Making the most out of each outside sales call


As a sales professional, you're probably aware of how crucial successful selling is to your company's profits.

Unless you work for a charitable organization, your company's ultimate goal, beyond serving the customer, is to produce revenue.

To achieve consistent sales success, however, you must first set objectives and then focus on achieving those goals for every sales call you make.

Sales calls with no clear-cut objectives waste both your time and your company's money.

I have met salespeople who sincerely feel they can't set objectives before making sales calls because they say every prospect and every selling situation is different. Some salespeople feel they are especially expert if they can think fast on their feet, wing it and "live on the edge."

Unfortunately, all that "living on the edge" can cost your company a tremendous amount of money.

It has been estimated that the average business spends between $99 and $452 on each individual sales call. In this era of cutbacks and budget constraints, neither you or your organization can afford to make sales calls that serve no real purpose.

Most companies, particularly small businesses, do not have the luxury of wasting money on ineffective sales calls that don't forward the sale in any meaningful way.

Considering, then, that a sales call without a purpose costs just as much as a purposeful one, the smart salesperson uses every call to his or her advantage.

Each call should be considered an investment in the potential sale -- whether it's the first call or the twenty-first.

With many high-end or luxury products, the sales cycle can often be lengthy. It is unrealistic, then, to expect a sale after only one sales call or meeting when you're selling these types of products. In this situation, your objective on each of the multiple calls you'll make will be to get an act of commitment, using each call to move the prospect one step closer to purchasing the product or service.

In this type of longer sales cycle you can utilize the multiple sales calls you make to accomplish objectives such as:


  • Establishing rapport with your prospect.
  • Making an appointment for a longer meeting where you can make your presentation.
  • Finding out your prospect's specific problems or needs.
  • Discovering what the decision-making process is in your prospect's company.
  • Determining who will be involved in the selection process.
  • Finding out whether funds are available for the purchase.
  • Persuading the prospect to do something for you such as review your product's specifications, set up an appointment for your demonstration or give you needed specifications or facts.
  • Meeting new people within your prospect's organization -- people who may be involved in the buying decision.
  • Working with your prospect to devise a method of payment that will fit within that person's budget limitations.
  • Supplying your prospect with new information about your product or service.
  • Checking to see if your prospect's needs or problems have changed since your last visit.
  • Providing your prospect with references from your previous or current satisfied customers.
  • Determining whom the competition is.

Any of these could be worthwhile objectives for a sales call and each could play an important role in furthering your ultimate goal of closing the sale.

To stay on track during a sales call put your objectives in writing prior to making the call.

Just as in any other aspect of life, you're more likely to commit to and accomplish a goal if it is written down. Committing your objectives to writing creates a kind of internal "magic" that manifests itself as a personal "act of commitment" that in your subsequent behavior, you tend to fulfill.

Therefore, before you make a sales call, identify and then write down the specific objectives you want to accomplish during the contact.

This will allow you to focus, stay on track and achieve exactly what you set out to do.

Putting your objectives in ink also helps you remember them. You can also refer back to your notes periodically during the sales call to keep you on target.

In my experience, setting precise objectives for every sales call and putting your goals in writing will help you to organize your thoughts, clarify your overall objective and be more succinct in your presentation.

You'll seem more professional and intelligent, you will be less likely to repeat information and you will not leave out anything important. Most importantly, you will save time -- both yours and your prospect's.

The process of preparing ahead of time for your sales calls also plays an important role in boosting your confidence in your selling ability.

Being prepared for each call will help you feel assured that you will know exactly what you plan to do at every point in the call.

By planning ahead you also show your prospect that you understand the value of his or her time.

Customers will appreciate doing business with someone who respects their time and conducts sales calls in a productive, efficient, professional manner.

The best way to get the most out of the time you spend selling is to keep your attention focused on achieving the goals you've set for each of your sales calls.

By utilizing the process of identifying and writing down your objectives, you will make more sales more quickly and create a positive selling environment that is a win/win situation.

Ultimately, when the salesperson is a true professional, it is the customer who wins the most.



Roy Chitwood is an author, trainer and consultant in sales and sales management and is president of Max Sacks International, Seattle.