Salespeople Need to Prepare More
More than 62 percent of sales professionals spend less than 20 minutes preparing for sales calls made with businesses, according to a study by Hebert Research and Knowledge Anywhere. Although sales managers and vice presidents expect reps to spend at least 30 minutes preparing for calls, one-third of them spend just one to 10 minutes preparing, according to the study. This lack of preparation means fewer sales. In a separate study earlier this year, buyers indicated that their top dislike was an unprepared salesperson. They also said that lack of interest or purpose on behalf of salespeople is received negatively. "What's surprising is that even salespeople with high ticket items and long sales cycles are often coming in unprepared," says Charlie Gillette, president of Knowledge Anywhere.
The reason for this dichotomy? Gillette says: "Salespeople tend to live in the moment. They love the interaction of sales. They're very engaging and verbal; they love the chase. That's just the opposite of people who are good planners and very analytical." Those salespeople who do spend the extra time planning and analyzing while possessing the more traditional sales skills are the ones who excel, according to Gillette. But more often than not, salespeople continue to start presentations with no more knowledge of the customer than what had been learned several years ago. So, they start by asking the same question (i.e., "How's business?").
That might have been an acceptable approach 10 years ago, but there's so much information about companies available on the Internet today that such questions show a gross lack of preparation, according to Gillette. This lack of preparation might be justified in some instances by the company having salespeople juggle different accounts or other responsibilities, according to Gillette.
Gillette recommends that salespeople use the Internet to get information on the company and its industry by searching recent news and financial information, among other things. "This can actually save a salesperson time," he says. Not only does the salesperson eliminate questions he will be expected to know the answers to already, but also, by knowing more about the prospective company, the rep should spend more of his time with good prospects. According to Gillette, a company with stable management, good financials, and in a growing industry is going to have more propensity to buy than a firm with slowing sales, disorganized management, and in a declining industry.
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