Sales people are always asking me “How do I make the most of this appointment I just booked?” My answer is very simple… Plan to bring value to the experience.
I fully understand that the term “bring value” is often easier to say than to do. I also understand that the easiest way to torpedo the good ship “Value” is to come to the appointment unprepared. Practice and preparation are the difference between winners and “atleasters.”
So what constitutes a solid pre-call plan that will bring value to the experience and lead to more success in the process? Actually, it’s pretty easy and can be boiled down to 5 simple steps:
- Be intentional and have a purpose: While you never can know exactly what will transpire during an appointment you can control the experience by having an objective and a pre-planned agenda. A structured and rehearsed opening should set the agenda including the purpose for the call, your desire to understand their situation, and finally some desired outcome or goal. Most importantly make it about them.
- Be informed about your prospect: What information can you gather about the company, industry and the person you are visiting? What are the typical struggles they have within their particular industry? Review any case studies from similar businesses, the company website, social media sites, Google, trade publications, product brochures, etc.
- Prepare your questions in advance: What do you need to know to meet your objective? Based upon your research and call objectives you should have a set of prepared and well-rehearsed questions at the ready. These can be questions designed to start a conversation or more focused on finding issues you can help remedy.
- Anticipate Roadblocks: What objections might be raised and how will you handle them? List possible roadblocks and have questions ready to address them. Don’t try to convince, but rather help the customer overcome their own roadblocks. By answering a concern with a well-considered question you can often get your customer to realize the roadblock isn’t as big as the problem:
Customer: “Wow that sounds like it could be expensive”
Salesperson: “For some it is, but what is your cost of doing nothing to solve the problem?”
Customer: “Well, I hadn’t thought of it that way…”
- Practice being conversational: The best way to come off as “scripted” is to go in with an unrehearsed script. Practice the conversation as you envision it might happen until it flows and feels natural. We don’t always speak as we write so make sure your written script matches the way you normally converse.
Some sales people will say “I do better when I work more off the cuff” or “I don’t do well when I’m scripted, I’m better when I just go with the flow.” Those responses are really about “winging it” and are the vernacular of “atleasters”. Practice and preparation are the keys to success in any endeavor. Delivering value is not accidental nor the result of some sales big bang theory. You have to have a plan to truly deliver value. Showing up unprepared makes you at best a visitor, at worst a trespasser.
D.Conn, Corporate Sales Trainer