Sales training: Don't sell to customers

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Q. What is the best way to prepare for sales calls with new customers?

A. Pre-call planning is an essential and oftentimes overlooked tool. It prepares sales representatives for one of the key elements of any sales call: understanding your customer's challenges and needs. It ensures that reps come prepared to the sales call with clear objectives in mind.

Pre-call planning also prepares you to ask effective questions to uncover your customer's challenges and needs, enabling you to offer them solutions. It brings structure and consistency to sales calls and gets the sales representative in the mindset of helping customers, not selling to them.

Let's look at some key elements of creating pre-call plans:

Sales call objective

You should have a specific goal in mind for each sales call. This goal is called the sales call objective.

Presenting with benefits

Your pre-call plans allow you to differentiate yourself and your company with specific features and benefits that will speak to the customer's challenges and needs. Paint the picture of what your company will do for their patients and staff. What does it mean to them? How will it make their jobs easier? How will it improve the quality of the lives of their patients?

Creating effective questions

Creating and asking effective questions will make your customers think about their practices or businesses and help you understand their challenges. That way, you're better able to create a solution and win their business.

When creating pre-call plans, sales representatives should ask themselves: What value am I bringing to the customer in this call? What do I want to accomplish? Do I have all of the tools that I will need? What key questions will I ask? What commitment will I get?

Preparing for sales calls will give you that extra edge and keep you on top of your game.

Susan McGinnis is a senior sales trainer for Philips Respironics Home Healthcare Solutions. Reach her at 724-387-4824 or