Planning and launching a business is one thing, but actually getting clients or customers for that business is another. Especially if you’re feeling so excited about this great idea you’re bringing into the world and the only response is… crickets.
Although there are so many important things about business, sales is a huge one. It’s how you’ll make your money, after all! And if you’re not exactly a sales expert yet (we promise you will be by the end of this blog post!), just even thinking about starting is overwhelming.
We’ve crafted this ultimate guide to sales and have broken it down into three parts–how to conduct a sales call, where to get sales, and what you should do after the sales call–to make this scary, unknown part of business really easy for you to learn and implement.
How to Conduct a Sales Call
Before you even begin your lead generation process, it’s vital that you approach sales in the right way. No one wants to be that person who follows people around and pesters them in hopes of them buying, but no one also wants to be that person who never promotes themselves because they’re afraid of coming off as “sleazy.”
It’s all about having the perfect balance while keeping these tips in mind.
Make It Easy for People to Book with You
In my opinion, it’s tedious and annoying to go back and forth with prospects to find a time for the two of you to speak because it usually takes a few emails to finally nail something down. Simplify, simplify, simplify!
Use a booking tool like Calendly that gives people the option to book a time that not only works for them but also you because you’re setting your schedule based off of your availability. Now, instead of sending multiple emails to set the meeting, all you need to do is send them your calendar link and they take it from there. Boom.
Show Confidence and Passion
If I’m being honest, showing confidence and passion is ultimately the most important thing you can do when it comes to sales. When you feel confident in being able to help this person in one way or another and show passion for the work that you do, people will convert that much easier. I’ve had multiple people tell me on the phone that they wanted to hire me because they could tell how passionate I am about marketing–and that if I feel that passionate, I’m genuinely going to care about them, their business, and their results.
Think about it: if you hop on the phone and you sound like you don’t really know what you’re talking about because you’re nervous, people will worry if you actually know what you’re doing. Of course you know what you’re doing, but do they? If they don’t, they’ll hesitate to spend their money on someone or something who might not bring them what they want.
If you don’t show excitement in what you do, people will think that they’re just another dollar sign to you and that you won’t care about them as much as you should. People want to feel like people, and showing how much you care can do wonders.
I’m sure you have the passion part down pat, but don’t be too hard on yourself if the confidence level isn’t there yet. I really struggled with self-confidence when I was just starting out, so if I were to listen to my first few sales calls now, I’d probably cringe. What really helped me during these calls, because I was the type of unconfident person who would forget what they wanted to say when they were nervous, was writing down a list of questions or a script that I wanted to follow and ask before I got on the call so that I had something right in front of me to reference during the time I was speaking to the prospect.
Focus the Conversation on Them and Speak to Pain Points
Although you should be telling your prospects how you can help them, the call should not focus mainly on you–it needs to focus on them! They set this meeting up with you, after all, so that they could learn how you can be of benefit to them. People also love talking about themselves, which is why it’s so important to ask as many relevant questions about them as you can.
As you’re getting the information you need from the prospect, you also want to ask about the problems or struggles that they’re facing because you can then use that information to craft your pitch to them and show them how your product or service will solve those problems.
The questions you ask and the conversations you have will depend on the person and your business, but this is usually how my sales calls go:
- I ask the person to tell me about themselves and their business. (We usually chat for a few minutes about this because they go into their background, story, etc. I make sure to compliment them on what they’ve achieved so far from what they tell me.)
- If they didn’t already share this, I ask them to tell what they’re currently doing with their marketing, what they struggle with, and where they feel they could use the most support.
- I pitch the service that I feel would be best for them based off of the information they shared with me.
- I open up the floor to any questions.
I have to say that this is a foolproof method because you’re giving the prospect the opportunity to tell you about them and what they need, followed by you sharing how exactly you can help them and what you can do for them.
Even if you’re the type of person who can remember everything, take notes! Jot down anything they mentioned that would be of value to you and how you can serve them in the future. I’ll share more information later on in this blog post on what these notes will be used for, but get in the habit of taking them, whether that involves using a notebook or Google Docs.
Avoid Having a Sales Conversation via Email
Never, ever, ever have a sales conversation via email, unless there is an instance that calls for it. That would kind of be a “know as you go” type of situation, but here are two instances that I’ve consulted with someone via email rather than phone:
I have spoken with many people from Australia via email due to our insanely large time difference, which makes it nearly impossible to find a time that works for both of us.
I once spoke with a lovely woman via email about my packages because English was her second language, and she felt she was much better with it when reading / writing than speaking.
Of course email made more sense in those scenarios, but if you can avoid relying on email, do it! Here’s why: email lacks personality. Sure, you can put exclamation points and smileys like me, but actually hearing someone’s passion or seeing their passion does so much more than just reading it. Also, people will hire you because of YOU, every single time. If they’re reading an email that contains your prices, they may scoff at the price and instantly say no. However, if you’re on the phone with them and they really connect with you, the price means less to them, and they become more likely to say yes.
Phone should always be preferred, but if you can do Zoom meetings, that’s even better because then people can not only hear you but also see you, adding another personal touch to it.
To summarize: phone and video will give you a much higher conversion rate than email.
Now that you know how to go about conducting a stellar sales call, it’s time for the fun part: where to get sales!
Email a Proposal or Scope of Work
Even if the prospect says they’re taking notes or you see them writing things down, always follow up after the call with a proposal for the services or products you discussed. There’s a chance that this person missed something, or wrote something incorrectly, so having your document to reference is huge.
I have a standard Google doc template that shares more information about my company itself, outlines the service(s) we discussed with price and deliverables, and indicates how the prospect can get in touch with me if they have any questions or they would like to move forward.
