Be Prepared (not just for Boy Scouts)

As we travel around the country coaching salespeople and sales managers it never ceases to amaze us how little, seemingly competent, salespeople prepare for their sales calls. Good grief! How will you know if you have accomplished your call objectives if don’t have any? It is not uncommon to meet a salesperson prior to a day of calls and get a blank stare in response to the question “what’s the objective of our first call today?”

Here are some very basic questions that need to be asked prior to every sales call. This is just the bare minimum. Feel free to expand the list.

What is today’s Primary Objective?

Why have we made an appointment to see this person? Is this the continuation of a previous call, are we returning with information requested from the previous call, are meeting another buying influence not present at the previous meeting, are we delivering a proposal? Not every call objective is “get the order.”

Make sure you have an explicitly defined Primary Objective of this visit. At the conclusion of the call you can return to your car flip open your fancy leather portfolio and answer the simplest of questions; “did I meet today’s Primary Objective…Yes, or No?”

What are today’s Secondary Objectives?

Yup, there are almost always some Secondary Objectives to a sales call. If this is your first call on this prospect your Primary Objective may be “Confirm information I found in my research and gathered when I made the appointment”. Your Secondary Objectives may be:

  • Determine if there is a good fit between my company and the prospect the company.
  • Uncover and define areas where I may be able to help this prospect.
  • Gather specific information to address the needs of the prospect.
  • Determine who the buying influences will be as we go forward.

Get the idea?

What are the Action Steps concluding the call?

What are the specific items you will promise your prospect to deliver and when will you deliver those answers? Furthermore, did you get agreement from your prospect that these items are important to moving the process along? Is there anything your prospect needs to deliver and when will that happen? Do you have mutually agreed upon timelines and definitions?

When will you meet again?

Set a specific time and date you will come back together with information promised. If you can’t get a specific time and date; get a time and date you will reconnect to set the future meeting.

These are just the basic objectives. After you read these I am sure you will have more to add. The important point here is to prepare for EVERY sales call. Have a plan, have objectives and keep the process moving.

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