How Long Should Your Sales Call Take?

telephoneAs long as it takes you to have an effective sales call.

This is my simple answer to the length of time your sales call should take.

The more complex answer is about to follow, but it will give you the information you need to effectively execute your sales call.

What usually happens?

On your average sales call most sales people do the “show-up and throw-up” routine for their prospects.

This can make for a faster sales call, but the effectiveness may not be what you’re looking for.

The other item to consider is how did you arrive at this sales call?

What I mean by this is, where is your prospect in relation to their buying cycle? You and I have a sales cycle that we pay attention to, but we also have a buying cycle. Your sales call is intersecting your prospects buying cycle at some point. You need to understand where your prospect is in their buying cycle.

I won’t get into the buying cycle right now, but here are the basic steps your prospect moves through.

  1. Know
  2. Like
  3. Trust
  4. Try
  5. Buy
  6. Repeat
  7. Refer

This encompasses the entire clients relationship cycle you should follow, but you need to be most concerned with the first 3. If you want to know more about this, click here to read more about it from one of mentor’s John Jantsch creator of Duct Tape Marketing.

Your sales call strategy

Since I do not know what you’re selling, I’m going to give you a basic strategy that you can follow on your sales call. The strategy is what I refer to as “Diagnosis” on your sales call.

Pretend for a moment that you went to see your doctor about some back pain you were having. Instead of asking you any questions about your back pain he tells you to lay down on the table. A moment later he is putting you under to start operating on you and cutting on your back.

What would you think of this doctor?

A good doctor will diagnose you before giving any kind of prescription, therapy, specialist, or any other kind of advice. They want to understand what happened that gave you back pain to begin with.

Your sales strategy on your sales call should be similar. Your working towards understanding the following five key components of your prospects problems and goals.

  1. Where are they now, and how did they get there?
  2. Where are they trying to get to?
  3. What are the obstacles to getting where they want to go?
  4. What are the consequences of their obstacles?
  5. What’s in it for them if they achieve their goals?

This is your basic strategy outline for your sales call. I refer to it as “Mini Strategic Plan.” The essence of a strategic plan will answer these core questions.

So let’s go back and answer the original questions on how long should your sales call take? I would ask for more time than you need. If you think you need 45-min., ask for an hour. If you need an hour, ask for 90-min.

I have had people share that they only need 15-min. for their sales calls. My response to that would depend on the situation. If you’re in a retail environment where people are coming to you, that may be fine.

If you’re selling a more complex product or service, it will probably take longer.

Your action steps

So how should you go about using the information I have shared? I have provided you a basic strategy for your sales call. It’s not a complete strategy, so don’t think this is one and done total sales call strategy.

To use the elements of the “Mini Strategic Plan” you will need to employ some tactics. So let me give you an example of some of the “Curious Questions” tactics you may ask around the strategy on your sales call.

When I perform a sales call with my prospects, I need to learn where they are at with their business. So my questions will focus on the following.

Share with me, where are you at for the year with your sales revenue?

What have the last two years looked like for sales revenue?

How long has it taken you to build your company up to the point you’re at now?

These are some example questions that I’m curious about when I meet with a new prospect. These questions help me understand the first part of my strategy, “where are you at and how did you get there.”

The curious questions represent your tactical aspect of the sales call.

So your mission for your sales call is to figure out what tactical questions you need to ask around the basic sales call strategy I have shared with you.

Go and conquer your sales call!