This week’s blog comes to us from Peter Adler with Seneca Creek Consulting, a nationally recognized sales and marketing consulting company based in Washington, D.C., that works with IT and engineering companies interested in expanding or entering the Federal government marketplace.
Whether you’re a seasoned salesman or a junior up-and-comer, there are number of important things to remember before, during and after a sales call. Over the years, I have developed a checklist because – let’s face it – we’re all human and we do forget things from time to time.
This is not meant to be inclusive, but rather to keep you organized so you come across as a sales professional.
There is a great deal of preparatory work required prior to going on a sales call, such as properly qualifying your prospect; understanding your prospective customer’s needs; and having a solution or two to a known problem.
Let’s assume you’ve done your homework and are prepared for the call. Now what’s important is to make sure you show up on time and are prepared. Remember that your primary job is to listen and to be professional before, during and after the call. To accomplish that, here are some important things to remember.
- Confirm your meeting the day before. Sometimes things come up with busy executives that are beyond their control.
- Make sure you have enough business cards, a pen and a professional-looking notebook to jot down notes.
- Come prepared with questions. Write them down in your notebook. This will demonstrate to the prospect that you respect his/her time and you have an agenda.
- Always dress professionally. Ladies, that means a business suit. Guys, that’s a suit and tie.
- If you are meeting more than one person, write down everyone’s name and remember them at the conclusion of the call. When you’re listening and speaking, look everyone in the eye. Don’t leave anyone out of the discussion.
- Demonstrate your knowledge of the organization right from the beginning. You can usually get some good late-breaking news from your prospect’s website. This will further demonstrate your interest in their business.
- Ask questions and listen. Stay away from questions that require a yes or no answer.
- Always seek guidance from your prospect. You may determine early on that your prospect is not the right person after all. Instead of ending the meeting early, ask for guidance on whom to speak with, or ask if the prospect will introduce you to the right person.
- If the prospect asks a question you don’t know the answer to, by all means tell him/her you don’t know but will get back to them with the answer.
- Be polite; never interrupt your prospect. You are there to have a discussion. Don’t tell him/her something they are not interested in. Remember, the prospect doesn’t want to hear about your company. They want to hear how you are going to solve a perceived problem.
- Thank everyone by name for their time. Remember, it doesn’t cost anything to say “thank you.”
After the Call
- Send a handwritten thank you note. A handwritten note will set you apart from everyone else that sends emails or doesn’t bother to send anything at all.
- Follow up with an email and action plan, if appropriate.
In conclusion, remember that buying decisions are emotional decisions first, objective decisions second. Think about what will appeal to the prospect from a personal perspective (what is in it for them), not just an organizational perspective.
Finally, if you have a PowerPoint or corporate brochure, leave it in your briefcase. People don’t buy from pitches and brochures, they buy from people. It’s relationships that sell, not paper. It’s better to leave it behind at the conclusion of the call.