There is a huge difference between having a good conversation or having a good sales call with a prospect. Let’s assume that we’re face to face with a prospect and it’s the first meeting. We’ve started the meeting on first base and we want to advance, at minimum, to second base.

A lot of salespeople return to the office after that sales call and report that they had a good conversation. Some return to the office to report a good sales call. What’s the difference?

Let’s begin with a good conversation. This happens when you both get along, understand each other, talk about what they do, what you do, find some areas of interest and agree to speak again. Does this constitute a good sales call?  I’m afraid not. It’s simply a good conversation which, by itself, may not lead to anything more.

A good sales call must include, at its core, a good conversation and, at minimum, meet the criteria for reaching second base. So in addition to the good conversation, we must identify some need, find the compelling reasons as to why they would buy, identify some compelling reason that would cause them to buy from us and develop Speed on the Bases (SOB) Quality. SOB Quality is what differentiates us from the competition. It’s based on our ability to ask more questions, better questions, and tougher questions than our competition. It means we’ve built a stronger relationship, created more trust and credibility by getting the prospect to trust and believe in us. And finally, it means that we’ve quantified the problem using the Rule of Ratios. (Baseline Selling provides detailed explanations along with a myriad of examples of how to apply these criteria in the section on Reaching Second Base.)

Now you know how to answer the question, “how did it go?” If you’re unable to respond with “I had a great sales call”, you’re not really selling effectively out there and you’ll need to make some changes to improve your results. If you respond with, “we had a great conversation” I would like you to recognize the relative unimportance of that accomplishment if it is not also part of a great sales call.