Written by Tim Wackel
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? After all, the Boy Scouts have been teaching this idea to kids for almost 100 years.
So why in the world would most sales professionals show up unprepared? You see it all the time-they dash in from the parking lot with a handful of color brochures but no plan on how to engage. Or they relentlessly work the phones only to discover that they’ve offered nothing more than hollow chitchat.
Why do you and a lot of other sales reps fail to prepare? Because it is easier to talk about you, your company and your products, than it is to prepare to have a conversation about THEM!
Here’s the big question: what are you doing to prepare that if your clients knew you were doing it they would be more inclined to have an open and honest dialogue with you?
The next time you meet with a prospect or client open the conversation with this simple phrase: “In preparing for this meeting I took some time to…” Then simply highlight the two or three critical things that you did to prepare and watch what happens to the atmosphere of the call. You will blow away the last rep that opened their meeting by announcing that they were just “checking in” to see if anything new was going on.
The less you talk about yourself, the more you have to prepare to talk about them. And the more you talk about them, the more likely they will be interested in you. Not exactly the secret formula you were hoping for. But it is an obvious formula-so obvious that most sales reps ignore it.
Here are ten key elements that you can use to create your own successful pre-call habits:
- Learn about their business-their products/services, customers, industry trends, key initiatives, financial status, and competition.
- Discover something about the person you are meeting with. Google them, talk to their colleagues, or call others in the industry with insights.
- Define the exact purpose of this call. What are the goals for this interaction?
- Identify the benefits of your meeting. The benefits need to be clear, concise, credible and compelling!
- Prepare ideas that hold value for your customer. Your language needs to reflect a focus on solutions…not on your latest product!
- Plan questions that establish your expertise and get them to think in new ways. The more thought provoking your questions are, the more your prospective buyers will respect and remember you!
- Communicate an outline of your meeting prior to the appointment. Ask them to review and provide you with feedback. Getting their buy-in before you walk in the door is critical, and it demonstrates your commitment to delivering value.
- Identify the resistance that you are most likely to encounter and prepare ideas, case studies, testimonials or expert opinions to help reduce their reluctance to move forward.
- Plan how you will end the meeting or call and decide what agreements you need to ask for.
- Remind yourself to be warm, friendly and courteous to everyone that you encounter. Your prospects are constantly deciding how much they like you, how much they believe you, how much they trust you and how much confidence they have in you. It takes time-often a long time-to build your personal brand. And it takes only a few seconds for it to be destroyed.
The determination to win is important in selling…but the determination to prepare to win is an essential part of getting to the top!
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