In business, there is nothing more effective than a well-planned phone call or meeting. A bad phone call or meeting on the other hand, can be detrimental. There is no agenda, no purpose, or even worse – one of your associates calls a potential client the wrong name. I was happy to see some guidelines outlined in a blog written by Mark Thacker, friend and strategic partner. While some of these points may seem obvious, they are still a great refresher. An effective phone call or meeting could lead to another great meeting. Keep these in mind and share with colleagues.
7 Steps to Better Pre-Call Planning
Have you ever heard the expression, “Failure to plan is a plan for failure?” How much time do you or does your sales team allocate to pre-call planning prior to meetings? Are you devoting only five minutes before your call or appointment?
Baseball provides us with a great example of the type of planning we should undertake. Hours before every professional baseball game, each starting pitcher and catcher meet with their respective pitching coaches to discuss each batter in their opponent’s line-up. The tactical objective of this meeting is to determine the pitch sequence that will be thrown to each batter, given different base runner positions or different game scenarios. In many cases, these sequences are actually written down and reviewed between innings by the catcher and pitching coach as the game progresses.
In the world of sales, we don’t face opposing batters, but we do face clients or prospects and we must be equally prepared. Follow these 7 pre-calling steps and you will find your meetings to be more successful.
1) Be a good detective – With social media at our disposal, we should never walk into a meeting without knowing anything about the person we are meeting. We can utilize LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Jigsaw, Manta . . . the list is almost endless. What is everyone’s favorite subject these days? That’s right, themselves. Learn more about the people you are meeting and learn what they have already shared about themselves. You know it is important to them, because they have already shared it with the world.
2) Review their website – I like to look at the “About Us,” “Employment” and “News” sections of a company’s website. Look for “Triggering Events” – these are events, news items or a movement of some type that you can tie a solution to later in the sales process. Learn more about what you have found by asking questions.
3) Review all the notes from the CRM – Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure you know the history of the account. Avoid showing up for a meeting and being asked about a deliverable that they are still waiting on. They won’t be inclined to listen, or give you more of their business, if you haven’t fulfilled a previous commitment. On the positive side, it gives you an opportunity to refresh your memory on a previous order or important personal information.
4) Determine what you want to accomplish – It may sound simple, but make sure you know what you want to accomplish at the end of the meeting. Do you expect to receive the order? Be invited to submit a proposal? Gain a second meeting? Whatever it is, write it down.
5) Get your team on the same page – If you have others from your company joining you, make sure everyone knows the objective, their roles, and how you want the meeting to unfold. What is the structure of the meeting? Who is allowed to say “no” to a request? Have a pre-meeting meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page.
6) Anticipate questions and possible objections – Make sure you are prepared for questions and objections you may receive and have responses ready. No one likes an unpleasant surprise.
7) Practice, practice, practice – Rehearse the exact words that you will use to open the meeting, ask questions, gain commitment, etc. Don’t trust these important moments to the words that happen to pop into your head. Remember, practice makes perfect. The words will more easily come to you if you have written them down and practiced them.
Follow these 7 steps and your meetings will improve. When your meetings improve, increased revenue is not far behind!