Make the Sale Before Even Stepping Through the Door

Your business lives or dies on your sales and often that rides on the success of the sales call. The more of those that end in a handshake and a signature, the better your bottom line becomes. There is, however, no sure-fire method of scoring a sale each and every time. You can, however, shift the odds in your favor (or at least more in your favor) by planning for the sales call.

Mary Donato, president of Applied Principles and associate director of the Institute for the Study of Business Markets, writing for Sales and Marketing Management Magazine has looked into the issue of pre-sales call planning and has come up with several steps to follow to give you and your sales staff the best chance to succeed.

  1. Decide what you want the client to decide or agree to once the meeting is over. How will you get them to agree to move on to the next step? What will you recommend at the end of the meeting? 

  2. What does the client have to believe about you, your company, your solution to move on to the next step? During your first meeting, the client needs to do most of the talking and you need to be an active listener. But you will need to ensure they believe you can be an appropriate provider to them. 

  3. What are key things that you want to know about the client? Ensure that you get a list of the client's issues and know the most important items on that list. Research their company, don't ask questions that are already answered on their website, but do ask thought-provoking, educated questions based on what you learn. 

  4. What are the potential objections? How will you respond? You should have a list of the common objections along with the appropriate responses. This can help you determine if your solution is a fit to the client's problems or not. 

  5. Create an agenda for the meeting. Having an agenda provides meeting objectives to all involved. This is useful since decision-makers usually want someone who won't waste their time and respecting their time (and yours) is key to building a successful business relationship. 

  6. Prior to the meeting, email the client with the agenda and the purpose of the call. Ask them if they have other objectives they would like to accomplish during the conversation and give them a chance to bring other, critical people into the meeting, or suggest others who you would like to include.

Planning is not fool-proof, and you may find that your plan needs to change on the fly once the meeting is underway, so be flexible. However, it is still your best roadmap to take you from that initial handshake to where you want to be—a sale.