Where to Get Sales
Although we all wish that leads will magically come to us once launching our businesses, that just doesn’t happen. You have to actively go out and search for those leads. If you’re unsure of where exactly you should be looking, start with these suggestions.
Execute a Marketing Strategy
Being the marketing nerd that I am, of course I’m going to put marketing as the first tip, but there’s a reason for that: it builds awareness for your company, which then establishes the know / like / trust factor with your audience. And people do business with people that they know, like, and trust.
Your marketing strategy should consist of utilizing as many marketing outlets as possible, not just social media, to help you reach the right crowd. If you don’t know where to begin, check out these resources on building your 4-part marketing ecosystem and developing a well-rounded, value-driven strategy.
Join Networking Groups and Business Organizations
Here comes the cliche that we’ve all come to know and love: your network is your net worth. Although you’ve probably heard that a million and one times like myself, the reason why you hear it so often is there’s so much truth in it. When you surround yourself with the right group of people, not only could they become a client or customer but they also probably know someone who could become a client or customer.
The power of connecting with people is endless! It’s how I’ve been able to get 70%-75% of my clients from Facebook groups alone. Join the Chamber of Commerce for your location, find local business organizations, and search for relevant Facebook groups.
A few of my favorites are Boston Business Women and the Marshfield Chamber of Commerce.
Send Cold Emails to Your Ideal Client or Customer
Just so I don’t seem like I’m contradicting myself from my point made earlier about never consulting with someone via email, sending a cold email is different because it entails bringing awareness of your services to the prospect and then leading the prospect to a sales call if they’re interested. Now that we’ve cleared that up, let’s get into it.
Although I personally haven’t dabbled into cold emailing much, I’ve heard great success stories from others who have. A few tips I’ve heard that are important to keep in mind when it comes to cold emailing are:
- Making the pitch personal (it’s obvious when it’s a copied and pasted template!)
- Identifying their pain points and sharing how you can help
- Offering something for free (consultation call, lead magnet, etc.)
Not every email will convert, and it may take you many emails before you get a return, but if you have the time and know that what you’re bringing to the world is important, why not do it?
Leverage Your Own Connections
Within the past year, I’ve consistently had more people that I know reach out to me about my services because they’re starting businesses and want to invest in marketing or they know someone who owns a business and needs marketing support.
The people that you have in your current circle, that you may have never even thought of, can be a huge market for you to tap into! You can:
- Make a post on LinkedIn or Facebook asking your connections to share your services or products with people they know who could benefit from them
- Reach out to people you know who could use what you have to offer
- Look into your alumni association for connections there
Sometimes, the most unexpected people can end up becoming one of your best clients or customers.
Once the leads start pouring in and you start having these sales conversations, it’s time to think about what’s next: what to do after the sales calls.
What to Do After the Sales Call
Your work doesn’t end once the call does. If the person says yes to investing in your service or buying your product, then you move onto the onboarding process. But if they don’t give you a definite answer, your work isn’t finished. ABC is one of the most important sales acronyms to remember: Always Be Closing.
Keep Track of Your Leads
Do you have some type of system for keeping track of your leads, whether it’s a CRM or a good old fashioned spreadsheet? It’s important to have their information on file because it comes in handy for the following three suggestions.
I use a spreadsheet that has the following columns:
- Dates contacted to indicate when I spoke to them on the phone or followed up via email
- Email address
- Notes to include the problems they faced and which service(s) suited them
Then, if I hear back from the person with some type of response, I highlight their name in one of three colors:
- Green if they said yes to working together and are ready to move forward
- Yellow if they said they are interested and will follow up
- Red if they said no for whatever reason
This helps me to get a feel for where people are in my queue.
Follow Up Consistently
You can’t just send one email to a lead and expect them to always reply to it. People are busy, they forget to respond, their inboxes get chaotic, etc., so it’s very easy for someone who fully intends on working with you to forget to contact you. That’s why it’s so important to make sure that you follow up consistently, in case they miss the first email around!
If there are no responses, I follow up one week after the call, one month after the call, and then months down the line if it’s been a while and I think we should reconnect. You can follow up at a frequency that feels good to you as long as it’s more than one time.
Send Relevant Resources
Here is another spot where the notes come in handy: you can send your leads relevant resources that will add value to their life in some way. This always comes in handy with marketing for me.
An example: I have a call with someone who expresses wanting to develop and execute an entire marketing strategy but doesn’t know where to start. I send a follow-up email and don’t hear back. However, a few weeks later, I publish a blog post on how to develop and execute an entire marketing strategy for your business. I email the blog post to them and tell them I wanted to share it with them after knowing this is what they wanted help with, and I offer them to ask me questions as they go through it.
This is a great strategy because it’s ultimately another version of sending a follow-up email without exactly saying, “Are you going to hire me or purchase my products yet?”
It helps you to stay on top of mind for them and makes them like you more because you provided them with something valuable for free.
Engage with Them on Social Media
A business coach that I once hired shared this idea with me, and I thought it was genius. I can’t believe that I never thought of it, even though I work in social media! Following and engaging with your leads on social media is a great strategy because it means that every time you comment on their posts or tag them in a post to refer them in some way, that’s providing value and allowing you to stay top of mind for them.
Plus, who doesn’t love a little extra love on social media?
If you felt totally lost about sales before reading this blog post, I’m sure you feel completely prepared now. We made you that promise, and we stuck to it! Bookmark this post and refer to it frequently until you get to the point where you no longer need to remind yourself of these key points when focusing on sales.
You’ve got this!
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