I assume you are not actually looking for this advice, but I’m using this topic to get your attention because we have all probably been a little guilty in this area. The area I am talking about is preparation. So, if you want to make a totally unproductive sales call, make sure to come to the meeting totally unprepared. And I don’t mean unprepared in your knowledge of your product. I mean unprepared in terms of the value your product will offer your prospect.
Far too often, sales reps use identical presentations, regardless of the specific needs of the prospect. They assume that if the presentation worked for one prospect, it should work for all prospects. Many times sales reps get caught up in “canned” presentations prepared by corporate marketing. They assume that if they get through the entire slide deck, they are making progress, thinking that a “one size fits all” approach is perfectly fine.
The objective might be to make as many sales calls as possible, with the assumption that you will close 25% of them. There is a saying that if you throw enough crap against the wall, some will stick! I am of the belief that you are better served making five high-quality sales calls than 10 unprepared ones.
So what do I mean? Take the time to research your prospect’s needs before you engage. With all of the tools available on the web, this is so much easier to do than it was 20 years ago. There is no reason why you can’t understand your prospect’s business and come in prepared to discuss, in specific terms, how your product will add value. In addition, there is no reason why you shouldn’t know who your primary competitor is and what perceived value they have been offering your prospect.
By doing this research in advance of your sales call, you may determine that you don’t have a prospect in the first place. So out of the 10 prospects you originally identified, perhaps you might eliminate three or four for various reasons. Why make a sales call if you have very little chance of making a sale? Your time is much too valuable to waste on accounts that are not a fit for your product. In other words, don’t confuse activity with productivity. What I mean by productivity is closing business – not simply making lots of sales calls.
In summary, first take the time to research the accounts that will benefit from your product. This will include understanding the challenges they face in terms of increasing revenue and reducing expenses. Additionally, it would be helpful to understand their organizational chart and decision-making process, so that your presentation is directed at the correct stakeholders. The second step is to prepare a customized presentation that will resonate with your audience. The time taken in these two steps will be well worth the effort. Your prospect will respect the time you have taken to understand his or her business. Remember, as they say, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Don’t squander it!
Alternatively, you can show up totally unprepared with a generic presentation. The choice is yours.