Every blog that’s trying to teach you ‘how to get better at a sales call,’ is giving you the lyrics for a song that you don’t know and asking you to sing it.
A sales call is highly nuanced. It comprises interactions where your soft skills of persuasion, empathy, and trust building are tested along with technical skills to understand the prospect’s needs aptly.
A simple piece of advice like, “don’t overwhelm the prospect with pricing”, when it comes to having the money talk, can be vague and borderline unhelpful.
What counts as overwhelming?
How do I gauge if the prospect is getting overwhelmed with pricing?
When is the best time to talk pricing so as to avoid overwhelming the prospect?
Where can I get some actual help?
Real-life exchanges between our AEs and prospects
I dove into our sales call recordings to listen to how prospecting conversations go and tried to pick some share-worthy lessons. Here are 5 prospecting interactions between our AEs and their prospects that actually took place, replete with a breakdown of the reasoning and effect behind the AE’s dialogues.
#1 Sanket <> James
TL;DR: Sanket, our AE, and James, a prospect, explore the option of a free trial.
Sanket: Are you working on any budget that I should be mindful of?
James: We were, like, wanting to stay below [price A] a year?
Sanket: [Price A]? That’s…that’s much less as compared to what we’ve quoted if you could take a look, right? And even the doc says [price B], without going for the integration.
So that’s the annual upfront and you’re getting far more credits over here, but with unlimited view access, right? And even if…if you go ahead and divide this by 12, it’s gonna give you…[X leads] on a monthly basis.
Okay. Do you think like this [Price C] per month? Which should be a good fit.
James: Okay. Yeah. So I’d like to think about, I mean, is there a way like I could…do you guys offer a trial where I can like have some Saturday or so to look around it?
Sanket: Absolutely! I can go ahead and set you up for a trial.
James: I’m going to be out of town tomorrow and Friday, would you be able to set the trial where it starts Monday?
Sanket: Sure, I can do that. So we have a trial for a couple of days. And so what we can do is like Monday I’ll set you up for a trial. Probably we can have a feedback call on Wednesday if you can give me some time on your calendar?
James: That’s good…this time of day. Usually, it’s pretty good for me.
Here’s what stands out: Well-timed questions
When it comes to price negotiations, a great way to tip the scale in your favor is to let the prospect go first and mention their pricing constraints. This shift in power allows you to build a pitch for your product that can be within their pricing needs, and since the prospect has already revealed their budget, they’d be unable to bargain for an even lower price.
Sanket started the pricing dialogue by asking –
“Are you working on any budget that I should be mindful of?”
The prospect stated their budget, and with that knowledge, Sanket could offer favorable pricing that pleases both parties, especially the prospect. Also, you can observe that delivering within the prospect’s budget makes the product a front runner in contention for purchase, as is shown here by the immediate request made by the prospect for a free trial.
With this simple technique, Sanket increased his chances of closing the deal and queued up another call with the prospect.
#2 Teo <> Mary and Robert
TL;DR: Teo, our AE, and Mary, a prospect, begin a discovery call …
Teo: Hey, Janice; Hey, Mary; how are you guys doing?
Mary: Good! How are you?
Teo: Good. Awesome. So, I think we are expecting Robert as well. Is that right?
Mary: Yes, I think so. He accepted the meeting invite. So I’ll give him a minute.
Teo: Here he is. Perfect!
Teo: Hey, Robert. How’s it going?
Robert: Good. How are you?
Teo: Doing well, doing well. Awesome. I think that’s everyone. I don’t think any of the folks from the 6sense team are going to be able to join me today, but no worries.
Teo: Robert, I like all your guitars in the background, nice!
Robert: Thank you!
Teo: Damn, you guys are very musical—ukelele, all the guitars. Nice. Nice.
Mary: We’ll play a song?
Teo: What was it?
Mary: I said we’ll play you a song.
Teo: Perfect. Yeah (laughs), if I was, I’m actually in Laguna right now, but if I was back home, I normally have guitars hanging on my wall too.
Teo: But anyway, awesome. Thank you guys for taking this time out of your day today. I think we can kind of, you know, go around and do a quick round of introductions, just have you guys, introduce yourselves real quick and then we’ll set an agenda.
Here’s what stands out: Observation and candidness
Friendliness goes a long way. It’s a fact that work is universally tedious, thus, easing the seriousness associated with ‘work’ and diffusing the tension of formality relaxes people. A casual and friendly atmosphere leaves a positive impression on the prospect’s mind for you, and subsequently, your product.
Sales folks often engage in small talk to warm up the call and greet everyone. They typically talk about the weather and then quickly move on to talking business. This interaction feels drawn out and maybe even forced or awkward.
Scanning the room (through the window on your screen) to learn about your participants in a call is usually a good idea. It gives you some context about the person if they are WFH, and tells you a bit about their surroundings. Teo scans the backgrounds of the people in the video call and notices two members with guitars hanging off their walls.
Using this information as the ice-breaker, here, Teo compliments one of the participants on the call and shares insights about his own life too. He keeps it short and diverts back to the structure of the call without dwelling on the guitars too much.
