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Sales calls are a weird little phenomenon.
For beginner and experienced sales reps alike, sales calls can be a source of anxiety and fear, as well as one of great relief, excitement, encouragement, and whatever you call that on-top-of-the-world-fizzing feeling you get when you close a big deal.
Perhaps the emotion you’ll feel most often, however, is confusion.
What exactly should I be saying here? Am I putting my point across concisely? Should I be closing more than this?
These are questions all newbie sales reps face. That is until they learn exactly how to approach making a sales call.
In this guide, we’re going to:
- Cover the 5 main kinds of sales calls
- Give you 6 types for making strong sales calls
- Discuss how sales CRMs can really level up your ability to access results from sales calls
Thought so. Let’s get started.
What Is A Sales Call
I know, I know, seems a bit basic.
But here’s the thing:
There’s not a lot of agreement on what a sales call actually is.
Let me demonstrate, with two screenshots from Google searching “What Is A Sales Call”.
Here’s the first.
And the second.
So, is a sales call an unsolicited phone call or a pre-arranged face-to-face meeting?
The truth is, sales calls can be either.
In a nutshell, a sales call is any kind of phone conversation you have with a prospect that pertains to your intention to sell them your stuff.
But there are a few different kinds of sales calls (which is probably where the above confusion stems from).
Let’s take a look.
5 Types of Sales Calls
Let’s preface this conversation by saying this:
Every organization has different names for their different types of calls. Some might call a cold call an outreach call, or a prospecting call a discovery call, or any number of fun, non-aggressive names they use to make themselves feel a little less ‘salesy’.
Whatever your company calls them, though, sales calls really fall into 5 categories.
- Cold call
- Scheduled call
- Prospecting call
- Follow up call
- Demo call
1. Cold Call
Cold calls are what most people think of when they hear the word ‘sales call’.
A cold call is when you ring up a prospect and they aren’t expecting you (and probably don’t even know who you are).
It’s called a cold call because they are a ‘cold’ lead. That is, they haven’t yet expressed any interest in your product.
You’re basically calling to say, hey, we exist, our thing exists, does it sound like a thing you want to have?
It’s worth noting, however, that a cold call doesn’t have to involve an actual ‘sale’.
Sometimes it does, like the outbound salesperson who rings up and tries to sell you a new air conditioner.
Sometimes, though, the initial cold call is just an introductory call.
You may simply be aiming to find details about the company, trying to uncover the KDM (key decision-maker), or pre-qualifying them to see if they’d be a fit to speak to someone higher up in the food chain in your sales team.
2. Scheduled Call
A scheduled call is literally the opposite of a cold call.
That is, the person on the other end of the line is expecting your call.
Often these occur when you’ve made a cold call (or perhaps reached out via email), and then scheduled a time to discuss a potential fit between your company and the prospect’s (if we’re talking about B2B sales.)
3. Prospecting Call
A prospecting call is a type of sales call that is all about connecting with a relatively unknown prospect to see if they might be a qualified fit for you to pursue further.
Let’s say you’re working for a B2B SaaS company, and you’re a sales rep for that company.
You might use prospecting calls to talk to various people in the business (maybe the receptionist, maybe account managers), and learn a bit more about the company.
This will allow you to determine initial fit.
For example, if you have a minimum of 5 seats in your starter plan, and the company you’re talking to doesn’t have 5 suitable employees for your product, then you will have determined that they aren’t a fit, and will disqualify them.
Often, then, prospecting calls are cold calls.
4. Follow Up Call
Follow-up calls are the bane of most sales agents’ existence.
This kind of sales call occurs after you’ve already pitched your thing, and the prospect asks you to ‘leave it with them’.
You’re essentially calling to ‘follow up’ on the proposal, which may have been for your product, or simply to book a meeting with an Account Executive on your team.
5. Demo Call
The last type of sales call is what’s called the demo call.
This is usually the domain of Account Executives, especially in the B2B and SaaS sales worlds.
This call is where the sales rep demonstrates the abilities of whatever product they’re selling.
This is generally done using some kind of video conferencing software (so you can share your screen and show the prospect what you’re talking about).
The best demo calls are highly customized to the prospects’ needs.
6 Insider Tips On How To Make Successful Sales Calls
So, how do actually make a great sales call?
As it turns out, there is a tonne of factors that impact your ability to sell well.
This isn’t a 101 on being a great sales rep, however, so we’re going to focus on 6 less-than-common approaches that deliver impressive results.
1. Approach The Call With A Curious Mindset
Too many sales reps approach sales call with a mindset about convincing your customer, or about pitching the benefits of whatever you’re selling.
Of course, you need to be able to communicate this, but what’s more important is to approach your calls with a mindset of curiosity.
