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Do Your Homework

4 May, 2006 By: Howard Meltzer imageSource

Do Your Homework

in front of a legitimate prospect is "coin of the realm" in the selling process.
It is the objective after all of those hours spent prospecting on the street and
over the phone, yet it is only the first step to a successful transaction. The
real salesmanship begins with the actual face-to-face meeting. Is it therefore
not logical to properly prepare for that meeting?

Many otherwise hardworking and savvy sales professionals seem to think
otherwise. In a recent study by Herbert Research of 150 sales managers and vice
presidents of sales, 62 percent reported that they spend less than 20 minutes
preparing for a call.

There is no way that such superficial preparation can equip a sales
representative or manager to take advantage of the opportunity presented to
them. As a result, the typical call consists of the reps spending 50 percent of
their precious face time talking about their product, 20 percent of their time
talking about their company, and 10 percent asking questions. That only leaves
20 percent of the time available for the prospect to talk. What’s wrong with
this picture? With lack of preparation, what should be a dialogue becomes a
monologue and the call simply cannot effectively move the transaction forward.
The obvious question then is, how does one professionally prepare and manage a

Research – The Key To Preparation

There is a wealth of information available online about any prospect’s industry,
their company, their structure, staffing and performance. There are also
numerous online business databases available in most libraries that hold a
wealth of information. You can also look at consumer databases to see if the
company was mentioned in any newspapers or magazine articles.

If nothing else, go to their website and read between the lines. Whatever you
can find will be useful to prepare for a full discussion of their strengths and
weaknesses, then turn the information into discussion points that can be useful
for uncovering areas where you can be of help.

Another source of overlooked information is a corporate annual report. All you
have to do is call and ask for one or check their website – it may very well be
posted there. Once you get the report, look at the chairman’s or president’s
letter at the beginning. A quick read will uncover their challenges and future
goals. Share with them that you have read the report, that you are familiar with
the company’s organization, achievements and future plans and that you are
willing to work with them to help fulfill their objectives. What could be
simpler than preparing your discussion around their needs?

Once your meeting is arranged with the prospect, prepare a pre-call checklist.
On that list, compile all of the information you will need to impress your
potential client. It should also summarize your speaking points and questions in
a logical sequence so that you can manage the discussion while encouraging the
prospect to open up on the topics, and in the sequence that will best lead to
the action points you are looking for.

There is an old saying that a prospect will tell you what they want, so show
them that you care. Being prepared to talk about their business is the easiest
way to do this.

Yes, proper preparation will take some time and planning, but so did all those
prospecting efforts to locate them. The first meeting is critical to an eventual
sale. Do your homework and your success rate will increase. Guaranteed.

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