Planning a Sales Call: How to Make Sure You're as Prepared as Possible

Planning a Sales Call

Planning a Sales Call Should Be Your First Step

Some of life’s greatest experiences are born from acting on off-the-cuff, impulsive decisions. But if you’re a smart salesperson, you’ll know to save these impromptu endeavors for weekends and vacations.

That’s because in any professional venture, planning is important; in sales, it’s often the difference between success and failure.

The most commonly overlooked, but critically important step in the sales process is a thorough pre-call plan. The more you know about the buyer in advance, the better chance you have of being perceived as a strategic resource for your prospect, and for maximizing the time you have in the face-to-face phase of the sales process.

When It Comes to Research, More Is More

In a crowded marketplace, all other things being equal, the one with the most information who knows how to use it, wins.

Chances are, you’re not the only one out there seeking to do business with your potential client. In a competitive landscape, knowing absolutely everything there is to know about the prospect can give you the edge. In planning a sales call, it’s good practice to scour all of your available resources for any information you can come up with, but there are a few questions that you definitely don’t want to leave unanswered:

  • Against whom or what will I be competing?
  • What are my competitors' weaknesses?
  • Am I calling on a decision-maker or primarily an influencer?
  • What are their budget constraints?
  • What is the single biggest problem I can help them solve?

Where the Answers to These Questions Live

If you’re in the process of planning a sales call, you better be thinking like Sherlock Holmes if you want to stand out from your competition. Tap into any resources that might hold the answers to your long list of questions, and don’t be afraid to get a little creative in your search. The internet is a good place to start, but you shouldn’t discount other sources of knowledge such as your prospect’s internal newsletters, public documents, and promotional material.

Don’t forget that real humans can be sources of information, too! Try picking the brains of any of your current customers who know the organization, or people that your prospect sells to or buys from.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Sales Call

Don’t forget to ask yourself a few questions before you make the call. Set clear, specific objectives for every call and be prepared to answer the questions your prospect will likely ask you. This is a critical step and one so many salespeople forget.

  • What are your objectives for the call?
  • What specific questions do you need answered in order to advance the sales process?
  • What are your preferred next steps at the end of the meeting?

Salespeople tend to be people of action, but this critical phase of the sales process will require you to slow down and take the time to dig around for answers. The more you find out while planning a sales call, the more your prospect will regard you as a valuable asset—and the less chance you have to be surprised.

Do you have any other tips for researching a sales call? Let us hear about your best resources for investigating.

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Published on May 01, 2015

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