Once an athlete gets to an elite level, and sometimes before, preparation becomes a large part of their process. Sure, this means practice, and by practice, we’re not talking about the concept of being out there for the sake of being there. We’re talking about focused practice. (Allen Iverson would be proud.)
The difference between practice and focused practice is the amount of intent you have on each rep, each shot, each swing. If you merely take a bucket of golf balls and go to the range and hack at them, you will not get any better. Your mistakes get repeated and ingrained into your muscle memory. But if you take a moment after the swing to perform some honest self-appraisal, then visualize the next swing, you will improve.
The same thing goes with sales calls. Focused practice. Pay attention to your introduction before you make the call, and be someone on the phone that you would want to work with. If you feel as if you aren’t there, visualize what an ideal call would look like.
Are all calls ideal, though?
Both you and I know that the answer is “no.” Sometimes things happen out of your control. Your prospect brings up the competitor who has been stealing all of your sales or share of voice. You get a prospect who tried your product before (back when it was an MVP) and hated it. You find someone who may be tire-kicking and have already made a decision.
More on that later.
You need to prepare as if not everything will go perfectly and rehearse for that, too. It’s the business expression “getting thrown a curveball,” and it’s appropriate here. This is because a batter doesn’t expect an off-speed pitch, but they need to adjust. This doesn’t mean changing your swing, it means waiting back so you can hit the pitcher’s pitch.
From a sales standpoint, this is called an area of concern. Basically, you go through and outline what your prospect might find challenging about your product, and you practice those just as hard as you practice the features and benefits of your product. Being honest with yourself about what these areas of concern are will allow you to understand where they might be coming from and have a dialogue.
We have all been there – you have a great call that has a ton of “yes” in it, but there’s no sale at the end. That’s because you’re telling, not selling, and you’re not addressing a client’s concerns – because you don’t know what they are.
And if someone is tire-kicking, or has already been sold by a competitor? Awesome. Now is your opportunity to stealthily perform some competitive research. Asking a few well-placed probing questions might help your R&D team make needed modifications to your product, and will also help hone the approach of your sales team.
Preparation is key. And so is looking at a “no” not as a way to get off the phone faster, but as a way to learn where you might be perceived as falling short.
Want to learn more from our sales experts? Contact the Maverick team today.