4 Important Things To Do Before Every Sales Call

4 Important Things To Do Before Every Sales Call

I recently read that over 90% of customer interactions happen over the phone. Yes, more than 90%!

That stat should make every sales rep and sales manager realize just how important good phone calling skills are to succeeding in sales.

So what sets apart a good sales call from a bad one? Obviously a call that ends in a deal is a very successful call. But what can salespeople can be doing to help make all their calls good ones?

Besides using an AI-powered CRM, like Spiro, to help remind you of all your sales calls, I think there are some simple, yet key, things you can do before each call to make it a successful one. So before you pick up that phone and make your next call, do these four important things:

1. Know Your Objective Before Every Sales Call

Setting goals is vital to meeting a sales quota. You have to close a certain number of deals for a certain amount to hit your sales target. However, it’s just as important to set smaller goals for every task. Too many salespeople call a prospect and aren’t exactly sure why they are calling.

Think only about the sales call you are about to make. What one or two things do you want to accomplish on the call? Maybe there is a new feature of your product that may alleviate this specific customer’s pain points and you want to get that message across to them. Or perhaps your aim is to move the dial a bit on timing, and you have a plan to push your prospect to close the deal now.

Once you have a focused goal in mind, take a minute to prepare your questions so you can hone in on accomplishing your objective before you pick up the phone.

2. Review Your Notes Before Every Sales Call

It seems like a no-brainer, but before any sales call, you should take a minute to quickly review your notes. As a salesperson, you have to be able to pick up exactly where you left off with the prospect the last time you connected, and not waste anyone’s time.

I’ve been on the receiving end of a sales call where the seller actually talked me through a detailed review of our history. It sounded like he got me on the phone first, and then started reading aloud the notes from all of our previous conversations.

You have to be able to boil down the past activities into one or two sentences. For instance, say, “Hey, I know we left off talking about budget, so I’d like to begin there”. The customer doesn’t need a refresher course in their entire customer history with you. Review your notes before you pick up the phone and be prepared to keep moving the deal forward, instead of rehashing the past.

Related: How Salespeople Can Develop More Persistence

3. Practice the Person’s Name Before Every Sales Call

What is your client’s preferred name? Are they Robert, but like to be called Bob? Do you put the emphasis on the first or second syllable of their name? Do you even know how to correctly pronounce their name? And if you are calling someone from another country or culture, are you aware of that and addressing them properly?

It’s very important to get your customer’s name right. If you are unsure of the right pronunciation, use a website, like www.pronouncenames.com to have the name read aloud to you.

When you meet someone in person, a firm handshake and looking them in the eyes makes a great first impression. Over the phone, the way you address your customer and open up the conversation is your virtual handshake. Make it a firm one!

4. Smile Before Every Sales Call

We can all agree that people like to buy from likable people. Sounding happy and positive on all your sales calls is important in getting your prospects to like you.

The tone of your voice conveys your mood. Positivity will shine through on the phone if you have an upbeat rhythm and pitch to your voice. So before you make your next call, begin by smiling.

It may sound silly, but go ahead and try it now. Take a deep breath in, exhale out, smile, and then pick up the phone. This will put you in a good mindset to portray not only yourself better, but also the benefits of your company in the most positive light. Debbie Downers don’t close deals.

Bonus Tip: Set the Next Meeting Right Then and There

Before you hang up the phone, be sure to schedule the next call with your prospect. It doesn’t matter if you are setting up a time to demo your product for their top decision makers, or just finding a time to follow-up again on your proposal. You have to get a next step on the books.

Also, don’t be too general and ask, “When should I call you next?” This leaves room for the prospect to hem and haw over their availability and gives them an out by just saying they will get back to you.

Suggest a specific time to check-in. Try asking, “How about I call you next Tuesday morning to discuss budget?” Remember to be direct on what your expectations are for the following call, so when you do pick up the phone the next time, you’ve already nailed tip #1 – know your objective.

Adam Honig
Sales Strategy
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Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies, Inc. Spiro is the creator of an AI-powered CRM, with a built-in personal sales assistant. Spiro takes its name from the L ... Click for full bio

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Multi-Factor or Not Multi-Factor? That Is the Question

Written by: Chris Shuba, Helios Quantitative Research, LLC

Let’s pretend you are a US investor that wants to deploy some of your money overseas.  You think international developed market stocks are attractive relative to US stocks, and you also think the US dollar will decline over the period you intend to hold your investment.  Your investment decision is logical to you. But you have choices:  You could a) simply invest in a traditional index like the MSCI EAFE, b) invest in a fund that systematically emphasizes a single factor (like a value fund) that only buys specific stocks related to that factor, or c) invest in a developed fund that blends several factors together, like the JPMorgan Diversified Return International Equity ETF (JPIN).  What is the best choice? 

Investing in a traditional international market capitalization index like the MSCI EAFE is not a bad choice. It has delivered nice returns for a US investor, especially uncorrelated outperformance in the 1970s and 1980s, and helped to diversify a US-only portfolio.

