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How do you stay in control on a sales call?

This is something I really need to work on so any advice will be greatly appreciated!

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42
CharmingSalesGal
Politicker
+7
Account Executive
Ask your questions then shut the fuck up. Let the prospect talk.

I know that sounds ass backwards but the more they talk and the more you listen, the more in control you will be.
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
This makes sense!Β 
poweredbycaffeine
WR Officer
+9
Bean Juice Drinker | Sales Savant
I wouldn't call this a control tactic. This is a simple listening skill--however, if you let them speak, and are not afraid to interrupt them when you hear keywords to drive towards your desired outcome/reason for asking the question, then you can control the conversation.
CharmingSalesGal
Politicker
+7
Account Executive
I think it's both for sure- slightly manipulation but it helps you control the conversation as long as you actually listened. "Poweredbycaffeine, you just gave me a lot of information so let's break this down. You said XYZ, how does that impact your business?" And let them continue to talk and give you answers so that when you need to form your big 3 or why they should buy you, you can use their own answers that they gave you. IF you listened that is.
Jackywaky
Arsonist
+9
Master of Disaster
Making sure you make the right research with a relevant speech.
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
up in Fiji, under paddy
Where do you find yourself losing control? What happens when this occurs?
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
That's actually a good question, I'm still trying to identify this. I'm new to sales.Β 
funcoupons
WR Officer
+11
up in Fiji, under paddy
Ok, well try writing down instances where you felt you lost control of the call and what happened as a result. It's helpful for you to reflect on or when asking for help.

Lots of good advice in here already, but I'll add a bit:

- Make sure it's clear to the prospect what the purpose of the call is from the get go. Give them an opportunity to ask questions during defined periods.

- I use a lot of clarifying language throughout my pitch..."make sense, any questions about that," etc so they have an opportunity to ask questions but not when it's inconvenient for me.

- Avoid getting into the weeds on early calls. I keep the calls as high level as possible. If a prospect asks a question that's irrelevant at that point in time, I'll answer it at a short and sweet high level and guide them back to the agenda. Obviously if it's a question that's going to make or break things for them I answer it, but for example - I'm in insurance and we do not need to be having detailed discussions about underwriting procedures within the first ten minutes of speaking. I don't even know if I can help you yet. "Let's see if we can help first so I'm not wasting your time, and we can have that conversation if/when it comes to that point." I do not get push back on this.

- Don't be afraid to take the toy away from the angry child. I use this on prospects who are trying to dominate the conversation. Ignoring the agenda, demanding I "just give them my best pitch" and that sort of shit. A polite "I don't even know if we're the right fit for you yet, and I'm not going to waste anyone's time giving you a bunch of info that might not be relevant" and directing the conversation back to discovery works wonders.
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poweredbycaffeine
WR Officer
+9
Bean Juice Drinker | Sales Savant
1) Set a specific agenda. Make sure to include your goals and intentions and an ideal outcome from the call. Be sure to give them 2 minutes to state their goals/intentions/ideal outcome.

2) Guide the conversation and create bumpers so that your prospect cannot veer off course. An example of a bumper would be sharing a tab, not your full screen when doing a demo. This prevents the prospect from seeing an irrelevant tab title or window that will knock them off course.

3)Use a desk timer. If you have a 30-minute call, space out the different sections so that you are staying on track. The worst thing that can happen is that you are 25 minutes in and your prospect has blabbed on about something irrelevant for 15 of them. This ties back to an agenda with specificity: what are your goals and what are you driving towards.
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
I agree with you, although it's kinda hard to stay in my course agenda-wise, but definitely great tips!Β Β 
Kinonez
Celebrated Contributor
+9
WR Enthusiast
I wouldn’t call it loose control, but often when I ask a probing question that gets the prospect talking a lot (which I love) on occasions I don’t always understand what they are saying.Β 

In these scenarios I deep dive, ask all the questions I can to fully understand them to see how I can help.


AlphaCharlie
Politicker
+5
Account executive
How do you stay in control?
ragnarlothbrok
Politicker
+6
Key account manager
know your audience and let them talkΒ 

bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
And your product...sometimes something so obvious can be overlooked.
GDO
Politicker
+7
BDM
The one asking the questions is controlling the convo, not the one speaking all the time πŸ™ƒ
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
Simple as that! lolΒ 
CuriousFox
WR Officer
+11
Senior Account Executive
It may help to send the agenda to the client before the call if it's a set meeting.
Sgt_Trollingham
Valued Contributor
+5
Business Development Director
I think this is worth breaking down into cold calls, and arranged meetings (demos, follow-up meetings, whatever).

