A Sales Call Structure Converts More Prospects to Buyers

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A Sales Call Structure Converts More Prospects to Buyers

Hopefully your Sales Call Structure is not that tired sales call script you’ve had for years, you know the one given to all your sales new starters to get them out of the blocks?

Times have moved on, and buyers can SMELL a sales script a million miles away. And, by the way, your sales reps hate it too!

Truth is, they’re pretty boring to a great sales person who wants the freedom, and has the creative brain power, to dig in deep with the buyer.

Smart sales reps know you have to have a real conversation if you want to forge a deep connection, get trusted advisor status with the prospect and demonstrate real value.

BUT…I know you’ll have your reservations.

After all, what about call quality standards, call coaching standards, call quality scores…does that mean they need to change too?

Let’s see….

Only you can decide that, so read on and weight up the value of rethinking your sales call structure

What? A Non Standard Sales Call Structure?

Really?

But….what does that mean for call consistency?

Let the Reigns Go Slack….

Seriously, if you are this worried, then you maybe need to think about a couple of things in terms of culture, engagement and growth potential:

  • How have you trained your team?
  • Why are you employing them if you don’t trust them
  • What are you most scared of by having real life conversations vs heavily scripted sales exchanges?

Maybe it’s time for a small rethink about call structures, and maybe letting loose the reigns a little bit and see what happens?

Maybe, think about a sales call structure as being less like something written down and carved in stone and more like a new piece of mental software.

Mental software that you and your reps build together in their head.

Less like a static tick box exercise and more like a smart diagnostic tool.

And here’s why…sometimes it’s too easy to think selling is a conversation mapped on to a process – and 10 years ago, you may have been right.

Today though?

Million miles away from being true!

Make a Bendy and Flexible Sales Call Structure?

Your sales rep has a tough job just to get into a call with a decision maker these days – check out Sales Prospecting for a bit more insight into how to help them do this.

In the meantime – remember this –

A sales rep has to wear many hats for your buyer, adopt many perspectives, demonstrate a whole toolkit worth of sales /non-sales skills and experience, just for the right to ask for the sale….

The sales call structure should help and allow them to do this…

I know that today, some of the very best sales reps I work with are actually BRILLIANT detectives…they can round up a bundle of questions to get to the crux of a solution (and a value proposition, with a blow-you-mind ROI) in less time and with less effort that it takes me to fire up my laptop.

Pure genius!

But we forget…this is their oxygen.

When I first started sales training my opening line was that the sales reps could forget their name, partners name, dogs name and where they lived….but this sales structure?

Even under the most traumatic of conditions – they could snap into their sales mental software in a heartbeat.

Flawless and to perfection!

Forget their sales pathways?

Nope.

They’d never forget their sales call structure!

Why?

Because we’d drill it in so deep.

Any buyer would never realise they were being taken though a process.

The sales call structure was curly, bendy, hyper sensitive to nuance and really simple to follow…

And even better, the sales rep didn’t need to say that much!

What!

It’s true!

Because we’d worked out that the very best sales reps didn’t say even half as much as the mid-performing sales reps!

And their sales cycles were shorter!

So that’s how we built our sales call structure.

Do yourself a favour and look at the structure of a sales call from one of your high performing reps, a mid table rep and a bottom f the league rep – what do you notice?)

How to Structure a Sales Call for the Future!

Heavy on the questions. (If you want to check out what questions – check out Open Sales Questions to Help you Sell More, Faster

Very light on the pitching.

Because great sales reps definitely speak less than under-performing sales reps!

Uber natural on the close so much so that at the end of the call, well, the prospect is pitching our solution back to us!

YES! Your Prospect Starts Pitching Your Solution Back to You!

Well, actually what’s happening is your sales prospect is selling it to himself, out loud.

How fab is that?

(But wait, this is the point where novice sales reps interrupt and lose the sale so just beware you’re not home yet!)

If you think this is too good to be true, come and join us on our Sales Improvement Workshop!

Our sales call structure will blow you away and have you wondering why and how you could ever sell any other way!

After all, a sales call structure is just that…a structure.

How you wrap that structure so it works for the prospect and makes selling easy for the sales person, now that’s the skill!

It’s a framework….whether it’s a sales discovery call structure, a second follow up call structure, a ‘take them through the quote’ call structure, a ‘let’s involve all the stake holders’ or a negotiation….every single element has a purpose

And breaking the sales pitch down into mini sales call frameworks is the key to unlocking the magic sales conversion pathway – for buyers and for reps!

It’s the easiest way to ensure, by the end of the sales call / sales presentation, that the buyer is selling to you!

Installing Mental Sales Software Instead of a Script!

Can you see why flexible thinking is so critical and why a sales script just won’t cut it anymore?

Traditional and olde world sales reps talk – A LOT.

