An AE is all pepped up for the product demo meeting with the new prospects.
His sales planning includes the live demo setup, adding the industry data, and creating an agenda for the demo meeting.
However, the sales planning as per the AE doesn’t satisfy the requirements of today’s buyers. Ask why?
Because the AE is NOT focusing on:
Who are the stakeholders?
Have any stakeholders been added or omitted from the last meeting?
What is the meeting objective of the buyer team?
Is the agenda shared with the stakeholders and confirmed?
Apart from the demo, the AE hasn’t prepared any material or presentation that could help in supporting the meeting.
The case we discussed is a typical case with the majority of salespeople.
Sales call planning, what they perceive and what sales call planning really is are two different things.
Before we proceed and discuss what sales call planning is, here’s a calculation we’ll like to show you.
The Value of Each Prospect Meeting shared by Lisa Magnuson on her webinar- How to Install Pre-call Planning Acumen on BrightTALK.
The above numbers clearly represent what a prospect meeting is worth.
And to capitalize on that kind of revenue from each sales meeting, a salesperson has to make an effort a little more than just looking at stakeholders on Linkedin. Linkedin research is just one small part of pre-call sales planning.
So, today we’ll discuss:
- What is sales call planning?
- ABCs of Sales Call Planning
- Core Benefits of Sales Call Planning
Recommended Read: How to create a sales training manual + free sales training template.
What Is Sales Call Planning?
The goal of sales planning, or call planning, is to spend time strategizing and planning a sales meeting to achieve the best outcome possible.
Researching the prospect or talking to the deal champion are a few tasks that are considered a vital part of the sales call planning process.
When a pre-call sales plan is executed in the right way, the buyers treat you as a trusted advisor and open up easily about the root cause of the pain points. Often you are lucky to receive a few insider secrets too.
But there are two critical expectations of customers that sellers must consider in their sales call planning:
1. Value delivery
A buyer isn’t participating in the call to waste their precious time. They are here to seek value that’s worth their time. Show them value, not the product features and industry updates. Pull out details on what your competitors are doing and what they aren’t. Now that's worth their time.
2. Simplified information
Worldwide, buyers complain about a common issue- they receive information in a complex format for sellers and vendors. How are they supposed to decrypt those irrelevant jargons and excess data points?
In reality, buyers crave to see information and data that isn’t complicated. They are dying to see simplified, organized, and structured data.
How much sales planning is enough for a prospect meeting?
Now that answer depends on multiple factors.
To ensure you offer a positive experience to your prospects, you’d want to check:
- The stage of the sales process. Deals at a later stage need more preparation.
- How many stakeholders are participating, and is there a change in the faces? Often, long sales deals that go on for months see the shuffling of stakeholders.
- The industry in which you are competing.
- What is the average deal size? The larger deal sizes need more effort and definitely more time.
- Who is the sponsor? An executive sponsor will draw more attention and effort, which means more time spent on sales planning.
- What part do you play in the sales process? An SDR may not have to go to such depths as an AE.
Naturally, there’s no one time that sellers can standardize. However, as per the rule of thumb, on average, sellers must spend around 30-40 minutes of sales call planning.
Now that we understand the actual definition of sales call planning, it’s time to know the ABCs of call preparation that one must do before any prospect meeting.
Brace up, folks! Things will change from here.
The only ABC a seller needs today:
- Account research and analysis
- Building objective and agenda
- Capture Attention
ABCs of Sales Call Planning
Account research and analysis
Any call preparation starts with in-depth research of the account and the customers. Go deep and thoroughly find details of their business and current status quo. You can find plenty of information on these platforms:
- Website Review
- LinkedIn/Social Media.
Carefully note all the press releases and latest updates from the buyer’s company. Try to dig into the company's goals and foresee changes in the industry.
As far as the buyer team is concerned, take particular interest in common points like location, sports, community service, etc., to initiate the conversation on a light note and earn the prospect's trust and credibility. Understand what their role is in the organization, their decision–making authority, and their interests.
Building objective and agenda
The next thing you’ll have to do is establish the objective and agenda of the meeting.
But first, agenda and objective are not the same things. You plan your objective first and then fix the agenda for the meeting.
- Objective: The objective of the meeting is an expected outcome that you are aiming at. For example: “After the meeting, the client will send the RFP to our organization.” Setting the objective is extremely important to ensure that the sales meeting is not meaningless and doesn’t materialize into any outcome. But ensure your objective is realistic, attainable, and includes the next steps.
- Agenda: The agenda is the points of discussion and activities expected to happen in the meeting. For example, discussion of a business case and previous implementation case discussion.
Make sure your objectives and agenda are meaningful and well thought out. Don’t trust intuitions and assumptions. Make use of past conversations and review the calls to make informed decisions for the next call.
Did you know the attention span of an average human being is only 8 seconds? Sellers need to respond to the challenge of capturing attention within the first 8 seconds.
While we know, that’s not easy. But sales planning for a call makes it attainable to an extent.
Salespeople can start working on an outstanding opening message. This will set the stage for the rest of the meeting and prepare the buyer with positive expectations.
The opening line must smartly cover the purpose of the meeting and what the buyers can takeaway.
But don’t make these mistakes when you start the meeting:
- Don’t sound pushy.
- Don’t talk unnecessarily.
- Do not fluff, for God's Sake!
- Don’t share irrelevant information.
- Confirm with the buyer if the plan and purpose make sense.
If you combine all the ABCs, you are in for a big win…But how many wins are we talking about?
Core Benefits of Sales Call Planning
As per Lisa Magnuson, pre-call sales planning increases sales call effectiveness and the close ratios by 20% or more.
That’s just one core benefit of preparing for prospect meetings in advance.
If you seriously pursue a sales plan and include the ABCs, you can see these advantages too:
- Encourage strategic thinking amongst sellers
- Impress the customers
- Build trust and credibility faster
- Prepare for issues that may arise in the meeting.
- Shorten decision-making and objection cycle.
- Offer a positive and memorable customer experience
- Improve confidence on the call.
- Reduce poor calls and bad days at work!
Do you align with the idea of sales call planning?
Are you feeling the need too?
If you are in sync with the benefits of sales call planning and already plan to reach out to your seniors for help, then there’s one small piece of information you may want to share.
A big part of the sales call preparation is possible when you analyze the previous call and realize the mistakes. Unless you are unaware of the performance gap, pre-call preparation would be incomplete and insufficient to give the expected outcome.
Read about Conversation Intelligence and convince your senior leaders to invest in a solution that supports achieving the desired outcome of a sales call planning process.
Good luck nailing the next big meeting! But first, revise your ABC…
Results first, payment later.