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Sales call best practices: 7 things you should and should not do in a sales call

Riya Uppal

Sales can be a challenging job—but if you know the essential dos and don’ts of selling, you would have an easier time keeping your pipeline steady and flowing. This is exactly what this blog will do for you. 

In this blog, I will share a compilation of two lists: the seven things salespeople should not do and the seven things salespeople should do in sales.

Let us jump right in.

The 7 things sales professionals should never do

1. Never use “powerless” words and expressions

Buyers today expect to be guided through the B2B buying process. To do so, sellers must take charge of the buying process and focus the conversation on value.

As a salesperson, you have to display confidence in yourself and your product to come across as trustworthy to your prospects. 

Try to steer clear of the words, phrases, and speech patterns that belong to what scholars like Bradac and Mulac (1984) have termed “powerless language.”

“Powerless language” is words, phrases, and other verbal cues that show doubt and hesitancy on the speaker’s part. Instead, focus on being fluent, direct, and concise.

Here is a list of words and expressions to avoid during your interactions.

2. Don’t badmouth your competitors

When you bring up your competitors and talk negatively about them, you are actually putting yourself in a weak position. You may also be introducing your prospect to a competitor they were not even considering up till now. 

Instead, stay focused on your goal to create a relationship with your prospect by displaying a genuine interest in their needs and presenting them with a solution. 

Unless the customer actually asks a direct question about your competitor’s company or offering, you can sidestep any potential land mines by simply avoiding the topic altogether.

The way to build credibility as a sales or marketing professional is to understand the business problems of prospects and show where you can provide value. If you present well and use the right tools, you’ll accomplish your goal of winning the sale without trying to make anyone else look bad.

3. Rein-in your know-it-all tendencies

You don’t know everything and you don’t need to. Your goal should be helping your prospect to the maximum of your ability, this does not mean you have to do it entirely on your own. It’s always wise to bring in your team for their expertise, rather than wasting your prospects’ time.

Even if you are not able to answer their questions, it’s better to own it rather than misleading them. They will only appreciate your honesty.

4. Never allow a prospect to lead the sales process

The B2B buyer journey has drastically changed. Gartner research has identified six B2B buying stages that customers go through in order to successfully finalise a purchase:

  • Problem identification. “We need to do something.”
  • Solution exploration. “What’s out there to solve our problem?”
  • Requirements building. “What exactly do we need the purchase to do?”
  • Supplier selection. “Does this do what we want it to do?”
  • Validation. “We think we know the right answer, but we need to be sure.”
  • Consensus creation. “We need to get everyone on board.”

The problem, however, is that customers often do not know how to get there without a salesperson’s help. 

The answer: a proactive, prescriptive approach. In this, you give your prospects a clear recommendation for action backed by a specific rationale. You present a concise offering and a stable view of your capabilities; and then help your prospects through the different stages of the buying process. Interestingly, HBR research shows that this prescriptive approach increases purchase ease by a whooping 86%.

5. Neglect pre-meeting research

There is no shortcut to nailing sales calls. You must start with thorough research on your prospects before picking up the phone or initiating contact via other channels. 

The most successful sales interactions happen when a prospect has been thoroughly researched before any engagement is initiated. This allows you to better understand the prospect and recognise where they currently are in terms of their marketing as well as how you can genuinely help their business.

Take some time to go through their website, social media, their industry and competitors to get an idea about who they are and what kind of a solution fits in their business model. Of course, there is a limit to how much you can glean on your own. This is why demo calls exist. However, to actually get the prospect interested in jumping on a call with you, you must show an interest in them first by studying their digital footprint.

Most sales professionals do not follow this approach and as a result, their conversion rates are often very low. Hence, by investing some time at the start of your sales process, you can differentiate your approach from the vast majority of your competitors and win the trust/confidence of the business owner from day one.

6. Never talk too much during a sales call

Remember a sales call is a conversation, not a ted-talk on how revolutionary your product is. Balance advocacy with inquiry. As you convince your prospect on your solution, remember to also learn what will make them buy. 

Go into sales conversations with this mantra: Keep the conversation two-sided by peppering your pitch with a handful of open-ended questions. However, do strike a balance as buyers are also looking for your insight. 

Set a standard for how much insight you can offer and how much airtime you need to take to impart it. Keep perfecting your delivery till you feel you are able to reel in a majority of your prospects with ease. 

7. Never provide irrelevant information

When sales reps fail to understand the prospect’s needs due to inadequate research, they tend to provide a lot of irrelevant information to the prospect in the way of a “spray and pray” approach. The result is a generic sales pitch that doesn’t frame the product as a solution to unique prospect problems.

To avoid this, make sure you know each prospect’s needs inside and out. Then create a slide deck or presentation specifically addressing those needs.

Also, keep your prospect’s communication and engagement preferences in mind as you prepare your pitch. Some prefer standard slides while others may enjoy video or interactive content.

