The third step in the ten steps to becoming a Sales Superstar is Preparedness. The best salespeople are always prepared – like the boy scout motto. What is so important about preparedness? It shows the customer that you are ready to talk about important things rather than the typical push the sales agenda on the customer.
There are two primary issues covered by being prepared. The first is to have a call plan. The second is to do your research on a customer BEFORE arriving at their office.
I know you have heard all about call plans. I have also heard all the excuses as to why most salespeople do not use call plans. Things like: It takes to much time; the call never goes like the plan – so why make one; the only reason I’m asked to do it is for my micro-managing boss; and the call never goes the way I plan it so why bother? These quotes usually come from the bottom 80% of sales people – not the top 20% and never come from the sales superstars that I’ve worked with during the years.
What is the big thing about call plans? Well, first calls are the highest number of activities for a sales person. Therefore, a plan or an agenda needs to be in place prior to the call. One of the recent trends I have noticed from the top performers is that they send an agenda to the person they are calling on. This proves to the customer or prospect that there is a plan and their valuable time will not be wasted. It also allows the customer or prospect to prepare for the meeting. If you understand different behavioral styles, you will know that half the population needs time to prepare for meetings – if you want the meetings to be successful.
The second area of preparedness is research. There are several reasons for doing the research prior to the customer meeting. One, it allows you to know the details about the company (and sometimes the person) and you can prepare validation or clarification questions or statements. The most agonizing thing you can do to a customer is to ask detail searching questions. These are the same questions that every inexperienced sales person asks – BORING and time wasting to the customer.
The other area for research is validation of what you have learned from previous meetings or visual sightings at the customer’s site or locations their products are sold. Again, this shows the customer that you have done your homework. This implies to the customer that you respect them and value their time. This type of research also gives you more information for figuring out financial status, return on investment, and areas that could bring immediate improvement to their operations – saving money or growing revenues.
In summary, preparedness shows your customers and prospects that you care about them, that you do your homework and you ask better questions (which is the Fifth Step) based upon real research rather than guessing. The “winging it” sales person era is over. Today, you need to have superior knowledge to connect the dots for larger sales and higher margins. Learn how to use the Internet and other sources for research about your customers and be prepared.