A Four Fold Return on Investment: Pre-Call Planning – Part 1 of 2

In Today’s Competitive World You Don’t Have Time Not To Do It!

“If you can’t find time to do it right the first time, how will you ever find time to do it over?”  You’ve probably heard this somewhat pithy, yet pointed and true statement before.  Many times over the years, this thought has come to mind, often in response to an urge to cut corners in preparing for a sales call or client meeting.  When schedules are cramped, time is limited, the “to do list” is long, and the calls are backed up, the temptation exists to “wing it”; or stated somewhat more professionally, but less accurately, to “rely on my experience.”  If you are like me, then you have, on occasion, caved in to the temptation and let preparation suffer.  Sometimes it works.  We skate and slide and make it through the call believing we have been successful in avoiding the dreaded step of planning.  However, anyone who does this should ask, “Have I really won or have I reinforced a pattern of under preparation?”

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The time spent in pre-call planning is worthwhile, if only for the reason that it will reduce the number of calls required to close.

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In the more likely scenario when lack of planning contributes to either limited success or failure, the need for focused attention to the detailed pre-call planning that is an integral part of the true salesperson’s regime becomes painfully apparent.  When you think about the numerous benefits of effective pre-call planning, a prudent course of action becomes obvious.  Among the benefits are:

  1. Confidence
  2. Efficiency
  3. Credibility
  4. Improved focus on:
    • The sales drivers
    • Better understanding of the prospect’s needs
    • More effective positioning
    • Solutions ideas for the prospect
    • Possible objections and their resolution
  5. Increase in usage and effectiveness of questions
    • Changes focus from telling what we do to finding out what they need.
      Axiom 1:  When in doubt, ask a question.
    • Helps the sales pro to know earlier where to create doubt by asking an open-end question (requiring reflection) and where to clarify information by asking a closed-end question (answerable with a “yes” or “no”).
      Axiom 2:   If you ask a closed-end question, make sure it was on purpose and not by mistake.
    • Hones the precision of questions.
      Axiom 3:  Make sure each question has a defined purpose and is stated with precision.
  6. Enhancement of probability that the number of calls required to gain commitment will decrease

If you allow your mind to run free, you can think of many more reasons, but these are enough to make the point.  The time spent in pre-call planning is worthwhile, if only for the reason that it will reduce the number of calls required to close.  It makes economic sense.  Invest time on the front end to save time on the back end.  If 30 minutes in planning can save one call, which probably would take a minimum of 2 hours to accomplish, in the total continuum, it’s a no-brainer.  A four-to-one return is an investor’s dream!

Continued in the Part 2

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