You’ve leveraged LinkedIn to get warm introductions from clients and centers of influence. You’ve connected with them on LinkedIn and shared content that resonates with them. You have sent a welcome message offering insights on an introductory call, and they booked it. Now what?

Well first, it is NOT a sales call. They took your call because you promised value. As salespeople, we often want to start with how we can help them, but what we really need to do is start with actually helping them.

There is a proven 7-step formula for running the first insights call, let’s walk through it….

1. Build Rapport. It starts with research, looking at their profile, identifying content that they’ve engaged on, articles that they’ve shared, posts that they’ve tweeted as well as identifying shared connections or experiences that you both have.  Then you want to compile that research in a way that you can present when you want to build rapport. Obviously, you’re not going to use all the intel, but if you pull one or two things out that can help you connect with your buyer, it will warm up the call. Anything that you can pull from that that would make them connect.

2. Set the Agenda. Our next step is to review what we are going to discuss. We want to make sure that we acknowledge the purpose of the call is to offer insights around their specific situation – and that aligns with their expectation.

3. Ask Them. What are they hoping to cover on the call? If they have a specific need, follow that path. If they just called to learn from you, follow the plan…

4. Discoveryish. You’re going to move into discovery questions, but this is very different from what most salespeople are used to doing. We want to ask questions that will lead to our solution but they also have to allow us to be able to offer insights in the moment since that’s the purpose of this call. We have to be really smart and take a lot of time in preparation, choosing a question that regardless of the answer, you can provide an insight. A good way to prepare for this is to role play with colleagues. Make sure you’ve got your answers that are aligned with leading to your solution, meaning they can take what you’ve just taught them and it will have an impact on the way they’re doing business, even if they don’t ever work with you. It’s very different than asking what keeps you up at night, or do you have a budget for this, or who else in addition to you will be part of this decision making process?

5. Offer Insights. Once we’ve identified their challenge, we need to start adding value. We can start by offering thought-provoking tips or strategies, things that get them to think differently about their current situation, position, company or industry. Next, it is vital that we confirm that the insight that we just shared aligns with their challenge by asking, “does this make sense?” or “can you see how that would affect your team?” Getting that confirmation after you provide an insight is significant because if they don’t resonate with it, they will not move forward in a sales process.

6. Close with Permission to Share a Case Study. Once we’ve really provided value, and we’ve confirmed with them that we are resonating, the next step is to create FOMO (fear of missing out) by sharing success stories that build the vision. That means we need to bridge this call from an insights call to sharing client stories. One of the most effective ways to do this is through sharing case studies. The conversation may sound something like “Based on what we just chatted about, it reminds me of another client that was in a similar situation, would it be okay, if I shared that story with you?”  Once you’ve asked permission to share that story, the bridge from helping to how you help is crossed seamlessly.

7. Close for a Sales Call. Move the conversation to “I’d love to explore to see we might be able to help you the same way we were able to help that client, can we set up a time on the calendar to review? OR “Would you be open to scheduling another call?

BONUS:  During your initial research, leverage LinkedIn to identify a few influencers inside that would typically be brought into this conversation. Then ask your contact if you can I run those names by them, and, if it makes sense, invite them to the next call.

Follow the formula closely. It’s proven and it works. Make sure that you prepare your research and your questions and be ready with the insights you will offer. There is no pixie dust, and it

isn’t simple… initially, but once you get it down it becomes second nature and your insights calls will convert to interested and excited people, prospects and opportunities.