Call mapping: 7 steps to structure your sales calls effectively
Often, sales reps go flying blind whenever they hop on a sales call with a prospect. They don't know how to structure a call. That's why closing deals turn out to be an uphill task.
A sales call of any type—a cold call, discovery, follow-up, or closing call—requires a pre-planned route. Read on to discover how you can sketch your route to closing more deals.
What is call mapping?
Call mapping is a route you desire your call to take to reach its destination (objective). This route consists of different crucial talking points (stops) along the way.
Your route can have detours. It's just like your first time driving to a new destination. You'll heavily rely on Google maps to ensure you don't get lost. Then, you might discover more convenient paths in your subsequent visits.
What this article is not about:
The term call mapping can be used in several ways.
This article is not about the geographic mapping of calls or prospects. Geographic mapping involves route optimization, sales territory, mapping tools, and Google maps. If you're looking for information on that, check out one of these posts:
Neither is it about mapping calls or "Are we a fit?" (AWAF) calls. Mapping or discovery calls aim at identifying a company and getting an internal referral.
AWAF are qualification calls aimed at disqualifying prospects early on to save time. They're usually quick- take 5 to 30 minutes.
For more information about mapping and AWAF calls, check out these posts:
- Predictable University Day 8: Mapping Calls aka Detective Work
- Mapping Calls vs. “Are We a Fit Calls”: Key Differences
How to build your call map
Time to sketch your route.
Do your homework.
There's more than just one way to structure your sales calls—check out my post on the blueprint for a successful sales call structure for an alternative version. The most important thing is that you design your call mapping in a way that works best for your own sales process.
Step 1: Research your prospect
You need the prospect's information to map the call you desire. So research about them, their company, current providers/solutions, and needs.
Where are these details? Turn to lead enrichment tools, B2B data providers, trade papers, industry blogs, social media profiles, and magazines. There are different types of B2B data—it's worth exploring first what kind of data will be most valuable to you in the sales process.
Don't just scratch the surface. Instead, dig deeper to unearth more insights about your prospects, their challenges, accomplishments, businesses, and more.
A successful sales call grabs and keep the prospect's attention in the first 30-60 seconds. Don't try to hard-sell to them yet, or they'll end that call in a huff.
Using the gathered insights and data, craft a killer sales pitch. Be sure it's brief and to the point.
Drafting a pitch from scratch isn't your thing? A successful example or pitch template will come to your aid. Whichever your path, the prospective customer will want to know about you, your products or services, and what sets you apart from the pack.
Finally, define a specific objective for the conversation. Use the data and information you gathered.
Play your cards well, and some prospects will agree to discuss your product in a meeting or via a second call.
A word for the wise: Be sure the commitment is firm. Don't be satisfied by the "sometime next month," "connect later," and other wishy-washy promises. The trick is to arm yourself with a response in advance.
Time's precious (theirs and yours). So don't waste it.
Step 2: Qualify your prospect
The prospect is hooked! Pat yourself on your back.
But don't wait. Rush and ask them several questions to determine whether the person is a good 'fit.'
Some of the qualifying questions to map out include:
- What are the top challenges you’re currently facing?
- Who are the people who have the final say on making a decision?
- What concerns will these decision makers likely have?
- How much do you have budgeted for this solution?
- What's your timeline for making a purchase decision?
Also, include follow-up questions based on the responses.
Ask informed questions about their existing processes and products and the features they'd love to have. Put the insights from step 1 to good use.
Map out key talking points that will move the call forward. Identify the questions that will lead to responses that will take the conversation to the next 'stop.'
Not getting the desired responses? Stay calm and suggest a follow-up. That way, you'll earn yourself another warm lead. You're still a winner.
Is there interest, authority, ability, or need to purchase? Hurray! You have a qualified lead.
No need? Thank the prospects and end that call. Moving on will save time.
No authority? Ask them to point you to the right decision-maker. Politely request for a referral.
No ability? Is it something to do with your pricing, length of the contract, or terms of service? Probe further to determine the possible reasons.
No interest? Apply the same approach: Inquire why they're not interested. Be smart enough to predict the reasons in advance and outline talking points. Then try steering the narrative in your favor.
Map out the detours, speed bumps, collapsed bridges, and pitstops along the way.
Step 3: Create urgency
You want the qualified prospect to act without delay. So tell them that your offer is almost running. There are many ways to create urgencies in the sales process:
- Limited alpha
- Upcoming price increases
- Make them an offer they can't refuse
- Countdown timers
- Use questions to focus the prospect on the cost of delaying a buying decision
- Leverage seasonality
- Understand their buying process
Chose what's most appropriate for your prospect.
Demonstrate that your product is a must-have, not just another nice-to-have thing. Combine with a sense of scarcity, and the prospect's loss aversion instinct will kick into action.
Step 4: Build trust
Your sales call must be customer-focused: Tell them how the product can benefit them. Don't be pushy. Build trust, and you'll be closer to closing the deal.
- Map out the call with the prospect in mind (their needs, pain points, and desires)
- Prepare to ask great (not bad) questions
- Be honest about your product
- Create value proactively
- Maintain a collaborative tone
- Make the value explicit
Step 5: Ask for the close
Map out a call to action (CTA). You don't want to face an uphill task during the next call.
It's worth noting that the first call isn't meant to close the deal. That time will come.
Instead, you want your qualified lead to take the next step:
- Discussing or reviewing the product via:
- A physical meeting
- A longer follow-up call
- A demo, or
- An email
- Signing a contract
Ask them if they can agree to make that step. For instance:
- When can we connect again?
- Can we meet face-to-face?
And then set the date and time right then and there on the call together.
Step 6: Handle sales objections
Most prospects won't bite on the pitches immediately. Expect them to raise questions and concerns about your product or service. It's a no-brainer.
But sales reps respond to these objections on the fly. That's a costly mistake.
Try to formulate your answer while on the call, and you'll end up fumbling among prolonged monologues. The focus will no longer be on your prospective customer, and you may not be in the best state of mind to offer high-quality answers.
Your best bet is to draft a clear objection management plan. Here are our tricks and tips:
- What are the most notorious objections in your market? Write down at least 25 of them.
Here are some of the concerns to expect:
- I don't have money
- I don't have time
- Our company doesn't need this
- Your prices are too high
Include your best answers to each of those concerns. Three sentences (per response) are enough. Ask several people to review the responses and give feedback. Be sure your sales team's members have the answers at their fingertips.
Step 7: Schedule the next steps
Schedule the next step and provide specific details: Will it be an email, phone call, or physical meeting? When will it be? What will be discussed? Etc.
In the best-case scenario, the prospect's commitment (to move forward) will be concrete.
But be prepared to handle a reluctant prospect or vague commitment. How? By mapping out one more talking point in advance. Just one.
Instead of pushing this prospect right there and then, you might email them a personalized invitation to a meeting or demo.
If you don't know where you're going, a map won't help
As Alfred Korzybski once said: "The map is not the territory." And this is true for call mapping as well. The point of a sales call map is not to fit every sales conversation you have into a predetermined form. It's not about scripting out your conversations and following that script to a t. Sales scripts have their place in your overall sales documentation, but they serve a different purpose. The point of a call map is to give you a clear sense of direction at any time during the conversation so that you always have clarity on where you want to lead the sales conversation next.
The greatest salespeople create clarity for both themselves and the prospect by focusing on what's essential. That's why call mapping matters.
Making sales calls can be a very effective way for drumming up business. A sales rep of any experience can use the above seven steps to increase the chances of success. Looking to turn more prospects into actual customers? Check out our book on cold calling for startup founders.