Time spent with customers is precious, and considering the high-risk/high-reward dynamic of each opportunity, we need to make sure every sales call is productive for all involved. Here are six tips to help you make the most of every sales call:

  1. Set a clear objective for the meeting - from your own perspective and your customer's. Having a stated objective will facilitate focus and drive tangible outcomes.
  1. Generate an agenda, and email it to the client two days prior to the meeting for their input. This simple step makes it less "my" meeting and more "our" meeting and gives the customer a role in the session before it even begins.
  1. Bring fresh insight. If this is the first appointment, extensive research is warranted. But even if you have an existing relationship with the customer, make it a goal to bring at least one new piece of insight to each meeting; particularly insight that will help you better understand your customer's GAPs and objectives.
  1. Write down a sales call plan. Whether your sales call is in person or on the phone, creating a sales call plan forces our thought process and gives us the opportunity to rethink each element, including the specific exploratory questions we will use.
  1. Be open and responsive to new, unexpected information. While the goal is to stay focused on the stated meeting objective, we must remember to be receptive and responsive when customers bring new information, interests or concerns to the discussion.
  1. Include a call to action at the end of the sales call. A call to action is essential to advance the sale forward. Avoid vague language like, "OK, I will touch base with you in a few days," or, "Take a look and let me know what you think." Instead, be specific as to the next action step and the date for completion.

Most of these tips are completed long before the call ever begins, and that makes sense because preparation is always the biggest predictor of success. These steps help secure a successful sales call the same way our selling skills (Positive Contact, LAER, Exploratory Process, Presentation Diamond) are learned and honed long before we apply them in our customer interactions. Keep in mind that the impact of a sales call is never neutral; each customer discussion either accelerates our sales process or hinders it. We can use both our selling skills and these tips to ensure each customer contact moves us in the right direction!