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

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

Read Part 1

Okay, I believe in pre-call planning as you do; now how do we get sales amateurs and pros alike to embrace this “investment” concept?

The situation is like much of life; it is simple, but not easy.  Our firm believes strongly and applies diligently a principle that is old in concept, but possibly new in the name we use for it: T.A.P.E.  Transfer of ideas, concepts, and actions can take place best by this four-fold process.

T

Teach

A

Apply

P

Personalize

E

Evaluate

Applied in this context, it would follow in this manner:

    1. Teach
      Illustrate the process of pre-call planning by starting with these sales drivers:

      • Gather information – factual and feeling – from all sources:
        • The referrer
        • Company database
        • Friends, acquaintances, business associates (where appropriate)
        • Initial phone call to prospect
        • Request for specific information from prospect
      • Begin D.U.I. process (creating Doubt in continuing on the current course, Urgency to make a change, and Interest in your solution):
        • In initial contact
        • As part of your plan
      • Begin uncovering decision-making process early:
        • If competitor is known, use your file on that competitor (if it does not exist, then begin one now!) to define how to position yourself and your firm
      • Begin the agreement building and objection resolution process early

I certainly recognize that not all of the above can be known prior to the first face-to-face meeting with a prospect.  Do, however, continue to illustrate the benefit of this approach so an aggressive pattern of pre-call activity can be established and used by each of your sales people.

  1. Apply
    Show them your belief in the benefit of this process by doing it yourself and walking through the process with them prior to each joint call you make with them.
  2. Personalize
    As they do it themselves, help them think outside the box by periodically talking through their pre-call planning process.  Then leverage the success they have by sharing results with other sales people and managers.
  3. Evaluate
    Here is a place where we can, with one question, begin a commitment to the pre-call planning process.  Hallway accountability sessions and joint call debriefings often begin with the question… “Well, how did it go?”

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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!

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