After 40 years of sales managing, sales consulting, and sales training, I have seen nearly everything. But I never cease to be amazed at those salespeople who pound their chest like Tarzan, have supreme confidence in their ability to wing it, and therefore don’t prepare adequately for upcoming meetings with prospects. They must think good prospects abound, that if you bust an opportunity there’ll be another one just as good right around the corner.
In the real world good prospects are precious, and blowing it because you weren’t prepared is unforgivable. A capital sin because it’s so preventable. The kind of mistake that should prompt your boss to show you the door.
Why Prep is Important
Prep is more important than ever if only because prospects are better prepped. They’ve done their homework. They’ve researched what you sell, how you sell it, what your clients are saying, what your competitors are doing, and what others have paid for the same sort of product or service. Strolling unprepared into a meeting with a prospect like that is like walking into the proverbial buzz saw.
Like everything else in our connected world, what constitutes good preparation for a first-time meeting with a prospect has changed. It changed in the 1990s when web searches brought unprecedented boatloads of information to your screen. It changed again in the new century when companies found it was smarter to publish more information about themselves, not less. It changed yet again in recent years when social media infiltrated the business world and it became possible to learn about not only companies, but individuals. Bet that it will keep changing.
The prep stakes will continue to be raised as technology and business practices keep evolving. Your good prospects are also your competitors’ good prospects, and if they walk into that first appointment better prepared than you are, who do you think will get the second appointment?
What is Good Prep?
So what does good call prep look like these days for a B2B salesperson? It’s no longer limited to knowing what the prospect sells, how they market and sell it, and who their competitors are. Today, the well-prepared salesperson who treats the prospect as a precious opportunity has enough information to see the world through the prospect’s eyes, to almost get into their skin and inside their head.
- What does their job title actually mean? How does that role relate to other key roles in the company? To whom do they report?
- What functions does this person handle? What information do they seek and rely upon to do their work? What other jobs have they held? What LinkedIn groups do they belong to?
- How is their performance measured and evaluated? On what key metrics does their paycheck depend?
- Do you have friends or interests in common? Are they active in community affairs? What have they disclosed about themselves online?
When you see the world through your prospect’s eyes, a world of new opportunity opens up to you. Download our one-page summary See the World through Your Prospect’s Eyes, and share it with your colleagues.
You can’t fully control whether or not you’ll win the business, but you can decide that you will be the best prepped salesperson that prospect will see this month. And that will be the difference between putting the business within reach or out of reach.