How to Make a Sales Call in 5 Steps (+ Free Script Template)

Read our article on how to make a sales call, along with steps, scripts, and tips to hold a successful sales call that nurtures leads and closes deals.

A sales call is a phone or video call that you arrange with a prospect so you can give your full pitch to them for the first time. The goal of the call is to get closer to closing a sale by getting the prospect interested in moving forward and planning next steps such as a demo, presentation, or proposal review meeting. To make a successful sales call, there's a three-phase, five-step process to follow, plus tips to keep in mind throughout the conversation.

Common Sales Calling Situations

In the sales community, a sales call is usually a scheduled call with a qualified prospect where you give your first full sales pitch — this article will focus specifically on this pitching call. Because the term “sales call” is so broad, however, some people might use it to refer to other types of calls throughout the sales process.

Below are the main types of calls you'll encounter as a salesperson, in the order they typically occur:

  • Cold Call to a Lead: A call to a lead that your company has never directly communicated with before in an effort to generate curiosity and book a longer call or meeting. For more, read our article on cold calling
  • Discovery Call With a Lead: A call to qualify a lead by asking them questions to assess their level of fit. Here’s our article on how to conduct a discovery call that qualifies leads correctly. 
  • Sales Call to Pitch a Prospect: This is what we’ll cover today. Your lead is qualified, and a sales opportunity is open under their name or business. Your job is to help them see the value of buying your solution by making a personalized pitch. 
  • Sales Call to Overcome a Prospect’s Objections: Later-stage prospects might have objections as you're trying to close the sale. You’ll have to hop on a call to assuage their concerns; check out our article on objection handling to learn how to do so.
  • Sales Call to Close the Sale: This is when you ask a prospect to buy your solution. Your timing depends on your sales process; some sellers might do it during the traditional sales call. Regardless of your timing, here’s our article on how to close the sale

In the rest of this article, we’ll elaborate on the third bullet point above, showing you how to pitch your prospect on a sales call. Click on the links in the list for additional resources regarding the other types of calls.

The first step to learning how to deliver a sales call to pitch a prospect is understanding the common structure of the call. Below, we’ve broken the structure down into three phases and given you a simple template.

Sales Call Structure & Script Template

Most sales calls to pitch a prospect follow a basic structure from beginning to end. This structure includes an opening, the sales pitch, and your call-to-action (CTA), which is typically to close the sale or schedule another meeting, such as a demo or presentation. Below is a simple, generic sales call template that follows this structure.

Your Opening

Your opening should start with small talk, then you should give the lead an agenda for the call and ask for their permission to proceed. Finally, get a verbal agreement from the lead regarding what will happen next if they like your proposed solution.

The three parts of the opening are as follows:

  • Open with Small Talk: “I hope all is well with you, {prospect name}, and thank you for taking the time to speak with me today. {Small talk}.”
  • Propose an Agenda: “For our agenda, my plan is to explain to you how {product/service} can help you fix {main problem}. Does that work for you?”
  • Set an Upfront Contract: “If you’re interested at the end of the call, {next step}. Does that sound good?”

Your Pitch

When you're ready to dive into your pitch, first mention your lead's main pain point according to your previous conversations. Then, tell them what you believe is causing the issue, plus how you propose to solve it with your product or service. Talk about the specific benefits of your solution, and paint a picture of how it would affect their current experience. Finally, use your USP to set yourself apart from the competition, and mention additional solutions.

Your pitch should sound like the below:

  • Restate the Main Problem: “During our last call, you told me that you’re really struggling with {main problem}.” 
  • Label the Root Causes: “A lot of our clients have {main problem} because {root cause}.” 
  • Introduce Your Solution: “Our {short description of product/service} solves this by {your solution}.”
  • Talk About Benefits: “You can easily {benefit 1}, and it’ll {benefit 2}, and enables you to {benefit 3}.”
  • Highlight a Better Afterworld: Show them how great their life will be after buying. “Because your team will be working smarter to deal with compliance, you’ll receive fewer fines and be able to take on more buildings without having to hire a compliance director.”
  • Name Your Unique Selling Proposition: “Unlike other {company type}s, we’re {unique selling proposition}.”
  • Add 1-2 Solutions: Throw in a few more solutions that relate to other pain points your prospect mentioned. “We also {additional solution}, since I know you’ve also experienced {pain point}.”

