It’s easy to make sales calls with little or no sales call preparation. You’ve made lots of calls and you have a pretty good repertoire when it comes to questions and value creation. You know your desired outcomes and you know the client’s. I could still make a damn strong case that you should do some call planning.
But there are some times when call planning is absolutely critical and essential. You skip the planning and the dress rehearsal at your peril.
Preparing for Team Calls
Anytime you are making a sales call with a team, you need to plan the call and run through a dress rehearsal. You need to make certain that everyone knows their role, that they know what areas they will be responsible to cover, and that they are prepared with a list of the most likely questions they will be asked.
Group sales calls are normally presentation calls, and while you may be perfectly comfortable and prepared to present (and to be peppered with challenging questions), the rest of your team likely isn’t prepared.
Running through your teammate’s parts with them and asking them the tough questions you expect them to receive gives them an opportunity to rehearse their responses. It also gives you a chance to help make some adjustments to their language to make it more effective based on what you already know.
Sometimes your dream client will ask questions directly of your team, knowing that they are the subject-matter experts with whom they will later be working. Clients like to see who they are working with, see what they know, and see for themselves how they really go about serving their clients. Your client can see right through your attempt to run interference and answer the tough questions to protect your team and give them the right answer.
You can help them do better by preparing them and giving them a dress rehearsal. For must win deals, you can spend more time.
Calls with Your Sales Manager
If you are making calls with your sales manager, you absolutely must prepare for the call.
You have to start with an agreement on the sales manager’s role. Are they making the call because they have a role to play in creating value for this client? Are they there because they will be participating through the whole sales process? Or, are they riding along to learn about how you sell and how they might help you sell more effectively.
If they are participating in the call, you need to plan the call. You have to make some determination as to who will handle what parts of your agenda. Most importantly, you have to determine who is responsible for achieving the outcomes for you and for the client. This is especially true of future commitments. Who is going to close the call and confirm the future commitment that advances the sale?
You can be a super-competent salesperson and your manager can be equally competent. Together, you can make a mess.
A little pre-planning can go a long way to making you look more professional, to create more value for the client on the sales call, and to ensure your value-creation scores you an advance—or a deal!
If you are winging it on team sales calls, what really prevents you from taking a trial run through the sales call plan and agenda?
How does rehearsal help people to prepare for the tough questions they might receive?
How has repeatedly being asked the same questions helped you to craft the appropriate effective language? How could it benefit your team?
How do your clients interpret your unwillingness to let your teammates, the subject-matter experts, answer their questions? Why are they really asking?
When your sales manager joins you on a sale call, do you discuss and plan the call so that your roles are defined and your objectives achieved?