Our research on over 30,000 salespeople, sales leaders and business executives worldwide shows that the top salespeople (regardless of industry) have developed a consistent sales process that they execute in order to ensure sales success. We identified the first step in that sales process as effective pre-call planning.

Whether your sales cycle is two hours, two days or two years, there are a series of events that must take place in order to generate the desired results, a mutually beneficial business relationship between two or more parties. There are various ways to create and organize a successful account strategy. There are also a myriad of forms, processes, contact management systems and software tools to help you. No matter the format or the process, top performers use an “account planner” to organize account information, help with the pre-call planning and ultimately allow them to proactively manage the sales process to a successful close.

One essential step in gathering account information is to have an IDEA of who you are selling to. In other words, what type of buyer are you dealing with? Are they the:

  • (I) Influencer
  • (D) Decision maker
  • (E) End user
  • (A) Approver

People may wear multiple hats but normally one hat is primary and once you discover which hat is primary, you will be able to stay in alignment with their specific needs. We have discovered that in order to be successful in today’s economy, you must sell to all four types of buyers and you must know how to sell to each very differently. For instance, you shouldn’t reveal pricing or terms to an end user, that interaction should be saved exclusively for the final decision maker. Conversely, shouldn’t demonstrate your products or services to the final decision maker; your demonstration is best suited for influencers and end users.

In addition to having an IDEA of who you are selling to, the best salespeople do pre-call research on their prospects. Much of the success of a live sales call is dependent on how much you already know about your prospect, their industry and their market place before you make you first contact. Today, buyers expect you to be prepared and to have done your homework. Think about all of the resources that are available to you today for collecting this important background information. Visiting their web site is an excellent research tool. LinkedIn research is another must! Trade publications, industry journals and the business section of local newspapers are also good resources. In addition, make sure that you know their history (good or bad) with your company.

After you have done your pre-call research and have a better IDEA of who you are selling to then establish objectives for a successful call:

  • Identify what potential needs they may have
  • Decide which of your solutions you are planning to introduce
  • Share a customer success story that would be relevant to their situation

Wishing you productive selling!

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