The 6 Moments of Truth for Sales Effectiveness – Part 3

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Mike Kunkle

Review of Parts 1 & 2

In the first post in this series, I wrote about:

  •  the top-producer analyses I’ve done over the years and what I learned from the top 4% and the remaining 16% of the Top 20.
  •  the resulting “6 Moments of Truth for Sales Effectiveness,” at which these 16-Percenters excel.

 

In the second post in this series, I wrote about:

  • the power of prospecting done well and how to do it more effectively. 

The 6 Moments of Truth for Sales Effectiveness


© 2018, Digital Transformation, Inc. & Mike Kunkle

 

In this post, we’ll discuss the next of the 6 Moments, Sales Call Planning.

Sales Call Planning

All six areas I’m discussing in this series of posts are important and usually offer vast potential for performance improvement in most companies. If I were looking for a quick-hit lift in sales performance, though, I would start by targeting Sales Call Planning and Discovery.

Discovery is probably obvious, but why Sales Call Planning? Mostly because it offers potential to radically improve the outcomes of sales calls, and it’s ubiquitous – meaning it impacts almost every interaction with prospects and customers (or at least the communication and interactions during voice-to-voice or face-to-face meetings).

The Power of Preparation

I heard a story at a conference last year that mirrors my experience with Sales Call Planning as a best practice and reminded me again of the power of preparation.

At the conference, a presenter was recounting a story about how they decided to study a small handful of top producers who were performing leaps and bounds ahead of the next nearest producers (a statistically-significant gap). At the end of the analysis, after studying what these top producers did differently than middle producers, the primary difference was the amount of planning and preparation that went into each sales call. I’ve seen similar results from my own top-producer analyses over the years. Good planning and preparation creates differentiation.

Effective Call Planning

Top producers have a clear sense of purpose for their sales calls and meetings. They set agendas and have clear call objectives. They develop back-up objectives, for when things don’t go as expected. They know what outcomes each party wants to achieve, especially their clients, and organize the meeting to achieve the desired outcomes. They do execute their plans with discipline, yet remain flexible based on the group experience.

Here is some advice from what I’ve seen top producers do.

Determine the Purpose

What is the clear purpose of your meeting or sales call?

  • Are you making a prospecting approach?
  • Following up to deliver information?
  • Running a Discovery session?
  • Making a finalist presentation or delivering a proposal?

The structure of a call or meeting can be surprisingly similar with an opening, message delivery or working session, a summary, and gaining commitment on next steps, but the content of the meeting (the actual agenda and action) and preparation will be different.

To avoid writing out every possible scenario, I will simply recommend you follow your company’s sales process (which should align with your buyer’s journey) and your sales methodology (which should be consultative, customer-focused and outcome-oriented).

Example:

  •  A meeting has been scheduled by a Sales Development Rep between you (an Account Executive) and a possible client. The purpose is to conduct discovery (a situational assessment) and further qualify whether you may be able to support the potential client and address the issues they are having.

Strategize Outcomes

What is your objective for the meeting? What do you hope to accomplish and what commitments do you hope to gain? If you can achieve your primary objective, what is your back-up objective? Be sure to include the perspective of other attendees, especially your prospect or client. For example, to achieve your objective, what will you need to do for your prospect or client? Whenever possible, clarify with the other parties what they hope to accomplish in advance.

 

Example:

  • Primary Objective: Qualify the opportunity (as much as possible on an initial call) and if it makes sense to pursue, schedule a follow-up call for further discovery with any additional decision-makers that were identified. (Be prepared to share just enough information about how you have addressed similar problems in the past to generate enough interest for the follow-up).
  • Back-up Objective: Same, except gain commitment to schedule a follow-up call once the prospect has gathered schedule information for all the decision-makers who aren’t present.

NOTE: Whenever possible, follow the HAM-BAM method… have a meeting, book a meeting. If you end a meeting without getting a commitment on a follow-up meeting, it can derail your momentum and be harder to get scheduled.

Research the Company and People

Using LinkedIn, the company website, other social sites, news sites, business data sites or a general Internet search, research the company and the people you’ll be meeting with to learn about them, their roles, and whatever you can that might allow you to build a relationship personally or establish credibility by understanding their business and what they do.

As needed for complex sales with multiple decision makers, align the right people on your team to meet the needs of those who are attending from your prospect or client. 

Plan to Achieve Outcomes

Build an agenda that will allow both sides to achieve their desired outcomes. This empathetic “other focus” on what matters to your client should be consistent throughout all your interactions.

Orchestrate Engagement

Prepare questions, use names during the meeting, facilitate and find ways to engage everyone appropriately to achieve your joint objectives.

Communicate in Advance

Share your agenda in advance. This gives your prospects and clients a change to weigh in and own the agenda to achieve what matters to them if they are giving you their valuable time.

Open with an “Other-Focused” Agenda

In the meeting, re-share the meeting purpose, your agenda, the value of the agenda to your participants (especially prospects or clients) and ask for their input to see if anything has changed or if there is something they would add or change. Adjust accordingly.

Execute with Discipline

Preparation shows professionalism and demonstrates empathy and respect. Within reason, run your meeting as planned to engage participants and achieve the agreed-upon outcomes.

Be Prepared to Pivot

Change happens and flexibility is a hallmark of success, so if needed, by flexible enough to pivot and adjust course, based on new data or what happens during the meeting. If you’re going to shift direction for a valid reason, confirm it with the group and gain consensus.

Summarize with Action Plans

This is good general meeting management, but your planning will help you know what to drive toward and what commitments to seek. Also, your note-taking format should include an action plan section to capture who has committed to do what by when, which you can summarize during the call and share notes with action commitments afterward.This should give you a great start toward more effective call planning. When you get in the habit, you’ll find it takes less time than you thought and the rewards are outstanding.

In our next post, we’ll deep-dive into Discovery.

Resources

Until then, here are some addition resources for Sales Call Planning:

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