Love 'em or hate 'em, sales calls are a necessary ingredient for organizational success. The sales process is full of nuances, so we turned to Wendy Casey from our HBX Business Development team for some tricks of the trade.

1. Do your research before calling on a prospect.

Learn as much as possible about their business, industry, and competitors. With this information you will be able to ask relevant questions and uncover their possible pain points.

2. Knowledge is power.

The more you know about your product or offering before you make the call, the better you will be able to understand whether you can provide a beneficial solution to your prospect.

3. As a sales person you should always be thinking about the next step in the process.

Go in to the call with a goal. Whether it is a cold call and your goal is to get an in-person meeting or it's a follow up conversation and you want to get a signed contract; set an end goal and then ask the closing question to get to the next step in the sales process.

4. Channel your inner Mary Tyler Moore – turn the world on with your smile!

Smile and be curious. These may seem like two separate things but they serve the same purpose. People buy from people they like and trust. Whether on the phone or in person, smile and ask open-ended questions to try to get to know your prospective client as an individual, don't just treat them as a potential sale.

5. Know what role your contact plays in the organization.

In the book The New Strategic Selling, authors Miller and Heiman list four types buying influences. Which of these categories does your contact fall under?

  • Economic Buying Influence/Decision Maker: This is the person who signs the check! If this is not the person you are talking with, find out how your contact is connected to them and what the decision maker will need from your company to close the deal.
  • User Buying Influences: These people have an interest in the product and/or service in question. It will directly affect their productivity.
  • Technical Buying Influences: These people screen suppliers. Providing them with information to avoid possible barriers to close is key.
  • Coaches/Champions: Coaches are allies inside the client organization that can help the sales person to move the order forward, mainly by giving advice on the people and processes in the organization. *
Knowledge of what role they play will allow you to navigate the sales process and to a quicker path to “Yes”!

Do you have any other tips for making sales calls? Leave a comment below!

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Wendy Casey

About the Author

Wendy is a Business Development Consultant at HBS Online. She works with organizations interested in engaging with HBS Online to provide learning programs for executive development. Wendy has 25 years of C-level relationship building within the corporate and non-profit sectors. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing degree from Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. Wendy is an avid Boston sports fan and outdoor enthusiast.