May 4, 2020

A Pandemic is NOT a Pass for Poor Sales Call Structure

Extra empathy? Yes. I’m all for it.

Positivity?  Absolutely. I’ve been preaching it in six consecutive posts.

Proactive Calling.  You better, you better, you bet.

I’ve seen an uptick in all three, and for the most part, am impressed with how sellers are demonstrating high levels of EQ and empathy, remaining positive and sharing positivity, and proactively pursuing sales conversations – all of this in spite of very challenging circumstances.

 However, I continue to hear examples from both salespeople and their managers that once these prospect/customer/discovery/early stage meetings (sales calls) are secured, they are falling flat. Said differently, sellers are not conducting effective sales calls.


What do these “ineffective” sales calls (conversations) look/sound like?

  • Show up and throw up, or as one of my favorite salespeople terms it, “Spray and pray”
  • Aimless wandering; lack of planning or control
  • Never setting the tone, sharing an agenda, or getting buy-in
  • Salesperson speaks 80% of the words
  • Insufficient discovery and poor probing
  • Inability to tie customer needs/desired outcomes to what’s being presented
  • Lame uncovering of objections
  • Weak attempts at securing and scheduling next steps

Now might be a good time to kick back with that bulleted list above and do a quick self-evaluation of your (or your team’s) recent sales conversations/meetings. Which of those very common sales call sins are sinking your effort to create and advance opportunities?

I get that almost every salesperson is selling into tremendous headwinds right now, and that, as my friend Anthony Iannarino said recently, there is no playbook for selling during a pandemic. But that is not an excuse for conducting crappy sales conversations. In fact, I’d argue the opposite is true. We need to conduct better sales calls than ever!

All the heavy lifting we do to secure the meeting amounts to nothing if we flop once we get there. I don’t care how perfect your home office lighting is, how good you look on a webcam, or how empathetic you are to your customer’s pain.  If you are not structuring and conducting sales calls effectively then you are shooting your sales effort in the foot!

Here are a few questions to further prime your thinking on this important topic, and I’ll be back soon with more thoughts and practical tips to help you better structure and conduct sales conversations:

  • What’s your vision for the ideal sales call? How does the meeting flow and what are your desired planned stages – from beginning to end?
  • How do you currently pivot from rapport building to business?
  • What is your process for building credibility early in the meeting without prematurely presenting prior to doing effective discovery work?
  • How well prepared are you to ask probing questions that help you both understand the customer’s situation and uncover opportunities where you can help?
  • As you wrap up the meeting/conversation/sales call, how do you know if it was a “good” meeting and on what criteria do you base that evaluation?

Sales Friends, in normal times we cannot afford to be sloppy with sales process and that’s even more true as we attempt to sell our way through this crisis!

Last call for the “Selling Through Crisis” free webinar sessions!  Join me either Tuesday or Thursday for powerful tips to remain positive and practical help to drive more New Sales now and as we enter the coming recovery! More info and sign-up here.