Our research on over 20,000 salespeople and sales leaders worldwide shows that the top salespeople, regardless of industry, have developed a consistent sales process that they execute in order to ensure sales success. We have identified effective pre-call planning as the first step in that sales process.
Whether your sales cycle is two hours, two days or two years, there is a series of events that must take place in order to generate the desired result: a mutually beneficial business relationship between two or more parties. There are various ways to create and organize a successful account strategy and there are also a myriad of forms, processes, contact management systems and software tools to help you. Let me simplify a couple of the steps.
First, do your homework. Look at the prospect’s website, look up the people you’re going to meet on LinkedIn, do a search of the company/people on your favorite search engine. Remember…prospect knowledge is more powerful than product knowledge!
Next, have an IDEA of the people you are selling to. In other words, are they an Influencer, a Decision-Maker, an End User or an Approver? Your prospect may wear multiple hats but normally one job is their primary function. Once you discover which role is primary, you will be able to stay in alignment with the prospect’s specific needs. We have discovered that in order to be successful in today’s economy, you must sell to all four types of buyers and you must learn the skills necessary to sell to each type. For example, you shouldn’t reveal pricing or terms to an end-user, that interaction should be saved exclusively for the final decision-maker. Conversely, you shouldn’t demonstrate your products or services to the final decision-maker. Your demonstration if best suited for influencers and end users.
After you have completed your pre-call research, your next step is to establish objectives for a successful call. Over-anxious salespeople often forget this necessary step. The desire to jump right in and start selling can ruin any pre-call preparation that was done. Following a simple outline can help organize your thoughts and trim away some of the less pertinent material.
To begin, identify what potential needs the client may have. Using your research, it should be relatively easy to see areas in the prospect’s business strategy that are lacking. Once you determine the area/areas most in need of assistance, decide which of your solutions you are planning to introduce during the meeting. Finally, it is always important to prepare a customer success story to share during your initial encounter. The story should be relevant to your prospect, but you should avoid referencing his or her competitor. Many business representatives shy away from doing business with salespeople who have serviced known competitors.
Salespeople that are diligent in their pre-call preparation, that have an IDEA of who they are selling to and who ask a lot of questions will always be successful!