I am watching the World Series and something struck me watching the pitchers. The pitchers are ALWAYS prepared. They are in a constant state of warm-up. Many of them warm up but never get the opportunity to play but there body is ready just in case they get thrown in the game.
In the sales game it is often the other way around. Managers often focus on the time in the field or time on the phones and they do not properly train their team on how to prepare for the meeting. Most managers let their sales team struggle to get leads. They wait until their reps get a strong lead then they micro manage them through how to land the account.
What if you spent more time preparing your team to land the big accounts on their own? Being proactive would free you up to spend more time “coaching” your team for success.
So how do you become better prepared? Of course we have to know exactly who our customer is. As always, this involves asking some questions:
• Who is thecustomer’s boss?
• Who’s going to be most affected by this purchase, and which way are they going to be affected?
• What is their world is like, with our product and without our product?
We’ve got to know what are the biggest concerns, the biggest pains, the biggest fears that our customers may have without the use of our product. And what are some of the biggest cures that they can have by utilizing our product or our service?
So we have to be prepared with our opening statements and conversational points. It might be things going on in the marketplace, or some other things of relevance to them. Maybe we’ve read their website and there are things going on in their industry that we need to be talking about. Maybe we need to be knowledgeable about their competition and what’s going on, trends in their marketplace. Then we have to know how to transition from that opening statement to the meat of our presentation.
We’ve got to be prepared with the questions we’re going to ask, how we’re going to ask them, when we’re going to ask them, why we’re going to ask them, and what answers we seek. We’ve got to have follow up questions ready. We’ve got to have three, to four or five ways we have to ask each question, just in case we don’t get at the answer the first time, or the second time, or the third time.
We’ve got to be prepared to address their concerns, overcome their objections, so that we can differentiate ourselves every step along the way. We’ve got to be prepared to close the deal should we have to do that. We’ve got to be prepared to do the end around if somebody’s coming in, like the competition who sits invisibly at the table as we give our presentation.
We’ve got to be prepared to address any ghosts that might be in the closet of our company. Any ghosts that maybe the competition is trying to make the customer well aware of. We’ve got to be prepared with lots of stuff. We’ve got to be prepared to take the order, to wow them with their first delivery.
We’ve got to be prepared in every way.
And the bigger the customer the greater level of preparation you have. On the flip side of that coin, the bigger the deal, the easier you can screw it up if you’re not going in well-prepared. And the more impact that is going to have on the long-term success of your organization in that piece of business, if you ever get another shot.