So here’s the thing. There are really only two things that a salesperson controls; (1) who they call on, and (2) what they say when they get there. Ideally a seller is spending as much time preparing for and executing on the ‘what’ as he is deciding on the ‘who’. After all, no matter how well you have refined your target market, figured out the ideal buyer persona, and sharpened your competitive positioning, nothing happens until you engage with the customer.
But the research shows that very few of these engagements are planned. It is all too rare that a sales person has a detailed plan of what he wants to achieve on the call. What are the desired outcomes? Why might you fail? In the absence of a Call Plan many sales interactions leave a lot to be desired. In fact, 64% of all sales calls are ineffective.
Making every sales call matter – matters. This is where the magic is supposed to happen. It is the salesperson’s opportunity to progress the sale, to deepen relationships and to uncover and address vulnerabilities in the deal. It is his opportunity to show that he is a credible individual who can bring his own insight to the conversation, and create – not just communicate – value, all the time advancing the deal.
Unfortunately, most of the time, there is no value created by the salesperson. Only 25% of senior business executives are prepared to take a second meeting. Two-thirds of the time business executives are turned off by the lack of preparation by the sales person. They say that they don’t find a lot of value in sales conversations. We should not find it surprising that business executives who are being pursued by sales people play hard to get, using their executive assistants to screen callers, interrupt meetings, or delegating the entire interaction to a subordinate.
The harsh truth is that most sellers are not adequately prepared for sales calls. The consequences go further than you might think. If you waste an executive’s time – the most precious currency she has – your stock has fallen. The likelihood of progressing the sale has been damaged. Your value is questioned. Any business you win will be on price alone. Research suggests that the purchase experience is the most significant arbiter of customer loyalty. Now your customer loyalty is damaged even before you start. You have a steep hill to climb if you ever want to use this executive to refer you to her colleagues. You have just wasted her time – so why would she subject her treasured relationships to an ineffective sales call?
After every meeting, you always want the customer to feel that the meeting was a good use of her time, that she got more from the meeting than she expected. Satisfaction or quality is always a function of expectation and performance. If you don’t perform to the customer’s expectations then she will be disappointed, and that’s not good. You, your colleagues, and the customer, should all be clear as to the customer’s expectation of the call. That’s a good place to start. Here’s a short video that might paint a picture.
CEO, Founder, and Author of Amazon #1 Best-seller Account Planning in Salesforce, Donal Daly combines his expertise in enterprise software applications, artificial intelligence, and sales methodology, as he continues to transform how progressive organizations sell. Altify is Donal's 5th global business enterprise.