Your second choice is to invest in one particular factor because it makes sense to you.  Sticking with the example of a value strategy, you might believe a fund or index that chooses the cheapest or most attractively valued stocks based on metrics like Price to Earnings (PE) is best.  

You could go find a discretionary portfolio manager who only buys stocks he deems to be cheap.  Typically the concept of “cheap” is based on some absolute metric that the manager has in mind, such as never buying a stock with a PE greater than 15.  If there are not enough stocks that are attractive, he will hold his money in cash until he finds the prudent bargains he seeks.  This prudence also obviously risks possible underperformance from being absent from the market.

The alternative is to buy a value index or fund that systematically only buys the cheapest stocks in a particular investment universe.  So if there are 1000 investable stocks available, the index ONLY buys the cheapest decile of 100 stocks and is always fully invested in the 100 securities that are relatively cheapest.  This is an investment approach that a discretionary manger may disdain.  The discretionary value manager may look at those same 100 stocks and think they are pricey.  But nevertheless, academic research has shown that always being fully invested in the relatively cheapest percentiles of stocks in the US has produced superior returns over many decades. 

Such a portfolio is called a “factor” portfolio.  Why the name?   In the early 1960s, academics introduced the concept of beta and demonstrated that individual US stocks had sensitivities to, and were driven by, movements in the broad market.  In the early 1990s, academic research began to show that other “factors” such as value and size also drove US stock returns.  Since then, several factors have been identified as driving individual stock outperformance: value, size, volatility, momentum and quality.  Stocks that are cheaper, smaller, less volatile, have more positive annual returns and higher profitability have historically outperformed their peers.  It turns out these factors also work internationally.

Related: Who Gets Sick When the U.S. Sneezes?

Of all the factors, value is the factor that has been the best known the longest (even before it was academically identified as a “factor”), thanks to the books of Warren Buffet’s teacher Ben Graham.   And if you look abroad at an array of developed global markets and create a value index and compare it to its simple market capitalization weighted brother, the historic outperformance of value has been stunning.  Until recently.  

While there was some variability by country, on average from the mid-1970s up until 2005 a value factor portfolio in a developed market outperformed its market cap weighted index by about 2% a year.  That’s a lot. By contrast, since 2005, the average developed country value portfolio has underperformed a market cap indexes by about -40 basis points.  Which is the danger of investing in one factor.  It may not always work at every point in time.

So if investing in one factor like value runs the risk of underperforming, how about a multi-factor international developed equity portfolio?

Below is a breakdown of individual factor portfolios’ performance in international developed equity markets since 2005, an equal weighted factor portfolio as well the performance of the MSCI EAFE as our performance reference.  Note that, for the last 13 years, value has been the poorest factor by far, while the others have handily beaten the EAFE.  An equal weighted portfolio of all 5 factors, while not as optimal as some of the individual factor results, beats the EAFE by 1.6% and has an information ratio, or risk adjusted returns that are superior by 37%.  The equal weighted factor portfolio also has the advantage of not having to predict which factor will work when, so even when a factor like value does not beat the market, the other factors can pick up the slack.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

The equal weighted factor portfolio has one other advantage over the market cap weighted alternative. Note in the chart below how well the portfolio outperformed in the 2008 crisis, so it tends to do relatively well in highly volatile sell offs.

SOURCE: MSCI, Data as of January 31, 2018. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Shown for illustrative purposes only.

While it’s not inconceivable that one or two of these factors could erode, or underperform for a stretch, the fact that you have exposure to multiple factors in a portfolio that seems to do especially well in crises suggest the multi-factor blended portfolio remains the most attractive way to invest in developed markets.

So, when asked the question: Multi-factor or not multi-factor?  The data speaks for itself.

Learn more about alternative beta and our ETF capabilities here.

DEFINITIONS: Price to earnings (P/E) ratio:  The price-earnings ratio (P/E ratio) is the ratio for valuing a company that measures its current share price relative to its per-share earnings.

DISCLOSURES: MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI): The MSCI EAFE Investable Market Index (IMI), is an equity index which captures large, mid and small cap representation across Developed Markets countries* around the world, excluding the US and Canada. The index is based on the MSCI Global Investable Market Indexes (GIMI) Methodology—a comprehensive and consistent approach to index construction that allows for meaningful global views and cross regional comparisons across all market capitalization size, sector and style segments and combinations. This methodology aims to provide exhaustive coverage of the relevant investment opportunity set with a strong emphasis on index liquidity, investability and replicability. The index is reviewed quarterly—in February, May, August and November—with the objective of reflecting change in the underlying equity markets in a timely manner, while limiting undue index turnover. During the May and November semi-annual index reviews, the index is rebalanced and the large, mid and small capitalization cutoff points are recalculated.

Investors should carefully consider the investment objectives and risks as well as charges and expenses of the ETF before investing. The summary and full  prospectuses contain this and other information about the ETF. Read the prospectus carefully before investing. Call 1-844-4JPM-ETF or visit ww.jpmorganetfs.com to obtain a prospectus.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management
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See how ETFs differ from other investment vehicles, learn how to evaluate them, and discover how ETFs can be used effectively to achieve a diversity of investment strategies. ... Click for full bio