Posted on December 06, 2016
Make sure to download the Medtechy pre-call plan at the end of this article.
“If you don't know where you are going, you'll end up someplace else.”
― Yogi Berra
Pre-call plans are one of the most effective tools a sales rep can use in preparing for a sales call. However, in our experience, sales reps bypass using them unless they happen to be on a field ride with their manager.
Sure, maybe reps write down a couple of notes before meeting with a customer, but most do not spend the 5-10 minutes it would take to prepare a proper pre-call plan.
One of the goals of this article is to share a simple pre-call plan we've been using for years and also explain the benefit of using each section.
The most important thing we stress with reps is a pre-call is not meant to constrain them in a meeting and make them robotic. Many reps view pre-call plans like they did during their first sales training when they basically read off their entire pre-call and fumbled through a role play.
What do we say to that?
No! Pre-call plans are not meant to constrain you!
In fact, a proper pre-call can help you become more off-the-cuff and the most successful reps use a pre-call plan just like a great presenter uses PowerPoint to their advantage.
A great presenter does not write out their presentation on PowerPoint and stare at the screen while presenting. On the contrary, they place a couple of keywords in the Presentation and are prepared enough to review those keywords without sounding robotic. This is how great sales reps use pre-call plans.
They understand that a pre-call is the most effective way to maximize their limited time with customers and having an outline helps them ensure they do not leave anything on the table during a meeting.
So what does our pre-call look like and how can it help you become a better sales rep?
Let's get to it.
Objective / Business Outcome
One of the biggest mistakes sales reps make before meeting with a customer is not establishing a specific business outcome they want to achieve from their meeting.
Additionally, the objectives written are very broad and do nothing to help the sales rep think about how they'll achieve the objective.
The key is to be as specific as possible and stick to the objective during your call. Don't drift away from your pre-call plan. You spent time creating this so stay on track.
For example, do not write: Get a case from surgeon.
Instead, write: Use PROTECT study (patient outcomes and survival rate) to get a case from Dr. Smith. I checked with scheduler and there is a case on his book for next Tuesday.
Remember, this is a mental exercise as much as it is an outline for your meeting. Use this time to review the different opportunities and scenarios.
Be strategic. It's a game plan.
Too many times, sales reps do not consider how the customer may view what they are selling. Is there really a benefit to them? Or do they think the benefit is for you?
The key is for a sales rep to understand why the customer needs what you're selling. Think about this question and tailor your open-ended questions around those benefits. If you already know why the customer is interested then this should be easy.
There's nothing worse than sitting down in your meeting with an objective in your head and you end up going in circles, accomplishing nothing because you didn't properly write down strategic questions that could have helped you achieve your call objective.
Review your business objective / customer benefits and create questions that will help the customer come to the conclusion they need your product.
Again, this is the time to create a strategy and you are in control of what questions you ask. Walk the customer down the sales path to win the sale and remember to use open-ended questions to get them talking.
The popular book SPIN Selling is worth the read if you need a refresher on using open ended questions in order to walk a customer down the sales path in a meeting.
Pro tip: Start your questions with "how" or "what" and you will almost always generate an open ended question that gets your customer talking.
Based on your experience or training, you should know the typical objections customers use with the product you are selling. Write them down and practice how you plan to handle the you go into the sales call.
If you are really ambitious, spend 30 minutes at night or on the weekend and write down the objections you hear on a regular basis and think through objection handling techniques for them.
Pro tip: If your company does not have a list of typical objections, get together with your sales team and come up with a thorough list. Let each person take 1-2 and then compile your responses. Now you and the team should be able to tackle any objection customers throw your way.
Tools to Use
This should be simple, but very important.
- What sales literature are you using?
- Are you using an iPad or computer for a presentation during the meeting?
- Have everything teed up and ready to go before you go into the sales call.
Using visual aids like and iPad presentation are a great way to have a more engaging conversation with your customer. They feel less rehearsed.
How Else Can I Help?
Whether you are trying to close a deal or move the customer along in the sales cycle, always understand and uncover what you can do to help them.
Simply asking how can I help you will set you apart from the competition. Think about it, how often does a competitive rep ask a customer how they can help them? Do this to set yourself apart.
You've made it this far so review the discussion points between you and the customer and do not leave the meeting without a next step that holds both parties accountable.
Have you achieved your business objective?
If not, circle back and work towards a close for a next step.
Creating a pre-call plan is a simple, yet effective, way to ensure you prepare a solid game plan and strategy before you get quality face-time with a customer. You do not want to waste a chance to get in front of a customer and not be prepared. You may not get the chance again so do everything you can to move the business forward.
Below you will find a Medtechy pre-call plan cheat cheat with tips on each of the seven sections of the pre-call plan. We have also attached a blank pre-call form that you can download and fill out for your next sales call.