Want to improve your sales calls and meetings, have clearer next steps, and even improve your closing rate? One of the best ways to do that is to do a better job preparing before your sales call.
Think about highly respected professions. Whether it's architects, engineers, doctors, accountants, airline pilots, ministers, or teachers, they all have one thing in common. They all plan in advance.
Let's look at the advantages of pre-call planning in sales, how you should plan, and a tool we have available.
Benefits of pre-call planning
Have you ever been frustrated because a sales call didn't go well? We've all been there. Or maybe you thought a call went well, but when you debriefed with your manager or even on your own, you found you had more unanswered questions than you would like.
Unlike many other professions, what tends to happen in sales is we don't plan at all. We just show up, and we wing it. If you want to do better, pre-call planning is essential.
Here at Sandler, we're big proponents of using a system. S.Y.S.T.E.M. is an acronym with the following meaning:
- Energy and
The only way to execute well is to plan well. If you are consistent with your pre-call planning and use a system, you'll perform better.
And it's an excellent tool for debriefing and learning as well. You can look at your goals for the meeting, find out where things got derailed, and learn from your mistakes.
What is call planning?
To put it succinctly, call planning—or pre-call planning—is documenting what information you need to gather and what questions you need to ask to collect that information.
If you're planning for a sales call, start by thinking about what you want to learn and making a list of what questions you need to ask.
Your value as a salesperson is based on the information you gather, not the information you dispense. In most early calls, you'll want to uncover the following:
- The cast of characters
- What you should bring with you, if anything
- Your goals for the meeting
- Key questions you should ask
- Questions the prospect is likely to ask you
One of the key differences between a professional and an amateur is that a professional prepares ahead of time while an amateur wings it. Do you want to be an amateur salesperson or a professional one?
Pre-call planning worksheet
We've got a great tool in Sandler that we call the Pre-Call Planner Tool. It is essentially a pre-call planning template you can use to prepare for your calls. It can help you prepare for:
- Sales calls
- Job interviews (either as the interviewer or interviewee)
- Team meetings
- And more
The concept behind our Pre-Call Planner Tool is just like commercial airline pilots and their preflight checklist, or surgeons and their pre-surgery checklist.
In preparing it, we knew that salespeople needed a consistent system that was easy to use and follow.
Sales call planning is a simple concept, but hardly anyone does it. Make the jump from being an amateur to being a professional. Start planning your sales calls ahead of time.
If you need help with pre-call planning for yourself or your entire team, we would be glad to talk with you.