“Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Alexander Graham Bell.
Whether your business has been on pause, you’re starting out fresh, or just need to blow the cobwebs away, now is a great time to review your plan of action!
A good friend and mentor, Nick Gartside taught me a structure which I apply to all my sales and has stood me in great stead. This can be used for all interactions, be it a phone call or a physical visit.
With the government’s roadmap for reopening laid out before us and the prospect of a return to pre-lockdown life, we may have got a bit rusty with the face-to-face interactions. So, for this example, let us assume you are going back out on the road, visiting potential clients.
Where are you going to go? Visiting potential clients is a time-consuming task, but whether it is a trip 10 minutes down the road, or 10 hours down a motorway – use the same approach.
First things first, do not treat any destination as a single trip! Take a look at the area you are going to visit, how long will you have there – how many visits can you reasonably make in the time allocated?
Although your objective is potential customers, don’t forget your current ones. Are there any at this location worth a ‘pop in’ to help maintain a face-to-face relationship with (observing Covid-19 regulations still for the next few months, of course).
Don’t get stuck on your potential and current client list either. Try a quick internet search too, are there any potential customers you’ve yet to engage with in this area? Is it feasible to fit in an introduction?
Travel is the biggest cost of field sales, so if you can, always make appointments.
Make the most of your time; set each destination as a new challenge. Selling is about conversations so the more quality conversations you have, the better.
This is preparation 101. To me, the most important ones are the objectives you set yourself. By setting objectives for every interaction with a potential customer, you can measure your success, and this will, in turn, drive you on. Even on a cold, wet Monday afternoon in March!
Consider your introduction, purpose, agenda, and expectations in advance and you will avoid ‘stumbling’ over what to say when you actually meet your contact, particularly if you have any nerves or anxieties to manage as well.
By preparing some questions in the ‘body’ you will, again, avoid struggling to find a question to kick-off the conversation and have something to fall back on should the person you are speaking with not be very forthcoming with their answers. Naturally, conversations will ebb and flow depending on the personality and temperament of you both but having a bank of pre-prepared questions is so useful for keeping the dialogue going. It also shows that you have prepared and done some research!
Just remember to still allow the conversation to progress organically rather than drilling down a list. By responding appropriately to their answers with the right follow-up questions, you will demonstrate that you are genuinely interested in them and their business and build a better rapport.
The Sales Structure
Whatever stage of the sales process you are at, make sure you plan each and every interaction. The sales structure below shows the approximate amounts of time you would spend in each area, every time you meet (or talk) with a client.