Preparing for the sales call (and that means preparing options for the client)

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Michael Stone, in recently republishing an email newsletter from 2012, has provided a reminder about the importance of sales call preparation and, if you are really organized, having options available to either increase the sales value or save the order if budget constraints are great.

These add-ons (or subtractions) need to be thought through ahead of time, and because virtually every project is unique, you can’t just grab something out of the box and bring it to the meeting.

In other words, the process of figuring out options adds to the preparation work-load, and when you don’t have a 100 per cent chance of securing the order, it may seem to be a stressful exercise in time and thought management for “maybe” situations.

But I see things somewhat differently (beyond the obvious additional margins you can secure for improvements/at-order change orders, or saving a sale that might go down the tubes). The effort in thinking about options, and thinking about how you might provide real additional value or savings to your potential clients, will put you in a much better place than just walking in with an unprepared canned interpretation of what you think might work best. You’ll also probably qualify your sales visits more carefully, so you are increasing your chances of a “yes” response from real prospects.

Undoubtedly, in my years in business, I’ve grabbed quick orders from new clients with very little preparation (perhaps because branding/reputation happened before the sales call) and I’ve occasionally flopped after seriously preparing for an important call. But the “occasional” is very much the word here — because if it was a major order/call and when I truly pulled out all the stops in considering the clients’ needs in developing the proposal, the answer almost inevitably was “yes” — and these thought-through calls led to the most profitable sales of my career.

Think about options. Think about your calls. While it may seem like an obvious point, how many times do you really prepare and think out options in advance before heading to the meeting?

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