Once you have booked the sales call, you must prepare for the sales call. Preparation involves five steps:
1. Prepare the stakeholder management chart
The stakeholder management chart is a table that helps you organize key stakeholder information. It enables you to manage and plan the steps in the sales process.
2. Prepare the Sales Call Talk Track
A Sales Call Talk Track is a tool used in technology sales processes to help you navigate through a sales call. It takes you through a systematic question-and-answer session that will help you and the stakeholder understand how your product provides value to the target customer’s organization.
3. Do your research
Use the stakeholder management chart and the Sales Call Talk Track to guide your research. At a minimum, visit the customer’s website to build an understanding of their business. The website will usually yield relevant information, especially if it is a public company that must disclose information about their organization and financial situation to investors. Other sources of information can be found through search engines. Contact past employees, suppliers or customers of the organization for additional information.
4. Develop and practice your pitch
When preparing for a sales call, you must develop and practice the delivery of two statements that are geared toward this specific opportunity:
When properly written and delivered, the value proposition and positioning statement can greatly influence the early stages of the sales process. They subconsciously compel the target customer to develop a language around your offering.
The language you choose will help the customer make sense of your technology as it applies to their organization. Therefore, make the language as relevant as possible to the target customer.
The content of these statements must also meet the overall goal of setting the potential customer’s expectations, which should influence them to purchase your technology.
In some cases, you must also prepare a sales presentation. Although it has the same fundamental purpose as the value proposition and positioning statement, the sales presentation is usually longer and accompanied by visuals.
Remember that to effectively convey your message to the prospect, you must practice your delivery.
5. Consider practical issues
Anticipate and plan for these practical issues when preparing for a sales call:
- Dress code: How do the stakeholders typically dress? Is it a formal environment (requiring a suit and tie) or is it more relaxed (such that smart casual will do)?
- Participants: Make sure you know who and how many will attend the meeting. This will help you choose and prepare the questions on your sales call talk track and determine how the meeting should be run. For instance, a one-on-one meeting can cover much more material and go deeper into complex issues than can a meeting that involves four or five people.
- Technical requirements: At what kind of facility will you meet? Would it allow you to do a demonstration?
- Address and contact details: If meeting outside your customer’s office, ensure that you have the right address and directions. As a backup, verify that you have your contact person’s phone number in case anything delays you.
- Time available: The amount of time you have available will dictate the scope of call (that is, focused vs. detailed) and the questions you can expect to cover. A short meeting means that you have to prioritize the questions you ask.
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Heiman, S. & Sanchez, D. (1998). The New Strategic Selling. New York: Warner Books, Inc.