Sales Call Structure is wildly different than that tired sales call script you’ve had for years, you know the one that gets used with all your sales new starters to get them out of the blocks…
What is a Sales Call Structure for B2B Sales?
A sales call structure is just that…a structure
It’s a framework.
A way of collecting ideas and information along an learning journey that you take with your sales prospects.
A way of building in logic and logical progression during a conversation…so you both know where things are heading.
A prompt to direct conversation as needed to make sure all points are covered.
In order to maximise benefits for both the sales prospect and you, the sales person.
It’s a way of ensuring all topics are touched upon in an appropriate and relevant order, and at the right time, with the right emphasis.
Some firms find a good B2B sales call structure also acts as a kind of sales conversation check list.
It’s certainly not a static document, it grows and develops with every call…if it’s used properly.
It’s a great tool to use in reflection if a call doesn’t go too well, or as well as you’d expected.
A good call structure helps build a relevant sales conversation.
I like to think of it as the trunk of a tree, the branches form the many myriad of routes that any B2B sales conversation can take once tow engaged parties get talking.
A great sales call structure forms the bed rock for how your business sells, how your sales team are trained and how your sales leaders coach your sales executives, at all levels.
A Well Developed Sales Call 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.
Keep what works, ditch the rest.
So, What are the Key Characteristics of an Effective Sales Call 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 (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:
Hi Mr X, Carol here from Morton Kyle, I understand you’re the person ultimately responsible for driving sales performance within your business? That’s your focus this year, increase sales, ideally without increasing headcount or the wage bill?
Note – it’s all about the Prospect – not you!
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, 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 20 minute discovery call?
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..
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, is not 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 – 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 defenses.
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.
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.
Trends in the industry/buyer fads…again be specific
‘Are you being impacted by the lower tariffs from China?’
Specific competitor challenges – again, the more you can reference what’s going on in their industry the lower the prospects defenses will be lowered
‘Have your seen a sway in market growth with the new guidelines issued by the HSE?’
Future development potential – in response to current trends.
‘What do you thin k 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, what they’ve tried before, essentially scoping out what the current pain is costing them (and not just financially costing him!) and 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, representing 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.
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 you shouldn’t mistakenly confuse budget availability with affordability.
Need – you’ve assessed, hopefully mutually, what the potential value is in progressing discussions, but again, this is in your hands. If your proposition is compelling and value laden enough, and if the solution fit is strong enough, then need can be created.
Likewise with 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 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.
If you want some help – join us and spend a day perfecting your sales call structure – The Sales Improvement Workshop
If you think your B2B sales call structure is fine but you’d like to find out what’s working and what’s not in the world of sales improvement and business development, then hit this link, The Advanced Business Achiever – it’s totally free.
You can also check out our Sales Insight service.
It’s worth the effort to ensure your sales call structure speaks directly to your prospects, in their language, and is engaging and insightful enough for them to remember you…for all the right reasons!