Your first inbound sales call is a pivotal moment for you. You want your first call contact to either disqualify a prospect or identify them as a good fit — a sales opportunity.
The better term to use is a discovery call. At this point in the sales process, the prospect converted on your website. This is your first contact with them post-conversion.
You’re looking for fit on both sides. Do you have the solutions they need that fit their budget? Do their needs fit into your company's wheelhouse?
With inbound sales, you're not just blindly selling products or services to prospects who won’t benefit from them. You're building a relationship.
There are several distinctions between inbound sales and the old school approach at every step of the way:
When Sales Is Researching Prospects.
Old school sales: They lack awareness of where the prospect is in the buyer’s journey.
Inbound sales: They research the prospect and identify what stage they’re in to prioritize them and better understand their needs.
When a Lead Expresses Interest.
Old school sales: They become a presenter, not a listener.
Inbound sales: They listen in hopes of exploring challenges and solutions.
When It's Time to Contact a Prospect.
Old school sales: They use a honed elevator pitch and try to create immediacy.
Inbound sales: They personalize a presentation for each prospect based on their unique needs and the stage they’re in within the buyer’s journey.
Your first call with a prospect can be daunting and feel like a lot of pressure.
But you don't have to be concerned. You want to be confident and collected. Here’s what you need to do before, during, and after your first discovery call:
Before the Call
The worst thing you can do when you arrive for your discovery call is be unprepared. Every call requires some legwork beforehand. There are a few key things to focus on while you prepare.
Adopt the Inbound Mindset.
Remember, you're not pushing for contracts and credit card numbers out of the gate. While the ultimate goal is to close a sale, your top priority with this first prospect call is to start building a positive relationship based on trust and honesty.
Research Your Qualified Lead (and Their Competitors).
This is one of the most time-intensive aspects of preparing for your call, but it's essential. Research the lead's website, their behavior on your website (like what content they're consuming and what offers they're downloading), their biggest issues, what their competitors are doing, and anything else relevant to the conversation you're about to have.
Make this step even easier by aligning your sales and marketing teams. Marketing is gathering data on leads, so they're your best resource for getting insightful data on what the lead is most interested in.
Create an Agenda That Includes Questions.
One of the worst feelings you can have is hanging up the phone only to realize that you forgot to ask an important question.
Save yourself this heartache by writing out every question you want to ask. Keep them open ended so they give you details you need to know before moving forward.
Also, prepare some follow-ups in case they're not clear with their responses.
This sounds silly, but it makes a huge difference! Your enthusiasm can be contagious. By showcasing positivity and bringing a good energy to the call, you're lightening the mood and getting them excited too.
Remember, they are likely coming into the call with their guard up. So break through that with plenty of smiling and engaged body language (even if it's an audio phone call and not a video call).
During the Call
You get that notification from your calendar when the clock strikes [insert meeting time here]. Since it's your first time fielding a discovery call, you probably get those butterflies in your stomach.
But your preparation should curb those nerves a bit. This way, you're able to focus on what matters most while you have your prospect on the horn.
Lead with Positivity.
Carry that enthusiasm you generated beforehand into the call from the get-go. Start off on a positive note.
It's far too common to kick it off complaining about the weather. Instead, bring some awesome vibes to begin the conversation.
Remember, there are plenty of preconceived notions about salespeople and sales calls. Make it known that you’re not here to push; you’re here to ensure fit.
As the flywheel framework teaches us, the focus isn't just on closing deals. You should be focused more on building and maintaining positive relationships.
Ideally, you're going to close this deal and keep this client for a long period of time. This call is the first real impression prospects get of your company, so establish trust and honesty immediately.
For example, if their budget doesn't fit or if your services aren't comprehensive enough for their needs, speak up about it. Otherwise, you might overpromise and underdeliver, forever souring the relationship (and your reputation).
Keep Your Notes Handy.
That agenda you wrote, the one with all the questions you need answers to, is your best friend during the call. Even if it's a video call, you want those notes close by for quick reference.
Without notes, you might forget to ask a pertinent question or miss a crucial talking point.
Put Your Active Listening Skills to Practice.
One of the most valuable skills you can develop in sales is active listening. This goes beyond just nodding along.
You should also reflect the content and the emotion you infer during the call back to the prospect. This confirms that you hear them correctly and can step into their shoes and share their perspective.
Lay Out the Next Steps Before Hanging Up.
I know, as the call is winding down to an end, you just want to celebrate completing your first discovery call. But don't rush the hang up.
Provide specific, simple next steps before you say goodbye. If they prove to be a strong lead who is ready to close, give them a timeline of your follow-ups.
For example, say that you're going to email them a recap of the call, along with a few content resources that can better help them address their biggest pain points.
After the Call
Just because you hung up doesn't mean your discovery call is completed. The follow-up stage is arguably the most important. Once you wow them during the call, you want to further prove your value and credibility in a few simple ways.
Always Lead With a Specific Purpose.
Your follow-up email needs to be concise, informative, and clear. Start your email with a brief description of why you're contacting them.
For example, you could say you're sharing your takeaways from the discovery call, or you're informing them about an upcoming company event you think they would enjoy. Just lay it out so they know right away that the email will benefit them in some way.
Empower Through Education.
Ideally, your company will have a strong body of content assets you can share. You should curate a list of educational resources that address the lead's specific needs and pain points.
This shows that you go above and beyond and further establishes your authority and trustworthiness. Provide specific details on why each resource would benefit them.
Without any context, they might shrug off your list of links. With some details about each resource, they should feel excited about reading through your resources.
Schedule Your Follow-Ups.
Don't just reach out when you have the time. Instead, build out a follow-up strategy that consistently provides them with value. Space out your emails so you don't bombard them too much. But you definitely want to stay top of mind.
By adopting these simple tips, you're ready to nail your first discovery call and start closing deals in no time.