In this call, Teo is speaking to the majority of the members for the first time. This little informal interaction eases the formal tension in the conversation, making everyone on the call more friendly and comfortable.
#3 Sanket <> Charles and Daniel
TL;DR: Sanket starts off a demo for Charles and Daniel with a question.
Sanket: So I’ll take you through the Slintel platform, what the database looks like, and all the different features that you can find on the platform. But is there anything specific you’d like me to cover Charles, Gary, and Ashley?
Charles: I think one of the biggest things was the data enrichment point, you know—what these would look like and then how they relate to our business model. We do have some very specific data points that obviously we’d like to be able to leverage but not too sure how accurate that would be. So have you received that information from Ashley by any chance?
Sanket: Daniel is the other one? No, I just have…
Daniel: You sent me Charles the other day. I have some of those that I shared with him. And then I just shared some stuff that I know from working on your account and connecting with the team, and things like that. This is just going to be more of like he’s gonna show, you know, the account, some of the data and information and enrichment that you can gather from the Slintel platform. And then, you know, accessibility with Slintel’s Chrome Extension and how different teams could utilize the platform.
Charles: Okay. Thank you.
Sanket: Alright. Now, when you talk about data enrichment, one, what data point were you looking at, and secondly, what CRM do you guys use? Can you help me understand?
Charles: So, right now we use Salesforce and Hubspot. Salesforce is really our source of truth, but concerning data points such as order volume, monthly, recurring revenue, annual revenue, company size, you know, just making sure what kinds of packages it delivers, if it’s you know, just basic parcels or domestic, or they international, you know, things such as these.
Sanket: Got it. Thank you, Charles. I think I did receive that information from Daniel as well. So for all the data points that you just mentioned, we can go in and help you with the financial information or say firmographic insights for all the companies and I can go ahead and show it to you as well. And within those companies, would you be also looking in to acquire contacts? Let’s say email addresses and phone numbers for job titles? Would you be looking at that as well? Let me quickly show you.
Here’s what stands out: Structure and priority-setting
A discovery call is to understand the needs and problems of the prospect, while a demo call is to showcase how your product resolves all that for them. When you’re in a demo call you must be aware and prepared with the answers to the prospect’s questions, before they even ask them.
In this call, Sanket starts off by asking for any specificities that the prospect would like him to cover. While Sanket is aware of the prospect’s needs, having them reaffirm their specific need for data enrichment gives Sanket the key to structuring his demo.
Resolving the query raised on spot by providing almost an instantaneous answer helps build Sanket’s image as an adept and skillful resource in the eyes of the prospects. This makes them feel more confident and safe in Sanket’s abilities as well as the product’s promise to be the solution to their problems.
Structuring your demo to answer the objection first and then proceeding to issues with lesser priority gives a sense of satisfaction to the prospect as their most important questions are prioritized and answered promptly.
#4 Teo <> Mary and Robert
TL;DR: Thanks to Teo’s prior research & quick thinking, he could propose the idea of a free trial in the early stages of the deal.
Teo: Awesome. So that is the majority of what I wanted to show you guys on the platform. So I kinda wanted to get your initial thoughts. Is this, does this seem pretty comparable as far as the insights that you guys are currently getting with [competitor]?
Mary: Yeah. I think from a high-level perspective, I think where my mind goes since I haven’t been in the [competitor]’s interface, like they don’t use it day-to-day anymore, nor am I in sales.
And so I think my first thought would be bringing forth like our biggest advocates are users of [competitors] to figure out like, okay, where are there gaps?
Is this something that works better and basically coming from that perspective since they’re the day-to-day users. And then also if that is a fit and that it fits their needs, essentially.
Then later down the line, possibly bringing in our person who owns [competitors]. Now, Madison, who also owns everything that is Salesforce ecosystem. So that’s where my mind went. Any thoughts, Robert, or Janice?
Robert: I think that sounds good. Yeah, I’m not, I’m never really in [competitor]’s interface either. So it’s not really something that a lot of input on as long as we get good data, yeah.
Teo: Makes sense. So, I think I don’t know, you know, with the [competitor] contracts not being up for renewal till January. One thing I think we definitely do is set up some of your reps that, as you said, are heavy [competitor] users on the Chrome Extension for free.
And then we’ll allocate them a certain number of credits so that they can start using that workflow and comparing, how do our emails compare, how do our phone numbers compare? So as far as a timeline for that, maybe sometime later this year or what do you think – when would be a good time to start setting up some of your reps with Slintel’s Chrome Extension?
Mary: So, would that also be after having a conversation with you and like walking through the platform and like how to use it? Because I think that would be necessary like we’ve done this a lot with the sales teams and they have so much going on.
The likelihood of them actually utilizing the platform is hard to none. And so I would say probably like setting up a time walking through the platform and saying like you see any gaps initially?
Can you then run through it yourself on your own time? And ideally probably like in the next month or so towards the end of the year, it gets very busy and we’re already starting to ramp up for that.
So I have a few people in mind that I would think of first. But is that something that’s possible being able to walk through like just a brief overview of the platform. And then I’m taking on their own time.
