Sales Preparation Planning: Set Up for Success
A few days ago I returned a call from a client who sells to high end companies. He was preparing a proposal for this particular client and was very stressed out. I realized that the appointment was the next day. He was going to the clients office with his boss and they were both working on the proposal.
My question to him was, “Wouldn’t being prepared in advance rather than doing this the last minute benefit you?
Do you realize the stress that both of you are under?”
No matter if you have a scheduled meeting with a client you’ve known for years, or if this is a hot new prospect you’re making a sales call on, the selling process needs to begin well before the appointment. While your meeting might take all of 15 minutes, I recommend hours of preparation for sales people looking to grow their client base.
Here’s a few questions to ask BEFORE you meet with your prospect or client to help your call planning process.
How well do you know your client? Aside from their location, basic business information and a contact name, sales reps need to walk into your appointment armed with a broad understanding of your client. Your sales plan should include research on their market, their competition, customer reviews if you can gather some on the internet, and a basic history of where they’ve been and the projected success of their market. In addition, understand if you are meeting with the real decision makers or someone who reports to them? This is also something that will impact the type of sales approach you take.
Every good sales strategy has knowledge at its base. And walking in with these tools separates top performing sales people from those who rely on luck and good looks to make a sale.
What are your goals for this client? If you’ve done the homework, you’ve likely found some areas that you can help your customer succeed. Are they first in the market, or are they struggling to compete? Are they brand new and cutting edge in their product or service, or are they well-established, but vulnerable? This impacts the sales process and what your conversation with your customer will be like. You will also get a feel for where this business is in the sales cycle, which also impacts the type of conversation you will have with your customer.
Of course, your role overall is to LISTEN FIRST, but if your sales training has taught you anything, you can do both listen to your customer or prospect’s concerns and help direct the conversation.
How do you match well with them? The beauty of doing homework is you learn a lot, and the sales process should reveal areas of need that will make you say, “I am perfect for this client!” Those strengths are what you need to plan on stressing when you talk with your customer. When they go through the decision making process, then, your sales team will likely be the one they call to do business with.
Beyond the pre call questions, let’s talk about the benefits of planning as well.
• Confidence: when you have information tucked under your belt, you naturally feel more confident in being able to serve your customer and answer whatever questions they might have.
• Respect: Your customer won’t miss the fact that you’ve planned for this meeting. You can’t fake being prepared. That comes off as a sign of respect for their needs, as well as their time.
• Trust: People who present themselves confidently and with solid knowledge relevant to their customers are likely going to be trusted to handle their customers needs.
• No stress: Remember walking into a classroom to take a test? The level of nervousness you may have had was directly related to how well you studied for that test. It’s the same with sales preparation planning. Having researched your customer and knowing their situation and how you can fit into their strategy, you will appear relaxed - because you are! Being relaxed also puts your customer at ease, and allows for a much better conversation than if you were anxious.
Our customers are the people we serve, and their trust in us is really irreplaceable. Preparing to meet them is respectful, and serves to save both you and your customer time. When you see their value, sales preparation planning is an investment in time that will provide you with a huge return.