Posted 5 years ago
Have you ever heard the saying, perception is reality? That statement is especially true in the world of sales. For this reason, it is so important to make sure you begin every sales call or meeting prepared. When you are preparing for a meeting with your prospective client, it’s critical to ensure you are viewed as both competent and prepared to provide superior service. Executive consultant and sales coach, Ron Finklestein, provides his five steps to ensure all the sales professionals out there come to the table ready to rock!
Sales Call Preparation
by Ron Finklestein
Why Preparation is an ESSENTIAL part of Sales Success
Sales is simply a game and knowing the rules of the game makes things easy. The intent of the article is to help you improve your sales skills, help you become a better sales leader while growing sales and increasing revenues.
How many times have you gone into a sales meeting without a plan, hoping the prospect would do what you want? More than likely you did not get the desired results. And no, the objective of a sales call is not to always get the sale. Some objectives could include identifying the decision maker, determining the competition, determining the impact of the problem, and so much more.
Without preparation, you are planning to fail.
A recent post on LinkedIn states, “Research says that buyers think that only 13% of sellers are adequately prepared for a sales call.” If this is true, this is a frightening statistic. As a business owner, when someone comes into my office to sell me something and they are not prepared, I stop the meeting as soon as possible and politely escort them to the door. I really do not like it when someone wastes my time.
Success starts with a plan. Every meeting you have with a prospect, suspect or client needs to be well planned. You should always be prepared with a specific reason to meet with your prospect. If you arrive to one of these meeting unprepared, you look unprofessional, or worse, you look incompetent.
How do you prevent that, and look like the pro you are? You need to prepare – and luckily – it does not take long, especially once you do it a few times.
Let me share with you a planning process I take all my client through. I will overview the process then break in to specific action steps.
Step 1. As Stephen Covey said, “Begin with an end in mind.” Or, stated differently, ask yourself “what outcome do I want from this meeting?” Generally speaking, there are only five outcomes (I am only looking at the most common) the average sales person wants to achieve. They are:
Let us go back to Step 1. What is the outcome I want to achieve? Let us say I want to understand the problem to see if I can help. The next step is to define the questions to ask.
Step 2: Assuming they told you about a problem they are having before the meeting (or agreed to meet with you) here are some questions to gain both clarity on the problem, and, impact the problem is having:
The intent behind these questions are to determine if they have money to spend to fix the problem, do they have the authority to make a buying decision, is the need great enough for them to take action and to define the time frame in which the decision will be made.
Step 3: Sometimes this information is gathered and another meeting is required to present the best solution. A great outcome would be to have a follow up meeting. Let us assume you acquired the answers you wanted, and it is time to take the next step. A great question to ask the prospect is, “What do you think is a good next step?” If the prospect tells you what they want to do, they have started to buy into you and your selling process.
Additionally, when you help them understand the impact of their problem you come across as competent and professional. If there is low impact or the impact is less than other challenges they are dealing with, you have enough information to know if you what to revisit at a later date, or help them understand the power of dealing with the opportunity now.
Step 4. How do I conduct this meeting? I am a big believer in using visuals. It could be a simple PowerPoint (movie, flip chart, etc.), to a well-structured discussion. Keep in mind your location. If you are meeting in Starbucks, and you are approaching delicate information, maybe a coffee shop is not the best place to have this discussion. Location of the meeting can play a large part in the success of a sales call. When I expect to be talking about the budget, employee problems or impact I like to get them out of their office, or at least in a private space where we cannot be overheard.
Step 5. What does the agenda look like? Here is a sample agenda that will cover most sales calls:
Hopefully, after reading this, you realize how some simple preparation can make the difference between success and failure in the sales call and ultimately how “professional” you look to your prospects and clients.
Ron Finklestein authored the highly acclaimed international seller, 49 Marketing Secrets (THAT WORK) to Grow Sales (Available on Amazon.com). Meet Ron!
What others are saying about Ron: “We talked about meeting for lunch for an introduction to Ron Finklestein, who has been working with my agency for about 14 months now. Not only has Ron helped bring much-needed insight into my business, he has assisted in hiring top quality salesmen, implementing sales and marketing processes, providing management direction, and greatly expanded our networking opportunities. Ron also helped us to move in the direction of having a self-sustaining business that can operate on its own without my having to be there, thereby freeing my time and greatly increasing its value. I would truly struggle if I attempted to rate one area as more important as Ron has been so helpful in so many areas. Let me say this ….. you cannot afford not to hire Ron.” – Gerald McMichael, McMichael Insurance
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