Monday, April 19, 2010

The Importance of Precall Planning

Precall planning is the process of preparing to make a True Sales Call. A precall plan can:
1. Help you ID the desired Business Outcomes and Emotional Outcomes of a call
2. Help you tailor your "elevator pitch" to the client
3. Help you align pitches and proofs
4. Give you something to start the conversation with and get their attention
5. Help you understand what the client does

The time it takes to develop an adequate precall plan could be anywhere from 10 minutes for a prospect to 30 seconds for a follow-up call deep into the sales cycle. You want to limit your time because you could get lost in the planning which will affect your ability to achieve a sufficient volume of True Sales Calls. There's no bigger waste of time than preparing an hour for a prospect only to find out 45 seconds into the call they have no legitimate need for your service.

For an initial call, gather just enough information so you don't sound like a neophyte and enough information to star a conversation. Do you understand what the prospect does? Do you know the right person to call? Also, prepare your potential proofs and put them into a folder dedicated to that prospect.

For follow-up calls, much of your precall planning should occur when completing the previous call while it's still fresh in your mind. Reviewing your notes (which sometimes look like hieroglyphics) two days after the call is not as effective as planning immediately after the call. Think about and plan what you want to do next and record it. Then, prior to the next call, review those notes to refresh your memory of the account.

These tips aren't earth-shattering. But we've seen a common reason sales reps don't achieve their desired outcomes with a customer is simply because they didn't plan -- they didn't prepare prior to the call and they didn't complete takeaways from the previous call. Some reps do get away with little preparation (for a time), but don't leave your success to chance.

"Quality begins on the inside... and then works its way out." -- Bob Moawad

The Erie Sales Club is a joint effort of three leading local businesses: Jameson Publishing, Marsha Marsh Real Estate Services, and VertMarkets.