Before any successful sales engagement can begin, there are many important pieces of information that can be gathered before any client interaction takes place. The preparation phase is the first step in the seven step sales process and requires a client-centric mentality. Strategic preparation; when conducted properly, will allow the Sales Professional to gather the necessary information to conduct a valuable Warm Up (Step 2 of the Seven Step Sales Process) and instill a sense of professionalism during the first client appointment and increase the chances of building customer rapport.
There are numerous methodologies in the area of strategic preparation. Keeping prospects’ challenges and issues in mind, instead of the solutions that the Sales Professional is interested in selling is the first paradigm shift that needs occur and is the underlying foundation for successful strategic preparation. This shift in approach and mentality will set the stage for searching for valuable information that can be used to bond with prospects and connect proposed solutions to more specific pain points that they may find valuable.
Examples of the tactical execution of Strategic Preparation by a Sales Professional include:
- Entering a Prospects’ name and company name into an Internet search engine and researching any recent news or social media affiliations. This tactic will allow the Sales Professional to get a better understanding of what activities or organizations the Prospect and their organization may be involved in.
- Researching the Prospect Company’s website. In the “About us” or “History” section of the website there may be valuable information that could give clues about the core value system of the company. The Website may also provide information on multiple locations and the names of the Decision Maker(s).
- Researching the Prospect’s Vertical for any recent news or new or existing Regulatory or Compliance requirements. The Sales Professional should also research any specific line of business applications or business processes used by the Prospect to determine potential pain points that can be used for discussion to build a perception of competence in understanding the Prospect's business. This strategy will open the door for The Sales Professional to ask more valuable questions later in the Qualifying Phase (Step 3 of the Seven Step Sales Process).
- Create a repository of the Prospect’s potential business challenges (Issues) and at least 10 Implications for each of these issues on other areas of their business. This will allow the Sales Professional to ask deeper questions during the Qualifying Step of the Sales process and escalate the sense of urgency for the Prospect to make a buying decision by increasing the number of reasons a Prospect would want to move forward with the proposed solution.
Strategic preparation is the first crucial step in creating distinction and separation from a Sales Person and a Sales Professional. This step will allow the Sales Professional to develop a Trusted Advisor relationship with their Prospects and Clients. While Strategic Preparation alone will not Close a Prospect, it will provide the foundation for and increase the chances of conducting a successful sales engagement.
Next time: Step 2 of the 7-Step Sales Process: The Warm-Up
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