PRIMES: Creates the right contact climate before making the pitch

PRIMES: Creates the right contact climate before making the pitch

Walking past the workstations of Relationship Managers, Vice President Sales Charan paused mid stride

“GO FOR THE JUGULAR!” screamed the poster.

Catching Charan’s puzzled look, Darshan, his new sales hire smiled.

Darshan explained “Sums up my sales approach Chief. When I meet Customers, I keep my eyes on the doughnut and not on the hole. The moment I spot the tiniest buying signal from the Customer, I jump for the kill. I want to be in the Sales Guinness for the quickest closure. I will do it in two minutes, someday”

Charan sighed. “What is your strike rate by the way Darshan?” he asked.

“Umm, that’s an area I need to work on I guess” responded Darshan “At the moment, it is about 15%”

Charan: “Would it surprise you, if I told you that it might have something to do with your sales approach”

Darshan: “I can’t see what I am doing wrong. ‘Always Be Closing’, that’s what the Sales School taught me”

Charan: “Yes and no. Of course you should always be closing, yes. But that’s after you have created a conducive contact climate”

Darshan: “Contact Climate? What would that be?”

Charan: “Darshan, it’s all about creating conditions favourable to move the needle on the purchase journey. See it’s like this. As a young sales professional you must first internalise the attitude of looking at all selling as opportunity to help Customers fill important needs, solve critical problems or capitalize on growth avenues. When you close a sale you actually start a relationship. You don’t look at it as going for the jugular. It is such a negative metaphor. Instead, you must see every call as an opportunity to prime the soil for planting a long term relationship that automatically takes all your sales forward. That’s contact climate for you”

Darshan: “Thank you so much Chief. I learnt something today I can keep for my entire career. I will change that poster to: “YOU ARE A RAINMAKER - CREATE A CONDUCIVE CONTACT CLIMATE”

Prime your Calls and Visits:

6 Rules to Create Good contact Climate, before the first call

The foundation for a resilient Customer relationship is laid even before the first call or visit. So, it’s no surprise that seasoned sales professionals plan their first call or visit as part of a total strategy. They carefully study the likely profile of the Customer they are meeting physically or virtually, to identify ways to add value to the Customer.

They observe the following 6 rules:

1. They aim to reach the highest possible contact level at the customer to open up maximum opportunities.

2. Plan to handle the first few calls with a light touch so that the Customer doesn’t feel pressurized

3. Avoid wasting Customer time on gathering information that you can collect beforehand.

4. Prepare and rehearse a sales talk customized for the call/visit

5. Look to close the first call/visit with concrete acceptance about next steps

6. They know that even before the meeting, their Customers are looking them up on Social Media. So, they keep their online profiles engaging and up to date,

Prime to Make great first impressions, during the first call

According to most psychologists, 7 seconds is all you have, to make a first impression. Luckily, a Sales Call isn’t that demanding, A B2C sales call will give you at least a couple of minutes and a B2B sales call gives you even more. In typical B2B situations, you normally get 15 – 20 minutes in which you can prime your Customer for a big decision in your favour. So, start out by making a positive first impression. That will help secure the Customer’s confidence, uncover his need, pique the Customer’s interest for knowing more and help you in reinforcing the solid contact climate.

Possible solution for the story situation – Darshan will benefit by using:

(1) The 6 Rules to Create a Good Contact Climate before the first call, as seen above

(2) The checklist of 6 Smart Things to Do in the First 20 Minutes of a Call (See Anchor Practice below)

Anchor Practice: Checklist of 6 Smart Things To Do in the First 20 minutes of a Call

Do these to make a great first impression which goes on to reinforce a favourable contact climate

(1) Build rapport. Cultivate an atmosphere of mutual person – to- person trust

(2) Build credibility for your company

(3) Heighten Customer’s awareness of your product/service line

(4) Be appreciative of a related / latest development in the Customer’s environment

(5) Get to know the Customer better and uncover his need

(6) Trigger Customer’s interest in a specific offering

Bonus Tips for Virtual Calls:

(1) Start the meeting clear 10 minutes earlier to check for any possible tech glitches

(2) Virtual can be very impersonal. Begin with showing you care. (Ex: Can you see my screen? Am I audible? Is my speed of talking okay? Stop me whenever for any queries / Type any query in the chat box / etc.)

(3) Open with something positive about the Customer. That could be your first slide. People enjoy good things about them being noticed by others

(4) Request Customer to specify a couple of takeaways from the call

(5) Optimize your slides for mobile viewing (Limit text, use more visuals, watch out for congested slides)

Pause to reflect:   ” Seasoned sales professionals plan their first call or visit as part of a total strategy. They carefully study the likely profile of the Customer they are meeting physically or virtually, to identify ways to add value to the Customer”.

Action Question: Study the next prospect or Customer you intend to call/visit. How can you use the Checklist on 6 Smart Things to in the First 20 Minutes to prime your call?

Related Readings: Mercuri Insight Document on Creating conditions for future sales -vs-selling a product

Takeaway Quote:  “Never confuse activity with accomplishment” – Lori Richardson

About the series:   This is the 82nd in a series of 100 Posts that seek to build your Sales Resilience ... as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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