What does a pre-call plan consist of, and how do I use it? In this Chapter the pre-call plan is explained below. It consists of ten key points; each point is very important, so make sure you don’t skip any step. All 10 items should be addressed for each meeting you have with a real decision maker.
The items are as follows:
1. Write sales call objective. It’s important that you clearly understand what your objective is for the call, or sales visit. This may seem obvious, but it’s easy into get to a client's office, meet about one topic, but end up talking about everything else except making the sale. It’s important to define what the objective is for the call or meeting ahead of time. The main objective could be to ultimately sell your product. But sometimes it may be merely to gain rapport, start a long-term relationship, or merely to introduce yourself and your company.
2. Compile needs analysis questions to ask. Understanding what the potential customer needs can be discovered simply by asking the right questions. Formulating that question ahead of time is what we want to do. Not only do we want to formulate the question, but we also want to formulate the answers we think may best fit the prospect’s needs. This probability analysis helps narrow down which aspects of our product to emphasize.
3. Get presentation material to show. Visual aids are excellent to add reinforcement to your presentation, and can be a fun way to physically demonstrate to the customer what you’re selling. Like a picture speaks a thousand words, a demonstration speaks volumes. The customer will remember the demonstration long after your words have been forgotten. This is a power tool. Use it effectively.
4. Write down anticipated customer concerns and objections. Put yourself in the shoes of the prospect for a moment, and think of any concerns you may have with the product. What do you think the customer would object to? Anticipating these concerns will help you prepare a response if they come up during the sales meeting. It may even be appropriate to point these out to the customer, just to illustrate that you are concerned about their welfare. Plus, addressing concerns before they arise, puts the idea of pro-activity in the minds of the customer, and makes you appear to have done your homework.
5. List points of difference between your product and your competitor's. Researching the competition is what will allow you to point out the differences. What is your leg up on the competition? Not only that, but how do I translate that difference in a way that will have real meaning. This suggests that we not only study the competition, but we must also know the elements that are most important to that particular customer.
6. List meaningful benefits to customers. If you haven't already done so, take out a price of paper, and make a list of the benefits your product offers the customer. What a great exercise this will be, because benefits are what the successful salesperson sells. Answering the question, How will the customer benefit from using your product? is the central selling point. Know this list, and be ready to use it at every opportunity.
7. Use the quantification approach; do an investment return analysis. The ability to state the benefit of your product in a way that has some quantified impact becomes a great selling tool. For example, you may be able to demonstrate the actual savings the customer will realize by using your product over your competition. But being able to state the benefits in a more quantifiable way has a more profound impact. Do an investment analysis on your product to see what the numbers say. Then, relay those numbers to the customer for a real and meaningful demonstration of the benefits of your product.
8. Devise strategies to handle objections and eliminate customer concerns. It is important to know what the customer concerns are, and that we have worked out a strategy to handle each one of them. A component of good customer service is to recognize the problem, but a successful salesperson developed strategies that will eliminate all customer concerns. This type of planning forces one to think of any and ever customer concern, and helps prepare a plan to eliminate each one. When this is done, the customer has no hindrances to the purchase. Remember to keep the sales process moving forward.
9. Plan a closing strategy. If you’ve done your homework, the closing sales strategy may be as simple as asking this question, Does this make sense to you? If so, the next step is to purchase. Most people think that closing a sale is a difficult process, requiring the most persuasive ability that a salesperson can muster. But if you're done the preparation steps properly, closing is very simple. Your previous preparation has logically led the client through the sales process, one step at a time. Now the logical next step is to purchase.
10. List expected surprises. Surprises are surprises only if you don’t anticipate them. List the expected surprises that could possibly arise in a sales meeting, so that when/if they arise, they won’t be surprises at all. We may not be able to anticipate everything that could possibly happen, but we can use our prior experiences to anticipate as many surprises as possible. Preparation is the key.