Our earlier blog posts covered one of sales’ crucial skills – planning. More specifically, we looked at a simple account planning process that focuses on ways to make sure your strategic goal is strived for and met.
However, just knowing where you want to get to and how you know when you arrive is only the first stage. The next is considering the journey itself – the sales call.
The major difference between the account plan and the sales call plan is that the latter needs to focus on what can be achieved during the the call. Setting a realistic objective is the first stage. There is no point setting yourself an objective that is clearly achievable in the hour long face to face, or telephone, meeting. So make sure your goal is SMART.
This is a familiar acronym to many, but as a quick recap, your goal needs to be Specific, easily Measurable (i.e. will you know when you’ve achieved it), Achievable (in the call itself), Relevant (to achieving your account objective) and Time-bound (i.e. it can be achieved in the time set aside for the call).
Having set your objective, ensure you have a pre-planned agenda. Ideally this should be sent to the customer in advance of your meeting. Whether this is a formal list of topics to be covered in sequence, or a more informal list of items for discussion will depend on your business, the approach of your customer and the culture in which you operate. We have often found that salespeople in some parts of the world, and in some industries, find this a difficult concept to buy into because of local practices. However, when they start to use an agenda, the initial surprise of their customer turns into recognition of their professionalism and becomes an expected way of operating in future calls. Of course, in some parts of the world this is already second nature.
Truly effective salespeople are proven to not only have an objective and a clear agenda. They also consider in advance what it is they would like their customer to commit to doing at the end of the meeting. By planning these ahead of the meeting they are able to steer the conversation to make sure that it is not only the sales person that leaves with a list of actions. Getting the customer to commit to doing something as well helps to demonstrate that they are truly engaged in the sales process. These actions need to be tangible and measurable. They should be things that the customer has to do once the salesperson has left and that keeps the sale in their mind. The skill of the salesperson is in weaving these actions seamlessly into the call. Planning these in advance helps to increase the chances that they will be achieved.
Taking time to ensure that for each and every sales call these three elements are well planned, prepared and executed will ensure that the call is productive and leads towards the end goal.
We have worked with many organisations to help embed similar standard sales practices and disciplines. If you think we might be able to help you then please leave us a comment or contact us.