How do you prepare for a sales call?

Ever since I first attended my local brownies group all those years ago the mantra “Be Prepared” has always stuck with me and carried me throughout my life so far.

By no means am I virtue signalling as I have not always executed with the best effect but find that when I go back to the basics and apply these principles I tend to get on better with the task at hand.

This has been further impressed on me by the saying, “Fail to prepare then prepare to fail.”

If this is conventional wisdom it’s always surprising to see many business development professionals overlook the preparation stage of their interactions. This is not necessarily the case when it comes to business meetings but I see it many times when salespeople prospect which is a problem given this is the first impression they give to a potential buyer.

With the tools readily available and a lot of information within relatively easy reach then why is it that many sales people skip this step?

For instance, we all get fed up with those phone calls from canvassers who call your business and ask to speak to the owner. For me that is a red flag because you should know who the business owner is, had you taken the time to research. Not only does it demonstrate your keenness to work with me it also makes the relationship less commoditised and more valued.

This does not mean you have to labour over the process but simply spending 5 to 10 minutes researching online will provide enough information to earn you the right for a more detailed discussion with your prospect.

I am not saying the information you may get is correct but at least it shows good intent rather than laziness. Even if it is not quite right - for instance if the contact has moved on, then this is at least a better position to start a conversation from rather than having done no research at all.

And where such information is not available is not available (some sectors / organisations aren’t as open or transparent as others) then at least you know that and can allude to that in how you approach your conversation.

In terms of how I approach a conversation, I have a preparation checklist which covers:

What type of lead is it?

Is it a referral lead, inbound lead, target account lead, closed / lost lead? This is important to know as it will determine your approach.

Their Linkedin presence:
  • Company page.

What industry are they in? How many years have they been in business? How many employees do they have? Are they social media savvy? Do they use video?

  • Personal page
What is his or her background? What interests does he or she have? What does he or she stand for, what causes is he or she passionate about? And so on

This provides you with clues as to what drives the business and the individual. It will help you determine the tone of the conversation., the language to use and provides other information to help you tailor your approach.

Their website

What do they offer? What’s their messaging? What clues are there as to whether they would be a good fit for your offer?

Social Media

Where do they communicate most? Who are their customers? What does their audience look like? Check out their feeds for news, recruitment etc.

This really should not take longer than 10 minutes as there are no guarantees that you will get hold of the right contact so you don’t want to spend too much time on this. That said, if you do connect then the impact you will create is worth it as it demonstrates your interest in them and who doesn’t like working with those who show an interest?

So how do you prepare for your calls? Is there anything you think I may have missed. I would love to know your comments.

If you would like to understand more about your effectiveness when it comes to preparing and starting sales conversations then please take the FREE Revenue Gen-ability scorecard.

Alternatively delve deeper into a sales topic by attending one of my pending business development events.

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Thank you for reading.