At best, it’s a broadcast fest.

At worst, it’s a verbal assault!

Adopting a more flexible and flowing way of thinking about a sales call is a winner because it’s all too common for the sales rep to try and take the buyer on a journey where the buyer has no idea where the rep is going, why, how long it’s going to take or even if they buyer is going to get any value from it…

Now, with a more rounded approach, everything gets explained as the call progresses. Your sales rep will be big on questions that start with them explaining WHY they are asking the questions they ask, and how they will set about exploring potential fits and value solutions!

And that’s buyer resistance dissolved right there.

Success straight out the blocks.

The buyer is either on board and easier to proceed or de-selects themselves there and then.

If you’re a sales leader (like me) then you will have listened to that call – and, if you were scoring your rep off a call quality score card it would be tick tick tick all the way.

BUT in reality, you know the call is LOST, and you know the buyers just opened Facebook and is looking a pics of cats baking cakes whilst dressed as army recruits!

What’s the Fix?

Any sales call structure needs to include a way of collecting ideas and information that takes the buyer with you willingly.

So they go with you and give you the information you need, because they understand WIIFT (what’s in it for them)…they know the payback, and they think the payback is valuable!

They think the value payback is worth them investing their time.

A way of building in logic and logical progression during a conversation…so everyone know where things are heading, why, and how long it’s going to take

A natural spiral of open questions to direct conversation as needed to make sure all points are covered….increasingly detail orientated to help give clarity to the buyer, and ‘ammunition’ for the rep!

A means of ensuring all topics are touched upon in an appropriate and relevant order, and at the right time, with the right emphasis.

You can check out more by looking at how to build a sales prospecting strategy

Maybe less of a formal sales script and more of a sales conversation check list?

A good sales structure is certainly not a static document.

It grows and develops with every call…if it’s used properly.

It works this way because the mental sales software in the reps head starts to absorb the ‘new language’ so that it becomes second nature.

The sales mental software becomes auto-correcting, it becomes natural and it improves with use.

It’s highly reflective.

It become intuitively progressively better and stronger because it is free standing!

Which means untrained sales reps get better faster.

They enjoy success earlier

So build momentum because of that motivation sooner.

And the buyers enjoy the sales engagement much more!

And because of it’s flexibility, it’s a great group reflective thinking tool….so the whole team improve

Designed for analytical reflection if a call doesn’t go too well, or as well as when a call goes brilliantly, and you’d expected.

A great sales call structure forms the bed rock for how your business sells.

For how your sales team are trained.

F your sales leaders coach your sales executives, at all levels.

For your success and growth

What now? How to Structure a Sales Call that works

We cover all of this in our Sales Improvement Workshop

In the first instance start chunking down the sales call stages – BUT not like you have probably done in the past where the sales call structure followed a sales qualification funnel as you navigated the buyer from the top of the sales call to the bottom.

Instead you’re going to chunk the sales call around different issues, problems and challenges that the prospect is currently suffering from or potentially could suffer from.

The difference being – and you sales reps need to be super smart at this so as not to appear arrogant and self -assured….your sales reps need to discover not just what the prospect is suffering from BUT also what the prospect should also be worried about.

This is a game changer.

Whilst all of your competitor’s sales reps are drilling down into the now – you’re lifting your prospect’s eyes to the future issues and challenged

That’s potency overload right there!

So, I Should Ditch My Old Sales Call Structure?

Probably.

Look at it like this – a sales call structure has got to be a learning document.

It has to present your very best ideas, in the very best way, at the best time…and have built in room to develop the rep to the point of total confidence, delivering success so their confidence grows and so do the sales revenues

It has to evolve, because buyers today don’t buy in the same way they were buying two years ago, two months, two weeks ago…you can find out more about how buyers are currently making their buying decisions here

So why are you selling in exactly the same way?

Ok, I bet you’re now thinking about how your sales pitch has evolved.

I can categorically tell you that it’s probably not evolved nearly enough!

And the reason for that is that you never had a controlled sales call structure, you’ve never experimented with the order, what to leave in, leave out…and having done that, you’ve probably never measured the impact of those changes.

A Well Developed Sales Structure Grows with Every Single Sales Interaction

Your sales call structure is a living breathing entity that changes as you/the sales person changes and develops.

It evolves all the time.

Get’s better as you get better, as your skills and knowledge increase so does the scope of the sales call structure.

As the buyers ask more demanding questions, raise more objections, challenges more, then the sales call structure broadens it’s scope to build in responses, or planned responses to that.

An effective sales call structure exists as a personal sales road map for the sales person.  

It also develops as a collective entity as the team builds and shares it’s own knowledge bank.

So forget about call scripts…

The thing to really work on is your call structure.

Use it, tear it up, format a new one.

Play around with it.

Test it.

Keep what works, ditch the rest.

