As a broke college sophomore in 1968, my answer to cheap transportation was riding a motorcycle to school and work. I worked all night stocking shelves in a grocery store from 10pm-7am and attended college classes every evening beginning at 5pm.
I remember one below-zero winter night leaving school for work on that bike at nearly 10pm. Fortunately for me, I did a Clark Kent after class and bundled up like the Michelin man, with two shirts, two pairs of pants, a full length insulated car coat, plus gloves with inserts, topped off with a ski mask.
On the way there, while turning at an intersection, I felt myself begin to slide on a patch of black ice and ended up laying the bike down on my left side. I continued in that position until my tires bounced off the curb on the other side of the intersection. Embarrassed more than hurt, I stood up, my full-length coat actually smoking from the friction produced from the dry portion of the pavement. Thinking back, I can assure you it’s impossible to wear too many layers of clothing while riding a motorcycle during a Louisville winter.
This is a pretty good backdrop for a post focused on the topic of preparation. Had I not been prepped and attired the way I described that cold winter night, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this post today.
OK, so you’ve worked for weeks to secure an appointment with a particular buyer you really want as a customer. Or you have been incessantly prospecting residentially in a lucrative area you want to own. You also know you’ll only get this one shot. So you carefully prepare…you spend time researching her potential questions…you print some special promotional material from the manufacturer’s website just for them…you make sure you look good and smell good as these appointments approach; so you’re ready, right?
Well, maybe you are and maybe you aren’t. Do you have your demo kit? How much do you really know about this buyer? Is it possible she’s already made plans to buy elsewhere and just wants your bid for window dressing? Overlooking even one small detail could cost you the sale.
That’s why I think it’s important to get in the habit of following a written checklist every time you head out the door for an appointment. A checklist helps lower your stress level so you can remain calm and confident. Once you put the details on cruise control, you’re free to devote your full attention to the buyer and the presentation.
Let’s take a look at your checklist. What do you mean you don’t have one? Well develop one…NOW! Following are some suggestions you might consider including the following:
Is the appointment day and time confirmed?
Have you been able to determine any events occurring at this company or with this family that might negatively influence the timing of a proposed transaction?
Have you prepared a written list of essential questions that you will ask with regard to problems, challenges, needs, wants, or issues you might resolve?
What is the temperament of the buyer: red, green, yellow or blue?
Have you prepared all vital sales aids and tools?
What about something as simple as business cards?
Do you have every piece of conceivable contractual paperwork that may be required?
Will your buyer know your lunch menu by what is stuck in your teeth or spilled on your shirt?
Is your phone set on stun so it won’t interrupt your meeting?
Are you entering the meeting in neutral, prepared to mirror buyer behavior, while allowing them to dictate the pace, tone, and tempo of the sales call?
Your checklist must be customized for your particular business, but I hope this post gives you a good idea of what I’m talking about.
Pilots prepare for their flights by going through a very thorough and complete pre-flight checklist. Many salespeople make the mistake of believing that selling is different; that it’s all about thinking on your feet and making it up as you go along. If you attempt to rely on luck or spontaneity you’ll probably have some failures that could have been easily avoided. Although a sales call is not life-or-death like an airplane flight, it is do-or-die for your sales career, since prospects normally won’t invite you back if the initial appointment disappoints.
Would you post a comment below on your sales call preparation or maybe a few of your checklist items?
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