The Do’s and Don’ts of Preparing for a Sales Call

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In my various sales and marketing leadership roles, I would often receive (and occasionally accept) sales calls from various service providers.  When I did take the time to accept a sales call, I could easily tell whether the sales person had taken the time to prepare for our meeting.

Below are the Do’s and Don’ts  for preparing for a sales meeting.

Know your audience

I was always astounded by the number of sales representatives who clearly did zero research prior to the meeting. I would be asked to answer the most basic questions about my organization or our industry, which could have easily been researched prior to and confirmed during our call.  When I was working as the head of sales for a customs brokerage firm, I was even asked by one underprepared sales representative, “What does a custom broker do?” [Insert eye roll here.]

DO:

  • Take the time to research the organization. Spend time on the company’s website and LinkedIn pages. Read through online reviews of the company and its products/services. If there are references to the company’s mission and/or values, take note.

  • Take the time to research the industry. Understand what some of the major issues, challenges or opportunities are happening in the industry. Familiarize yourself with some of the prospects competitors.  

  • Take time to research the individual(s) you will be meeting with. Familiarize yourself with his/her background(s). Start to get a feel of what his/her priorities and concerns might be.

DON’T:

  • Ask questions about the company or its services/products that you could easily find on your prospect’s website or by conducting a simple Google search.

2. Set the agenda

You’ve got the meeting - awesome! Now do yourself and your prospect a favour and detail what you’re going to cover during the meeting. It will help keep you on the same page, on time, and on point.

DO:

  • Draft an agenda and put time estimates around each agenda item. Include an overarching objective of the call.  

  • Send an outline of the agenda to the prospect prior to the schedule sales meeting and invite him/her to add items to the agenda. Ask the prospect if there is anything else they would like you to come prepared with into the meeting.  

  • Have the list of questions you would like answered drafted prior to the call. Cross-reference the list against the research you’ve conducted to make sure you will not be asking questions you could easily get the answers to via research.

DON’T:

  • Simply “wing it”. Your prospect will likely appreciate the time you put into the meeting prep.  

Practice

As with anything in life, practice makes perfect (or at least better!). Just as professional athletes don’t practice their skills during a game, you shouldn’t be practicing your sales skills during a live meeting.   

DO:

  • Find someone to role-play with. If not a colleague or mentor, try a family member or friend. If all else fails, role play by yourself.

  • Practice your tone, pitch, and pace. Master the art of asking questions without interrogating. Add humour when/where appropriate. Smile.

DON’T:

  • Feel embarrassed about role-playing. It’s better to make mistakes during practice than make mistakes when you’re live.  

Visualize Success

DO:

  • Imagine what a successful sales call will look like.  Imagine yourself when you’re at your personal best and in the zone.

  • Have a personal mantra that builds you up. Recite this mantra. Allow yourself to feel successful.

DON’T:

  • Confuse confidence with arrogance.

  • Talk yourself down or out of success.

Apply these Do’s and Don’ts to your sales meeting prep work and you’re bound to see a positive difference in the quality of your sales meetings.