Every sales call is an opportunity! If the customer gives you a few minutes of his or her valuable time, then you need to make the most of that opportunity. That means you need to spend time preparing for the call. The foundation of that preparation must be the objective—the one thing you need to accomplish on the call that will move the customer closer to buying the product.
Call objectives come in a variety of forms, but they all focus on accomplishing one or a combination of the following:
- Getting the customer to take an action that advances him or her in the sale
- Expanding your understanding of the customer and what is important to him or her and would bring him or her value
- Uncovering other opportunities to sell your product either with this customer or somewhere else
These three categories of call objectives form a general outline of what you can accomplish on a sales call, but they aren’t specific enough for you to apply them routinely; therefore, your call objective needs to focus on what is specifically necessary to accomplish on a specific call.
If you complete the statement stems below, they will help you with your sales call objective planning:
- By the end of this call, I will have accomplished…
- To advance the customer in the buying process, I need to accomplish X on this call…
- This call will have been highly successful if I accomplish…
SMART Call Objectives
You probably have heard of using the SMART acronym to ensure your goals are high quality. You also can apply SMART to ensure your sales call objective is of high quality. Typically, we use SMART for goal setting by creating a goal and then determining whether the goal meets the SMART criteria. You can use the same approach for setting sales call objectives by creating an objective for the call and then determining whether it is:
Does the objective you want to accomplish on this call focus on something definite? For example, if you are at the point in the buying process that you can close the customer by asking him or her to buy the product, then your objective should focus specifically on that close. The more specific your call objective is, the better.
Is there a way to determine whether you accomplished the call objective? All good call objectives focus on accomplishing something, so you need to be able to measure that something. For example, if your objective focuses on uncovering the customer’s need, then you might measure whether you accomplished that objective by determining whether you discovered a need the customer has that your product can satisfy.
Does the call objective focus on advancing the customer in the buying process or expanding your knowledge of the customer? Simply making a call on a customer isn’t action-oriented, and neither is checking in with the customer to determine how the product is working. While both may be good customer-service call objectives, they aren’t very good sales call objectives.
Can you reasonably accomplish this call objective during the call? If you are introducing a product to a customer for the first time, then it may be unreasonable to believe he or she will immediately start buying your product. The customer may need time to evaluate it and determine whether it meets his or her needs.
Can you accomplish the call objective within the time allotted for the call? As you establish your call objective, consider the length of time you have during the call and what you can accomplish. Determining a reasonable objective to accomplish within a reasonable time frame is somewhat of an art. However, setting your sights high and trying to accomplish a lot during a call is much better than the opposite—not really trying to accomplish much and wasting time.
Before making a sales call on a customer, you need to create 1–2 key objectives to accomplish in the call. This objective could involve taking a step toward achieving the sale, building your understanding of the customer’s need, or expanding the business you already have in the account. Consider making your call objective a SMART one, focusing on accomplishing something specific and measurable. Ensure that the objective is action-oriented, realistic, and time-bound. If the goal of a sales call is to make a sale and bring value to the customer, a SMART call objective is a good place to start.