So, What are the Key Characteristics of an Effective Sales Structure?

In the simplest terms think –

Beginning – 10%

Middle 1 – Big Discovery – 40%

Middle 2 – Detailed Fact Find – 40%

End – 10%

With the associated ratios above in terms of where you should be spending your time.

Beginning – 10% – this section needs to grab attention.

I’m going to assume that you know this person is THE person you want to engage with and not some random poor soul you’re trying to pitch to?

( Please don’t do this – it’s wasting precious time and why be a ‘mud at the wall’ sales person?)…

So, having made that proviso, you’ve a very short time to engage and demonstrate your value, or fit.

To do this you need a strong opening statement – sufficient enough to be very credible yet disruptive enough to grab the prospect’s attention.

Some people might refer to this as your elevator pitch, I’m not keen because it sort of assumes that your elevator pitch is a standard line you trot out when you intro yourself.

PLEASE NOTE: your Beginning really shouldn’t be about you.

BECAUSE: your prospect doesn’t care about you…yet. You have to make him want to care – but more on that another time.

So, whatever you do, don’t make the Beginning of the call is all about you.

It’s supposed to be tailored, hard hitting, relevant and direct.

It goes without saying, the more you know about your target prospect, the more relevant your opening can be…

Good B2B Sales Call Structure: The Beginning

Falls into 2 distinct parts:

Part 1: Speak to the Prospect’s Concerns and Motivations (based on your research)

Hi Mr X, Carol here from Morton Kyle.

I understand you’re the person ultimately responsible for driving sales performance within your business? Many of my clients are spending this quarter making sure their sales pipeline is fully primed with high quality opportunities, is that important to you this quarter or are you looking at X, Y, X?

Note – it’s all about the Prospect – not you!

Note number 2 – if you’re currently using your pitch as a pure discovery then expect to bomb! Your pitch should incorporate telling the prospect what he SHOULD be worrying about this quarter! Because you’re the expert – right?

Part 2: Deliver the Value (what’s in it for the prospect)

Great, I help firms just like yours – firms like X, Y, Z to boost their sales by over 20% in 12 months, without increasing their headcount.

We’ve also set them up to avoid A, to build B and to prevent C….all which would have derailed even the best of sales functions.

Can we have a chat now about how this might work for you or should we get a time/date in the diary for a call where I can share some real insights that might help you?

This type of intro has merit it’s:

Direct – the prospect knows exactly what you want to talk about and why he should talk with you.

Relevant – you’ve just name dropped his three biggest competitors, or at least three decent enough names so that he knows who you’re talking about..

Evokes Curiosity – you’ve future proofed your work!

Specific – you’ve named names and given numbers, and you’ve offered him the opportunity to pick your brains (Yes, harsh I know but you must start somewhere)

Respectful – you’ve given him an option to engage now or another time. You’ve let him know the commitment you want from him at this stage.

You’ve portrayed yourself as having a value proposition fit for his business.

You don’t sound desperate.

It’s a peer to peer exchange not a sales pitch, and you’ve not promised anything.

Sure, it might be too direct for some decision makers – if that’s the case they are not my target crowd!

Good B2B Sales Call Structure: The Middle 

This section – the Middle is split into two sections.

The whole Middle section is question driven.

The bulk of the talking is done by the prospect.

The aim is to ‘diagnose’ the prospect to see how close the fit is between what you may have perceived as his problem or pain point and the possible scope of the solution your business can provide.

Some people will refer to this as ‘finding the sales fit’

If you can’t find a good fit, then the problem the firm has maybe not big enough to warrant your solution.

It may not be painful enough or not costing them enough to want to change the status quo.

In that case you have a lovely conversation and nothing more.

Maybe a pipeline builder to recontact at a later agreed time.

Remember this – the value is always in the discussion. During the fact find and discovery parts of the Middle Section you’ll get all the info you need to have a BETTER call next time if you have a proper discussion this time i.e not a hit and run exchange!

Good B2B Sales Call Structure: The Middle 1 – How to Structure a Discovery Call in Sales – Big Discovery

Here you want a set of very big and broad questions that give you mountains of information.

Heaps and heaps of relevant information.

You need the prospect to open up quickly and with minimum defences.

Here’s how you do this, ask him about such things as…

Challenges in the market place – be specific – remember you know his industry.

So ‘tell me about the challenges you’re facing at the moment’ is not a good start.

Try this:

Something like ‘ the new legislation that came in last year, how are your sales team dealing with prospects who pushing for you to deliver XYZ as part of your solution, so they can benefit from the coverage the compliance gives them?’

The quality of your peer to peer questions will cause the prospect to imagine you as a potential expert advisor and not a slimy sales guy.

Or this:

Trends in the industry/buyer fads…again be specific

‘Are you being impacted by the lower tariffs from China?’

