Some sales calls progress in a logical order, building momentum toward a successful outcome. Many more are poorly planned, unfocused, and a waste of time for everyone involved. Short of customers actually kicking you out of their offices, how do you know if you’re conducting an effective sales call?

What criteria do you use to monitor your progress? How do you even determine what progress looks like? For that matter, what’s your yardstick for a “successful outcome” on any given sales call?

It is heartbreaking to consider how many veteran salespeople would struggle to answer those questions.

In our sales book “Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional, Even If You Think You Are One,” many benefits of a systematic, genuinely professional approach to the sales process are described. One crucial advantage of a step-by-step system is that when you’re out of step, you know it. That sounds elementary, but it puts you way ahead of most salespeople.

If you’re out of step, do you know it?

Action Selling teaches that in an effective sales call, the salesperson manages the call to proceed in a certain sequence. The 9 Acts of Action Selling correspond to the 5 Buying Decisions that (research shows) every customer makes, knowingly or not, always in the same order. At any moment during any sales call, you are either in sync with the customer’s natural decision making process or you aren’t. The customer has either made an early buying decision in your favor and is ready to consider the next one, or he hasn’t and isn’t.

Thus, you know what progress looks like during a sales call, and you have clear criteria with which to monitor it. What’s more, you have a precise language in which to think about “progress” and decide how to recover if you stray off course. What do you do if you find yourself wandering into Act 6, trying to “Sell Your Product,” before you have “Sold Yourself” in Acts 2, 3, and 4? Once you understand the system, the problem becomes easy to recognize, and the remedy is clear: You need to back up. And you know it.

Action Selling In Action

Ken Coats, business development manager for Hagemeyer North America’s Safety Division, recently accompanied one of Hagemeyer’s account representatives on a call to an industrial customer. He reports that Action Selling’s structured framework made a world of difference.

“On the way to the call, I found that my account rep didn’t have a Commitment Objective,” Coats says. “Well, he thought he did, but what he had was an objective, not a Commitment Objective. So we ironed that out before we got out of the car.”

“As we began our meeting with the buyer and a manager, the call went way off base. We relapsed into old behavior and started at Act 6. The call bounced all over the place. Everybody was confused, including me. I had a flashback to the Action Selling workshop. We were acting like the ‘how not to’ example in the video!”

“I was able to slow things down and get us back to Act 2. My rep picked things up from there, and we progressed through Acts 4, 5, and 6. We got their commitment to start a new service program. And later we had a great laugh when we Replayed the Call.”

Learn more about how Action Selling will guide you through every selling situation.

Duane Sparks - How to Conduct Effective Sales Calls

ABOUT DUANE SPARKS

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling. He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations. Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).