Article

Convince and convert: How to make sales calls successful

Whether it’s your first one or your hundredth, sales calls can be challenging. Here's how to win customers over one conversation at a time.

By Stella Inabo, Contributing Writer

Published June 30, 2021
Last updated September 28, 2021

Making sales calls is undoubtedly challenging, especially as consumer behaviors and expectations continue to evolve.

The Zendesk Sales Trends Report 2021 revealed that customers are now better informed about products and services during the buying process. They also expect salespeople to understand their unique needs, goals, and pain points fully—generic pitches won’t cut it anymore. But this new trend presents an opportunity for customer-oriented sales agents.

To convince and convert potential customers on the phone today, you must prioritize understanding their goals and helping them to solve their problems over making a sale.

What is a sales call?

A sales call is a phone conversation where a sales agent encourages a prospective customer to consider and eventually buy their company’s product or service. Through these calls, people can learn about the product or service and how it can be valuable to them. Sales calls are not only made to gain new customers, but also to upsell or cross-sell existing customers.

What are the types of sales calls?

When the topic of sales calls comes up, most people think of cold calling—the act of reaching out to a potential customer before they express interest in your product or service. Cold calls help sales agents identify and nurture leads who otherwise may not have discovered their company. But there are many other types of sales calls.

  • Discovery calls (or warm calls) are made to potential leads who have shown interest in your product or service and want to learn more about it. This is an opportunity to see if the lead is a good match for what you’re selling.
  • Sales appointments are scheduled to discuss the specifics of the offer and bring you a step closer to finalizing the sale. This call is a chance to convince the prospect to move forward by sharing the precise details about why your company’s product or service is suited for their needs.
  • Follow-up calls are critical for closing deals. Sometimes, a prospect is on the fence and needs a final push to make the purchase.

Each type of call has its place in the sales cycle, so be sure to understand where your potential customer is before picking up the phone.

What are the elements of a successful sales call?

Although there are no hard and fast rules about what you should say on sales calls, these conversations shouldn’t be entirely free-form. It helps to know the common components of a successful call so you can convert more leads into customers.

  • A game plan

    Before making the call, you have to do your research—this is a critical part of sales call planning. You need to equip yourself with information about your potential customers, their company, and their unique needs and pain points. That way, you can better convey how your company’s product or service can solve their problems.

    Based on this information, form a plan on what you need to say and do to have a successful conversation. This rough outline will help you avoid leaving out any important details.

  • A warm introduction

    First impressions matter, which is why the opening of your call is so important. When it comes to cold calls, your introduction can make all the difference in whether the lead hangs up.

    A warm and friendly greeting can set the right tone, so make sure to greet the lead by name and introduce yourself. Get them talking by asking questions regarding their company, so they become invested in the conversation instead of feeling like you’re just trying to sell to them.

  • An accurate appraisal

    The next step is to find out if the lead is a good fit for the product or service you’re selling. A promising lead is interested in or in need of the product or service, is able to afford it, and is likely to buy it.

    Usually, people are at different stages in the customer journey, so one approach won’t work for all of them. For first-time calls, ask leads questions to better understand their needs, goals, and expectations. For follow-up calls, find out what’s changed since the last conversation and where you stand now.

  • The perfect pitch

    Once you understand their problems and preferences, it’s time to make the pitch and offer them your solution.

    What prospects really want to know is how your product or service can help them solve problems, so focusing on what’s in it for them is a great way to keep them engaged. The best pitches provide just enough information to convince and convert.

  • The close

    Closing typically refers to making the sale. But if the prospect isn’t quite ready to purchase, this step could also mean converting them to the next stage in the buyer journey.

    Don’t get off the call without asking the prospect to take action of some kind. You could ask them to do something that requires less commitment but still brings them closer to a yes. For example, you could persuade the prospect to sign up for a free trial or schedule a follow-up call to discuss the offer further.

  • The call log

    After you end a sales call, record the conversation in a log. Call logs are used to document sales conversation details. They make it easier to review past calls and learn what worked and what didn’t work.

