Blog

by Brynne Tillman
on March 30, 2017

Sales Call Planning Tips that Will Give You the Edge

The question I hear most often is, “What and where do I find information that can help me for sales call planning?” Why not use the same tools they’re using; like Google, LinkedIn and Web pages?

Think about it. Your buyers are researching solutions. They spend hours Googling and searching the web prior to any conversation they have with you, and they expect that you are doing the same due diligence on them. You should, too, for your own sales call planning.

Here’s how to find ‘intel’ and become better prepared for sales calls:

Leverage LinkedIn’s Company Pages

  • Look at “How You’re Connected” and identify your 1st-degree connections. Reach out to your connections, let them know that you will be meeting with one of their colleagues and ask if they can help you understand company initiatives.
  • If you have a 2nd-degree connection you can identify who you have in common and ask for an introduction.
  • Look at the company’s posts to determine what matters to them right now. This information can be useful as you perform your sales call planning and structure your presentation, giving you the opportunity to cater directly to their pain points. (Be sure to check their Twitter, Google+ and Facebook pages as well).

Visit their Website for Sales Call Planning

  • Read any news, blog posts, and press releases to uncover what initiatives are happening presently. This will help you understand what they currently have going on and will help you appear as if you have done your research, should something come up in the meeting.
  • Read about who they are (“About us” page), clients they work with, and awards they’ve won. Make note of important milestones and be sure to mention highlights in the meetings.

Google the Company

  • Review their annual reports, if available, as this can be a good indication of the direction of the company.

People Research

  • Build out an organizational chart with every person’s name, their title, and if they are a key decision maker in the buying process. For example: The economic buyer, the shopper, the technical buyer, the manager, the end users etc.
  • You can send an InMail to introduce yourself and/or a personalized request to connect on LinkedIn. For example, you can say, “I am meeting with XXX in your department in a few weeks and I thought it might make sense for us to connect.”
  • Look at your connection’s posts to determine what matters to them right now. This information can be useful as you prepare your presentation, giving you the opportunity to cater directly to their pain points. (Be sure to check their Twitter, Google+ and Facebook pages as well).
  • Be sure to stay engaged with them by commenting on their content and sharing relevant content with them. This establishes credibility for you as a salesperson and trust between you and the prospect.
  • BONUS: If appropriate, when you are there for your meeting, you can mention: “I am connected to Jane Smith from this office on LinkedIn, but I haven’t had the chance to meet her in person yet, if there is time would I be able to pop my head in and say hello?”

Building Rapport

  • Gather information to build rapport with the people who will be in the meeting. Often their names are right in the calendar invitation.
  • Research their background, hobbies, schools, and content they and their company are sharing on social media. To build rapport you don’t have to like or agree with the content they share on social media, but you should read it and understand their position or thought process.
  • Follow them personally on Twitter (often you can find that in their LinkedIn contact information box).

Check Out Their Competition

  • When you understand not just what is happening in their industry but what direct competitors are doing, you position yourself as a trusted advisor, not just a sales person. This is crucial for sales call planning, too.
  • BONUS: Through LinkedIn’s Search you can identify former employees that you are either already connected to or have a common connection(s) with, and they are a great source of discovery. You can ask questions regarding the culture and the decision-making process from their perspective.

So now you have some great insight into the business and what matters to them. It makes forming your questions easier and positions you to offer subject matter expertise that is relevant to them. You are now positioned to be the vendor of choice.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn.

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