Hector Jimenez is the Regional Sales and Operations Vice President for DXP, an Industrial Distributor located in Houston Texas. Hector’s recent promotion to Sales and Ops VP for the Northeast brings with it a need for strategic account management. His review of the sales team brought into clear focus and discussion the need for sales professionals to have a plan for each and every sales call. This plan needs to have some well thought out goals and objectives for the direction of the call and the possible redirections based on doing a proper needs analysis during simple conversations.

My conversation with Hector sparked this blog post. How many times do we, sales professionals, prepare for the sales call? How many times do we “just wing it” due to confidence or perhaps arrogance that we’ve been there, done that, and know everything there is to know about how a sales call should go. I am writing this as a challenge to both the seasoned veteran and the new recruit.

Seasoned veteran of the sales game, what have you learned throughout your years in the field, the time with prospects and customers, the endless hours of business development and product presentations? What have you tried and failed, only to recover and continue? Where have you seen your deals unwind due to expected and unexpected hazards that caught you flat-footed?

New recruit, where are you in your sales learning curve? Are you sitting at the feet of veteran sales professionals who are willing to teach, coach, and mentor you? Are you sitting at the feet of seasoned veterans; jaded, tired, old, and frustrated that they cannot seem to close deals like they used it. My advice to you is to connect with the winners and avoid the whiners. Connect with the players who want to lift you up and disconnect from the players who want to tear you down. Jim Jacobus, a professional sales developer says that “sales is an honorable profession when done right.” Now that is a great quote due to what it says and how you, new recruit, have the chance to earn an outstanding living as a sales professional when you do it right. It is all about the plan you have for the sales call.

In my experience, here are 7 ways to prepare for your sales call:

  1. Know your product/service better than the competition knows your products and services.
  2. Know something about the customer you are calling on (if possible) so that you have a conversation starter
  3. Prepare some type of discussion, never show up with nothing applicable to discuss.
  4. Have an idea in mind on what you are prepared to close for (next meeting, trial, demo, presentation, quote, etc)
  5. Do your research on how your product or service fits the basic niche of your prospect/customer
  6. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse your sales call in your mind, in the car, with your sales manager, etc.
  7. Take notes: It shows respect for the person you are calling on, and professionalism on your part

I’ve been the unprepared sales amateur and the unprepared sales professional. Being unprepared is the mark of the average sales guy or gal. Being prepared, being orderly, and having a reason for the call, these are the signs of a true professional who plans their work and works their plan!