No plan no result! It's always good to plan your sales meetings beforehand to get most out of them. Pre-call preparation includes many aspects from the introduction to presentation to handling objections to closing. A simple pre-call homework ensures high closure rate besides maximizing the use of limited face to face sale time.
The Following blog post has been written by our guest contributor, Suva Chattopadhyay.
Pre-call planning, triggers three primary thoughts in my mind
My thoughts tell me that it is not something that gets a lot of importance. So why even talk and read about this. Why should I imbibe (if I may use this word!) this behavior? Something in my head says “Belief change drives behavior change”.
Let me put forward some hard data/facts:
A very recent HBR article (A portrait of the over performing sales person by Steve W. Martin, June 20, 2016) studied high performing sales people (Yearly achievement >125%). One of the important reasons that they have identified for success –
“The top sales professionals ranked five different sales strategies based on their effectiveness. The top-ranked strategies were “Getting customers to emotionally connect with you” followed by “Tailoring your sales pitch to the customer’s needs” and then “Asking questions that show your expertise.”
Surprisingly the highlighted actions are exactly what a Medical Sales Representative (MR) does when s/he does pre-call planning (we will come to the definition in a bit)
Around seven years back in one of the companies where I was dealing with SFE and Sales Capability, we did a small research with about 120 MRs with a 50:50 split of high performers and average performers. We shadowed them for five consecutive days and measured occurrence of few sales enabling behaviors (hypothetical) and one of them was pre-call planning. The result was quite interesting:
So pre-call planning works and more importantly has a correlation with high performance. Is this enough to change belief?
Pre-call planning is a virtual walkthrough of the call that the MR is going to make. Here are a few aspects for a MR to think through in the pre-call planning phase:
We have spoken about the outcome part; it improves performance. Now let us have a look how it can improve the sales process:
Most part of the pre-call planning is virtual and not an activity. It is a habit, which is not completely possible to define in terms of actions. It is a 2 minute pause before the MR enters the clinic where s/he takes a virtual walk on how the call will be, followed by an activity of keeping the required things handy inside the bag. The second challenge is – it can’t be captured in the Sales Force Automation system that is used by the MR. This is where the line manager role becomes important. Typically a line manager works with an MR 4-5 days/month. The line manager can engage into a pre-call planning conversation before every single call s/he makes. Some sample questions that can be used are:
This will build a habit and if the line manger is able to demonstrate how it helps improve the quality of the call, there is a greater chance that the MR will do it even when s/he is working alone.
Here are a few ideas (disruptive?) to drive pre-call planning:
Essentially, pre-call planning shows potential as a great sales enabling behavior that would help MRs achieve greater sales performance. Making this a steady habit can help the organization achieve more sales efficiency and help MRs improve their incentive earnings.
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