Sales Call, Fear, Planning, Selling, Joe GirardWhy does it feel like the phone weighs 300 pounds right when you need to make the call? Well partly, it’s due to fear like we discussed yesterday, but also it comes from not being prepared. Preparation will trump fear any day. So before you make that next call, follow these tips: 

1) Research your prospect

It shocks me to see salespeople cold calling with no research done on their prospects.  Perhaps you don’t know them specifically, but if you want to increase your win rates, you better be sure that you do some fact finding before you call.   Learn about your customers business, the industry they’re in, and (if you can) the individual you will be speaking to. Prepare some insights about their business and industry, and use the YOU/BECAUSE method as much as possible with the research you have done to get buy-in. And for your follow up calls, make sure you are prepared as well.

2) Make calls at the BEST time

The most beneficial habit in sales to get into is always be testing, evaluating, and improving your processes – especially when it comes to picking up the phone and making the calls.  The more you measure, the faster you can find trends and opportunities.  A study from showed some excellent data they collected over three years on optimal call times and conversions.  Some important data they found on call times:

  1. Thursday is the best day to contact a lead in order to qualify that lead. It is 19.1% better than Friday, which is the worst day.Best Day To Contact and Qualify a Lead
  2. 4-5 pm is the best time to contact a lead to qualify that lead. 4-5pm is 109% better than 11-12am.

Contacted Leads That Become Qualified Time of Day

Those stats are great, but the numbers you really want to focus on are your response times when someone makes an inquiry with you:

  1. The odds of calling to contact a lead decrease by over 10 times in the first hour.
    Initial Dials that become qualified - chart
  2. The odds of calling to qualify a lead decreases by over 6 times in the first hourInitial dials to leads that become qualified - chart
  3. The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. And from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the dial to qualify odds decrease 4 times.

Dials to Leads that become qualified by response time - chart

So the first thing you must do is to ensure you are set up to respond to new inquiries immediately.  If you don’t, someone else will.  And for your sales calls, start tracking your own times of day for getting ahold of people.  For your business, do some research on your competitors and see how fast they respond to inquiries and what types of tools they use to convert.  Gather your own data to strengthen your sales process.   There are quite a few studies like this one and you may even find ones that are specific to your own industry.  If you can’t find one, contact a CRM or marketing automation vendor and see if they have some data they can send you. 

3) Set your energy

As I have mentioned in previous posts, your intentions make a huge difference in sales.  You have to switch your mind into a ready state and present yourself with the right energy so your client can feel your presence.  Turn off any distractions, remove from your mind any of the stresses of the day, and block out anything that would take your attention away from the person you are talking to.

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The best way to do this is to practice the idea of being 100% curious about the other person you are talking to.  Put in your mind that you can’t WAIT to talk to them and learn about their life, their challenges, and see if you can get them excited.   That kind of intention setting takes a bit of practice, but it will make your calls so much more enjoyable for both parties.  Try it!

4) Build your dramatic difference

As part of my sales psychology series, I will be digging into some effective rapport building skills that will help you connect and engage with your clients.  A big one is to demonstrate a dramatic difference in your client’s mind.  What do you do to stand out to them?  Can you get them to say, “Wow!” when you speak with them?  Does your reputation precede you?  Are you already known as an expert in your field, someone with credibility, and the BEST person to solve their problems?

If you enter the sales call with them already excited to meet you and talk business, you are miles ahead of your competition.

If you want to beef up your personal brand, download my free ebook by entering your email below:

5) Prepare some powerful questions

Questions are the key to everything if you really want to make the most of your calls.  Get really good at asking them, then listening, then asking deeper questions to gain understanding.  If you have a few moments, make sure you read my post on SPIN Selling as it gives you a killer formula for preparing great questions.

So before your next call, outline a few key pieces of information you would like to gather, and create a few different questions to help you get the info.  This practice will also help you focus on the customer and not yourself.

6) Determine your commitment objectives

When I ask salespeople what their commitment objective for their calls are, most often they reply, “To get the sale.”  Okay great, but what else?  the second answer is usually, “To get an appointment.”  In today’s complex sales environment, we don’t make the sale on the first call, nor do we get the appointment as often as we like.  But time and time again, salespeople go into their calls with only those two objectives in mind, then are disappointed when they don’t get success.  Look at your stats on win rates for your calls.  How often do you get the appointment?  What else can you have someone do BESIDES an appointment? A commitment objective is something you can get your client to agree to do that will help move the sale forward.  This is why I hate the “check-in” phone calls.  There is no objective.

Commitment Objectives are two-fold:

  1. What goal do I want to accomplish? and
  2. What will I get them to agree to do next?

First, think about your goals in your sales process:

  • Demonstrate credibility
  • Build rapport
  • Gain deeper insights on the customers current situation
  • Show knowledge and expertise in your field and your customer’s business
  • Showcase your brand
  • Create a high level of service

What else do you want your customers to know about you?  Write those down and really think about all the ways you are currently showing them…

Second, how will you accomplish those goals in a variety of ways?  I suggest having three levels of commitment objectives:

  1. Primary: Get an appointment
  2. Secondary: Get your client to agree to review some information you send them.  An article, a video, a PDF, an online training, a demo, etc.  They could also agree to visit your facility, attend an event you are hosting, or meet you somewhere for an activity.  Have fun with these as you can create amazing opportunities with your commitment objectives!
  3. Tertiary: Get them to agree to a follow up call.  This is a step that most salespeople miss.  They leave their calls hanging with no confirmed next step.  When you confirm a good day and time to follow up, you are able to test their level of commitment, answer any further questions, and get them to buy into the process.  If they don’t agree at this stage for a follow up call, you have a window of opportunity to address an objection you haven’t covered yet.  If they agree to a follow up call, you are one step closer.

Follow those tips and you will be miles ahead of your competition.  Preparation is important, but so is getting your head in the right place.  You must find a way to challenge yourself and make your calls fun.  It will take some work to prepare your materials, and practice, but if you want to be a top performer, you have to do what others wont. 

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Get out and make some calls!  And remember to subscribe below for more content like this!

Joe Girard
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    3 replies to "Sales Call Planning: What to do Before you Pick up That Phone"

    • […] convince them otherwise.  By then, it’s too late.  Instead, make sure you have done your pre-call research, and understand your customer concerns well ahead of time.  Also, ask great questions to uncover […]

    • Andre

      Hi Joe, Thanks for this very helpful article. Just want to mention that the Personal Branding pdf doesn’t work accurately (in terms of text/Font)?
      I’m working on a Mac by the way.



      • Joe Girard

        Thanks for letting me know! Now we are chatting via email, so maybe we found the hidden opportunity?

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