Call Me, Maybe: How to Prepare for a Sales Call

What goes into a successful sales call?


We always hear salespeople say that they’ve got to “go make some calls.” What goes into making these calls, though? How do you know who to reach out to? Where do you get that phone number to call?  It’s not like this prospective customer was born into your CRM. Even if it was there before you joined the company, someone added it into there.

In B2B sales, there are a number of steps that precede picking up the phone to make a pitch. In fact, the actual phone call is just the final step in a long, organized process. Here’s what you’ll need to do to prep for that call.

Step 1

Create target profiles – If you, as a sales rep, got on the phone with Andrew Mason a little over a year ago, you’d be over the moon. He was the CEO of Groupon, leader of a billion-dollar company. If you got on the phone with him today, it would be a different story – not quite the same as what you’d targeted a year ago.

The person you are calling obviously needs to be part of a company that is in your target.. How do you define this? Before you even start looking for a phone number, you’ll need to build a target account profile (or even 2 or 3) to pinpoint the companies that are the best fit as customers. These profiles should be based on a number of factors, including industry, revenue, company size, location, etc. There’s no point making a phone call if your target doesn’t fit your customer profile.

Step 2

Targeted Sales CallsFind target accounts – It’s grunt work, as are many of these steps. You have to pore through relevant industry journals, twitter feeds and blogs. To go really deep, you might scour lists of exhibitors and sponsors at relevant conferences or find annual “top 100” lists of companies in certain verticals. Making that cold call pitch is going to be pretty difficult if you don’t have a sense of the target’s industry, competitors or needs.

Step 3

Hone in on target titles – Pretty self-explanatory. What titles would have interest and/or purchasing power within your target accounts? A good exercise is to look over your current customer base and figure out who was the “champion” of your product or service and compare that to who made the final decision.

Another good exercise; let’s say you have a personal or pre-existing professional relationship that “got you in the door” with a target account. When you had that first meeting, who did your acquaintance introduce you to first? That’s typically one of the top titles you want to search for.

Step 4

Find contact information and enter it into your CRM – More grunt work, my friend. While there are some practices around it, this step will take up the most time in this process. And once you’ve found the contact, you have to mass import it into your CRM. As the French say – bon chance.

Step 5

Send a mass email to these individual prospects to find the best contact – Wait. You’re not going to do that? Time to click on a “come to Jesus” link.

Step 6

Manage responses, target opens – People are going to respond to your email with interest, a question, a referral or a remove. Or a million other ways. You have to get back to these people and try to get them, or the person whom they referred, to a qualification call. Then you have to update relevant fields in your CRM. After you’re done with that, time to track opens. Our general rule is that if they’ve opened it up 3+ times you should be following up with a call, which in turn leads us to our final step.

Step 7

The CALL – Six steps before you get on the phone, four if you’re not mass emailing them (caveman). And even before you actually pick up the phone, you should find out the best times of the day/week to make those cold calls.

As you can see, there are a lot of steps that go into “making some calls.”  So the question is, as a salesperson, are you wasting your time and company $$$ by doing every element of this process yourself? Shouldn’t you be focusing on the high touch, honestly more interesting, aspects of the process (which are clearly 1, 3, 6 & 7)? Even there, steps 1 and 3 only need to happen once.

In a way, those people are right – “making some calls” is eventually just that. The call is where the pitch will be made, the qualification completed and the sale predicted. But there is always a process that gets you there. That process needs to be professional and fine-tuned. What it doesn’t need to be is to be on your plate. Most of your pre-call process should be done by sales support.

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