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Sales Call Planning Template: 7 Steps to Close More Deals
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Sales calls are the lifeblood of any successful business. They provide an opportunity to engage with potential customers, build relationships, and of course- drive revenue. However, the structure of a sales call is notoriously challenging to get right.
In the spirit of making this task a bit easier, let’s break down each part of the call structure from the opening to hopefully closing a deal.
It is our hope that the sales call planning template we have created below will give you a jumping-off point to adapt to your needs and customize for your audience over time.
Step 1: Research and Preparation
Research may just be the most important part of structuring a sales call. Without adequate preparation, it’s easy to find yourself floundering for answers to the lead’s questions and objections during the conversation.
Before you dial a single number, it's crucial to gather information about the prospect and their business. Research their industry, company, and any specific pain points or challenges they may be facing ahead of time.
This preparation will enable you to personalize each conversation and build a personal connection with the prospect. Coming in educated and prepared also demonstrates that you truly understand the needs of your prospect and are there to solve problems, not just sell a product.
Example questions to answer ahead of time
- What are some typical pain points in your prospect’s industry, and for your prospect specifically?
- How does your product/offering/service address them?
- What do you still need to know about your prospect that you can’t answer on your own?
Step 2: Build Rapport
The opening of your sales call sets the tone for the entire conversation. Start by introducing yourself and your company, and then transition immediately into building rapport.
How to build rapport
- Active listening: Pay attention to the customer's needs and concerns. Let them speak and avoid interrupting. Remember, the prospect is only interested in the problems that they are currently facing. Repeat or paraphrase their statements to confirm your understanding and show that you are engaged in the conversation.
- Find common ground: Look for shared interests or experiences that can help create a personal connection with the customer. This could mean anything from hobbies, personal background, or even mutual acquaintances.
- Show empathy and understanding: Acknowledge the challenges or pain points the customer may be facing and express genuine empathy. Let them know that you understand their situation and that you're there to help find a solution that fits their needs.
Establishing a personal connection right off the bat is an important part of the sales call structure. With the right opening, you can build trust and make the prospect more receptive to what you have to say.
Step 3: Identify Needs and Pain Points
To effectively sell your product or service, you must understand the prospect's needs and pain points. Although you may have identified some in your initial research, it’s important to hear exactly what your prospect would like to address.
You can’t assume that you are selling the solution to all their business’s problems unless you confirm that they exist in the first place.
- Structure your sales calls to include open-ended questions that encourage them to share their challenges and objectives.
- Be sure to listen carefully to their responses and take notes to reference later. This part of the call structure often blends with building rapport, and active listening is a key component of both steps.
Step 4: Present Your Solution
Once you have identified the prospect's needs, it's time to present your solution.
Highlight the key features and benefits of your offering, but be sure to tailor your pitch to directly address the pain points you discovered earlier on in the conversation.
Use real-life examples and success stories to inspire confidence and encourage trust in you and your company. You’ll want to illustrate the value of your product to the prospect, explaining exactly how it will help them solve the problems they’re facing.
Example Dialogue: "Based on the information you've shared, Cindy, our product can streamline your operations and save your team valuable time. Last year, Company X, a client in a similar industry, saw a 30% increase in efficiency after implementing our solution, and I think you can expect to see similar results…"
Step 5: Objection Handling
It's common for prospects to raise objections or concerns during a sales call- especially if they’ve had a negative experience with a similar product or service. How you handle these can make or break an otherwise perfect pitch late in the call.
Our advice? View objections as opportunities to address any doubts and provide reassurance. Listen attentively, empathize with concerns, and respond with confidence.
Always be sure to take notes about objections, how you handled them, and whether or not your approach was successful so that you can adapt your approach over time.
It’s worth investing in high-quality sales call recording software, especially one with the ability to identify key points like objections, next steps, and action items. That way you aren’t stuck taking notes manually during the call or reviewing the transcript line by line afterward.
Step 6: Closing the Call
As the call comes to an end, it's a good idea to summarize the key points discussed and outline any next steps.
Whether you’re prepared to close the deal or not, be sure to seek commitment of some kind from the prospect. Schedule a demo, create a timeline, or get a follow-up call with your contact, or other members of their team on the calendar.
Having that next step in place makes it difficult for the prospect to forget about you and your pitch, and means that even on calls where you don’t close, you’ll have a warmer conversation lined up next time.
Step 7: Follow-Up and Relationship Building
After the call, consult the notes you took during the conversation, or the transcript generated by your call recording software.
Be sure to review any action items and follow up promptly with any information or materials you promised to deliver. Continue nurturing the relationship by inviting leads to events, sending personalized emails (Lace makes this part super easy!), and/or engaging with the prospect on social media.
Building rapport on the call is important, but maintaining communication will keep you top-of-mind until your next interaction or when the prospect is ready to make a decision.
Implementing an effective sales call structure is essential to improving your close rate- especially early on in your career.
By implementing a call structure that follows the basic outline above, you’ll quickly find out what works for you in the field and what doesn’t.
Using this sales call planning template as a place to start will make it much easier to develop your own signature flair and style in the long run, and remember: practice and adaptability are key to refining your skills and maximizing your closing potential.
If you have any questions at all about structuring the perfect sales call, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re always happy to help in any way we can!