One of the best moments of my life came in high school.
As part of a business course we had to come up with a product, create it and then go to a local competition and sell the product to a panel of three judges.
Our class decided to create holiday ornaments. They turned out fine and looked nice and all that. But selling them was daunting to me. Going in front of that panel and trying to sell this thing.
But a day before we did the selling to the panel our teacher said something to the class that I’ll never forget. She said that the panel wants each of us to do well. The teacher may have even said this in passing, never giving a second thought to it.
But it’s had profound impact on my life whether it’s selling, public speaking, talking to the opposite sex, making friends and a hundred other situations.
People want you to do well because when you do well they also benefit.
Knowing that people want me to do well has helped me prepare for sales calls. I’m still learning how to improve, but knowing that the other person or persons want me to do well has removed the initial fear and it’s also allowed me to focus on what will make the other person happy that the conversation has gone well.
Obviously there are exceptions. But the majority of the time, the other person wants you to do well.
So with that in mind, here are some tips for preparing for sales calls.
Get To Know Them, But Don’t Assume You Know Them
This is the basic advice you see everywhere on this topic. But it’s basic for a reason. You have to do a little homework on the other party if for no other reason than to spark your curiosity. Because when you’re curious about something you’re engaging and people want to be engaged.
That’s a huge part of sales. In order to be memorable, you have to bring engagement to the situation. Now, even if you do this there is still a chance that the conversation won’t go well and you have to be okay with that.
Get to know the person. There is no reason not to today. You can read their website. You can read their LinkedIn profile. You can google them and see the results.
But after doing all that don’t assume you know them. The engaging part of the sales call is getting to know the other party and learning what they struggle with and how you might be able to help.
Ask For Their Story
Usually on a sales call the other party, the potential client, will want a quick overview of what you do. Provide that for them and after they seem satisfied with the information, ask them for their story. Or if you sense that they already know a little about you then ask them for their story.
People love telling their stories and especially their success stories.
You’re looking for their personal story. Their work history. How they got to this job. Also what they’re interested in and what they care about.
All of it.
If you did research ahead of time you might know some of what they’re saying, but use that to dig for more. Obviously you don’t want to get too personal right away, but instead of going deeper you can go broader.
Ask Them To Explain What They Do
Adding on to the last question is getting deeper into asking about what they do. The more you understand what a person does the more you can understand their needs. And that obviously leads you to figuring out if your product can really help them in their situation.
These two questions will lead to information about the company and what they’re looking for and all that insight. But I like approaching it as getting to know the person and their story and what they do. That seems to get them most engaged and that leads to the best rapport and insight.
And it doesn’t have to be long. You can have these conversations in five minutes or an hour and any amount of time can lead to a memorable experience.
Embrace A Little Chaos
It makes you memorable. On the first call with two individuals at a company that became one of our largest clients, my less-than-one-year old daughter was making some playful noises. It was the normal time of the week when I was home with my daughter. Normally I wouldn’t have scheduled the call for this time, but it was a little last minute and it was either take it or miss the opportunity.
The potential client commented on the noise and we had a nice quick little chat about the situation and then moved on to the next talking point regarding their needs and our business.
That’s an example of chaos. It seems like it’s not the end of the world, but at the time it felt a little like that. It’s out of control. It’s different, but it also made us stand out.
I can’t say for sure that we got the business because my daughter made noise, but I’m pretty sure that it was memorable and provided a little more insight to the situation.
We have to be okay with things not going according to plan. Plans are great. General structure is great for sales calls, but embrace when things go a little awry. That can lead to the best results oftentimes.
Quantity Builds Quality
In life we like to think that preparation is the key to success. Only when we prepare as much as possible will we be ready to excel at something.
There is an episode of The Big Bang Theory where Sheldon discusses how much he’s read about swimming, but how he’s never actually gone swimming and that he won’t go swimming until he’s prepared enough.
It’s a form of procrastination.
Obviously to swim well you need to understand fundamental movements, but you have to put those into practice. And when you practice you get positive and negative feedback and that helps you improve.
Sales calls are the same. Go in with some understanding of it, but getting on calls is what builds quality.
Look at it like after 100 calls you’ll be much better. Then after 1,000 calls you’ll be great. And so on.
It’s a quantity game.
I’m not the best at sales calls. But for someone that is introverted I think I’ve come a long way. It’s not natural for me. I still have a tendency to avoid them. But realizing that the other person wants me to do well has helped me prepare better and get better and better results. That along with looking at it as a quantity game rather than a quality game is what has helped the most.