Showing up for a sales call unprepared is about the same as showing up to a party without your pants on – it gets embarrassing quick and you don’t have any idea what the outcome will be! (At least that what’s we suggested on our latest episode of The SellOut Show!)
The great thing about pre-call planning is that it can almost always be improved and it’s an excellent way to take control over a pipeline that is not going in the right direction. It gets you back to the basics and gives you a sense of power in the call.
Keys to Good Pre-Call Planning
Plan three questions looking from your buyer’s point of view.
When you start to think about what your buyer is concerned about and what problems they are likely to be experiencing – you are able to get over in their world faster and the call moves more quickly.
You’ll find that you start researching the company and who they are in a new way!
Think about it this way. No one gives up their precious time for a sales call unless there is something important they think they can get from the conversation. What could that be? Now, write a few questions from that perspective.
Example: You are speaking with a VP of Sales. The 2 things nearly every VP of Sales worries about is that they won’t accurately forecast revenue and they won’t have enough time to dedicate to coaching and working with their reps. Now – you can ask a question like – “Most people in your position tell me that they don’t get enough time with their reps to get them all the resources they deserve – is that a problem you’re facing?” (You want to make sure that what you are offering will help solve the problem you are asking about, of course!) See, how you got into their shoes and started the conversation off in a favorable direction?
Find three interesting things about them or their company
A quick look at LinkedIn and a Google search will give you a context about who the person is. You can find out where they’ve worked before, what they say about themselves and the job they do, learn what schools they’ve attended, what charities they support.
The key here is that you can start to get related to someone and what’s important to them before you ever get on the phone with them. You can pepper nuggets about your fact-finding into the conversation to help demonstrate that you’re interested in what they are up to and start to build rapport and trust. (Only do this if you are actually trustworthy!)
Know why you are calling them
ESPECIALLY if this is a first call or a cold call, you must demonstrate immediately what value you will bring to their situation.
Practice this before you get on the phone. It goes like this: “I’m Dianna calling you from ACMECorp and I’m calling because …” and make it compelling and succinct. If you find that you can’t quickly express the “because” – then you need to do some more work before you pick up the phone. Find a good and compelling WHY and you’re far more likely to start the conversation you want to have and that will make them interested in learning more.
The 3×5 Predict The Future Plan
Try this before every call you make. If you’re meeting the buyer in person, take a moment in the car to do this. If you’re picking up the phone – take just a couple of minutes to do this.
On a 3×5 card,write down three things you want them to say in this meeting.
1) We have been budgeting for this solution and agree that you’re the right firm to work with.
2) Yes. It’s time for us to present this idea to the CEO. Can you make that happen next week?
3) This looks perfect. What do we need to do to get started?
You will be amazed at how setting these intentions for the outcome of the meeting actually work. Just take a few minutes before the conversation to envision your ideal outcome. I know it sounds woo-woo, but criticize the idea while you’re cashing your commission checks.
Now, I want to hear from YOU! Do you have any pre-call planning habits that work in your favor? Write them in the comments – I can’t wait to hear!
And – love ‘em ALL UP!
The Irreverent Sales Girl