In a perfect world, every potential client would immediately see the value of your products and services, and you’d close the deal every time.
In the real world? People are busy, distracted, and maybe even a little cynical about sales calls.
So what can you do to improve that first sales call?
Over the last 6 months, our business has experienced rapid growth. That being said, I’ve had loads of experience (and lots of success) closing monthly recurring deals with just one call.
I completely understand that it’s not always possible to close the sale with one conversation, but setting that as a goal has worked for us.
The 4 tactics below have drastically improved the conversion rate of our initial sales calls, and I’m confident they’ll be just as effective for your B2B sales calls as well.
1) Do your homework
Business owners are busy people. They don’t have time for you to interview them about their business before you make a pitch.
Do some research ahead of time: read the information on their website carefully, and do everything you can to understand their products, services, and target customers.
You DON’T want to be on the call saying, “Tell me about your business.”
Instead, you want to be armed with knowledge so that you can lead the call with: “Let me see if I understand what you and your team do…” and follow it with specific questions and clarifications.
For example, a few months ago I was talking with a company that provides data security solutions for businesses that handle credit card transactions. During the call I said, “So if Target had been your customer, that security fiasco last year wouldn’t have happened. Am I understanding that correctly?”
It won the client over instantly.
2) Add value immediately
It’s tempting to withhold sharing your expertise until the client is committed—after all, you don’t work for free, right?
But you’re much better off being a helpful resource from day one, even if you never land the deal.
When we’re talking with a potential client, we freely share tips and tricks for how they can optimize their blog or improve their content. This provides a “sneak peek” into what we do and lets the prospect see that we’re experts.
Even if they don’t end up hiring us, we leave the contact with a favorable impression, keeping the door open to future interactions.
Look at it this way: if you can give someone a tip now that improves their business in the future, they’ll remember you when their business grows (when they’re in a better position to need and afford what you have to offer).
3) Be honest about what you can and can’t do
Never over-promise during a sales call, and commit to something that’s beyond the scope of what your company is capable of doing.
This sets you up to under-deliver and disappoint the client in the future.
I remember a sales call from several months ago when I was extremely impressed with the prospect’s content marketing strategy.
Instead of making grandiose promises about improving something that was already incredible, I was honest. I told them that their blog was already amazing, and that the primary way our team could help would be to simply amplify the amount of content they create.
The contact appreciated the honesty and offered us the opportunity to write several press releases—a time-consuming task that the prospect didn’t have time to tackle.
It wasn’t a complete sell of our entire service offering, but it opened the door to an area where our team could really be useful.
4) Set a follow-up date
“We’ll talk sometime soon…” doesn’t cut it.
Relying on the prospect to initiate the follow-up makes it easy for a potential client to walk away.
Here are two strategies to prevent this from happening.
- If the opportunity to schedule a follow-up doesn’t arise at the end of the first sales call, send a follow-up email immediately after you hang up.
Share details from the call (package options, pricing, etc.) and ask when you can contact them again. They’ll appreciate having information from the call in writing, and a timely message will show them you’re serious about working with them.
(Note: Make sure to use FollowUp.cc in this email. You’ll want a reminder to follow-up again if the prospect doesn’t respond.)
- The 2nd strategy is to set the follow-up (for us, it’s a risk-free trial of our service) while you’re on the sales call.
With confidence, ask: “When would be a good time for me to follow-up?”
These tactics aren’t simply theories—they work!
Using the 4 strategies above, Sweet Fish Media went from $0 to $12,700 in monthly recurring revenue in just six months. I say that not to brag, but because I believe these tactics can work for your business, too.
Now get out there and close some deals!
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James Carbary is the founder of Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He’s a contributor for the Huffington Post & Business Insider, and he also co-hosts a top-ranked podcast according to Forbes: B2B Growth. When James isn’t interviewing the smartest minds in B2B marketing, he’s drinking Cherry Coke Zero, eating Swedish Fish, and hanging out with the most incredible woman on the planet (who he somehow talked into marrying him).