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Planning Your Sales Calls
Blog / Sales Management / Oct 9, 2018 / Posted by John Golden / 632 

Planning Your Sales Calls

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So many salespeople miss out on revenue and potential deals because they don’t plan for their sales calls. Learn why this is such a crucial part of being in the sales profession, and get actionable insights to make planning a part of your daily routine.

Importance of Sales Call Planning:

If you fail to plan, plan to fail. One of the reasons that sales call planning is so important is because it gives sellers a backdrop to understanding the buying motives of their client. Planning your call means that you can have value summaries that might interest the client available to fall back on, in case you need them. You might also be able to identify potential connections between you and the client that you can utilize to build rapport quickly and efficiently. When you have an important interaction or significant interaction with a customer, this can either advance the sale or, if done poorly, it can derail or lose the deal. These major interactions are so important to plan to ensure you understand the customer’s expectations.

  • Leverage the information that you gather in pre-planning to create relationships with prospects.
  • Craft an agenda for this interaction to discuss and address customer business issues. Planning sets the foundation for you to accomplish what you want to achieve and ensure that the call runs smoothly and all objectives are accomplished.

Why Don’t Salespeople Plan?

Some salespeople don’t plan at all, or if they do plan, they don’t do it well. There is the thinking that since salespeople have done sales calls many times before, they don’t need to prepare anymore. Sales call planning becomes a non-essential task. But, when planning isn’t made a priority, you don’t achieve your objectives, and your sales cycle length gets extended because you are going back and doing things that got missed the first time around.

  • Take a minimum of five to ten minutes to plan out each phone call.
  • Don’t just schedule meetings, allocate time for the pre-call and planning for each interaction with potential buyers. What’s in your calendar shows what your priorities are. If you show up and plan on winning your calls, you are demonstrating that the conversation isn’t important to you. You are hindering your process and limiting your credibility.

Calling as an Indicator of Success:

Sales calls are important, and planning for them is critical. A surgeon doesn’t walk into the operating room unprepared and unsure of what operation they’re doing. A lawyer doesn’t walk into the courtroom without having prepared for the case. A salesperson shouldn’t walk into a sales meeting without doing their professional duty to prepare. Without the prior planning, the chances of closing the deal and achieving the successful outcome you’re striving for diminishes. At any time you can destroy the confidence and trust the prospect has in you, which can quickly sabotage the potential of closing the deal.

  • Sales call planning is a fundamental thing that you must do. Whether it’s a small company or a large company, you need to know who is in the room, who the account is, the objectives of each person in the room, and the objective of the overall company.

The Sales Manager’s Role:

As a sales manager, you have to inspect what you expect the salespeople to do. Sales managers need to go out with their team and see what they’re doing and find out if they are prepared or not. Managers are so important in training and coaching, but also in inspecting. The most crucial position in the sales force is the sales manager. The coaching that they provide (or don’t provide) can make or break sales. Managers need to make time to coach and have collaborative discussions with their team to help them develop proper planning skills at the beginning of their sales career, and maintain proper planning execution as they become more autonomous.

  • Spot check on significant interactions to ensure that the salesperson planning is quality planning.
  • Sales managers can help create a call plan to prepare for the call, and coach the salesperson on the quality of the call planning.
  • Ask questions and ensure that the salespeople know and are prepared for the open, middle, close, and objective of the call. This will help the sales team succeed, even when the sales manager isn’t with them.
  • Ask your salespeople: If you had to do it over again, what would you do differently? This helps to generate the self-improvement process in your team.

Assessing your Planning:

The way to understand if your planning is working or not is to continually evaluate the outcome of your planning. The top thing to look at is if you closed the deal or not. If you did not seal the deal, examine what next step was made and if you are happy with that next step or not. If things did not unfold the way you wanted them to, that could indicate a need for a reworking of the sales planning in the future.

  • There are fundamental questions to ask to understand if the plan was appropriately executed: Did you achieve the objectives of the plan? Did both the buyer and seller reach their objectives for the meeting? Did you get derailed or off track? Did we achieve what we wanted to accomplish at this step of the plan?
  • Find a colleague and self-judge each other on planning and sales results to mutually give and provide feedback.

Best Practises For Sales Call Planning:

  • Plan the sales call around the people that you’re actually calling on. Determine what they do, how they make the company money.
  • Set up your expectations and an agenda to explore the goals for the meeting.
  • Know how to open the meeting and get the client interested.
  • Ensure you know the next steps, and plan for the sales process to continue.
  • Coordinate with the rest of the people on the selling team to organize who is going to say what and when so that you present an organized front.
  • Review if anything has changed since the last time you met with the client. Ensure that plans are updated beforehand, instead of having to rework your goals on the spot.
  • Send the agenda 24 hours before the meeting to show that you are prepared and serious about the meeting.
  • Ensure that you have a preferred outcome and a backup outcome.

Final Tips:

  • There are different plans for different stages for various roles within sales. Know how to customize your plan accordingly.
  • Sales planning helps you to set yourself apart from the competition.
  • Always leave something for the prospect to do for you so that you are on their to-do list and on their mind.
  • Just do it.

Information for this article was sourced from this top sales expert panel discussion, hosted by John Golden, featuring the expert opinions of Ken Thoreson, Catherine Brinkman, and Dan Perry.

    About Author

    John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World's Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.

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