Or this:

Specific competitor challenges  – again, the more you can reference what’s going on in their industry the lower the prospects defences will be lowered

‘Have your seen a sway in market growth with the new guidelines issued by the HSE?’

And this:

Future development potential – in response to current trends.

‘What do you think will happen to your market when the new apps become live?’

This is a true peer to peer exchange.

You don’t need to sell, you’re fact finding during the sales discovery, BUT the quality of your questions will let the prospect know that you know what you’re talking about.

Instant credibility…or not!

This part of the call is a diagnoses of how close or how far you are in terms of you being of benefit to the prospect

Good B2B Sales Call Structure: The Middle – Detailed Fact Find

This section of your sales call structure is about taking the huge amount of information you’ve gathered during Big Discovery and drilling down further.

Imagine you’re moving to this section when you’ve got a good idea of where you might be able to add value to the sales prospect.

Now you need to drill down to see how much pain the sales prospect is in.

Discover what they’ve tried before, essentially scoping out what the current pain is costing them (and not just financially costing him!).

Discover what their appetite is for exploring solutions.

After all, even if a sales prospect is in pain, if it’s not sufficient pain, or if the pain is pale in comparison to another business issue, or simply, they’ve learned to live with the pain, then your solution is likely to be of little value to him, however great it is.

This might even require you to conduct a number of reframing exercises with the prospect.

This might mean challenging their existing views.

For this you may need information. Or be able to reframe. To represent the information they’ve given you into another ‘frame’ so they can evaluate their position from a different angle, or a number of different angles.

So your framework for questions in this section is:

  • Help me understand how…
  • What happens if…
  • How do you manage when…
  • What would you do if…
  • How would you feel if you found out that…
  • If X competitor does this…how will you react…
  • What would need to happen for you to…
  • How would you feel if I were to retell you what you’ve told me so that x is the outcome, and let me explain why….
  • What have you considered/discarded when thinking of this…

Again, notice there is no selling here, it’s a Detailed Fact Find…it’s assessing the current situation.

It’s assuming nothing.

It’s looking at fit.

No fit = No point.

For you or the sales prospect.

Good B2B Sales Call Structure: The End

The first thing to do is to understand what ‘the end’ actually means.

It doesn’t mean a close.

It does mean the close to this conversation.

Good sales.

Valuable sales.

Progressive sales is about sales advancement in every single contact point.

So, the End in this context is more about a joint reflection and agreement regarding what the next stage might look like, from your point of view and the prospect.

What No Qualification?

Shocking I know.

But, look what you’ve done.

You know this is the guy who makes the decisions. The guy with authority to act, because you’ve established that with the quality, depth and scope of your questions and the detail in his answers!

Budget – well that’s for you to help him find. If your ROI is strong enough then good to go.

BUT beware – you shouldn’t mistakenly confuse budget availability with affordability.

Need – you’ve assessed, hopefully mutually, what the potential value is in progressing discussions. Only you can build that. If your proposition is compelling and value laden enough, and if the solution fit is strong enough, then need can be created.

Timing – Ok, some of it is within the realms of the buyer. But it’s again going to rest on how you can influence the sales prospect to view it as urgent.

Do you have enough compelling information and insight to build urgency?

To take a course of action that’s best for him, in a time span that suits both?

The question is can you influence and persuade at that level?

So, you’ve qualified, but in doing so you’ve also recognised that real sales qualification done by professional sales people who make deals happen is really never a simple tick box exercise. It’s a means of seeing where the prospect is and what needs to happen to get you both to a common middle ground.

Are You Convinced?

Will you ditch your sales call script, your by rote recitation?

Can you spend some time developing and nurturing your B2B sales call structure?

Work and build your sales knowledge bank at the same time?

Using a common language?

To accelerate sales skill and sales knowledge development?

I think it’s worth the investment in working out how this could work in your business, especially if you’re in a competitive sales environment (aren’t we all in that position?)

Let me know how you get on.

Want some help?

Join us and spend a day perfecting your sales call structure – The Sales Improvement Workshop

Your B2B sales call structure could be the only thing that’s currently sitting between you and untold sales success.

You can also check out our Sales Insight service.

You can do it because it’s part of the reps development at speed.

Do it to help your team all perform at the highest level.

You can do it because you company deserves to get the biggest share of their market

You SHOULD do it to support the buyer’s evolutionary process.

Do it to make each and every single interaction a big old lesson in how to make it even better next time!

So, it really is worth thinking about how to structure a sales call.

You can design a sales call structure that speaks directly to your prospects, in their language. A sales call structure that is engaging and insightful enough for them to remember you, and buy from you!

Join us on our Sales Improvement Workshop to start installing your mental sales software. Build your own sales call structure template, and structure a sales call designed to influence, persuade and convert!

Carol Griffiths
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