Sales Call Preparation Leads To Right Place, Right Time

Sales call preparation remains largely an overlooked process. Here are a few tips to prepare for that next sales call like a top achiever.

How could an individual go from working at Popeye’s to winning the Super Bowl? They prepare. In every Super Bowl, unlikely heroes emerge. Although New England Patriots rookie Malcolm Butler’s heroic goal-line interception was unlikely, it was not undeserving. In his words, “It all comes down to preparation.” In the final few plays of the game, Michael Butler intercepted a pass that ended the Seahawks' final drive and their chance of winning the Super Bowl. Butler never played Division I football and NFL teams were only interested in him as a special teams player. But this unlikely candidate ended up being the game's hero … because he was prepared.

How many salespeople prepare like they are playing in the Super Bowl? When salespeople fail to prepare, they miss opportunities. These opportunities go unrecognized and slip through their fingers. The competition ends up winning the order because they were better prepared. The competitor was at the right place at the right time, and with the right solution.

The one thing top salespeople have in common is preparation. Tom Reilly Training conducted a Best Sales Practices study where they studied over 100 top-achieving salespeople. They found that 95 percent of top achievers routinely planned their sales calls versus 10 percent of the general sales population. Are you preparing like a top achiever or the general sales population?

Here are a few tips to prepare for that next sales call like a top achiever:

Establish the call objectives. A sales call with no objective is defective. Every call should have a purpose. Many salespeople will share their meeting objectives with their customer to ensure their objectives are met. Before your next sales call, consider sending your customer the objectives ahead of time.

  • Develop a list of questions. These questions should help you understand the customer’s needs. These questions can also shape buying criteria and create distance between you and the competitor. Although you never want to read from a script, you should have five or six go-to questions to help you guide the conversation.
  • Prepare support material. This sounds basic, but make sure you have all of the collateral material you need to support your solution. This information can range from catalogs, case studies, testimonials, technical data, demonstration material, etc.
  • Anticipate customer resistance. Develop a list of objections that could impede the progress of the sale. For example, the customer mentions bad timing, lack of budget, new leadership, new software, too many changes, etc. Develop a go-to response to navigate past common customer resistance.
  • Establish the next steps. For the sale to progress forward there has to be a series of next steps. Establishing a next step is not just about closing the sale; it is about generating positive momentum. Before you leave the meeting, each party should know what needs to happen next.
  • Practice the sales call. Practice what you’re going to do and what you’re going to say. Practicing your presentation will give you more confidence. Recently, a friend explained that they are required to practice and role-play every team-selling and group customer presentation. They practice their presentation to a group of mock customers. The group of mock customers gives feedback, and they practice again. Practice makes perfect.

As salespeople, we experience several opportunities throughout the week. If we are prepared, each opportunity could turn into our personal Super Bowl. Use these six tips to prepare for your next sales call. Who knows what might happen? As Malcolm Butler testified in USA Today, “I just had a vision that I was going to make a big play, and it came through.”

Prepare to achieve your vision and see it all the way through.

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