Some salespeople believe it’s how you close a sales call is how you win deals. The harder you close at the end, the more deals you win, right? What if I told you it’s actually how you open the sales call that will help you win more deals?
The fact of the matter is, even if you understood the modern sales process, sometimes the sales call just simply gets away from you. Have you ever had a sales call where the prospect takes over and asks you all the questions, or tell you to just give him/her the price? Have you ever had a sales call where you feel like the prospects is uneasy and just doesn’t seem engaged with you?
This happens to even the best salespeople. However, a lot these issues can be reduced by starting with this simple tactic at the beginning of the sales call that many salespeople simply forget to do.
The verbal agenda.
What’s a verbal agenda? The verbal agenda is a 30 second word track that sets the stage for what will happen for the next 30 to 45 minutes of your sales call. It’s simple, yet critical to the success of the sales call. It takes place after the initial greeting and introduction, and before you get into the "meat" of your sales call.
The following is an example of a verbal agenda.
“John, thanks for meeting with me again today. What I’d like to do today is to ask you a few questions about you and your business, so I can better understand your situation, your specific needs and what you are looking for. Based on that information, I will then provide you with my thoughts on the best and most important coverages for your needs. We will then discuss next steps and what we need to get you covered ASAP. Of course, I will also answer any questions for you at that time, as well as, provide some initial pricing indications. How does that sound?”
Although this verbal agenda seems short and innocuous, it sets the stage for the salesperson in several ways.
1. Communicate to all personality types: Often times, salespeople lose the sales call right from the beginning because they don’t understand what makes different personalities tick.
The best way to understand the basic personality types is to utilize the DISC profile. In case you aren’t familiar with the DISC profile, below is a quick overview.
Each point below will highlight how the verbal agenda helps with the sales process with each personality type.
2. Control: The verbal agenda helps the salesperson establish control of the sales call. Notice the agenda starts with you asking the prospect questions. This is to prevent from the call being taken over by the prospect. Dealing with decision makers, you will often run into the type “A” personality, of the “D” (Dominance) personality trait from the DISC profile.
The “D” profile is often described as direct, results oriented, and impatient. The Ds often want to take over situations and be in control. In a sales call, it is imperative the salesperson is in control of the call. The way to establish it is through the verbal agenda.
Notice the placement of the “I” and “We” in the agenda.
“I” will ask you questions.”
“I will provide you with the coverage solutions.”
“We will discuss next steps”
Although it’s subtle, it not only establishes the salesperson’s control, but also expertise. It’s the salesperson conducting the analysis and providing the solution. But it transitions to a team when you discuss next steps and moving forward. This creates the picture for the prospect of working together with you.
The verbal agenda “close” of “how does that sound?” also provides agreement from the prospects. Once they say “yes, that sounds good,” they’ve made you an agreement. Not only have they started the process of saying yes and agreeing with you, but they also agreed they will follow your meeting agenda.
For the Ds that try to stray from your agenda and take over the meeting, you can gently remind them of their agreement. This includes pricing questions.
“John, that’s a great question. Remember as we agreed, we will get to your questions at the end, once I have a better understanding of your needs. and how I can assist you. I’d be glad to circle back at that point. How does that sound?”
Call control isn’t just important for the “D,” profile, it’s also useful for the “I” profile. By nature, “I” profiles like to talk and be the center of attention. These are the sales calls that last a long time because the prospect likes to share stories. However, these meetings are oftentimes the ones you walk away from without a sale, even though you spent a lot of time. Establishing control from the beginning, allows you to stay focused on the sales call, and less distracted by tangents.
3. Establishes process and flow. Aside from control, the verbal agenda also establishes the process and flow of the meeting. As we had already discussed, this is important from the Ds and Is profiles for control purposes. However, the verbal agenda is also important for the “C” personality. Cs are analytical and are process oriented.
Some salespeople miss with the Cs because they appear to be all over the place with the sales call. They start off by “over” building rapport and then move into talking about themselves.
By starting off with the verbal agenda and laying out the process, it helps put Cs at ease and allow them to be more readily able to participate in the sales call. It also helps establish you as the expert, which Cs will rely upon for data and decision making.
4. Support and Inclusion: We discussed the importance of the verbal agenda with Ds, Is, and Cs, but what about the S personality profile? The S or steadiness personalities are often easy to get along with because their natural tendency is to accommodate. However, salespeople often misread the accommodation as a decision to buy.
One of the decision making process for S is the “feel” of inclusion and support. The verbal agreement establishes how you take the time to understand them and then provide solutions to support them. You are also including them in the process of moving forward, the "we will discuss next steps..."
Although subtle, it provides S profiles the sense of support and inclusion, which are important starting points to their decision making process
5. Keeps You Focused: A consistently executed verbal agenda helps the salesperson stay focused on the process of the sales call. I’ve been on many sales calls with sales reps over the years and witnessed sales reps “winging it” during sales calls. There was no consistency between each sales meeting. The best salespeople are focused and have a consistent process they follow.
A verbal agenda helps the sales rep remember the flow and outcome of the sales call and provide consistency in the process, which are critical to successful sales calls.
Do you utilize a verbal agenda? If not, I recommend writing one down and practicing it a few times with someone you know. Remember, the verbal agenda doesn’t have to be exactly like the example above. You should create one based on your words and communication style, as long as it establishes the same outcomes.
The key is to execute and use it with every call. By doing so, you should see an improvement with your sales calls, resulting in more wins.
What’s your verbal agenda? We’d love to hear from you and what’s worked for you.