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How to stop wasting time in your sales calls

You know what a bad sales call feels like. The aimless small talk, the thinly disguised attempt at ‘relating’ to you, and the ever-present background anxiety of the sales person desperate to meet their monthly quota. All you wanted was a real conversation with a real person to help you make an informed decision. Now think about your business (and your sales numbers). Are you giving your prospects a sales experience like that?

There’s an incredibly simple, effective and ‘win-win’ step you can take right now to turn things around. Give your salespeople a structure showing how you want them to start each and every call, in exactly the same way. Don’t listen to anyone who says the structure will dehumanize their calls and ‘restrict their freedom’–it’ll do the the opposite. Your salespeople will be able to relax, and your customers will feel cared about in a whole new way. Here’s an example of the one our training sales team uses. This is verbatim what you would hear if you got on the phone with one of them.

“Hi __________. Before we jump in, I want to let you know how our process works and what I’d love you to come away with from today’s call. This is a 15-minute introductory call, and if we get into a really hot conversation, I can go a few minutes over.

My role is to answer any questions you have about logistics, pricing, curriculum and the process of becoming an EMyth Coach.

I want to clarify anything from the website that doesn't make sense to you and help you get to a high level 'yes or no' about whether this is the kind of opportunity you are looking for and if you have the financial resources to pursue it or not. Okay?”

Pretty straightforward. Let’s break down the key elements so you can build your own.

By actually respecting their time, you can show how much you care. The response we get is some version of: “Okay, that sounds great … really appreciate that clarity.” And that's not only what your prospects want, but what your salespeople desperately need.  Go for clarity over hollow strategies like 'creating rapport'.

By being candid and honest about expectations, you can show them you value transparency. If you give people the mandate to ‘close deals’, your prospects will feel it. If you give them the mandate to have human conversations and be helpful, your prospects will feel that too. What if the most important role your salesperson plays is not to prove to somebody that this is what they want to buy, but to give them an experience that this is a business they want to buy from?

By creating structure that steers away the wrong customers, the right ones get to feel they’ve come to the right place. Do your salespeople really have the freedom to say no to the wrong kind of prospect? You know–though it’s hard to admit–that the wrong customer is way more trouble than they’re worth. Creating structure in your sales process, by standing for what you offer and what you don’t, has huge downline implications to controlling your support and administrative overhead. Sometimes the sale you don’t make is the most profitable result.

By being willing to not have all the answers, you show them that they’re dealing with humans. Does your agenda have room for the salesperson to not have all the answers? Especially in a service business, people will often want to talk to someone else, to hear a personal experience from one of your current customers. Do you try to talk them out of that to get the deal done? Why would you give up the opportunity to let your best customers talk about the brand they love?

With that background in mind, here’s a short list of questions to create the agenda for your new script (and who knows, maybe an entirely new sales culture at your business). Once you’ve worked through these, feel free to use the sample we included above as a starting point to create this element of your script in a way that really fits with your brand.

Create Your Agenda:

  1. Our qualifying call is __________ minutes long. It can go a maximum of __________ over if that’s really called for. Use your judgment.
  2. The primary goal of this call is to help people get to a stage in the process where they are __________.
  3. The most important thing I want them to feel, whether you sense they are interested in buying or not, is __________.
  4. The most important thing I want you (as the salesperson) to feel during the call is __________.
  5. You should feel free to turn the prospect away if you feel __________. If the prospect insists on cutting you off and pushing you to answer specific questions out of context, politely explain to them again the purpose of the call. If they get frustrated by that, trust that they’re not a fit for this product.
  6. You don’t need and shouldn’t try to answer every question about __________. If a prospect needs more than you’re able to give them, ask them if they’d be interested in talking with __________ and tell them how __________ might be able to help in a way you can’t.

Dozens of elements go into a well-designed, thought-out sales system. This intro agenda is one small piece of it. But what better way to start?

Jonathan Raymond

Written by Jonathan Raymond

Jonathan was a frequent contributor to the EMyth blog from 2011-2015. His articles focus on marketing, branding, and organizational culture.