How many times have you been confronted by a salesperson that knows nothing about you or your business? Did they launch into a barrage of “situation” questions and expect you to answer all of them? Or, worse yet, the salesperson didn’t ask any questions, but instead jumped right into their presentation about something that you have no interest in. Unfortunately, that kind of sales technique is the norm, not the exception. Preparation before the sales call is critical.
Knowledge is power. You should know as much as you can about your service, your industry, your competitors, and your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses. You should also learn as much as possible about your prospective client before you make contact with them.
Below are four basic elements of successful sales preparation:
- Know the industry. Technology and trends are rapidly changing and new services are being offered continuously. Read industry specific publications, websites, or periodicals. Extensive and up-to-date knowledge of the industry provides your customers with greater confidence in your recommendations and abilities.
- Know your company. Having a clear, thorough understanding of what we do, and how we do it, will allow you to field customer questions and objections more easily. Know what areas need improvement and what is unique and adds value to what we offer. Seek to learn as much as possible about the company history and path for the future. This will allow you to offer an honest and realistic picture of what you and your company bring to the table.
- Know your competition. Know the competition’s strengths and weaknesses, and ask your customers what they like and dislike about your competitors. Compare your services, features, equipment, billing process, service levels, dispatching methods, and then use that to determine differentiating factors you can feature in your sales presentation.
- Know your customer. Complete knowledge of your customer’s company will show interest, will always impress them, and will represent an important first step in earning a customer’s confidence and business. An understanding of the potential customer’s industry, requirements for service, and general information about the customer’s company and business speeds the vital relationship building process.
You must be mentally prepared before you make a sales call. The degree to which a salesperson can create rapport and build trust is in direct relationship to the amount of preparation that has taken place before the sales call is made. The result of every sales call reflects the amount of time the salesperson invested in getting ready for the meeting.