PREPARES: Thinks through the entire sales call before zooming into it

PREPARES: Thinks through the entire sales call before zooming into it

Young Gaurav would have made a good investigating officer, thought Sushant.

Tall and square chested Gaurav’s close-cropped hair completed his cop like air. In 6 months of mentoring Gaurav, Sushant had seen Gaurav’s almost military like rigorous work habits and his no-nonsense ways with colleagues. Good thing, Sushant reflected, we assigned him to the defence equipment vertical.

What accentuated the image even more was his celebrated flair for questioning. Colleagues who were with Gaurav on Customer calls, joked about the “enquiries” he held with his prospects. But Customers liked his curiosity and willingness to ask instead of assume.

Sushant smiled to himself, remembering his pre Covid, joint call with Gaurav on one of the major buyers. ”Relax Gaurav” Sushant had laughed as they left the Customer’s office “You are supposed to be asking questions to gather information. Not interrogating”

“I don’t get it Chief” Gaurav had said, “What did I do wrong?”

Sushant had then suggested that Gaurav think through his questions in advance, and phrase them in a friendly way so that getting the information needed to take the sale forward was easy and enjoyable. “When you gather honey, be so well prepared so that you don’t disturb the bees.” Sushant had said

Sushant now dialled Gaurav. “Hi Gaurav, How does the day look for you? Any prospecting calls today? Most defence establishments are spending now and we should get our share of all those purchases that are happening”

“Sure Sushant. I have a conference call with a prospect at 10.30 this morning”

“Tell me, are you fully prepped for it? Let’s go over how ready you are. First off, are you clear about your call objective? Second, did you do our contact questionnaire as part of your pre-call preparation?”

“No Sushant” Gaurav responded “This is just a courtesy call. I will steer the conversation as the call progresses. I haven’t done the questionnaire. Too early in the sales cycle, I figured”

“Listen” said Sushant, “There’s no such thing as a ‘courtesy call’ to a Customer. Every Customer call has to be have a definite objective that serves the Customer. Else it is a drain on the time of both the Customer and the sales professional. Call or meeting objectives could be in one of the following 4 categories: (1) Selling, (2) Negotiating (3) Influencing & (4) Informing. Even a so called ‘courtesy call’ could be used for a clear objective, which can be Informing. The opportunity can be utilized for sharing information useful to the Customer or listening to current issues faced by the Customer’s business. A call without any Customer oriented objective, devalues the salesperson.”

Whether prospecting, forecasting, pitching or closing a sale, Sales Aces bring the rigorous preparation of a rocket launch to their work. For example, when they make a sales presentation, it goes through multiple iterations, and internal rehearsals, before the Customer can see it. So well prepared that, the Customer understands the value on offer from the first slide. Ace sales professionals do enough research to understand if their audience is made up of the right decision makers at that stage of the purchase process, and if their most important priorities are addressed. Doing this helps them create an aura of credibility that is so vital to accelerating those difficult closures in a downturn.

Every Sale begins with a Contact. And, contacts are what move it forward as well. Your chances of winning are only as good as your contact’s ability to facilitate it. So, here is the Contact Strategy questionnaire, which can act as a preparedness checklist that Sushant referred to in our story:

  1. Whom to meet in what sequence (Lets you form an idea of the authority and pecking order )
  2. Who can give us most information (Quickest way to collecting details relevant to the deal)
  3. How high to go in the Customer organisation? For short term? For long term? (The formal and informal influence matrix within Customer organisation)
  4. When and where to meet – What time of day? Online? In person? (Helps time the call for success)
  5. Whether to meet the Customer one-on-one or with other functional colleagues? (Throws light on the approach most likely to work )
  6. How to overcome possible resistance in meeting key persons (Sets you thinking on a strategy to win over the decision makers)
  7. Is anyone taking a personal risk on the performance of our solution, if they buy? (How can we help that person mitigate the risk?)

As sales greats remind us – “Success happens when opportunity meets preparation ”

Action Question:  Think back to how well ‘prepared’ you are before you zoom into a sales call. How can you use the Contact Strategy Questionnaire to prepare better for your next call?

Related Reading:  Mercuri Insight document Do you have a clear aim for every sales visit?

About the series: This is the 46th in a series of 100 Posts that purport to build your #Sales Resilience.. as an individual salesperson, as a sales team, and as a sales organization. Because a Resilient India needs Resilient Sales.


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