What is the right way to start your sales calls?

Sales calls! For many people, these have a lot of ancient stereotypes, negative connotations, and nasty experienced attached to them. On the other hand, many professionals do understand that without sales, there is no business. It really is that simple: If there are no paying customers, you can kiss your business goodbye. And if you want to have new business coming in, it is essential that you start off your sales calls the right way. But how do you do that exactly?

A successful sales call begins before the beginning

Whether you are conscious of the fact or not, just know that in more than 95%, you start the sales call in the same way. It’s become a habit to open every new business meeting in a similar fashion. At one point, it worked for you, so let’s put that on repeat! Basic human behavior. That’s fine, right?

Well, it depends

We often hear from sales professionals that they open the sales conversation in a particular way: “Right from the bat, we start pitching our value statement! This prospect needs to know where we excel compared to the competition!”

Basically: We are Company X, and we do A, B, C, and consider service and quality to be so much more important that Company Y and Company Z. Wanna buy?

Ask yourself: How exceptional is that? Is that really how you differentiate yourself from the competition? And what does that signal to your prospect? Are you really the company with unique added value, or just one of the same as everybody else?

How to do better

The things you actually say and do in your sales calls, matter. Obviously. The structure that we train our customers in, with which you can really differentiate, works great for that. More on that later.

However, the real work starts before that first sales conversation. I’m not talking about preparation, even though that is important. Of course, you need to know what’s happening in your prospects’ company, what they do, and what products and services they sell. And you need to who you’re going to be talking with, and what his or her formal role within the company is.

So where does it start? You won’t be surprised, hopefully, but it starts with your own non-conscious beliefs. Because how you look at yourself, the world, your business, and thereby your clients, is of essential importance to the success of any meeting.

We’ve written about it before, but your non-conscious beliefs are vital in the successful closing of new business partnerships and deals. If you, deep down inside, do not believe that you can deliver value, it’s over before it’s even started. Start with this, and then, and only then, enter your sales calls.

Okay, but what about the sales call?

This requires some things too, of course. On the one hand, it’s good to know what attitude you go into the meeting with. And on the other hand, you must ask the right questions and suggest the right things in the meeting itself. Be respectful and easy going, but also challenge your prospects to expand their thinking. If you dare to do that, you will be of added value.

Additionally, you’ve set this sales conversation in motion. What are the topics of conversation, before the sales call has ‘officially’ started? Yes, I’m referring to small talk. But don’t ask about the work of art on the wall. Why not? Well, there is a good chance that every other sales rep ever has also asked about it. And the purpose is to differentiate from your competitors!

Imagine the following sales conversation: It’s you, on a new business meeting, and you and your prospect have your cup of coffee, tea, or water. Great. Some small talk has passed (“Were you able to find it? How was the traffic? Did you see the match?”), and then the real sales call starts. What do you say? What do you do? Who’s in charge during the conversation?

You started it, and you should be in charge. Respectfully, of course. You start with what initiated the sales conversation – how did you get to today’s meeting? Who approached whom? How did that go? By phone or email, or maybe a reference, or did someone download a whitepaper? What needs to be discussed today? That’s what initiated this meeting.

Set Goals

Many people are excited enough to start the sales conversation immediately, and start asking questions about needs, wants, and challenges, and will tell how they’re extremely qualified to fix whatever needs fixing. Another value statement is pitched, but it really is too early. It all matters, just not at this point in the meeting.

That has to do with a bit of non-conscious psychology. If you start pitching randomly, you come across as weak. Non-consciously, your prospects get the feeling that you’re begging them. The disadvantage is that you do not come across as a partner, who can deliver value, and who is an equal to the prospect in their business dealings together. You’re non-consciously being perceived as a low status individual.

Martijn Schaap start salesgesprek

How can you ensure that you’re being perceived as a high status individual, who can deliver added value? That’s the question! And you do that by framing the start of the sales call. Be clear in your purpose for this sales call, and refer back to it during the conversation.

That can look as follows: “Great that we have both found the time to have this meeting with each other. What initiated this particular meeting is our prior contact by phone, after you’ve downloaded our whitepaper on the Future of Sales. The purpose of this meeting, from my point of view, is to talk about the current state of your company, your vision for the future, and the challenges that are already here or can be anticipated in the immediate future. Then we’ll discover whether your organization is a match for us, and whether we are a match for you. Then we can determine the added value for both our organizations if we partner together to realize your vision more quickly and more effectively.”

With an intro like the one above, you set yourself up as a high status individual, because you’re not begging for his business. No – you are critical to find out if your organizations are a match, and if there is enough potential added value in the collaboration for all parties involved.

Sales Call: Don’t just randomly pitch

Get your mindset right, before you apply the needed skills or above intro to the sales call. Otherwise, you don’t come across great, and are still put aside as a low status individual. Start the sales call strong and follow up accordingly. Don’t show up just to throw up (your pitch).

Of course, the sales conversation needs to have certain issues addressed, otherwise that intro is nothing but hot air. At martijnschaap.com, we use two kinds of conversation structures for that, and they’re intertwined. If you are curious, or want to know more about our sales training, click the button below to get in touch!

Follow the YouTube channel of our CEO Martijn Schaap if you’re interested in learning more about setting goals, achieving success, and being an entrepreneur.

Written by Stephan Annema, partner at martijnschaap.com.

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