Manager: “How did that sales call go?”
Manager: “Did you close the deal?”
Salesperson: “No, but they love me and they want the product.”
Manager: “When will the deal close?”
Salesperson: “Um … probably this quarter.”
Does this post sales call dialogue sound familiar? What does this sales manager know about the sales call his salesperson just finished? Not much.
Coaching sales reps when they complete a sales call is important and needs to be done routinely. Salespeople will approach their sales calls differently if they know they’ll be asked for very specific information afterward.
A quick email or phone call with the right questions can tell you exactly where the salesperson stands on each opportunity. You won’t be able to assess every sales call, but you should check in with each team member intermittently.
Here are some questions you could ask:
1) What did you do to prepare for the sales call?
2) What was your objective for the sales call?
3) What did you do to make good use of the prospect’s time?
4) What questions did you get answered that helped you understand where the customer is in the sales process?
5) What action did the customer commit to take?
6) What action did you commit to take?
7) Did the customer tell you when they would make a decision by?
8) What are the next steps?
These questions will help both you and the salesperson understand more about the status of the deal. Far too often, salespeople get way ahead of the prospect. As in the conversation at the beginning of this article, they predict a close date based on their quota instead of on the prospect’s needs. The only way to know when a deal will close is to ask the customer. Salespeople must learn to ask for the implementation date and a time by which a decision will be made in order to know the close date. Salespeople will be more inclined to get the needed information if they know you will be inquiring about it.
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Another problem this process will help address is overcommitment on the part of the salesperson. Salespeople are quick to promise to do whatever they think will move the deal along. By asking questions 5 and 6, you can determine if the commitment of the salesperson is comparable to that of the customer. If the commitment levels are out of whack, it could be a sign that the salesperson doesn’t understand where the customer is in the sales process. A change of strategy might be in order.
Managers will have fewer surprises if they make these questions a part of their daily coaching routine. Benefits include a shorter sales cycle, more effective selling, better close ratios, and more accurate forecasting.
If you need some coaching on how to get peak performance from your sales team, I’d be delighted to help. Give me a call at 775-852-5020 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.