Your CTA

Once you've finished your pitch, consider asking if the lead has any questions, and give a CTA that the lead can agree to if they're interested in what they've heard so far. This can include sending a proposal or contract, completing a demo, or other next steps according to your sales process. Stating your CTA should sound like this: “Now that you’ve heard my spiel, the next steps would be {next steps}. How does that sound?"

Feel free to expand on and adapt his basic template to add elements of personalization. For example, perhaps you want to ask the prospect a question during the opening phase in order to spark small talk. Or your CTA might be different depending on your business.

How to Make an Effective Sales Call

A sales call is successful if it pushes a prospect closer to a purchase. This can mean closing the deal on the call or scheduling a meeting with them, such as a presentation or proposal review. To have an effective sales call, you must do your research on the prospect to create a personalized sales call script that you’ll use to guide the call toward your desired outcome. 

More specifically, the steps for an effective sales call are: 

  1. Research Your Prospect: Learn about them to tailor your sales script and pitch to their needs. 
  2. Prepare Your Sales Call Script: Write an outline of the steps you’ll take and the words you’ll say during the call to move the prospect toward your desired outcome. 
  3. Open with Small Talk and Agenda-Setting: Set a warm tone at the beginning of the call, then tell the prospect what you plan to talk about during the remainder of the call. 
  4. Deliver Your Sales Pitch: Reframe the prospect’s pain points and tell them how your product or service will help them overcome them so they can achieve their goals. 
  5. End with a Strong CTA and Next Steps: State your next steps and ask the prospect to accept them. Close the sale or get another meeting on the calendar. 

Below, we’ll go further in depth on each of these steps so that you can be prepared to excel on your next sales call.

1. Research Your Prospect

​​Look over your notes from previous interactions with the prospect and do some outside research. This will help you create a sales pitch tailored to their needs. When you make them feel like your product will solve their specific issues, they'll be more likely to buy it. 

Research this key information about each prospect before writing your sales call script: 

  • Your Prospect’s Main Problem and Goal: Look at your discovery call or needs assessment notes to figure out the specific issues you’ll solve for them. Also, understand their desired outcome so your benefits can reflect it. 
  • Root Causes of the Prospect’s Problem: Figure out the root causes of their problems. The root cause of fatigue might be a lack of sleep, so a solution would focus on improving sleep, not giving them caffeine. 
  • Personal Details About the Prospect: Know a few hobbies or interests that you two have in common. This can be great to use for small talk in your opener. 
  • Basic Information on the Prospect’s Company: If you’re in B2B sales, know their company’s location, size, specialization, main competitors, and mission statement. 
  • The Prospect’s Job Responsibilities: Know what matters to the prospect and what doesn’t. A VP might care about reporting, while a sales rep won’t. Only bring up benefits that specifically relate to the prospect. 
  • Which Competitors the Prospect Is Using or Considering: Be ready to explain why your product or service is better than the competition. 

The more background information you have on your prospect, the more knowledgeable you’ll sound. Having this research on hand will also help you if you get unexpected questions or objections and have to frame your responses in ways that are tailored to the prospect and their situation. Once you have sufficient information on your prospect, it’s time to write your script.

2. Prepare Your Sales Call Script

A sales call script is a written or typed document that outlines the flow of your sales call. The purpose of a script is to keep you on track to hit your key talking points. It’s your choice how comprehensive you want to make the script. It could outline simple talking points, or it could include paragraphs you’ll memorize and say verbatim. 

Here’s a talking-points-only sales call script you might write down before a call: 

  • Opening: Make small talk (ask about vacation) > Set agenda (talk about cause of problem, solution, questions) > Explain next steps (proposal) 
  • Sales Pitch: Introduce main problem > Label root cause > Introduce solution > Name three benefits (more efficient, fewer unanticipated costs, less time digging through paperwork) > State USP > Give another solution
  • Closing: Ask if any questions (optional) > Make CTA (send proposal and set time to review together)

Because sales calls are two-way conversations, it’s impossible to plan every moment of the call. Salespeople will commonly write down and memorize the opening line, sales pitch, and closing statement. The rest of the script will just be steps like “share agenda” or “ask if they have questions,” similar to the script above. A script might also include rebuttals to common objections or answers to common questions so you can provide quick, polished responses.

