There are plenty of metaphors for sales; battles and sports are among the most used. The reasoning is pretty obvious. While sales don't have the life-or-death stakes and aren't as trivial as a sporting event, the importance of preparation for battle cannot be understated. Preparing for each customer, client, or prospect call is slightly different, but a lot of the elements are the same:
- Understanding the prospects current situation
- Knowing the influencers from the decision makers
- Setting the agenda
- Planning the outcome
It’s important to get the right people in the room, and know whom the decision maker and influencers are. If there’s not a decision maker in the room, you may be wasting your time. Prior to the meeting, ask questions like: Who controls the budget? Will we need to involve someone from purchasing or procurement in the meeting? Are there other in-house subject matter experts that should be in the meeting with us?
Prepare a list of questions in advance that can help you identify your prospect’s needs. Make sure the questions are open-ended and don’t sound over-rehearsed or canned. You want to be relaxed and have a conversation – not an interrogation.
Perhaps one of the best outcomes of planning is confidence. A plan is only perfect on paper. But, having done the preparation, you should be able to adjust and adapt to most any situation.