Cold calls:Β 

1. Prepare multiple scripts, not to sound like a robot, but to deal with the natural variation of calls.Β 
2. Let the prospect talk. Don't focus on getting to your solution. Let them talk about all their challenges and show genuine interest. You will become an expert in what your potential client base faces as a challenge. Recommend other companies/solutions/products if they are not direct competitors for challenges you can't solve. This will win you their trust.
3. Ask both closed and open-ended questions. Learn when to ask one or the other. TIP: Closed line of question to direct the call in a specific direction. Open-ended for discovery, gaining trust and building rapport.

Demos/arranged meetings:Β 

1. Have a checklist of what you want to cover. Share that both before the call and at the top of the call. Ask them to confirm that the checklist is in line with what they want to get out of the call.
2. Let the prospect lead you to where they want to go. Ultimately, no matter how good you are at sales, it's about matching challenges with solutions.Β 
3. Ask lots and lots of questions. I cannot stress enough, how important it is to let people talk. Top tip... most people like to talk about themselves and their job.

Hope this was helpful. I know I repeated some stuff other people posted, but this is the starting point for my team when training this sort of thing.
RealEstateVeep
Politicker
+6
VP of Real Estate
Just keep asking them questions, keep the sobbing internal or at least to a dull roar.
AlphaCharlie
Politicker
+5
Account executive
I don't I had control over to the prospect and listen carefully
EH20
Politicker
+3
Manager
You don't you let them take control
Bittersweet0326
Politicker
+5
Digital Business Associate
It depends on what's causing you to lose control. In general I'd say don't take anything personal, control what you control and let go of the rest.
bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
Great advice! sometimes I feel like I take things too personal.Β 
LegacySales
Politicker
+3
Account Executive
For cold calls, just admitΒ 
"Haha yup, this is a cold call"
If they ask.Β 

bamageorge
Celebrated Contributor
+9
International Sales Director
Once they asked me if this was a sales calls and I totally admitted it and said ''Yes, this is definitely a sales call'' haha
POWERDIALER
Opinionated
+2
VP of Business Development
come prepared with open-ended questions that uncover pain.Β 
CTXC
Executive
+3
SDR
It really depends what you mean by "control". As salespeople, the only thing we can control is ourselves - what, how, and when we say certain things guide the customer toward a decision that makes the most sense for their business.Β 

If you're finding yourself talking about completely irrelevant topics in sales calls, I would recommend mentioning something about respecting the customer's time, moving slides in a presentation, or other subtle cues that the conversation topic is about to refocus on the sale.Β 

But remember, we can't make the decision for our customers - we can only shepherd them towards the light. If our shepherd's crook is more like a stone wall, you're much more likely to face resistance and objections. Don't be afraid to let the customer speak for 80-90% of the conversation, after all, the most common complaint about salespeople is that we don't listen well enough to our customers' needs.Β 
Lambda
Politicker
+6
Sales Consultant
Sequence of events, via email prior or in previous call, keeps us on track
EQSales
Good Citizen
+1
VP of Sales
#1 tip is prepare.Β  the more you prepare the more you are "audible ready" meaning the ability to pivot and response with confidence. customer case studies, metrics especially, org chart, prepared questions and potential objections you need to address

#2 is to genuinely listen to understand, not to respond.Β  keep asking questions- why is that happening, why does it matter, who else cares about it?Β  Genuine curiosity is one of the most powerful traits you can have in sales

if you do this it changes the game.Β  one methodology is A-R-M

-Acknowledge: do NOT DISMISS- "it makes sense that would be a challenge/concern"
-Respond: maybe its a misconception/misunderstanding/naivety, competitor FUD.Β  customer case studies and stories are big.Β  "we overcame that same challenge at XYZ company this way.."
-Move on:Β  leverage prepared questions or agenda to move on to the next point in the discussion.Β  this exudes confidence and the customer will pull you back if needed.Β  I like to ask permission after i respond; "Do i have your permission to move to the next part of the agenda?"Β  this gives them the power and gives them a chance to say "yes"
Allisce
Politicker
+4
Account Executive
direct your questions towards answers you are looking to hear, always have a goal in discovery
GrindingSales
Opinionated
+5
Account Executive
Regardless that sales is the point, it should never feel like a sales call.Β  It takes a bit, but you will eventually nail down a way of talking to someone with out throwing the kitchen sink of benefits at them while also giving them adequate time to voice what is important to them and their company.Β 
artofsales
Good Citizen
+2
Sr. Director of Enterprise Sales
@bamageorge : great question! The simple answer is Answering the right questions directly, and listening. 1. Use the first 2-5mins to build credibility of your company & yourself 2. Use the next 10mins to understand their business, top challenges and key focus areas this year 3. Start positioning your product against those challenges or key focus areas 4. Start asking more questions and getting them to talk 5. Close with a request for a demo & adding more relevant stakeholders. Outcome: You position yourself as a consultant & not a seller. You understand where this deal is going. You start forming your gut about when deals are likely to close
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