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Plan Your Calls Effectively and Watch Sales Grow

 By David Quinn

“Would you tell me please which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get” said the cat

 This quote from Alice in Wonderland is one I frequently use during the planning sessions both on my ‘Time Management’ and sales training courses to highlight the concept that if you don’t know where you’re going any road will take you there. There is a considerable amount of pressure on salespeople these days to achieve results and those less focused are more likely to adopt strategies that will impact negatively on their performance. Keen to impress the boss and/or establish themselves as a hard worker some salespeople blitz their territory and inflict themselves on the customer population at large. They operate a philosophy that the more calls they make the greater the chance of getting lucky and making a sale. This is not necessarily untrue but it is a flawed philosophy based on a numbers game that will get salespeople into trouble and alienate their customers.

 Customers avoid salespeople who bombard them with ‘sales talk’ viewing them as time wasters they prefer to spend time in the company of those who can add value to their business. Here salespeople need to give serious consideration to who and why they are calling and pre-call planning and setting objectives is critical in this regard.  

Pre-Call Planning  

 ‘Planning is an activity associated with assembling thoughts and/or actions in advance to increase the possibility of a desired outcome being achieved at some predetermined time in the future’. In order to generate a defined level of business salespeople must decide in advance where this business is going to come from. They need to identify the customers and/or prospects by name and location; grading their potential and developing a call pattern to ensure the required business levels are achieved. 

Setting Call Objectives

The first step in preparing for a sales call is to have a clear understanding of what you want to achieve, without a clear objective it would be impossible to make any sensible preparation. Remember the following when setting your pre-call objectives:

 
      1. Do not set your objectives too high as this will increase the risk of failure. Too low an objective and you may under achieve.
      2. Be realistic and set your objective in proportion to the nature of the call.
      3. Be prepared to alter your objective in the light of changing circumstances.
      4. Unless the circumstances demand it, do not be deflected from pursuing the call objective.
      5. Be prepared to compromise if necessary but be careful not to concede too much as to dilute the profitability of the sale.
      6. Do not allow your objective to become an all-consuming criterion for success; there may be another way perhaps another day.
 

You may feel that selling into an existing customer base where your presence is well established exonerates you from setting objectives. This is not the case and your selling objectives may be strategised in the following manner:

      • Selling across the range
      • Promoting new and/or slow moving lines/services
      • Generating interest in future product/service developments coming on stream.
      • Assessing trends and monitoring competitor activity
      • Organising sales promotions/client meetings to ensure proper exposure is devoted to your products/services.

Setting objectives is not a total recipe for success, however by knowing in advance what it is you want to achieve will give purpose to the call and increase the likelihood of achieving a positive outcome.

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David Quinn is head of training in Quinn Training and can be contacted on (01) 4978353 or by email at mail@quinntraining.ie. Comments on any of his blog posts are very welcome.