What does this mean, a curious mindset?
It means you’re approaching the call with thoughts such as:
- What pain points is this person experiencing (hopefully that you can help ease)?
- What can I learn about this person that will help me convince them they need our product?
- What can I learn from this call in general (for learning and development)?
Curiosity also means genuinely trying to understand whether you can help.
Often, you’ll have someone on the other end of the line for who your product or service actually isn’t a great fit (though you can reduce the likelihood of this through effective pre-qualification).
The curious sales rep is able to identify this early in the piece and is happy to shake hands and move onto more fertile ground.
2. Throw Out All Your Scripts
Nobody likes being pitched from a script.
It’s all too obvious for people on the other end of the call, and it really makes it sound like you don’t know what you’re selling.
Don’t get me wrong, sales scripts are a great training and development tool.
But that’s where they should stay.
Once you’re past the point of newbie sales rep, you should focus on having conversations that don’t require the use of a script.
The best way to achieve this is to practice. You can do this in a low-stakes environment by having mock conversations with your colleagues.
The more you practice this, the more natural your sales calls will be, and the more proficient you’ll be at tailoring the conversation directly to the needs of your prospect.
3. Don’t “Always Be Closing”
This ugly sales boiler room trope has been around for far too long.
The concept is pretty simple. Sales reps want to close more sales, so you should always be asking for the sale.
The problem is, many sales, especially in complex B2B environments and enterprise relations, take way more than one call.
The best sales reps are ones who are happy to have several conversations (where necessary) and don’t try and jump straight to the deal on the first call.
The takeaway here is to really be in tune with the needs of your prospect and to be patient with the sale.
Don’t just leave it all up to them. You’ve gotta know when the timing is right, and you’ve still gotta ask for the sale.
Tricky, I know, but you’ll perfect this with time.
4. Remember To Sell On Benefits, Not Features
People don’t care about the technical details of how your widget works (usually).
What they do care about, is what those tech specs deliver for them. They care about how your thing transforms their life.
So, this one’s a pretty simple lesson:
Figure out how your product or service has a lasting impact on their life, whether it makes them more productive, gives them more time with their family, enhances their ability to show return on investment for marketing efforts, etc.
5. Use A Power Dialer To Level Up Your Productivity
One of the problems with making outbound sales calls (especially cold ones) is this:
It takes an average of 6 calls just to connect with someone.
This means only 17% or so of your phone calls actually get answered.
That’s a lot of time wasted dialling and leaving voicemails.
The answer? Use a power dialer.
Power dialers automatically call numbers on your call list, and then route someone through to you when a call gets answered.
These tools are immensely powerful (it means you aren’t waiting on the end of the line for no answer ⅚ times).
We’ll discuss power dialers a little more in our discussion on the benefits of using a sales CRM.
6. Stand Up, Slow Down, and Smile
Okay, this last one is actually a bit of a bonus, because it’s three tips (you’re welcome).
- Stand up while you’re calling (it makes your voice clearer, gives you more energy and enthusiasm and makes you more likely to hold a natural conversation)
- Slow down when you speak (you might be excited to get everything out, but you don’t want to bombard your prospect with an information overload)
- Smile when you’re on the phone (it’s a bit of a cliche, but it’s actually a psychologically-backed approach that will simply make prospects like you more)
Benefits of Using Sales CRM
There are many behaviors we can use to improve our sales calls.
But we also see some significant improvements in our ability to sell by working on our sales tech stack.
At the center of this sales stack should be your CRM (like your sales calls database), which offers a number of important benefits to sales reps.
Here are just a few examples:
Benefits of using Sales CRM
Constant contact with your customers
A well-tuned sales CRM means none of your customers (whether potential or actual) get lost in the mix. You can schedule activities to complete in the future, or even have your CRM automate communications.
Single point of truth
Without a CRM, your data is spread everywhere. With one, you have a single point of truth, with records of all customer interactions. No more hunting for that damn phone number.
Power dialers save you a tonne of time calling up prospects who don’t answer, allowing you to focus on the activities that actually move the needle.
Enhanced sales call reports
Most capable sales CRMs have pretty advanced reporting and analytics suites. Reps and managers can use this feature to determine the effectiveness of certain sales activities, to A/B test, and to measure progress toward monthly quotas.
More consistency around communications
Because CRMs allow you to store pre-made emails and SMS messages, sales managers can ensure consistency of messaging across a team of reps. This feature also aids in the ability to A/B test messaging.
Local Calling ID
Local Calling ID is a feature some CRMs offer that makes it appear to your prospect that you are dialling from a number local to them. This is proven to result in stronger answer rates.