The 7 things sales professionals should definitely do

1. Always target your prospects

A good sales strategy is one that is laser focused on your ideal customer profile (ICP). A clearly defined buyer persona is crucial to an effective sales process and a sales rep who sticks to that persona is effective in generating sales. Otherwise, a salesperson might fall back on spray-and-pray tactics that result in inefficient prospecting.

An effective rep researches the prospect to make sure they’re a good fit. They stick to their ideal buyer persona and know exactly whom they’re selling to and why.

2. Create a measurable, repeatable sales process

One of the most essential frameworks of sales success is a uniform sales process. Laying down a uniform sales process not only reduces the likelihood of errors in your work cycle, but also fosters positive brand image. 

We recommend the following steps to ensure velocity in the sales process:

  • Get a tool that aggregates data and outreach: Go for an on-demand generated data provider with an outreach management solution such that there is no disconnect between data and outreach. This enables your team to save 80-90% time on prospecting and manual outreach as they directly use data that is automated, structured and quality checked in their campaigns.
  • Adopt sales automation to eliminate grunt work: With sales automation, you can take away all the boring, redundant tasks and make space for more tacit tasks like churning out ideas, cold calls and objection handling- something that only humans can do.
  • Keep your CRM updated: As you reach out to your prospects, remember to keep your CRM updated with their responses to ensure uniformity and professionalism in your approach. A poorly maintained CRM will have you recontacting people who have already replied to your email, or miss out on the positive chances. 

hubsell’s sales automation software helps with this by taking care of all your B2B data and outreach needs and integrating it with your CRM. With this, you can foster a clean, unerring version of your brand.

3. Practice active listening

Active listening is one of the most important skills in the salesperson’s tool belt. 

Too often, salespeople launch into a standard sales pitch first and listen later – when it’s already too late. This is a classic case of selling instead of solving, of pressuring and pigeonholing a prospect into a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t fit at all and doesn’t solve their real need.

When you are totally engaged in what your prospect is saying, you make your conversation deeper and more meaningful. Doing this will not only help you build stronger relationships but also help you unlock information that will position your solution as the best option in the eyes of your prospect. 

4. Always ask questions

Average salespeople love it when they get their prospects to agree with them but great salespeople know that true sales is challenging your prospects by making them stop and think why they did not think of that before. 

During your sales demo, always try to ask the questions that make your prospects stop and think. A really good question will draw your prospect inward and see you as a trustworthy source of information. 

Asking qualifying questions narrows your product offerings and allows you to focus on a target audience. Not all of your prospects will be your customer. Asking the right questions will help you hone in on the people who fit the profile of your ideal customer, saving time for you and your prospect. 

5. Always follow up

Many salespeople fail to effectively follow up after sending a proposal. They don’t even know if the prospect opened their email.

As the number of follow up on sales leads increase, so do the chances of a successful sale according to IRC Sales Solution. As such, only 3% of prospects will sign up on the second contact and 5% will say yes on the third try. Surprisingly enough, 80% will buy-in into the sales pitch after the fifth or twelfth contact. This highlights the importance of following up as crucial for your marketing strategy, which must not be overlooked.

hubsell helps keep track of your outreach, letting you know when and how often a prospect opens your email. With this information, you can keep track of responses and set up a series of pre-scheduled actions so that your follow ups are always on time.

6. Acknowledge the competitors strength

A good salesperson does a SWOT analysis of his/her brand, however, a great one does this not just for their own brand but also for their competitors.

A thorough SWOT analysis of each of your competitors can be revealing. Based on what you learn, you can find ways to deal with their strengths and capitalize on their weaknesses. You can be better prepared for the threats they pose and take advantage of opportunities they create.

Knowing your competition well helps you:

  • Understand specifically what your competitive advantages are
  • Understand the specifics of the marketplace where you hold that advantage
  • Target your efforts on that marketplace, which should increase your return on your marketing investment and increase your sales yield
  • Avoid becoming a commodity
  • Get clarity on who your competitors really are
  • Design your communications plan to maximize your advantages

Knowing who your competitors are, and what they are offering can help you to make your products, services and marketing stand out.

7. Focus on value rather than price

It is important to understand the value you are bringing on the table, rather than being too focused on the price. Research backs this as “79% of business buyers say it’s absolutely critical to interact with a salesperson who is a trusted advisor — not just a sales rep — who adds value to their business.”

Snap out of the illusion that the price will sell the product. Even though price is traditionally viewed as a decisive factor and almost all customers demand lower prices, they won’t buy a product just because it’s cheap. They will buy a product that is valuable for them and if this value is substantial, most customers will pay the higher price. Your job is to show your customers that value.

Rounding Off

Now that you have gone through our tips on the essential dos and don’ts of sales, do try to put them into action to see what works best for you. Wishing you lots of success in your sales endeavours!

New readers

For those unfamiliar with hubsell, we provide an end-to-end B2B prospecting solution with on-demand generated B2B data and multi-channel personalised outreach automation software to generate qualified sales leads.

Book your discovery call today to see how you can scale your opportunity generation.