Having at least a rough layout of the structure of your sales call is essential. It separates the all-stars from the pros. Winging it is a risk. Having a clear vision of where you want to end up and knowing the steps you’ll take to get there will lead to sales calls that produce your desired results.

3. Start With Small Talk & Agenda-Setting

Your opening sets the tone for the rest of your call. Come off as personable by kicking off small talk, which will build some positive vibes. After a few minutes of chatting, transition into your agenda, which will inform the prospect of what to expect, thereby putting them at ease. Another opening element salespeople use is called an upfront contract. We’ll cover all three below. 

Here is the best way to open a sales call in five minutes: 

  1. Open With Small Talk: Warm up the call with some conversation. It could be about something you two have in common, industry news, or an event they attended since your last meeting. 
  2. Propose an Agenda: Say, “I’d like to propose an agenda for this meeting so we stay on track. How does that sound?” When they agree, give your agenda and ask if there’s anything they’d like to add or remove. This gives them a calming sense of control.
  3. Set an Upfront Contract: Name the next step and ask them to agree that by the end of the call they’ll either accept it or tell you why they don’t. This keeps you from having an ambiguous ending to the call where you can’t tell if they’re interested.

Aim to finish the opening section of your call in five minutes. Now that you’ve warmed them up, it’s time to crank up the heat and deliver your personalized sales pitch.

4. Deliver Your Sales Pitch

Your sales pitch is the meat and potatoes of the sales call. It’s when you express the value of your product or service by explaining how it will solve your prospect’s problem. Although it’s the most important part, it shouldn’t necessarily be the longest. In fact, it’s best to keep it under two minutes. If the prospect interrupts with a question, you can go longer. But avoid speaking for more than two minutes uninterrupted, as the buyer might lose interest. 

Here are the steps of an effective two-minute sales pitch, plus an example: 

  1. Restate the Main Problem: Name the main problem the prospect wants you to solve. “During our last call, you told me that you’re really struggling with keeping track of your building compliance, permits, and violations.” 
  2. Label the Root Causes: From your own analysis or from what they’ve told you, state the factors contributing to the problem. “A lot of our clients have that problem because they are still using pen and paper to track these compliance notifications.” 
  3. Introduce Your Solution: Now introduce your solution with one sentence on how it works to solve that problem. “Our document automation platform allows you to go paperless by uploading all your documents to a searchable database.”
  4. Talk About Benefits: State three benefits that the prospect will enjoy. “You can easily access important paperwork on the go, and it’ll alert you when upcoming compliance tasks are due and enable you to run reports that’ll tell you how to improve.”
  5. Highlight a Better Afterworld: Show them how great their life will be after buying. “Because your team will be working smarter to deal with compliance, you’ll receive fewer fines and be able to take on more buildings without having to hire a compliance director.”
  6. Name Your Unique Selling Proposition: State how your solution stands out from the competition. “Unlike other smart document automation companies, we’re built specifically with real estate owners in mind.” 
  7. Add 1-2 Additional Solutions: Throw in a few more solutions that relate to other pain points your prospect mentioned. “We also give you a dedicated account manager, since I know you had a bad experience with your last provider’s customer service.”

After you’ve delivered your pitch, you might open the floor for questions. This is typical among sellers with longer sales cycles and more complicated, expensive solutions. But if you feel like your pitch is self-explanatory, transition directly into the CTA. Note that some businesses might use a product demo, where they show the prospect the solution after they give their basic pitch. This is most prevalent among software salespeople.

bookmarks

Additional Reading:

To learn more about what makes an outstanding sales pitch, check out our article on how to formulate and deliver a sales pitch.

5. End With a CTA Suggesting Next Steps

Your next steps depend on your sales process. It could be a close, another meeting with this prospect, or a larger meeting to present to other decision makers. State the next steps clearly and ask the prospect to agree, such as “Now that you’ve heard my spiel, the next steps would be for me to send you a proposal outlining price and timeline along with a contract. You can review it, and next week we can have another meeting to finalize the agreement. How does that sound?”

