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Sales Call Planning Guide

Sales Call Planning Guide

blog author
Written by Mike Schultz
President, RAIN Group

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.

- Benjamin Franklin

We acknowledge that sometimes you can't prepare for a sales call or—hallelujah—a buyer calls you out of the blue. It's reasonable to suggest that, on occasion, sales calls are appropriately deemed 'exploratory discussions'; the kind of discussion in which we just talk and 'see where it goes.'

Take this approach in most sales situations, however, and you'll lose more than your share of sales that you should have won. Interestingly, whether you have a two-thousand- or two-million-dollar price point, to increase your odds of winning new customers, you still need a sales call plan and to know the same essential information before your calls.


6 Sales Call Planning Questions to Answer to Prepare for Success

Regardless of where you are in the sales process, the following questions provide the foundation for your sales call plan:

When you plan well, answering these questions, you’ll know exactly what actions you need to take before your call to make it successful.

Sales Call Planning Guide

Click to download the PDF.


Tips for Sales Calls

You’ve prepared yourself for the sales call and answered the questions above. Once you’re on the call, be sure to follow these tips.

Establish Your Competence

Your buyer should feel that you have the knowledge and insight to deliver value to them and their business. Your professional capabilities on a sales call reflect on your company as well.

To establish your competence, you need to be able to provide deep insight into your products and services, suggest ideas that are on-target, and ask incisive questions. The ability to speak to a buyer’s needs in the context of your offerings helps demonstrate your competence and builds trust in your abilities.

Build Rapport

For phone sales—or any virtual sales—especially, making strong connections with buyers is essential. Make personal connections with buyers early and often but beware of insincerity. There’s a lot to be said about building rapport with buyers. One of our best tips involves listening to their needs and finding common ground.

Understand Needs

Your job as a seller is to gain insight into a buyer’s needs and offer a solution. Simply put, you can’t do this if you don’t listen, pay attention, and ask questions with intent.

From there, you need to advocate for an agenda on how to move forward and convey the impact of your solution. Paint a picture of the new reality you’ll help the buyer achieve and leave them excited about working with you.

Learn the Buying Process

Your buyers each come from unique backgrounds and organizations. It’s worth taking time to speak with the buyer on how a purchase decision will be made and take into account their buying process. Follow their process and be sure to attend to each stage.

Follow Up

Once you’ve spoken to a buyer on the phone, it’s on you to continue to move the relationship and buying process forward. Time kills sales. Timely follow up and executing on next steps is essential.

Prioritize your follow-ups in order of importance and add resources to help you keep up with important buyers if you’re having trouble.

Play to Win

Devote all of your energy and attention to doing what you must to win. In many ways, the preparation that goes into a sales call plan culminates here. Set your goals. Check your passion, desire, and commitment levels. Spend time adjusting your plan depending on the changing circumstances of a sale.

Most of all, be prepared and you’ll give yourself the best shot at winning.

Types of Sales Calls

Your sales call plan should differ depending on the circumstances. These three basic types of call require different approaches, though the tips listed above are always applicable.

Cold Calls

Though intimidating for some, cold calls can provide a good starting point to establish a relationship. Cold calls require research on your buyer—you should come prepared with background information and an idea of what’s important to them. In general, a good cold call script follows this pattern:

  1. Introduction: Make a quick introduction and share a brief overview of your company.
  2. What’s in it for me?: Immediately move to the “What’s in it for me?” and pitch a value-based offer for an introductory meeting.
  3. Call to action: You’re not going to make a sale on the first call, but you might schedule a 10-, 20-, or 30-minute introductory video conference or phone call to share your valuable insights and expertise.
  4. Propose time to meet: You close the cold call by asking the buyer to look at a specific time on their calendar.
  5. Answer questions/respond to objections: Some common cold calling objections can threaten to end a relationship before it begins. However, you can overcome these objections and make saves. This involves engaging with a buyer and asking them to elaborate on their answers, delving into what might be happening at their company, and offering insights into their problems.

Once you book the meeting, you must deliver on the value offer. In the introductory meeting, you actually deliver the best practices, the benchmark research, the findings, or whatever you promised in the cold call.

Warm Calls

A warm call is a call to an existing relationship you already have. It could be a follow up to a cold call, a past buyer or opportunity, someone in your network, etc. Warm calls offer an opportunity to explore a buyer’s needs, build a relationship, and offer a solution. Cold calls are all about getting your foot into the door, but warm calls might have different goals you’ll want to consider beforehand.

Maybe you’re trying to supplant a competitor or resell an existing customer. Maybe it’s a long-term lead and you’re calling for an update on their strategic priorities this quarter. In any case, have a specific goal and outcome for your call in mind before picking up the phone or scheduling the meeting.

Sales Calls

Whether through a cold call, warm call, or inbound inquiry, ultimately you want your calendar booked with sales calls. These are the calls where you’re uncovering needs, educating buyers with new ideas, strengthening relationships, beating the competition, demonstrating the impact you can have, and working with the buyer to craft the best solutions. Sales are won and lost based on these sales calls.

All the tips outlined in this article and the preparation questions will set you up for success here.

The most successful sellers, the ones who lead masterful sales conversations, show up prepared.



Last Updated May 8, 2024

Topics: Sales Conversations