Teo: Yeah, no, absolutely. I can definitely do that. We can set up a call to show them the platform and the Chrome Extension can be used, exclusive of the platform.
So what I was thinking is that they start using the Chrome Extension first because the workflow is pretty easy. I’ll show them how to use it just so they can start comparing.
How did these emails and phone numbers compare? As you said, you know, with the reps, you don’t want to overwhelm them and put a whole new platform in front of their face.
What might be a good first step is just to give them access to the Chrome extension because it’s very easy to use on top of LinkedIn and they can start comparing the contact data.
And then maybe as we get closer, I’m or as that progresses and you guys get some feedback, then I can show them the broader platform that they can start looking at as well.
Mary: Okay. And for the Chrome Extension, is that something you’d have to give them access to like a sandbox or is it available for anyone?
Teo: Yeah. So it’s available for anyone. They can download it for free. So what I’ll do is I’ll shoot you an email, a follow-up email, and I’ll send the link and I believe they get 100 free credits because it costs one credit when you unlock a contact on the Chrome Extension.
But what I can do is as they run out of credits, I can just fill them up with more credits. So if any of your reps run out of credits, they can just, you can reach out to me or they can reach out to me and I’ll just add more credits to their account.
Teo: Awesome. And sorry, just to make sure you wanted them to kind of start trialing the Chrome Extension, you know, as soon as possible maybe in the next couple of months?
Mary: Yeah, I would say probably in the next month. Sometimes things have a slower turnaround when it comes to this. I’d rather just like be ahead of things rather than wait till the last minute with [competitor]. So I wanna make sure to stay ahead of that.
Here’s what stands out: Quick wit
It’s good practice to ensure the next stage of conversation with the prospect before ending the call. That way, your sales cycle remains succinct and you’re continually moving the prospect forward in the sales funnel.
Teo gauges that the members on this call are decision makers but not the end users of the product. Plus, Teo’s aware that their contract with the competitor will expire in six months. He seizes this opportunity to excellently present the idea of the free Chrome Extension.
The free Chrome Extension enables the sales folks (end users) to have early access and a sandbox demo for them to take the product for a spin, at no cost. This ensures that the salespeople have a seamless transition to the Slintel platform.
Getting your foot in the door early on like this can help you toss the competition out of the race. Since your prospect’s sales team will be familiar with your product from early on, making your product the only sensible choice.
Shefali <> Mason
TLD; DR: Shefali our AE, and Mason, prospect, talk off agenda and make the call even better.
Shefali: You’ve just given me an amazing idea. So, every time I’m having a bad month, I’d be like, am I meant to be in sales? Should I be working here? Should I be in SaaS? Should I just start something on my own? That’s what I would think about this when I’m having like a bad month or quarter.
Mason: Honestly, Shefali, we all especially like, I understand…and that’s why I enjoyed talking to another salesperson because at the end of the day like I completely get it, I get where you’re coming from, you get where I’m coming from.
That’s about it. To be honest, it can be…it can be a challenge sometimes, right? To say the least, I have friends who do hard labor and they see all you sit out of office desk, your air conditioning, you know?
I know it’s not physical and I’m not saying it is, first of all, there’s a physicality,
sitting all day is actually very bad for you.
So I try to move, but I said the mental and emotional stress that we deal with in a given day like you could be on cloud nine one minute, because the biggest deal just came through, and the next minute, that same deal someone’s like, okay, hold the phone.
That’s something that you don’t know, right? You don’t know. And I…I have a very good friend near and dear to me, he moved to the United States to do what you do, SaaS sales. And until recently he was bouncing around from different startups that they all they said we’re gonna change the world.
And then two years later they run out of funding and they’re not a business. He finally landed somewhere which was amazing for him. But the same thing…even though I’m like everything’s good for you and I was like no, my quarter’s shit, it’s like that’s the rest hen, right? And I totally get it. I totally get them. It’s like this happened and then this company got acquired and this company’s…I’m like my God, it’s a story of our lives… but at least I appreciate talking to you.
Here’s what stands out: Cultivating relationships
Connect with people first, sell your product second. Fundamentally, sales is all about human connection, nurturing a prospect through the funnel and making sure every step of the way is as smooth as possible for them.
Shefali’s call with Mason was about 36 minutes long, out of which only 7 minutes were spent discussing the agenda. The rest of it was spent on sharing stories and ideas.
It’s standard knowledge that sales folks should be active in listening to the prospect, but that’s not only limited to ‘work’ talk. Being engaged in the prospect’s anecdotes goes a long way in building a good relationship.
Meet The Artists
Giving credit where credit’s due, our AEs Sanket, Teo, and Shefali are the masters of their craft of salesmanship. They are part of the fuel that powers the incredible sales engine here at Slintel.
We’ve picked these particular conversations from our CI tool Gong to highlight the lesser-known nuanced skills a salesperson should cultivate. Use the learnings from these transcripts to level up your next call and close your next big one!
Additionally, we recommend you listen to some of your own calls again. Similar to how sports teams rewatch their games to identify their mistakes and areas of improvement, a salesperson can benefit immensely from this practice too!