Effective pre-call planning templates for sales teams

Pre-call planning is essential for any sales team. Check out these pre-call planning templates to improve your sales performance!
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Pre-call planning is a key element of success for any sales team. By preparing for calls properly, sales teams can ensure that they are making the most of their time with customers and generate more leads

There are several different ways to approach pre-call planning, and two of these methods include using templates.

In this blog post, we will explore two different pre-call planning templates that sales teams can use to improve their performance.

Contents

Why sales calls are still effective in closing deals

Sales calls, especially cold calls, often get a bad rep. 

But in truth, sales calls are still one of the most important ways to close deals. In our digital world, it can be easy to forget the importance of human interaction. But when it comes down to it, people do business with people they know, like, and trust. 

Sales calls allow you to build relationships with potential customers and establish that trust.

For example, if you receive a cold email from someone you don’t know promoting a new financial product for your business, odds are you’ll ignore it and move on with your life. But if you receive a call from a well-trained salesperson who knows your business, your industry, and how to catch your attention, you’ll likely pay more attention.

But don’t take my word for it. There are plenty of statistics that prove my point.

Cold calls are not dead

In one study by Rain Group, a group of 488 buyers spoke out about how sellers approach them and what makes that approach successful. 

While roughly half of the buyers admitted phone calls were among their preferred means of contact with sellers, the study showed that sellers will contact them through the phone 70% of the time.

This proves that buyers do like communicating with sellers by phone, and most sellers are also using cold calls to reach prospects. So, it’s safe to say that cold-calling is not dead.

Buyers want to hear from sellers early

Another important point to consider is that many think buyers only want to be approached by sellers when they’re all but ready to close the deal. 

However, this is not the case. 

Buyers are interested in talking to sellers, but the problem is that 58% of the time, sellers fail to provide value during the call or subsequent meetings. This is one of the reasons why planning before making a call is so important.

C-level buyers prefer calls to close deals

Regardless of the industry, VPs and C-level buyers prefer to talk to sellers through the phone even more (57% of the time, according to Rain Group).

Clearly, sales calls are still an important part of the sales process and should not be ignored. So, how can you make sure your sales team is making the most of their time on calls? The answer lies in pre-call planning.

What is pre-call planning, and is it really necessary?

Pre-call planning is the process of preparing for a call with a potential customer. This includes gathering information about the customer, developing a strategy, and, in some cases, creating a rough outline for the call.

Pre-call planning can be extremely helpful for cold calls and scheduled meetings. It’s vital to conduct pre-call planning since it allows the sales staff to establish their objectives for the meeting with the buyer and how to accomplish them. Pre-call planning provides many advantages such as:

  • Giving your sales reps a boost in confidence: Having a clear roadmap for every call will make a salesperson feel more confident, making them more effective during the call. This can help them make a positive first impression, which is key to establishing trust and credibility.
  • Helping your sales reps stay on track: By pre-planning, you can make sure your sales reps know what topics to cover and what objections to anticipate. This can help the conversation stay on track and avoid potential derailments that will hurt their chances of closing a sale or setting up an in-person meeting.
  • Helping your salesperson quickly adapt to the conversation: By preparing for the call in advance, your sales reps will be less likely to be caught off guard by tough questions or objections. Additionally, pre-call planning gives sales reps more time to research the buyer and their specific needs.
  • Reducing pre-call anxiety: It’s normal for salespeople to feel some degree of fear, which they can easily avoid through effective planning.

The pre-call planning process

Now that we’ve established that pre-call planning is important, it’s time to look at how it’s done. There key steps in the pre-call planning process are:

  1. Research your buyer’s company and industry
  2. Research their competitors
  3. Research the person you’ll be reaching out to
  4. Set clear goals for each call
  5. Create an outline (not a script) for the call
  6. Make a list of objections your prospect is likely to wield
  7. Make a list of responses to each of those common objections.

💡 Pro tip: It’s usually a good idea to start by making a checklist with these steps to ensure you don’t miss any of them. It’s also good to leverage outbound call software that integrates with your CRM systems to make the entire process from planning to calling to closing as seamless as possible.

Let’s take a look at each one of these steps in turn:

Step #1: Research your buyer's company and industry

The first step in pre-call planning is researching the potential buyer’s company and industry. This will give you a better understanding of their specific needs and pain points. Additionally, this research will help you identify any potential triggers that might prompt them to make a purchase.

There are several ways to do this research, but some of the most effective methods include:

  • Searching for news articles about their company or industry
  • Using business intelligence tools
  • Checking out the company’s website and social media accounts
  • Asking your mutual connections for information about the company

Step #2: Research their competitors

In addition to researching the potential buyer’s company, it’s also important to research their competitors. This will help you understand the competitive landscape and give you insights into what differentiates the potential buyer’s company from its competitors.

This can also help you establish any weaknesses your buyer’s company may have compared to their competition that you may be able to solve with your product or service. This could prove especially effective in converting prospects to leads and buyers.

