Are you ready for every sales call? A simple guide to planning and research

How prepared are you for every sales call?

If you take a glance at a prospects website, then jump on a call, you’ve probably not done enough.

Preparation is absolutely essential when it comes to sales. And yet, so many salespeople wing it, and hope for the best.

If you don’t know enough about a prospect, you can’t do any of the following:

  • Create tailored messages and emails to attract their attention;
  • Ask smart questions and practice active listening;
  • Off the back of that, produce customized presentations.

Benefits of being prepared

If you’ve ever been on the other side of the sales process, you can see what a huge difference it makes. A prepared salesperson takes an active interest in your challenges, and therefore, how to solve them. Someone who’s prepared asks the right questions, and doesn’t waste time trying to pitch you products and services that you don’t need.

For example, right now an IT company pitching potential clients on office printer ink might not get very far. Whereas, video presentation solutions are far more useful for sales and customer service teams.

Salespeople who are prepared go further. They make a better impression. They are also far more likely, over time, to hit sales targets repeatedly. Prepared salespeople are always going to ask smarter questions, and appear more interested in a prospect. All of this makes it easier for a salesperson to get information about the challenges facing a client, and therefore work out what solutions are needed.

Being prepared is also a clear sign that a company is worth doing business with. Salespeople who call up and pitch don’t make a great impression. Whereas, those who have done their homework are demonstrating that the company they work for cares about customers. It’s a positive sign in the right direction for how a client service provider relationship could work.

How to get ready for every sales call?

Research is crucial. You need to spend time — approximately 15 minutes per prospect — researching them, so that when you get on a sales call, you’ve got enough information to ask smart questions and demonstrate that you’ve taken an interest in them.

Let’s take a look at a few of the things you need to know about prospects (of course, this depends on your sector, products and services, and any other specific research that might be needed):

  • How long has the company been going (when was it founded)? Who runs/owns the company (Founder-Owner, partnership, shareholders, a larger parent company, etc.)?
  • Where are they based? What are their products and services?
  • Who are you going to call, and can you find anything about them online (e.g. LinkedIn)?
  • What about turnover, is there any information about this online either? What awards have they won?
  • Who do they work with, what sectors/industries, big name clients, countries or regions they’re working in)?
  • What about their social media presence - are they very active? Or any other mentions of them in the media (e.g. anything growth-related, hiring new staff, new offices, investments, etc.)?
  • Plus anything else that might be useful: See what you can find when digging around.

Next, you need to understand how to use this information effectively when on a sales call.

How to use research on sales calls?

Firstly, it’s helpful to let your prospect know you’ve done research. Some in sales training, or other sales-related companies, would disagree. But in our experience, researching a client then letting them know at the start of a call often proves useful.

Research shows you’re interested, that you want to know more about them. Straight away, it gives you things to talk about, such as clients they’ve worked for, or moving office, or getting investment, or winning an award. It might also mean you have connections in common, or through something they’ve posted on social media, you might see you have interests in common.

If there’s a way of using the research to identify a way of building rapport straight away, then go for it. Use this rapport-building to move smoothly into the questions you need to ask.

These should be a series of qualifying questions, depending on the prospect and process you’d normally go through to qualify a sales lead. This process also gives a prospect a chance to expand upon the challenges they’re facing, and what solutions they are looking for.

Research is a gateway to rapport. Establishing relationships with clients. It also serves as a way of finding out as much as is publicly available, that’s useful for the sales process, enabling you to dive into qualifying questions. Without this research, you can’t establish the kind of rapport with prospects you need to move them through the sales funnel.

Potential clients want to feel like they matter to you. One of the best ways to achieve this is through research, doing your homework, and using this to ask smart qualifying questions.

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