5 Stellar Pre-Call Planning Tips

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Inside Sales TipsYou finally secured an appointment with the decision-maker and you want to be prepared. What are some surefire pre-call planning tips to ensure you conduct an exceptional sales call?

Use these five tips to get yourself ready:

1.    5-point check on LinkedIn. Check their LinkedIn profile to gather info and prepare talking points. Check their (1) work history, (2) hobbies, (3) groups, and (4) connections. Be sure to pay special attention to (5) recommendations that others wrote them. Since trust is critical, find connection points that will help build your credibility from the moment you arrive.

2.    Set your appointment objectives. Instead of setting an agenda (unless they asked you to do so), define the specific objectives you want to accomplish, according to the steps of your sales process. For example, if you’re qualifying, don’t try to sell—qualify first. Make a list of your objectives in the “if – then” format: If they’re qualified, then move on to the next step. Or your objectives might be to address a list of concerns the buyer raised in a previous meeting. Move on to the next step only if you resolve those concerns and then both agree to continue.

3.    Write your non-negotiable questions. These are questions that you must ask to determine if you can potentially do business with this person or organization. You simply can’t move forward without getting concrete answers to them. Write them down. Put them in a logical order. Reference them during the sales call. You’ll never have to embarrass yourself calling a prospect after an appointment to get information you should have asked for when you met.

4.    Conduct a pre-call meeting. This applies only when you bring someone with you on a sales call, like your sales manager, a technical adviser, or a product expert. Before the call, define who’s leading the call and each participant’s role. This eliminates ambiguity about who presents what information to whom. Otherwise, you’re set-up to give your customer a bad impression when no one knows who’s in charge or your rookie IT guy dominates the meeting with a data dump of your latest product upgrade.

5.    Calculate travel time plus 20. Add either 20 minutes or 20 percent to your travel time—you decide. By the time you’ve programmed your GPS, inched your way through a construction zone, navigated the rows of identical buildings within the office complex, traversed the six levels of the parking deck, checked in with the receptionist, suffered through a security screening, rode the slowest elevator in three states, located the correct floor, and found the office – what you assumed to be an on-time appointment is now starting 12 minutes late with a very disapproving prospect. Just include “plus 20” to your travel time. No worries.

Sales calls give you the opportunity to build relationships, make a strong personal and professional impression, and even build your brand. These five tips will help you make the most of each and every sales appointment—but don’t forget the breath mints.

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