Guaranteeing Next Steps: The Two Doorways Out of a Sales Conversation

By Toku

two doors

Something I wish I could instill in every coach is to always get prospects on the phone. It’s the best way to guarantee positive next steps.

Unfortunately, most coaches don’t do this.

It drives me crazy because, even if you suck at sales or you’re bad on the phone, even the worst salesperson is more effective in a live conversation. 

Once you’re on the phone with a potential client, there are two ways to think about how the conversation ultimately ends. I like to use a metaphor of two doors—one leads to a continued relationship, and the other leads straight outside.

Suppose you take the door that leads to a continuation of the relationship. In that case, this usually involves another call or a follow-up communication, which leads to clearer next steps of the sales process. On the other hand, if you take the door that leads outside, the next step is usually vague and unclear–the potential client wants to think about the relationship some more or get back to you later. 

Potential clients can masterfully propose ways to step out of the structure

The tricky part is, if you aren’t on top of things, you may find your conversations leading towards the second door more often than not. This is simply because your clients don’t want to make any commitments off the bat.

But this tendency rarely helps their overall commitment or growth. 

So, you should aim to avoid ambiguity at the end of a connection. Keep prospects inside the commitment structure until they provide a clear answer: yes or no. 

For example, if you do a proposal call, either schedule your follow-up call while you’re still on the first call or get a firm “no” from them before you hang up. Otherwise, you’ll be left trying to decide what the best approach is. Or, worse, if you should even try to continue the relationship at all.

Regardless of which way the prospect is leaning, there always has to be a clear next step. 

Types of next steps 

The “gold” standard next step is scheduling the next call while still on the current one. If you scheduled a follow-up call every time you got on a call with someone, your conversion rate would increase significantly. 

The “silver” standard would be agreeing to schedule a call in your follow-up email to the prospect. In this case, they agreed to do the call but still need to schedule it. This can sometimes be a more useful option for people whose schedules change a lot or who may need to move things around to find a good time. 

If you can’t get them to agree to a follow-up call right away, the next-best level is to have them do some specific work on their own – with a promise to email you that work or the results within a set time frame. However, if the work you have them do is more generic, or if there is no promise of a future check-in once the work is completed, you quickly move into highly-ghostable territory.

The final–and least desirable–level is when there is no clear follow-up at all. Both parties leave the call feeling totally unclear about next steps or whether any even exist. 99% of the time, they never speak with each other again. 

It’s amazing to me how many coaches do this. It almost guarantees you’ve wasted your time on the initial call. Even if you get a follow-up farther down the line, there won’t have been any actionable work or thought done in the meantime. You’ll almost be starting from scratch with them again. 

Don’t leave the ball in their court.

As I said earlier, prospective clients tend to take the easiest out at the end of a call – they don’t want to think about the next steps yet. That’s why it’s your job to ensure the momentum you’ve built doesn’t get lost. 

So with this in mind, at the end of every prospect call, your main goal should be to get a clear yes or no. If it’s a yes, then immediately schedule a follow-up call. 

When someone gives me a tentative “yes,” I tell them to think about it. I ask them to come up with all the fears and objections they have around my coaching proposal and bring them to the next call.

This way, they aren’t roped into agreeing to a coaching session, so there’s much less pressure in the second call. They know the purpose of the second call is simply to help work through some of their doubts, and they will still feel able to say “no” after that. 

Remember: the follow-up call can be as simple as a ten or 15-minute catch-up, with no real agenda planned.

You only need to worry about getting the person back in front of you within a coaching context.

Then let your natural relationship form and lead the way from there. 

If you need help with this, reach out and book a call. Let’s get you on track to achieving that gold standard.

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