The best sales reps know sales isn’t about luck. Quite the opposite, sales results come from thoughtful strategic planning. That planning happens at a high level through activities like customer experience mapping and annual sales strategy sessions. However, equally as important is the planning that goes into individual customer interactions and sales calls.

Research shows that the most successful sales reps plan diligently for each call. While reps should have a proven call structure that’s been shown to be successful, their style should be fluid enough to tailor a call for each prospect. That involves doing pre-call planning and research, which can include:

  • Defining the objectives for the call
  • Setting an agenda
  • Mapping conversations and talking points
  • Rehearsing
  • Researching prospects and companies using social tools

That last bullet point is proving to be critical in sales call success. Salespeople who leverage social selling see a 31 percent higher ROI than those who stick to traditional sales tactics. You can use these tactics to ensure your sales reps are adequately preparing for calls, developing a structured style and repeating success.

Establish a Sales Call Structure

Top salespeople follow a repeated process on their calls – a critical task that sets them apart from average or below-average performers. They’re organized in their approach and masterfully guide conversations, clustering unique topics together to create a natural call cadence.

For example, rather than jumping around from one topic to another at random, they establish a flow, gracefully moving from conversations about one feature and into another. This approach allows them to tell a story from beginning to end in a logical, easy-to-follow format, and helps them stay in control of the call.

To establish a repeatable structure your reps can follow, consider completing an exercise where you list all topics normally discussed on a sales call and map them so your reps can fluidly move from one talking point to the next. You can have them create a visual map that connects subjects and themes to keep on hand and reference on calls. This will create an organized and sequential dialogue that prospects can easily follow, and will help your reps navigate their way from small talk at the beginning of a call through ideal next steps at the end.

Define and Repeat Success

Great salespeople don’t recreate the wheel. Once they’ve found the right structure for a call that’s been proven to deliver results, they repeat that success. This shouldn’t be confused with being overly rigid. Every sales call will be different, which is why planning and research are so important. The best reps balance proven structure with the individual prospect’s needs to craft the right approach to each call.

As you’re coaching your reps to repeat success, you can have them listen to recorded calls to identify key moments where the call went well, and moments where they could have introduced a new topic to move closer to their intended outcome.

This might include missing opportunities to reference additional features or going too far and overselling on a call. Reference and add onto your conversation map to reinforce it, and then rehearse sales calls so they can put their newly choreographed style into practice.

Leverage Social Selling

While each call should have a similar structure that your reps can practice and perfect over time, how they prepare for each call will be slightly different. This is where social selling comes into play.
Social sellers don’t leave calls to chance – they leverage powerful sales tooling to learn about prospects and prepare for each individual call. This includes leveraging social technology to complete research that includes:

  • Personal research: What is this person interested in outside of work? How can I create a human connection with this person?
  • Professional research: What is this person’s background and area of expertise? What do they care about? What are their challenges in their role?
  • Company research: What is the industry this person works within? What are the business challenges the company is facing?

Measure Success With Tooling

The final step in perfecting a sales call approach is to measure success with quantitative data. While you can qualitatively listen to calls and coach your reps to turn missed opportunities into wins, sales data will also give you insights that you might otherwise miss.

Leverage your sales tools to identify the ideal customer experiences that resulted in sales with the shortest number of touch points. Then dig into each of those touch points to identify what about them drove the customer further down the pipeline. Review call logs, call notes, and data within your CRM and sales tech stack to pinpoint the similarities between your successful sales calls, and modify your sales call map accordingly. This should also involve working closely with marketing to identify the marketing touch points that contributed to the success of the sale.

Your sales reps will perform best for you if they understand what a successful sales call looks like, are able to navigate within a call from topic to topic gracefully and can repeat that success over time. Use these tactical tips to turn your sales reps into well-oiled sales call machines.

Jamie Shanks

Author: Jamie Shanks

Jamie Shanks is a world-leading Social Selling expert and author of the book, "Social Selling Mastery - Scaling Up Your Sales And Marketing Machine For The Digital Buyer". A true pioneer in the space of digital sales transformation, Jamie Shanks has trained over 10,000's of sales professionals and leaders all around the world.

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