If the prospect agrees, schedule the meeting right there on the call. If they voice objections, stay calm, pause, and practice effective objection handling. Instead of responding aggressively, attempt to start a two-way conversation about their hesitation by asking them questions and digging deeper. Once you feel like you fully understand their objection, state your rebuttal.

What to Do If a Prospect Doesn’t Answer Your Sales Call

If the prospect doesn’t answer your scheduled call, leave a voicemail. In a friendly tone, state that you’re here and will stay online for 15 more minutes. Also, tell them how to join the meeting, whether that’s calling this number back or clicking the link in your calendar invite. If after five minutes they’re silent, send them an email reminder. If after 15 minutes they’re still unresponsive, send another email proposing times and dates to reschedule.

Sales Call Checklist for Effective Selling

Sometimes it can be hard to remember everything you need to do to get ready for a sales call. Here’s a checklist you can use for all the necessary preparation. Reference it either as a guide as you prepare or as a way to double-check your prep shortly before your call to ensure you're fully ready:

  • Research the prospect and their company. 
  • Learn something personal about the prospect. 
  • Label the prospect’s main issue.
  • Find the cause of that issue. 
  • Pick one solution to solve that issue. 
  • Pick two other solutions they might want to hear about. 
  • Find their company’s main competitors. 
  • Prepare rebuttals to potential objections.  
  • Decide on the next steps.
  • Write a personalized sales script that contains an opener, pitch, and closing. 

After you’ve done all the above, you should be ready to deliver an effective sales call that gets your prospect excited to work with you.

Top 3 Sales Call Tips for the Best Results

Below are some tips to employ to ensure your call goes as well as possible. These include saving pricing talks for the end (after you’ve established value), speaking like an executive, and using video conferencing software to build trust.

Talk Pricing Late in the Call

Oftentimes, you’ll have already discussed pricing during the qualification phase of your sales process, because you had to assess if they had the budget. However, sometimes this sales call will be the first time going in depth on pricing. If so, save it for the end of your call after you’ve already established the value of your product or service. Now that the prospect knows how much value it’ll provide, the pricing should seem fair.

Sound Like a Friendly Executive

There are some tactics you can use to come across as confident, personable, and commanding of respect and attention. Try these tactics to place yourself on the same level as your prospect:

  • Stand Up: Standing up makes you feel more powerful, and that will be reflected in the tone of your voice. 
  • Free Up Your Hands: Use the microphone on your laptop or a headset so that you can use your hands while talking. This will make you feel more natural, so your voice will sound natural, too. 
  • Slow Down and Pause When Necessary: If the prospect says something you don’t understand, it’s okay to pause and think through how you’re going to respond. Pausing also helps you maintain control of the call. 
  • Speak Conversationally: Speak as you would to a friend at a coffee shop. Don’t use too much technical jargon. Instead, use simple words that anyone could understand. Say “it loads really fast” instead of “it has a speed of 656 gigahertz.” 

How you sound can affect the prospect’s opinion of you, so it’s best to ensure that you don’t sound overenthusiastic, rushed, or fake.

Turn on Your Webcam

It’s easier to make a connection with a prospect if they’re able to see your face during the call. According to Gong’s research, win rates are 94% higher when the seller has turned on their webcam at least once throughout the sales process. So consider using a video conferencing software like Zoom or Skype for Business.

bookmarks

Additional Reading:

If you are hungry for more ways to perfect your sales call, check out our full article on cold calling tips, where you’ll read call advice from expert sellers.

Bottom Line: How to Make a Sales Call

Regardless of where it falls in your lead nurturing process, the sales call is when you first deliver your full sales pitch to a qualified prospect in order to move them toward a close. An effective sales call will include a rapport-building opening, a personalized sales pitch, and a close in which you ask them to take next steps with you. Now that you understand the basics, get started putting together a personalized script for your next scheduled sales call.

Selling Signals
Actionable advice for sales professionals
Address
355 Lexington Ave,
18th Floor,
New York, NY, 10017
COPYRIGHT SELLING SIGNALS, LLC – 2021