Enhanced productivity through automation
Many CRMs offer a degree of automation, meaning you can set rules in your software to perform specific activities based on triggers. Many sales reps use this to automate follow-up emails and SMS messages, as well as to schedule future activities such as sales calls.
Not already using a sales CRM? Then it’s probably about time you got yourself geared up, especially if you want to really maximize your ability to make a killer sales call.
Let’s look at how you should choose a CRM, and then go into 5 of the top options available today.
Criteria in Choosing a Sales CRM
There are a number of things to consider when choosing a sales CRM. These are the 6 most important considerations.
- Automation - What does the CRM platform allow you to automate (there are often limitations on this)?
- Pricing model - What does the platform cost? Is it a one-off fee or monthly? Is there a cost per user? What about charges for emails, SMS messages, and call minutes?
- Reporting - How robust is the platform’s reporting system? Consider the types of activities and results you’d like to report on - is this possible? Can you build a custom dashboard?
- Pipeline management - Pipeline management is crucial for high-volume sales teams. Most CRMs are built for this, but some will limit the number of pipelines you can operate, so check for this.
- Integrations - A sales CRM is unlikely to be the only tool in your tech stack. Make sure the platform you choose has a wide variety of integrations, especially with those tools you’re already using (like Gmail, for example.)
- Communications methods - Does the platform allow you to make calls or emails within the interface? What about SMS messaging, or social media interactions?
Top 5 Sales CRM
Oh hey, that’s us!
Ringy is a powerful sales CRM platform designed to help reps do what they do best:
In particular, Ringy is focused on sales communications, powering up your ability to:
- Make sales calls
- Punch out emails
- Send SMS messages
Ringy has a number of cool features for sales reps who are on the phone all day talking to customers.
- A power dialer to pump up your sales volume
- Local numbers
- Drip campaigns (to send SMS and email on repeat)
- Cloud VOIP softphone
- Mobile app (so you can call and update your CRM on the go)
Pipedrive is a popular platform that, surprisingly enough, is designed to help sales reps drive their pipelines.
One of Pipedrive’s defining features is its huge number of integrations.
The platform integrates with over 250 commonly used platforms, across applications like:
- Marketing automation
- Phone calling
- Lead generation
One thing to note with Pipedrive is that they don’t have a native calling functionality. You do have a lot of options for third-party integrations, though, but you’ll need to factor that cost in when making your assessment.
Copper is another popular sales CRM platform that offers a wide variety of features.
Though Copper offers a lot of your standard features (automation, pipeline management, sales call reports etc), what sets it apart from other CRMs is its Google integration.
Basically, the majority of Copper’s features are available for use within the Google Workspace platform (most CRMs work the other way around, allowing you to access Google features, like Gmail, within the CRM).
This is a big plus for those who are already deeply embedded in processes using Google Workspace, and don’t want yet another tab open.
One thing worth noting about Copper, however, is that it doesn’t offer a native SMS capability.
You can plug in external suppliers like Kixie or JustCall, so its not impossible, but you’ll need to bear in mind the extra cost, as well as set-up time associated with that whole deal.
Zoho is a bit of a software giant.
They’ve full-scale reporting tools, marketing automation tools, customer support software, and, of course, the ZohoCRM.
The Zoho CRM itself is incredibly complex and has some seriously advanced features, such as:
- Portals and wizards
- Territory management tools
- Voice assistance
- Competitor alerts
- AI predictions
- Project management capabilities
It’s also highly customizable, meaning teams can craft a CRM that looks and feels exactly how they’d like it to.
The drawback of all this is that the learning curve for ZohoCRM is pretty steep, meaning it’s really going to be best for enterprise-grade companies who are capable of taking advantage of the diverse feature set.
Our last CRM is from HubSpot, the inbound marketing giant.
Like Zoho, HubSpot offers a number of different software platforms, one of which being the HubSpot CRM.
This CRM offers features such as pipeline management, reporting, email and phone call integrations, and communications tracking.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of the HubSpot CRM (apart from it having a seriously capable free version), is its integration with the rest of the HubSpot tech stack.
If you’re planning on building an inbound sales team and relying on HubSpot’s inbound marketing offerings, then this CRM is an obvious choice.
The downside, though, is that things get expensive pretty quickly as you upgrade to deeper feature sets.
See what we mean here:
Top 5 Sales CRM Pricing Comparison
$99 per month
$12.50-99 per user, per month
$25-119 per user, per month
$15-55 per user, per month
$45-$3200 per month
Note: Pricing as of 22 October 2021
Sales calls can be intimidating, but they can also be extremely rewarding.
There are a number of things we can do to reduce the intimidation aspect, but the most important thing is to be prepared.
With that in mind, why not check out our guide to making cold calls: Cold Call Script [Examples, Templates, Tips & Tricks].