So, you’ve got your script ready, your dialing finger is stretched out and warmed up, and your coffee mug is full. Ready to start calling, right?
You need a plan, my friend! Just like you can’t “wing it” with the script, you can’t fly into calling without doing a bit of pre-call planning. Well, actually a LOT of planning. The legendary Sun-Tzu said, “Victorious warriors win first and then go to war.” And Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had 8 hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend 6 sharpening my ax.” The same is true of your phone prospecting – it requires solid planning and preparation. So let’s take a good look at the three stages of pre-call planning:
1. Plan for the week.
This stage happens OUTSIDE the “money hours” – on the weekend or your day off, how ever your schedule works. What, you thought sales was a job you left at the office?
You’re going to make a general list of everyone you will be pursuing by phone during the upcoming week. Then you’ll break it up into a list for each work day, making sure that you take into account any meetings, appointments or events that are already a part of your agenda.
2. Plan for the day.
This phase of your planning takes place approximately 15 minutes before your day officially begins. Yes, outside the “money hours” again – as a salesperson, the vast majority of your preparations and learning should take place outside of your actual selling time.
You’ll take your list for that day and make a reasonable estimate for how much time the list would take you to complete.Now you can pull out your day planner (PLEASE tell me you have one!) and block out enough 30-45 minute segments to complete the list. For example, if you estimate your list will take 3 hours to complete, you’re going to block out four 45 minute segments. A major key here is to ensure that these blocks of time are going to be mostly uninterrupted – distractions will absolutely KILL your calling schedule.
3. Plan for the call.
This phase is an ongoing process. There are 5 questions that you need to know the answers to before you pick up the phone to dial each call. You’ll know the answers to them based on prior research of your prospects.
– Who do I need to speak to? You need the full name and position of the correct person to contact; in other words, the person who is most likely to help you reach your goal.
– Why am I calling? Why is this person/company a prospect for your product or service?
– What end result am I targeting with this call? Are you trying to secure an in-person appointment, or an introduction? Is this call to close an in-progress sale or to follow-up on previous efforts?
– How do I plan to get there? What tactics will you be using to achieve your goal?
– What if I don’t get there? This is your “Plan B” – an acceptable secondary goal. For example, if your goal is an appointment, perhaps your “Plan B” would be getting the prospect to agree to review some information you’ll mail, with an agreed upon time for a follow-up call.
Now take one more sip from that coffee mug and get your dialing finger in action! And stay tuned for the final step to success – the post-call review.