Sales is a numbers game. Unless you are planning to hit your number with that one big white whale of a deal, you will need more leads at the top of your sales funnel than are going to come out “closed won” at the bottom. The better you do converting these leads through each phase of your sales process, the more deals you will close. As an outsourced SDR provider, we at ProphetLogic participate in a lot of qualification calls. We have found that there is one small thing Account Executives (or people playing that role) can do in qualification calls at the very beginning of the sales process to optimize their chances of taking deals over the finish line.
We looked at our data from a sample of 119 of the very top scoring calls that we participated in and noticed an important difference between deals that closed and deals that did not. Again, we are just looking at the data from a sample of strongest rated calls here, ones where there is a clear need and opportunity to advance from qualification to a discovery call (services) or demo (software).
In deals that closed, there was a 41.9% higher rate of booking a time for the next sales call on the calendar at the very end of the qualification call. Even a subtle difference, such as agreeing to coordinate times for a follow-up over email instead of booking the follow-up right there on the call, precipitated a dropoff rate in deals won. Even worse than letting them off the call without the next step locked in was throwing a friction point in place such as sending the prospect homework like a scoping questionnaire before scheduling the next call or asking for an NDA to be signed before proceeding. (We suggest avoiding the NDA requirement for discovery calls or demos unless absolutely necessary in your industry or unless the prospect initiates the request).
Momentum is an important thing in sales. The best way to maintain momentum and a regular cadence of communication is to get the prospect to commit to next steps on the calendar before you end your current call. On the qualification call in a complex sale, one of the main things you are selling is for a good prospect to spend more time with you. Once people make that commitment for another meeting, they are less likely to back out. If you let them off the hook with a commitment, on the other hand, it is easier for them to tune you out and drop off the radar. And even though they dropped off your radar, they could still be engaging with one of your competitors.
Asking for that next meeting takes guts and can feel a little “salesy”, but in my experience prospects appreciate working with politely persistent people who are organized and on top of their tasks. If you need a little inspiration, take it from the SDR you are partnered with. Remember that you got into this conversation in the first place because your SDR cold called this prospect. If they can ask for the appointment on a cold call, you can certainly do so after you have done a terrific job establishing deeper value on a qualification call.
This may seem like fundamental stuff, but there is a reason why the top professional athletes are always revisiting the fundamentals of their game. Lock that next step in on the calendar at the end of your qualification calls (as well as follow-on sales calls), and you are likely to see more deals close.