What Should Be Said on the Sales Call?
If you are like me, no matter how many years of sales experience you have, the first time running a call at a new company requires a game-plan such as a sales call framework (aka guide, not a script). That game-plan tends to evolve over time and change with the needs as you gain experience. You start asking better questions and get better answers as a result; in parallel, you become more successful with time and experience.
I would argue that no matter what, every salesperson has an idea of how a call should go, what the key questions are, and what the outcome should be. If you don’t have this, you are probably missing a big opportunity (and you probably won’t be in sales long). Sales, ultimately, is uncovering needs for a buyer that you can help solve, if you don’t have a repeatable and successful process for uncovering those needs, your success will be slim and random at best.
Sales Call Frameworks
Some of the best sales people combine “what works” from several different sales methodologies. It works, because it’s rooted in psychology and how people will react when presented with specific situations. To that end, sales is more of a science. Pick your favorite sales methodology and think through how they recommend you set up the call. These frameworks are not scripts, but they are guides to how to successfully navigate the call and ultimately how to achieve the desired next steps. Frameworks provide consistency, help with best practices, and help reps avoid errors or missing segments of the call. Personally, I try to have a short framework ready to go for every call with different segments that serve to guide the call.
One example that I use frequently is Sandler’s “upfront contract”. Usually sounds something like: “Hi Mr/Ms. Prospect, my hope is that we can figure out if we are a fit in 10-minutes, if we are then we can do a demo and set up next steps, if not, then we can part friends – does that work for you?”. Hint- they say yes, every time. If they say yes every time, then that means I’m getting permission to set next steps ahead of the end of the call every time. Therefore, why wouldn’t I want to repeat that success on every call I’m on? As a line in my framework, this allows me to repeat this every time.
Another example of a framework is one that is less structured around the call flow and more on how to answer a specific question. For example, when asked about a competitor I have often said “Competitor X does great at _______, and if you asked them they would say we are small, don’t do custom work, and won’t interact with your clients for you – and you know what, they are right. We actually ______(then I explain we are small, and don’t do the things they say because it doesn’t make sense to do as a best practice)”. This ensures that I get into what makes us different and better than the competition without laying into a competitor and looking like the shark.
The examples could go on, but these frameworks are really a talk-track (think guide, not script) that can tell you how to effectively navigate that part of a sales conversation.
Why it Matters for Your Team
There are a few reasons why your team should be on some type of framework, but the most obvious ones are
- Best Practice
- Error Avoidance
Let Me Explain:
Consistency – Every salesperson can be their own character and there are many variables that impact what they will say in any given situation, but it likely won’t all be the same. Your natural salespeople will probably come up with something passable on their first attempt, but it will change the next time and the time after that. If you know there is a very high success rate with a prescribed talk track around things like Agenda, Key Questions, Closing Questions, Pricing, etc, why would you not use it? Better yet, if your bottom half of the sales team isn’t using these proven methods, what are they doing?
Another thought around consistency has to do with how quickly employees ramp. An employee that can be handed a framework along with some training will advance much more quickly than an employee that has to come up with what to say completely on their own.
Best Practice – Salespeople do demos, and in those demos, they may need to explain why a widget does or doesn’t do some sort of functionality. Oftentimes, there is a good reason for a widget not working and that may need to be explained by a salesperson. Sometimes giving advice to a client as “Best Practice” is really just the salesperson making up things as they go through the demo (and by “sometimes” I mean all of the time…). This “best practice” could be something that is a consistent value-add for the customer that your team is missing. For example, when they ask about (- Insert a really complex topic of your demo here-) you could have a snap-bang response ready to go for every rep that adds to the customer experience and your reps credibility. There is nothing worse than getting terrible advice from a salesperson and it’s even worse when it is wrong.
Error Avoidance – Even the best salespeople miss questions that should have been asked, things that should have been said, or opportunities to add value to the conversation. Be honest – does your top salesperson shoot from the hip most of the time (if you say no, then maybe get them a raise because they are a unicorn). Being able to have a sales call framework in place gives your reps the ability to check off questions to ask, milestones to conquer, and makes sure that nothing is forgotten. If they run out of time, knowing how far in the framework they got on the call will help them to pick the conversation back up when the next call occurs.
Another example here is for your SDRs, may be best practice for them is to say they don’t know the answer to a question and try to punt on the question. Certainly, having a framework for cold calling in front of them would remind them that they don’t need to answer and that they can punt the question to a more experienced rep.
Cold Calling Scripts – (What Frameworks are Not)
Just the thought of the word “script” makes my face red. I can almost hear the email I get that says “Dear Sir or Madam”; it’s impersonal and robotic, and robots don’t usually persuade buying behavior. To that end, there is nothing worse than someone disingenuously calling or meeting with you and reading what a script says. Not that I hate the person, but honestly someone who needs a script, in my experience, is easy to see through because they cannot hide it well (i.e. it sounds like they are reading). Being able to use sales frameworks in this situation takes what was a word-for-word script and becomes a “bullet point” operation that delivers the desired results of consistency without the need to sound “scripted”.