically, when people refer to sales calls they’re talking about cold calls. Cold calling is “cold” because it occurs when someone on your team reaches out to a new prospect who hasn’t previously engaged with your company. Early in the life of a company you may be able to rely on “warm” leads that actively reach out to you – referrals, friends and family or former colleagues. However, if you’re looking to expand to any reasonable size you’re eventually going to have to reach out to new prospects.
Cold calling is critical to creating enough sales leads to fill up your sales funnel. Calls are one of the most important sales activities that sales managers watch and will be tracked as part of even the most rudimentary sales analytics process. All salespeople have sales revenue quotas that they need to hit on a regular basis. In order to ensure that reps are in a position to hit quota and meet forecasts most companies require that they make a set number of calls a day (at least by their sales development representatives).
The Art of Cold Calling
For many salespeople there are few things more uncomfortable than making cold calls. Because they’re unsolicited, most cold calls – even those made by good reps – won’t result in a deal, or even a meeting. In addition, many people can be annoyed or even rude if they get a call from a salesperson that they don’t expect. However, cold calling is one of those things that has to be done, and there are steps you can take to improve your average “hit rate.” For example, most companies provide their reps with cold calling scripts. Cold calling scripts are proposed comments, questions and responses that companies recommend their reps follow in guiding customer conversations.
Many reps find cold calling scripts useful – particularly as they begin their sales career – because they provide a “crutch” on which to rely when speaking to new prospects. Cold calling scripts are the next best thing to actually having a manager on the call with you. After each conversation some companies will also ask reps to complete a sales call report in order to understand what went well, what could be improved and whether their script needs further refinement.
Cold Calling Tips
You can find cold calling tips across the Internet on business sites as well as those of individual companies, so we won’t go into too much depth here. Painful as it can be, the most important tip for cold calling is to just do it. The more sales calls you make and the more prospects you reach the better you’ll get and the more deals you’ll close. Beyond that, it’s important to focus the conversation on the customer’s needs. It can be tempting to tick off all the great features that your product has, but if they can’t help your customer then they’re useless.
Stay professional and clearly state who you are, what you’re offering and why you think you can help the particular prospect with whom you’re speaking. If your product isn’t a fit for their needs that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Politely thank them for their time and hang up. That way you can move on to the conversation with your next prospect and get to your next paying customer as quickly as possible. Finally, try to be as genuine as possible – it’ll help you close more deals and build relationships with prospects – even if they don’t buy from you immediately.