For any salesperson, the objective of a sales call is to uncover a prospect’s needs, present a solution, and offer products or services if there is potential synchronicity. Many salespeople, however, disguise their request for a sales call, referring to it as a “consultation” instead, as if there is something seedy about meeting with a prospect in the first place.
Referring to a sales call as a consultation is, at best, misleading. In a consultation, there is a value-added, such as tips, techniques, advice, or other information that addresses and improves the prospect’s situation. The consultant’s intention, therefore, is to provide something important so that follow-on work can be contracted. (Of course, there’s always the possibility that no additional work will be forthcoming and that’s okay too. It is, after all, the cost of doing business.)
My opinion is that many salespeople refer to their sales appointments as consultations because they believe a prospect will be more receptive if phrased one way versus the other. Unfortunately, if you consider the semantics more than the engagement itself, then you are not considering the true goal and hopeful outcomes of the sales call.
A good sales call involves the following:
- Establishes rapport with the prospect.
- Asks probing questions to understand the prospect’s situation, wants, and needs.
- Presents clearly (and demonstrates interactively) any products or services that can be connected to the prospect’s needs and offered.
- Gut checks interspersed throughout in order to make certain the prospect is interested.
- Responds to questions with sales-oriented responses.
- Handles objections as they arise
- Provides a next steps scenario and hopefully getting permission to move forward with the sale. This may be another appointment, a proposal, or a trial offer.
Almost every salesperson will tell you that one of the most difficult parts of sales is to schedule appointments with willing prospects. That doesn’t mean you should refer to a sales call as a consultation.
Consider these 2 options to generate appointments:
> Provide a value-packed free consultation, strategy meeting, or abbreviated SWOT analysis, and allow the prospect to see you in action. Assuming they find benefit in this approach, you can be certain that they’ll want more and your “free consultation” results in revenue-producing business.
> Demand generation efforts work. Landing pages, special offers, and utilizing social media outreach are ways you can drum up interest, have the prospects reach out to you, and secure sales appointments.
No one appreciates hearing a “pitch” when they expected information and knowledge transfer, regardless of whether they are part of a large audience at a business conference or sitting in a room with a few colleagues. Don’t undermine your reputation by not being transparent. Always be honest and up front, and let it be known if you are looking to schedule a “sales call.” The openness and frankness will certainly be appreciated.