How Creating A Call Flow Can Help Your Software Sales Calls07 Apr 2017
In 2008, I was still in college. I had just landed my first job with a small consultancy as their first iOS developer replacing their outsourced Ukrainian team. Within my first week on the job, the CEO asked me to jump on a sales call as the technical lead. This absolutely terrified me. I remember doing things like ensuring that I had a full glass of water so my throat wouldn’t get so dry (it still did). I also stumbled over my words, almost costing the team many sales. Eventually, I learned.
Since that day, I have taken hundreds of software sales calls. Each time trying to improve my process by testing out what works and what doesn’t. Now that I run my own company, I have found that one of the most beneficial things that I have done is implemented a standard call flow.
There is a reason that call centers require their employees to memorize call flows. When you have a call flow in place, it does a few things.
1. It allows you to practice and refine your pitch over and over again.
Practice makes perfect. Definitely cliche, but it makes a lot of sense here. As you give your pitch over and over again, you will start to pair it down to something that works for you and your team.
2. It builds confidence
Many people are nervous speaking to strangers. Software developers are no exception to this. As I mentioned above, I was terrified on my first few sales calls. This had a lot to do with the fact that I was ‘shooting from the hip’ and just trying to make things up as I went along.
Once I finally got a script in place, I was able to lean on it during future calls. This gave me the confidence that I was gathering all of the right information and representing myself in the best way possible.
Now when someone says “Could I see an example of your work?”, I can quickly shoot them a link or list rather than nervously trying to get the words out “well…uh…I made an app about catz, and I’ll find the link and…uhhh… send it to you later…”.
3. It’s so easy a ‘sales guy’ can do it
This is the part that I’m starting to experiment with. I want my pitch for my company to be so tight, that I could give it to any ‘sales guy’ to deliver and him represent Pixegon in much the same way I would. I have already done this with some of my engineers as I don’t always have time to make every single sales call and it has proven to be a huge success.
4. It removes emotion
This is a big one. When we are nervous, we tend to say dumb things. I remember a few times on sales calls when I was nervous (often because I really wanted/needed the contract), that I would seriously compromise on my rate just because the client suggested it. Had I had a call flow in font of me, I would have been better prepared to field such a request.
I now replace emotion with process and it usually ends up better for both parties.
Here is a rough outline of my sample call flow:
- Client Introduction - Ask the client about their background
- How did you find us? Good to find out what advertising channels are working
- Give my background - This is to establish credentials so they trust me
- Ask the client to give a 10,000’ overview of the project - Be careful here, they love to get in the weeds
- The 3 most important questions
- What’s your budget? This will let you know right away if you want to continue much further based on your budget tolerance and rough guess on how much the above will cost.
- What’s your timeline? Every single client will say ASAP. But really this is to find out if there are any conferences, holidays, etc… that are hard deadlines for them
- How are you funding this project? Self, Company, VC, Family, Startup, etc… This will also help you assess risk.
- Ask more detailed questions about the project (If timeline / budget are somewhat ok). Determine things like backend requirements, UI/UX, Staff aug vs full solution, etc…
- Don’t give them a $$$ estimate. They will usually ask you and it will usually cost you in the end if you give them a number here.
- If all goes well, ask them to send over any assets/wires/requirements and tell them you will follow up with a rough scope and estimate. Again, don’t estimate on this call
- Thank them for their time and let them know you will be in touch.
This is definitely a good starting point. Sometimes I will copy and paste these flows into a new document and tailor them based on the client that I am about to speak to.
Sales is something that I am constantly working on and refining. I hope to continue to share my findings with you as I learn along the way.