To research the competition, you can use the same methods you used to research the potential buyer’s company. Additionally, you can check out review websites like G2 or Trustpilot to better understand how they compare to their competitors.

💡 Pro Tip: We asked Zach Grove, a B2B SaaS growth advisor, how to truly impress prospects with proactive competitor research.

You can use a tool like SimilarWeb to see which digital marketing channels are driving traffic for any company’s top competitor. Oftentimes, even experienced marketing leaders haven’t taken the time to fully audit what’s already working for competitors—so bringing these insights to an initial call will add a ton of value.

Understand your prospects’ competition, and you’ll be ahead of 99% of other companies.

Step #3: Research the person you'll be reaching out to

Now that you’ve researched the potential buyer’s company and industry, it’s time to focus on the person you’ll be speaking with. To do this, you’ll want to look for any information that will help you establish a rapport with them.

Almost 80% of sales reps admit that researching prospects on social media make them better at their job. You want to learn all you can about that person:

  • Basic demographic information, including age, gender, nationality, the estimated level of income, etc.
  • What is their role in the company
  • How long have they been working with the company
  • Where did they go to school
  • What are their interests 
  • Anything else you can find that will help you connect with them

💡 Pro tip: A great strategy to establish trust right away is to identify potential overlaps in your professional networks. You can easily find this information on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram. 

Step #4: Set clear objectives for each call

Once you understand the buyer’s company, industry, and the person you’ll be speaking with, it’s time to set some clear goals for each call. These goals can be anything from getting an introduction to the buyer to closing a deal.

However, it’s important to remember that not all calls will achieve these lofty goals. Most calls will likely be spent gathering information and moving the prospect further down the funnel. As long as you have realistic goals that are achievable in a single call, you’ll be able to measure your success more accurately.

Step #5: Create an outline for the call

Now it’s time to create an outline for the call. However, you should be careful not to confuse an outline with a script. Scripts can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly, as it can seem like the conversation is scripted in advance.

Also, calls rarely turn out the way you expect them to, so it’s best to craft a rough outline that is flexible enough for sales reps to adapt on the fly. An outline for a sales call should, at the very least, have the following items:

  • A list of potential opening lines
  • A list of relevant questions to qualify the lead
  • A list of questions you anticipate your prospect is likely to ask about your product or service
  • A list of answers to those questions

Step #6: Make a list of objections your prospect is likely to wield

As a sales rep, you’re likely to encounter objections from prospects at some point (or even rather frequently). It’s important to be prepared for these objections by making a list of the most common ones you’re likely to encounter.

Some common objections include:

  • Is this a sales call?
  • I don’t have time for this right now
  • I’m not interested
  • It’s not my decision
  • I already have a solution in place
  • This is too expensive

Step #7: Make a list of responses to each of those common objections

Once you’ve made a list of potential objections, you should also prepare responses for each one. This way, when a prospect does object, you’ll be ready with a pre-planned response that can help overcome the objection and keep the conversation moving forward.

Now that we know how to plan for a call let’s discuss templating.

What is a pre-call planning template?

A pre-call planning template is a document that sales reps can use to plan their calls with potential customers.

The template should include items related to all of the steps we outlined in the pre-call planning process and space for taking notes and recording the outcome of the call.

Pre-call templates are dependent on the type of sales call you’re making. Cold calling a new prospect is not the same as making a scheduled call with someone you have already engaged with before; the expected level of customer service will differ based on the relationship you’ve already developed, so be attuned to that as you plan your meeting.

Pros and cons of using pre-call templates

Pros:

  • It helps sales reps plan their calls more effectively
  • Can increase the success rate of sales calls
  • Can help sales reps stay on track during calls

Cons:

  • Sales reps may become reliant on the template and not use their judgment
  • Templates can become outdated quickly and need to be updated regularly
  • If not used correctly, pre-call templates can do more harm than good, particularly if it makes the call seem scripted.

Pre-call planning template for cold calls

Pre-call planning template for scheduled calls

Pro-Tip: Follow up with an email immediately after every call

Always send a follow-up email after every call

This email should recap the main points of the conversation and any next steps that you agreed upon. This will help ensure that everyone is on the same page and that no important details are forgotten. Additionally, this will be the basis for planning the next call with each prospect or lead.

The bottom line

The pre-call planning process can seem like a lot of work, but it’s worth it if it helps you close more deals. By taking the time to plan each call in advance, you’ll be able to make the most of your time with potential customers and increase your chances of success.

Remember, pre-call planning is not a one-time event – it should be done for every call, regardless of whether it’s a cold call or a scheduled meeting. If you’re having trouble coming up with a plan on your own, use one of the pre-call planning templates provided above and get your sales team converting leads like never before.

For more on such templates and sales call tips, check out our blog!

Jordan Bishop
Jordan Bishop

Jordan Bishop is the founder of Yore Oyster and How I Travel, two sites to help you optimize your finances while living an international life. He recently published his first book, Unperfect, an exploration of problem solving.

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