You’ve been working your plan.

You are generating qualified prospects, and you’re setting appointments with those prospects to discuss the value your product or service has for them. So an appointment is set. A clear purpose for the appointment is agreed upon. And you’re ready to go. Or are you?

Don’t slip up and overlook a crucial step before going to meet with that new qualified prospect. Pre-Call Preparation.

What is pre-call preparation? Basically, we suggest you conduct some research to help you be better prepared for your sales call. This preparation is important for several reasons. First, many of your competitors will overlook this step so your preparedness will be one of the clear points of differentiation for you and your company. Second, proper preparation will assist you in building rapport with the prospect. Third, you’ll ask better questions during your conversation based upon the information you learn prior to the appointment time.

Understand that these advantages you gain from your preparedness have a significant impact. Shortening the cycle to trust and rapport assists in a stronger relationship – sooner. Clear differentiation and better questions/dialogue during your conversation positions you with a stronger opportunity to win the business. You will uncover needs or desires that your unprepared competitor didn’t find. Or perhaps you are able to determine, and limit, fears and objections as a result of what you learn prior to the sales call. These advantages position you with a clear edge over your competitors.

So how do you prepare for the sales call in advance? Here is a list of activities you should consider utilizing in advance of your appointment.

Online Research

Search a name, company, or both. Look for news, awards, participation in events, and corporate initiatives. You can also set a Google alert based upon your search to email you anything that mentions the prospect or their company.

Dig into their LI profile. Look for information listed that you should know. Associations or groups to which they belong, or their company belongs. Publications, awards, honors, certifications earned, and much more is available on LinkedIn.

The company website often lists PR pieces, client success stories, services provided, areas of expertise, case studies, charitable giving, and more.

Facebook Page / LinkedIn Page
Check out what they’re posting. Find the pictures of their team volunteering, or having a great time at a ballgame. Look to identify other people you may know within the company. See what events they’re hosting or attending, awards ceremonies, etc.

Offline Research
A Lost Art: Real people are living, breathing, and working all around you. Some, or many of them, can be useful to your preparation process. Talk to them. Pick up the phone. Call a meeting. Use your words. All that stuff you had to do before the internet made you lazy.

Your Team
Determine if people on your team have important intel on the prospect or company. Ask questions of your team. Get them involved in the success of your appointment. You should also role practice the call.

Your Partners
Referral partners may be doing business, or have tried, with your prospect. Ask them. What do they know? What does your prospect value? Where is the company going? What competitors, obstacles, or market trends are presenting as challenges?

Your Vendors/Suppliers
Same questions as to your partners. Suppliers may have unique insight into the operations team, or the implementation challenges you might face.
Preparing for your sales call is critically important. So remember the ‘7 P’s’:

“Proper prior preparation prevents piss poor performance.” – Prepare in advance for those sales calls.