    Instead of writing down details on scraps of paper, consider using a call log template. Alternatively, you can use sales software that automates call logging. These tools are huge time-savers because manually logging calls can be time consuming.

Sales call tips that will help you close faster

tips for successful sales calls

There’s nothing more frustrating than spending hours on the phone only for your lead to walk away without taking any further action. Using the right techniques can help prevent that from happening and increase your likelihood of closing deals.

  1. Focus on quality over quantity when prospecting

    Cold calling isn’t always going to lead to customers, but you can improve your chances of success by focusing on quality over quantity.

    Finding high-value prospects that are likely in need of your products or services and that have the purchasing power to buy them is very important. So whenever you’re prospecting, carefully evaluate the leads and only contact those worth pursuing. It’s better to contact fewer, high-quality leads than numerous leads who might not be a good fit for what you’re selling.

    Matching your leads with your buyer personas is a great way to ensure you’re focusing on the right leads. When selling to B2B companies, it’s also essential to speak to decision-makers, as they’re the ones who’ll make the final decision about purchasing your product or service.

  2. Understand leads’ pain points

    Understanding your ideal customer and their problems that need solving makes all the difference on sales calls.

    Get to know your leads and their goals by researching them and their company. Start by identifying their most pressing concerns, such as saving money or reducing risk. Ask questions to better understand their problems, and then show them how your product or service helps alleviate their pain points.

    Take the time to learn about your leads, and you’ll be able to share insights on the call that differentiate your brand from companies that are just trying to make a sale.

  3. Use a sales call script

    Although sales scripts get a bad rap for caging creativity, they’re a useful tool for having structured, productive sales conversations. A script will help you keep your pitch clear and crisp and prepare you for any objections on your sales call.

    Also bear in mind that a sales script should serve as a guide—you shouldn’t stick to it rigidly. Follow the flow of the conversation to create a better connection with your prospect.

  4. Embrace technology

    Sales involves many repetitive tasks like data entry, which take up productive hours that could be spent speaking to potential customers. Use tools to automate this type of work so you have more time for high-level tasks. Fifty-two percent of salespeople reported becoming more productive when they introduced technology.

    A sales CRM is particularly useful for streamlining pipeline management and simplifying processes. Both administrative tasks and data organization are automated, so you can spend less time on data entry and focus more on building meaningful relationships with potential customers.

    With a CRM tool, you can also safely store information about your leads and prospects and review it in preparation for sales calls. For instance, you can look at how previous leads reacted to campaigns in the past to anticipate what your current leads will find engaging.

  5. Focus on helping the customer over closing the deal

    Sometimes, a successful sales call doesn’t end with a closed deal. It could be that the call simply lays the foundation for the relationship or builds on an existing one—that is still a success.

    Your main goal as a salesperson should be to help your prospects and customers, not to force a sale. Pushing a prospect that isn’t a great fit into purchasing your product or service can lead to disaster in the future.

    If the prospect is on the fence about making a purchase, give them time to think it over while offering to follow up. You can always reassure them about your product’s benefits on a future sales call. If you find that you might not have the right solution for them, you can recommend a product that will be a better fit.

  6. Follow up

    Some people need an extra nudge before they commit to a purchase. Follow-up calls are opportunities to gauge how far along they are in the buyer journey and to determine whether you should continue chasing the lead or cool things down.

    Before making follow-up calls, review your call log to get a sense of how successful the previous conversations were. Use those insights to address each person’s concerns and unique needs on the follow-up call.

    You don’t want to come off as forceful or pushy, so keep your follow-up call requests short and friendly. You may also want to consider following up via email, as constant calls might be annoying.

Set yourself up for sales call success

Sales calls are essential to inform leads about your product or service, establish relationships with potential customers, and eventually close a deal. To succeed at sales conversations, you need to know your customers and meet them where they are as they move through the sales cycle. Use a sales CRM like Zendesk Sell to gain visibility into the sales pipeline and have personalized conversations that will win customers over.

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