I have been in sales since 1992 and have seen the marketplace change in drastic ways. Today, we are in the midst of the information age where knowledge is king. Preparedness is a necessity for successful selling. In all honesty, this trait has never been one of my strengths. However, I have made changes to my approach (in order to survive!).
The reason is found in this SellingPower.com article – Pre-Call Planning: It’s More than Just Research. The author shares a frightening sales story:
G.A. Bartick remembers the day he called on a large wire house in San Francisco. He’d just completed a project for another brokerage firm that went well and, feeling confident he knew the industry, he skipped his pre-call research. Big mistake. During his meeting with a senior VP, the executive often referred to the Wilshire 5000. Thinking this was company jargon, Bartick, about 10 minutes into the meeting, interrupted the VP and said, “I’m sorry, but I’m not familiar with the Wilshire 5000.” The VP, recalls Bartick, “stood up and said, ‘You obviously aren’t ready to be meeting with me and I’m pretty busy so why don’t we end this meeting now.'” Since then, Bartick has never ignored his pre-call research.
I remember ignoring pre-call research back in the day, but you could get away with it back then. Today – not a chance.
The article goes on to share 5 other preparedness factors that should be automatic for any salesperson so I recommend you read the entire thing. And just to whet your whistle, here is one of the better tips I have read lately:
Iron your briefcase. More than once, Bartick has gone to his briefcase during a sales meeting only to discover that the form he needs isn’t there. Now, he does what he calls “ironing his briefcase” every night before he goes to bed. He reviews his schedule for the next day, empties out the contents of his briefcase and files everything he doesn’t need. Then he collects all the materials for the next day and places them in the briefcase. “Ironing,” he says, “helps take the wrinkles out of tomorrow by preparing today.”