5 MIN READ
Congratulations! You officially have your first sales call scheduled with a prospect...but now what?! Your sales process is just beginning and this initial sales call is what sets the stage for an ongoing relationship. Too many of us attempt to stumble our way through our sales calls—whether it is due to lack of preparation or not feeling confident enough in ourselves.
Without a solid beginning-to-end sales process, you are encouraging any warm prospects to go cold and not move forward. We are all so quick to say we aren’t good at sales, but this doesn’t have to be the case. By creating an organized sales process, you will put an end to repeating ineffective tactics and habits that lead to fewer closed deals.
Think of your first sales call as a discovery meeting—an opportunity for you to learn more about what is important to your prospects, what their goals are, why they are seeking a financial advisor, and how you can help them. This is an opportunity for you to start establishing a relationship from the very start. At the end of the day, the art of selling is all about relationship building. When you think of it like that, it becomes a lot less scary and intimidating.
It’s Simple… Prepare
The first rule—don’t ever get on a call without taking the time to research your prospective client. This doesn’t need to be a time-consuming process; you can accomplish your research in 5 - 10 minutes. Add time to this every morning before your day starts and build in buffer time to your meetings for research.
Researching is easy. Take the time to conduct a quick Google search and check out LinkedIn, Facebook, or other social media channels. The goal of this research is to not only find out more about who you are meeting with, but it also allows you to find something to make a connection. Maybe you attended the same university, have mutual contacts, or your long lost aunt lives in the same town as them. It doesn’t have to be a big connect—the smallest thing can form a relationship from the start because you instantly have something in common.
The other goal of this research is to be more prepared for what your prospect might want to learn more about or what questions they may ask. It’s a win-win.
Be prepared to tell the prospect more about YOU as well. People want to know who they will potentially be working with so don’t be caught off guard when someone asks for your background. Be prepared with an answer. This is your chance to shine.
Figure out Logistics: Video Call or Phone Call?
Since most advisors within XYPN are working with clients virtually, you need to determine if your first call is going to be a video call or a phone call. For some, the thought of being on video sounds a lot scarier than just picking up the phone and calling someone. There is a huge advantage to being on a video call though.
Being on video means that you can see the individual face-to-face, rather than just chatting with them over the phone. This allows you to pick up on the body language that you would miss if you were just on the phone with them. It can be very easy to misinterpret the tone of someone's voice on a phone call and take something the wrong way. A video call prevents that from happening.
Regardless of which option you choose, be prepared to take notes. Not only do notes allow you to keep track of key details you can reference after the call, but it also keeps a call log for you on what you covered. This way, in future meetings you won’t go over something you have already taken the time to cover. If there is any disconnect in the future, you also have something you can reference back on.
Set the Agenda
What is your overall objective of this call? If you want to maintain control of your sales call, then set an agenda that will help to achieve this. Not only is this helpful for the first sales call, but any calls moving forward too. This doesn’t need to be an extremely structured agenda. Keep it simple: an introduction, a plan for how the conversation will move from topic to topic, and an ending for the call with any follow-up action items.
Your agenda can be followed loosely, but it allows you to maintain control of the call and the direction that you want it to go. If the meeting starts going off track, bring it back to the agenda.
If you have 30 minutes scheduled for a call, know what questions you need to ask to come away with the information you need moving forward. Always make sure to end your meeting by setting clear expectations on when you plan to follow up with any action items. If necessary, set the next meeting before getting off the call. Having a process in place will make sure you are gathering the details that you need, rather than receiving inconsistent details that require you to go back for more information.
Be Prepared with your Marketing Material
Have a list of your marketing materials handy to send over after your meeting that supports any follow up you need. For example, maybe you have a document that provides an overview of your process or checklist on how to prepare for the next scheduled meeting. People like having visuals they can reference as they are digesting the meeting and information you shared after the fact. The first sales call is also a great place to share your website, blog, and social media platforms so prospects can connect with you. Take this one step further and connect with them on LinkedIn before the meeting.
When you are sending your follow-up, make sure you stay focused on the key takeaways and provide any additional reference points on how you can help. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.
Be Prepared and Plan for Objections
Rarely will you close a sale during the first call that you have with someone. People very rarely make an impulse decision or purchase. While I can’t help you close a sale on your first call, I can help you prepare for what will likely occur...objections.
Before diving into your meeting, give some thought to what objections you may face. The research you do before your call can give you some clues on what objections may arise. Being prepared for objections ahead of time will help you remain focused and be better prepared when those objections do arise. Rather than having to think on your feet, you will have a response that you have already thought out. It also doesn’t hurt to make note of objections for future reference. Take time to write out these objections and your response and this way you have some snippets prepared to easily reference during calls when tough objections do occur.
Don’t fret if an objection you’re not prepared for comes up. Take a deep breath and work through it.
Be Ready to Listen
The easiest part of the sales process, isn’t it? All you have to do is sit back and listen. Wrong. Listening is one of those things that is easier said than done. How can something so simple be so hard though?
How many times have you been in a meeting and rather than focusing on what is being said, you start daydreaming about your weekend plans, what you are going to eat for lunch, and what it would be like to travel the world? We have all been guilty of it. Listening in itself takes practice.
So often we listen just to respond with the most immediate thought that comes to mind. Our prospect will say one thing and suddenly that is the only thing we can focus on and want to respond instantly to that thought. But the prospect keeps talking and we are so focused on our response, we stop listening to the rest of what they’re saying. That’s exactly how we miss key details.
Stay focused on your conversations and listen to understand what your prospect is saying instead of listening just to respond. Don’t cut off your potential client to interject your thoughts. Give them the time and space to finish before you jump in with your own two cents. This is where taking notes can help keep you focused on the conversation and what is being said. If you do choose to do a phone call over a video call, walk around during the conversation so that you stay energized.
The better prepared you are for sales calls, the easier they will become. Give yourself time to do a little research, be prepared with known objectives for the call, have your marketing materials handy, and take notes. Following these tips will give you the confidence you need when you make these calls. After you get a few under your belt, it will be smooth sailing!
About the Author
Lindsey Harrington is known as the Network Navigator at XYPN, helping prospective members learn more about membership and what it takes to join our growing community. She is passionate about sharing the tools and resources the community has to offer to help individuals start, run, and grow their own fee-only financial planning practices.