Preparation is a major part of the sales process and you should not overlook it. Preparation gives you a reserve power to have informed discussions with your prospective clients. A person who is prepared is more confident and effective during the sales process. Take these steps to prepare for your next sales call.
1) Get the information – Research key information about the industry, company, and people. This research should yield specific key issues and needs that your prospective client is facing. Go through the company website to find annual reports and current information on a company’s unique issues and challenges. Research their competitors, suppliers, and vendors for more insights and referrals or to add credibility to your knowledge of their industry.
2) Compile evidence – Research your own company. Has your company done business with a company in the prospect’s industry? Do some of their issues match? How will you communicate this to a new prospect? Do they use a competency model, and if so, how does your model relate to theirs? Have they or others in their industry been in the news lately? If so, was it positive or negative press? How did that press affect their company?
3) Find a contact – Look through your client list, social networking links, or list of colleages and friends to see if you can make a connection through them to any of your prospects. Contacts can help you more easily navigate past gatekeepers and get you talking to decision makers. Begin to develop champions in industries and businesses who will help you build stronger connections in those fields.
4) Set specific call objectives – Know what you want to accomplish during the call. Do you want a prospect to request more information? Do you want them to set up an appointment? Having a plan makes your approach more professional. You may need to use a multi-tiered approach of building rapport, credibility, and visibility to break into a prospect’s company.
5) Know how you want to open the call – Have a clear and compelling opening statement. Remember, you want to be concise, clear, and persuasive. The “fish on the wall” comment won’t cut it in today’s professional selling environment. Credibility is the key.
6) Be prepared to ask relevant and insightful questions – Use those questions to show your knowledge of the organization and the industry and to draw out information. The answers to the best questions will help you identify a useful solution that will get you in the door to support their strategic intent as an organization.
7) Don’t focus on the quick sale – Don’t be tempted to try to “close” too soon or without a full understanding of the client’s needs for the bigger picture. The short-term sale of an enrollment, class, or product may help a small number of people, but not the organization as a whole. Instead, focus on aligning yourself and your sale with the organization’s strategic intent.